We had a great webinar in February, in honour of heart awareness month. I sat down with Optimity’s CEO, Jane Wang to talk through how to promote a healthy heart in the workplace. You can watch the full webinar here. Here are a few key takeaway points from the webinar:
Why it’s important for employers to focus on an upstream approach to a healthy heart
Heart disease is costing companies billions of dollars in loss of productivity and absenteeism.
It’s essential to understand that heart disease can easily be prevented by making small behaviour changes.
See what can you do to prevent heart disease:
Physical activity elevates your heart rate, which is essential for keeping your heart in shape.
Something as simple as taking the stairs, does wonders for your heart. To read more on helpful tips on how to get physically active, especially in the colder months, check out our blog post here on exercise.
Nutrition is key to a healthy life.
Some helpful tips in eating healthy is avoiding the foods that are big contributors to heart disease. Processed foods are high in sugar, fat, and sodium, so these should be kept to a minimum.
Cook your own food, it allows you to eat as clean as possible when using raw ingredients to make your meal.
Eating with others makes you more mindful of what you’re eating, and how much you’re eating. For more information on healthy eating for employees, check out one of our popular webinars on nutrition and mindful eating the workplace for more insightful tips.
Identify your stressors in order to avoid them or create coping mechanisms that work for you.
Physical behaviours such as stretching and yoga can help relieve stress.
Change your thinking: see if your stressor is actually rational or if you’re just blowing it out of proportion. Try to make your thinking more positive.
Meditation is a great technique that can be done just about anywhere, and is proven to reduce stress. Here is another great webinar we’ve done on mindfulness and meditation in the workplace.
It’s cheaper to prevent heart disease than to treat it! Simple lifestyle changes can have the biggest positive impact financially and on the individuals health. Reach out to us at email@example.com for information on how Optimity can help you!
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Every year there are dozens of new diet plans, hacks and tricks that the media create that all claim to help you achieve better health, or lose weight. Some even claim to help you do it in less than a week! And while these diets might work for the short term, some of them are not sustainable, and can even have a negative effect on your body. Here are our top 4 nutrition fads to avoid in 2018.
The Ketogenic diet takes low-carb to a whole new level, and suggests that only 5 percent of your calories come from carbohydrates. The goal of this diet is to put your body in a state of ketosis, which is suggested to increase the body’s breakdown of fat stores. While the Ketogenic diet can supress your appetite, ketosis is actually considered a survival mechanism of the body and can cause a severe lack of energy and headaches. And did we mention the fact that fruit is usually off limits too? While the ketogenic diet may work for some, we don’t recommend any diet that cuts out entire food groups like carbohydrates.
The idea behind the Alkaline diet is that the food you eat has an effect on the body’s internal pH level. It claims that by avoiding acidic foods, and increasing your intake of alkaline foods that your health will be boosted and could even prevent diseases like cancer. The diet focuses on eating alkaline foods such as fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts and seeds, and while a predominantly plant based diet is good for you, the BDA have spoken out saying that there is no science behind it. “This diet is based on a basic misunderstanding of human physiology,” says the BDA, “While encouraging people to eat more fresh vegetables is a good thing, the pH of your food will not have an impact on the pH of your blood – and you wouldn’t want it to!” Our bodies are designed to constantly regulate our pH level, so there really is no need to specify your diet to do so.
The soup diet follows the same basic principals as juicing, except you drink soup. Soup has a variety of health benefits as you can really add whatever health foods you like in there, but it should accompany your diet, not be the sole contender. The problem with soup diets are that they usually contain far too little calories, and are likely to miss out on key nutrients such as protein and fiber. Another con to this diet is that they can be time consuming to make, but if you buy them then you are likely adding unnecessary sodium to your diet. Soup is a great addition to a health diet, just don’t make it the only thing on your dinner table.
Coconut has been very popular for the past few years and continues to be used in everything, from milks, to water and even ice-cream. Coconut oil has even replaced other oils as a house hold staple and it is believed to be metabolized differently than other oil in a way that leads to less fat production, but unfortunately it is still high in saturated fat. Saturated fat has been proven to be linked to heart disease, so while coconut oil might be popular now, there is still no concrete evidence that it is actually better for you. If you do include coconut oil in your diet, just remember to not overdo it.
While the above are things that we do not recommend, we do recommend keeping a healthy, balanced diet and finding something that works well for you. Our top tips for keeping a balanced diet are:
Eat a healthy balance of carbs, proteins and fats. Usually around 45% carbs, 30% protein and 35% healthy fats.
Avoid artificial food! Stick with real foods such as fruit, vegetables, nuts and wholegrains and avoid heavily processed and packaged foods.
Set healthy limits. While we would never promote counting calories, listen to your body and if you are full, then stop eating! But if you find yourself getting a little tired throughout the day, then alter your diet to include a bit more energy boosting food.
