The Benefits of Eating Pumpkin this Fall

Now that the Fall is in full force, pumpkin has made its long awaited comeback, and while you may only be familiar with delectable pumpkin treats such as pumpkin pies and pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin has far more to offer that just its sweet desserts. Its vitamin-rich flesh also has an abundance of health benefits, including better quality sleep, weight loss, and increased vision.

If cooked correctly, pumpkin is actually one of the healthier foods of the season, which is why we’ve noted some amazing health benefits of pumpkin to kick start your obsession this fall.

 

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Weight Loss

Mashed pumpkin has only 50 calories per cup and 3 grams of fiber, whilst pumpkin seeds have about 1.7 grams of fiber per ounce. Fibre helps you to feel fuller for longer which will assist in the prevention of over eating.

 

Increased Vision

Just one cup of pumpkin contains almost twice the recommended daily intake of vitamin A. Vitamin A improves your vision and has also been found to slow the decline of retinal function in those with retinitis pigmentosa, an eye disease that can eventually lead to blindness. Vitamin A has also been proven to help maintain healthy skin, teeth and bones.

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Better Sleep Quality

Have you ever wondered why you feel so sleepy after a big slice of pumpkin pie at thanksgiving dinner? Well, pumpkin seeds are rich in tryptophan, which is the amino acid that contributes to sleepiness. It also helps the body make serotonin, which assists in feeling a sense of relaxation. So not only will you be sleeping better, you will also experience and improvement in mood.

 

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With pumpkin’s high fibre content, it also helps to protect your heart. A recent Harvard study of over 40,000 male health professionals found that those who ate a diet high in fibre had a 40% lower risk of coronary heart disease, compared to those who ate less fibre.

 

                                                      Boosts your Immune System

boost-immune-systemPumpkin can help you fight off that pesky cold or flu that often comes hand in hand with fall. One cup of cooked pumpkin contains more than 11 milligrams, or nearly 20% of the 60 milligrams the IOM recommends women need daily, whilst men should aim for around 75 milligrams.

 

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Trista Chan is a Client Services Associate at Optimity.  She leverages her education in nutrition and experience in corpoate health to guide organizations in building healthy, engaged employees.  Her “me-time” activities include yoga, reading health blogs, cooking….did she mention she likes wellness?  Her passion for all things health-related shines through in both her work and personal life.  

How Optimity Helped Me Lose Weight!

I got in touch with one of our Optimity users over the week and asked how Optimity has played apart in their life. Today I’m joined by Stephanie, who has been an Optimity user since early 2017, to share her user experience.

Hi, I’m Stephanie, and I’m really happy to be able to share my health journey with everyone.  I’m 24 years old and Optimity helped me get healthy during my last year of University! Growing up I’ve always been a little bit “bigger”. It was normal for me to think being overweight was genetics and there was no way around it. So I ate the same food my family was eating, which obviously didn’t help because they were on the heavy spectrum. It wasn’t until I was in middle school that I realized that I was heavier than my other friends.

I went through some high and lows throughout my teen year because of my weight, I always felt a little insecure about the way I looked. It also didn’t help that my relationship with food wasn’t all that great. I had tried different dieting techniques, and weight loss programs but would just give up easily and the weight would come back on. I have unhealthy parents and I could see their health deteriorating as they got older with their unhealthy habits.   

I decided it was about time I did something about how I looked, but more importantly, how I felt inside. I didn’t want to get old and regret not trying to improve my overall health when I had the opportunity. I’d tried a lot of fad diets and the newest gadgets and they were great at first, until I would quit or stop using them. My biggest problem was about keeping a sustainable healthy lifestyle, with constant tips and reminders to stay on target with my goals. I was in this for the long run and I needed something that would help me continuously improve my health.