Increase your greens as much a possible. The majority of your diet should be greens and because they have so much fiber, you will feel more satisfied when eating them.
The diet and health food industry are always evolving and coming out with new fads and diets, but it’s important to remember to look in the right place for advice. Just remember that dieticians are the only professionals that are regulated by law to give expert, science-based guidance.
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The holidays are a time to celebrate and enjoy quality time with your family and friends, but unfortunately this time of year also associates itself with weight gain and poor nutritional choices. We tend to think less about our food and beverage choices and eat things that we usually would not indulge in on a day to day basis.
The good news is, the holidays can still be a time of enjoyment, without the extra weight gain. Around 18% of people say that they struggle to eat healthy during the holidays because they do not want to stop eating their favourite foods, but you don’t have to! You can still indulge, just in moderation. It is all about being more mindful about what we put on our plate.
Here are our top tips for eating healthy during the holidays.
WATCH THE ALCOHOL
Just a single shot of vodka, gin or rum mixed with a diet soda can add an extra 100 calories to your daily intake, and a light beer or wine will set you back about 150 calories. These are fine if you only plan on drinking one, but if you are out with some friends or at your work Christmas party, the chances are that you will be sipping on a few more than just one.
Champagne or prosecco are good options for low calorie drinks, and because they are a little more bubbly, you often spend more time sipping them rather than sculling.
Do not completely avoid the cookies, pies and brownies that accompany holiday meals, but be conscious that these treats are often full of fat and not at all good for your waist line, or health in general.
There are simple things you can do that significantly reduce your fat and caloric intake when creating these tasty treats. When cooking pies, cakes or brownies, use half the amount of sugar that the recipe asks. You will save a whopping 744 calories for each cup of sugar that you do not use, and because these treats are usually far too sweet anyway, you won’t have to compromise on taste.
Another calorie dense product that often finds its way into holiday treats is oil. For every half-cup of oil that you leave out of your festive recipes, you will save around 900 calories and 100 grams of fat! Substitutes for oil are super easy and can be anything from pumpkin puree to organic apple sauce.
BRING YOUR OWN DISH
It can be hard to know what is in the food you are eating and the nutritional value of meals that you eat at someone else’s house. To avoid over indulging in a high calorie or unhealthy dish, offer to bring your own dish or snacks over. This way, you know exactly what you have put inside the meal and have something to fall back on if there is not anything of nutritional value.
MAKE A PLAN
If you feel like you have no self-control over what you eat, then the holidays can be a hard time! Try to make a plan of what you will eat when you go to a friends, or have a lunch at your house. For example, tell yourself that you will only have one serving of mains and only 1 piece of dessert. Make your partner or family aware of your plan so they can keep you accountable. This will avoid mindlessly reaching for a second serving, or that third brownie and feeling guilty after.
If you have a sweet tooth and you absolutely will not pass up desert, then don’t deprive yourself! Instead, make small sacrifices throughout the day with your other meals if you know you will be indulging later. At lunch, skip the dinner rolls and butter so that you can indulge in a piece of pie after dinner.
The festive season is a time for indulging in food, surrounded by your friends and family, but that doesn’t mean that you need to go overboard and compromise your health and waist line. A few small adjustments to how you look at food this holiday season will make a massive difference on the scales when January rolls around.
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Unhealthy and disengaged employees are costing North American businesses a whopping $1,100,000,000 per year. Smart organizations are looking to wellness and engagement programs to change their costs, with the average corporate wellness program averaging at $700 per year. But the average participation rates for these programs are below 30%: many organization have little to no tracking of metrics or ROI. This often has people questioning whether wellness programs actually deliver returns, but the real question you should be asking is what type of wellness programs can reduce claims and lower insurance premiums.
The answer is, programs that are tailored to target “at-risk” and “high-risk” employees and also those with >70% participation from all employees to prevent them from becoming disengaged and/or chronically ill.
The most difficult factor in implementing a wellness program is employee participation. Participation penalties do not have a place in the workplace and incentives, while great, can’t force employees to make their lifestyle change alone. The key to a successful program is excellent leadership from the CEO and explanations as to why the wellness program exists and rising health care costs throughout the business.
According to a study done by the Gallup State of the American Workplace in 2012, employees that have an overall higher “well-being” have 41% lower health related costs, compared with employees who are struggling with their health, and 62% lower costs than employees who are suffering with their health.
Diabetes, depression, high blood pressure and being overweight are just a few factors that at-risk employees endure that can lead to expensive health claims. There are also the employees that are chronically ill and suffer from conditions such as cancer, heart conditions and advanced diabetes. Creating a disease management program for these employees can easily and effectively prevent your insurance premiums from rising. A program that pre-empts 20 unnecessary emergency department visits can easily save a business $50,000.