It was about a year ago when I had a friend introduce me to Optimity, I never took it seriously at first, it was just a great tool that provided me with useful notifications to help me build healthier habits and had a huge library of content. It wasn’t until a quarter way through the year that I noticed I developed a lot of new habits and I was actually losing weight! I was sitting in the library one night studying when I got a sudden urge to get a snack, and the old me would have went straight to the vending machine but instead, I walked to the nearby cafeteria to buy myself a yogurt parfait and some water! Who would have thought that I would one day walk right past the vending machine. It was then that I realized all those small quick activities I was doing from the Optimity app actually helped me develop new nutritious habits and help curb my usual unhealthy snack cravings. Thanks Optimity!

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Tasneem: Wow! That honestly so amazing I’m so happy for your healthy progress and that Optimity was able to help you on your journey. Can you share some of your top activity packs that really helped you get to where you on now?

Stephanie: Ya for sure! So time was a big issue for me, I was still in school and working at the same time so I really utilized the activity packs that I could have done from anywhere and that were quick. My top 3 activity packs that I would highly recommend is: 60 Second Workout, Eat well, and Energize With food. These 3 are my holy grail activity packs, they made me squeeze in quick workouts literally anywhere, even when I was sitting in one of my lectures, I would do seated leg raises. The last 2 activity packs really helped me improve my relationship with food, I no longer looked at unhealthy food as “bad” it just became high calorie, low nutritious food. This outlook helped me figure out which food worked for me and when.

Tasneem: Thanks so much for all that Stephanie, I’m really happy you’re in a healthier place now and are happy with your experience with Optimity!

 

We’d love to hear from you! If you’d like to share your experience with using Optimity and how it impacted your life, please reach out to us at engage@myoptimity.com.

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Not yet a user? Sign up now to join people like Stephanie and the rest of the Optimity Community to start getting healthier and claiming free rewards along the way!  

The State of Affairs with Engagement for Corporate Wellness Programs

Posted by Jane Wang 
Your people are your corporate competitive advantage. Most progressive leaders are actively investing in employee wellness. However, despite the amount of work that goes into implementing on-site and digital wellness programs, most corporate initiatives fail to engage 3 out of 4 employees. Let’s spend a little time dissecting what is happening and offer some food for thought.

The Gallup RAND Health Workplace Wellness Study has shown only 24% of employees at companies that offer wellness programs actually participate.We surveyed 200 professional services employees and there were many reasons why they didn’t participate in the 5K runs, yoga classes, & other wellness initiatives. The top 6 themes are:

  • not aware of the program
  • there was a lack of incentives to sign up
  • activities offered were not interesting to them personally
  • don’t have time
  • don’t know how to access the program
  • no one else is doing the program (lack of a wellness community)

More from the RAND study: Over 85% of companies offer some form of wellness program, with awareness levels with often less than 60% of employees.  40% of the employees who are aware, actually a sign up; and 30-40% of those who sign up end up not logistically able to show up to the actual events because of work priorities.

With another 10-40% simply forgetting, depending on the internal marketing efforts of the wellness champions on the day off, it is no surprise that companies with 200-1000 employees can’t get more than 50 people to any wellness event.
Health costs are rising, mental health and financial wellness training sessions coming up… it is time that you drive a paradigm shift in how you engage your employees in health & wellness.  Here are 3 quick tips on how to lead a movement of wellness and positively impact the bottom-line for your organization.
1. Build Momentum
Before launching or updating your wellness program this year, ensure that you take the opportunity to build awareness with 100% of your employee-base.Reach out to employees a couple of weeks prior to the launch date with on-site posters, email memos,  newsletters and on-site media outlets. A message, short video or presentation from your CEO, senior leadership or HR team supporting the program is always positive PR internally and externally. Remember to always add a call-to-action to each piece of your awareness campaign.
2. Make it Universal
Deliver wellness to your employees wherever they are. Design your program with context  and environment in mind.Leverage common technology they are already using, such as their mobile phone or computer. Provide practical activities that employees can fit into their 9-to-5, such as reminders to grab a drink of water, instructions for quick back stretches, and challenges to meditate for 60 seconds. These effective micro-actions are known to boost health & productivity, and can be quite engaging for even the most sedentary of office-potatoes.
3. Recognize Employees’ Individual Efforts
The majority of your employee base already use consumer health apps and wearable devices for activities tracking such as step counting, exercise logging, or nutrition journalling. Why not align your employees’ individual efforts to your organizational goals?If a fitbit is too restrictive in function or too expensive, Optimity also offer a great array of fitbit alternatives such as Apple Watches with more functionality, directly integrated with calendars or Optimity Mi Bands at just $30/band and with a 30-day battery life until the next recharge!
Recognize the activities they are already doing with your wellness platform’s points and prizes. We can connect your community by uniting them onto the same platform and gamify their work experience.Companies that employ this strategy has 2-5x more people participate in their programs!

 

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How to Improve Productivity in the Workplace by Decreasing Stress (Webinar Recap)

Posted by Tasneem Panchbhaya 

We had a great webinar in April, in honour of stress awareness month. I sat down with Optimity’s CEO, Jane Wang, to talk about how to decrease stress 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 preventing stress in the workplace: 

  • Stress is costing companies on average $300 billion dollar a year on stress-related absenteeism, turnover, lowered productivity, and direct medical, legal and insurance costs.
  • High stress organizations experience:
    • Increased or excessive absenteeism
    • High or increased accident rates
    • Poor interpersonal relations in the workplace
    • Poor or reduced work output and performance
    • Increased staff turnover


Stress is the harmful physical and emotional response that occurs when there is a poor match between job demands and the capabilities, resources, or needs of the worker. Common stress reactions include tension, irritability, inability to concentrate, and a variety of physical symptoms that include headache and a fast heartbeat. It’s almost impossible to live without some stress. And most of us wouldn’t want to, because it gives life some spice and excitement. But if stress gets out of control, it may harm your health, your relationships, and your enjoyment of life. The following are my top 3 principles that are essential for living a healthy and stress free life!  

1. Get Support

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Stress just doesn’t happen to you, for all we know the person next to you might be suffering from a form of stress as well. One way to combat your stress is through social support. Seek help out help, you don’t always have to make hard decisions on your own, find someone to talk to. Just one or two of your co-workers can become the pillar you need to tackle the stressful situations in your life.

2. Limit the Sugar Binge

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Interestingly, the stress hormone cortisol increases your appetite because of your body’s need for energy. Essentially how this works is,during a stress reaction, Cortisol increases your blood pressure and together with Adrenaline helps accelerate your heartbeat and breathing. This sends glucose to the blood to help free up enough energy for the muscles and the brain. As a result, a fuel shortage arises, and the sugar in our body provides the quick fix, as a result making us crave sweet foods.

To avoid consuming excessive amounts of sugar, be cognizant of what you’re eating. Making healthy food choices using Canada’s Food Guide ensures your body has the nutrients it needs to meet the challenges of your day.

3. Exercise

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My third principle, and perhaps my favorite, is exercise. Studies have proven that exercises helps cope with stress, especially aerobic exercise. It can improve your mood, help you sleep better, improve your focus and mental alertness, and make you feel fitter and more confident. Have a busy work schedule? No problem, check out this blog to get tips on how to incorporate exercise into your busy schedule.

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It’s smart and also more cost-effective to prevent stress. Simple lifestyle changes can have the biggest positive impact, financially for business and for the overall health of the individual. If you want to learn more about implementing an engaging and successful wellness program that maintains a healthy work environment and reduces employee stress, reach out to us at engage@myoptimity.com for information on how Optimity can help you!

Or sign up here to start leading a healthier life and claiming rewards!

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Don’t miss out on next months webinar on Employee Health & Wellness on May 3, click here to register.

 

 

Physical Wellness is NOT Enough

TIME STAMP: 4 MINUTE READ

Posted by Tasneem Panchbhaya 

Wellness programs can be found in most companies throughout North America these days, yet too many corporate wellness programs focus solely on the physical wellbeing of employees. Gone are the days where a purely physical wellness program works. Together with physical wellness, mental and financial wellness all contribute to a complete wellness program that leads employees to be happier, healthier and more engaged than ever.