The science of wellness programs improving health is proven, but it is imperative that these programs are targeted at the right group of employees with the right programs with the right level of support and relevant content to ensure success.
The key is to engage in proactive health culture to support 100% of your employees, and allow highly data-driven specialist firms (such as Optimity) to use dynamic health risk assessments algorithms and smart targeting coaching programs to find the high-risk employees by engaging your employees in actively participating in their success. It is about building a culture of awareness and self-improvement to be able to achieve ROI.
Really and truly, any organization can do it. It is just about committing to change and getting the right experts on-board to help train and support you in understanding your own number and succeed in launching your proactive employee success practices.
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Over the last 2 years, we interviewed hundreds of powerful professionals [CEO, CFOs, CMO, COO, Head of Sales, VP of Marketing etc.] to gather key insights on how daily habits can shape careers:
The astounding growth in these leaders’ productivity and mindfulness seemed to be compounded over decades of their personal investment in habit building. Many shared experiences of adding simple, healthy habits into their daily routines. A few talk specifically about setting stretch goals, many swear by their routine for fitness, and most will talk about the power of continuous learning. They are all absolutely dedicated to practicing regular business-boosting habits.
The following 3 habits are easy to emulate, and can be seamlessly incorporated into your routine. They just might make the difference between stagnated personal growth and the inflection point on your competency, responsibilities and salary. The trick, as with any habit, is in making it stick.
1. Practice ACTIVE thinking
Can you place the last time that you came up with a great idea or had true fluidity and clarity of thought? For those I interviewed, they often do a lot of thinking and problem solving while they are on the move. During their jog, or as they are on a walk, their thoughts have hyper-clarity and focus. The benefits of daily physical exercise are well known, including stress reduction, improved mental acuity, and cardiovascular health. And it can be an invaluable business resource.
“I owe a lot of my winning decisions to my exercise routine,”one CEO says. “Life is busy, and I rarely have time to focus on specific issues uninterrupted… But when I’m out cycling, for an hour I am uninterrupted and invigorated. I feel positive, alive, and my brain just solves problems almost unconsciously.”
So try this, while you are walking home take a longer route to think; while you are on the treadmill, focus on a challenge you are having at work. Very quickly, you will see that your brain and muscles are well-connected to help produce better outcomes for you.
2. Set ambitious goals
Ask yourself these questions: What ambitious goals excite you? Can you do something about it in the next 3 months? next 3 weeks? next 3 days?
Now write them down. Keep it neatly displayed in your field of view at work.
Winning CEOs have the well-developed habit of setting goals that motivate themselves and their people. They regularly take time to define success and set goals. The power comes from getting specific with timelines and actions.
At least once a week, you should practice the habits of looking at your industry and develop a vision for it. Then, figure out how you would set ambitious goals to motivate others to join you in realizing that vision.
3. Never waste a meal
This is an Optimity trademarked habit. It is about taking advantage of each meal to give your body the nutrients it needs and also as an opportunity to connect with your fellow men/women.
2 great books bring home the 2 core ideas in this habit:
This book focuses on how each meal is a great time to network, since something special always happens when we spend time together “breaking bread”.
Being connected is a valuable asset in business and in life. Social interactions play a great part in our emotional well-being and our sense of community. So you should build the habit of enjoying food with others: try visiting an acquaintance from a different organization for lunch or invite them over for dinner. If you do this a couple times a week, you will find that your circle of influence have quickly multiplied into a powerful network.
“Whole” by T. Colin Campbell, a book on nutrition and eating habits.
This book is about the principle of nutrition and the human body: an apple as a whole interacts differently with your body, it cannot be substituted by adding up tablets for vitamin C and A.
It teaches the habit to consume “native forms” of plants, explained by the world of nutritional chemistry. We in our career-building phase of 20 years, get to enjoy close to 22,000 meals (if you eat thrice a day). Effectively after these years, your body will be completely build and re-build with new molecules. So make each meal count, and put good chemistry into your body. Your body is a complex machine, and you deserve premium material to build it.
“Breakfast smoothies are my thing! And I was looking for ways to connect with my staff more, so I started this 1-on-1 breakfast walking meeting thing.” one VP of Sales shared with me. “Any of my staff can book me for a breakfast walking meeting and enjoy one of my smoothies. I started getting to know my people better and I feel incredibly close to my team. As a health bonus, Pat’s wife wrote a thank-you note to me recently! Apparently Pat got on the juicing bandwagon because of me and lost 20lbs over the last year!”
So treasure each meal, as a chance to build your body and bond with those who you want to get to know better. Don’t squander calories and time.
Tiny habits like these will compound over time. Soon, you won’t even need to think to arrange for them in your daily schedule, they will just become a part of your routine. So start today, and keep at it.
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