Workplace wellness programs can come at a cost, but if they are executed correctly then they have the potential to offset rising healthcare costs and build a healthier, motivated and more focused workforce.

To have a complete wellness program, financial and mental wellness need to be included as well. Here’s why:

 

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Mental Wellness

According to the World Health Organization, as many as 450 million people worldwide suffer from a mental or behavioral disorder, and the average costs for employees with depression may be 4.2 times higher than those incurred by a typical employee. While mental health is not as easily measured as an employee’s blood pressure, it is still just as important. When an employee’s mental health is suffering, it can lead to more serious health problems. Even stress can be a silent killer.


Things like absenteeism, high turnover and loss of productivity are often signs that are linked to poor mental health. Employers can start to incorporate mental health into their wellness program by ensuring that employees have access to mental health benefits, as well as an employee assistance program. Employee Assistance Programs have proven to work well in a wellness program, as they provide referrals to mental health professionals while maintaining a high standard of confidentiality. Employers who provide mental health programs as a part of their workplace wellness program are proven to have an advantage over those who don’t in terms of lower incidents, staff turnover and workplace injury. Activities such as yoga, massages and meditation are an easy way to start bringing mental wellness into your overall wellness program.

 

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Financial Wellness

Financial wellness can be categorised as having control over one’s finances, or the capacity to manage unexpected expenses or bills. Financial wellness programs offer employees the chance to better educate themselves on a variety of financial information that they would not bother to search for themselves or that may be stressing them out.


To provide an adequate financial wellness program, employers must provide resources that help short and long term financial goals. Financial planning for retirement is great, but what about next week’s bills? Employees with low financial confidence risk making bad financial decisions, or avoid making them at all, and as a result end up stressed and unhappy.


As with any wellness program, financial wellness programs need to be tailored specifically to the employee. Every employee’s financial situation will be different and will require a specific plan.

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Any wellness program that is implemented within a company should incorporate all types of wellness in a more holistic approach. It is no longer beneficial to the employee or employer to miss one of these crucial elements out of their wellness program. Read more tips on how to avoid failing traditional approach to wellness programs.

At Optimity, our customized holistic approach incorporates all aspect of health, by providing customized solution to wellness. Our approach garners positive results.

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We help the average worker take productive 30 second to 2-minute micro-breaks that have long last beneficial impact. These micro-habits boosts their mood, helps them focus and encourage social connectedness to their culture. Optimity’s app provides users with tips on financial wellness, that way employees now have the tools to confidently make smart decisions about their finances.


Want to know more about how we can help you implement a personalized coaching program in your company? Reach out to us at engage@myoptimity.com and lets have a chat.

Or sign up here to start leading a healthier life and claiming rewards!

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One-size fits all wellness programs are a thing of the past!

160901_Ladder_Ramo_healthcare_wellness_program_scam.jpg.CROP.promo-xlarge2.jpgWe know that everyone is unique, so why do we still think that a one-size fits all wellness program can succeed in our workplaces? Employees are individuals with different needs and wants and a single approach to wellness can only benefit a small number of employees, which means that it is more likely to fail.

With research showing that an effective employee wellness program can provide a 300 – 600% ROI, it is worth the time and money to invest in a successful wellness program.

Health is a personal issue and an employee that feels obligated to join a one-size fits all wellness program is doomed to fail. Not only will they not feel personally supported, but there is a high chance that it simply will not work for them. As an Employer, you need to get to know your employees and customize your wellness program to suit.

 

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Here are our top tips on creating a successful wellness program in your workplace.

Avoid a one size fits all program

When implementing your wellness program, think of two people from completely different ends of the spectrum. If your wellness program will not meet the needs of both people, then it probably won’t succeed in your company. One size fits all approaches to wellness programs decrease the motivation levels of your workforce. If your employees are not feeling important or valued, then they are less likely to participate.


Adapt to the workforce

According to a recent study, 76% of employers now taking on an innovative approach to wellness programs that address physical, mental, and financial health.  Modern companies are turning to their employees to understand what they value and to create a good company culture. Speak to your employees to figure out what they will appreciate in a corporate wellness program. A 55-year-old female and 26-year-old male are bound to have completely different needs and wants in a wellness program, and it’s important to adapt your program to suit both.


Get professional help

It can be difficult to implement an employee wellness program alone. Without the most up to date data and tools it can open your wellness program up to flaws and decrease the chances of success. Employee wellness programs not only benefit employees, but provide increasingly high ROI’s to company’s as well, so it is worth investing in some help to set up your customized employee wellness program.

 

Here at Optimity we specialize in providing a customized solution to wellness programs, while monitoring your ROI. Optimity’s technology platform is scientifically supported. We help the average worker take productive 30 second to 2-minute micro-breaks that have long last beneficial impact. These micro-habits boosts their mood, helps them focus and encourage social connectedness to their culture. Our pocket coach is also customized to each employee and provides your company with historical and ongoing claims analysis to help you understand your highest costs.

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How to Deal with the Holiday Blues

Posted by Jeff Cai

Being grateful for what you have this Christmas

TIMESTAMP: 3 MINUTE READ

For a lot of us, the holidays are a time for happiness, love and celebration, but for others, this time of year can be difficult, whether it be due to the loss of loved ones, a recent break up or just general stress. December is often known as one of the toughest months of the year and staying positive throughout this time can be hard, but no matter how difficult things are, there is always a way to make the most of the good moments you have. By staying focused on the good in your life, it will make it a lot easier to get through the holiday season when you are feeling not so festive.

Here are a few ways you can stay positive when the holidays get hard.

THINK OF WHAT YOU HAVE, INSTEAD OF WHAT YOU DO NOT

Being grateful for the things that you have in your life, whether it be a house to live in, a good friend or a steady job…these are all good things in your life, and should not be forgotten about.

 

If you are finding it hard to think about things you are grateful for, try creating a gratitude list. Over the festive period, write down 3 things you are grateful for every day. By the end of the month you will be surprised at how many amazing things there are in your life that you may have taken for granted.

 

Not matter how difficult things are, there is at least one thing that is going right in your life. It might be miniscule in the scheme of things, but it is something positive to focus on, rather than only thinking of the bad in your life. There are great things that are happening all around you and it is up to you to open your eyes and look out for them.

 

“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.”- Oprah Winfrey

 

REALIZE THAT YOU ARE NOT ALONE

It is easy to feel as though you are the only one going through a tough time over the holidays, but the reality is that there are many others out there that are struggling just as you are.  Remembering that you are not alone in your struggle and that there are people doing it tougher than you are can make you feel grateful and really help to put things in perspective.

 

SPEND TIME WITH THE LESS FORTUNATE

Researchers at the National Institutes of Health in the US have found that giving activates the brain’s mesolimbic system.  Giving can trigger the release of the neurotransmitters that generate an overall sense of well-being. Whether it be giving your time, money or donations, giving to another who is less fortunate than you are is one of the quickest ways to put your life in perspective. There are some great volunteer opportunities around the holiday season, so find one that resonates with you and contact them. It will make you feel so much more positive, knowing that you are helping someone else.

 

 

GET OUT OF THE HOUSE

When you are feeling down, it can be so easy to stay inside, away from the surroundings of other people, but this is probably one of the worse things you can do.  Interacting with others might be the last thing on your mind this festive season, but force yourself to get out and socialize and you will not regret it. Being surrounded by positive people will definitely improve your mood and it will feel a lot better than being alone.

 

You might not be in the holiday mindset this year, and everyone else’s cheerful moods may be driving you crazy, but if you focus your attention on staying positive and thinking of the bigger picture then there is a good chance that you will feel some kind of joy or happiness over the next few months. Just remember, this time in your life might be tough, but there will be a holiday season when you will be one of those cheerful, happy people spreading holiday cheer.

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