Topics:Health Tips Hair Loss Physical Fitness Male Pattern Baldness Maintaining Balance Health in the Workplace Stress, Anxiety, and Depression Achieving Balance Healthy Eating Hair Care Healthy Skin Relationship Tips
Men's Health and Wellness
February 26th, 2021
Guest Post by Robyn Flint Depression knows no boundaries. It can occur in anyone due to a number of precipitating factors like predisposition, a life-changing diagnosis or illness, the loss of a loved one, or seasonality. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is depression brought on by the colder days and longer nights typically associated with late fall and early winter. SAD affects women more often than men, but it certainly doesn’t discriminate. Men typically don’t seek treatment for mental health issues as often as women. Men may feel a sense of shame in seeking treatment, but there is no shame in seeking help for depression. There are mental health services available for men who may be experiencing SAD or other mental health issues. If you are unclear about the symptoms of SAD, here are a few warning signs and suggestions for overcoming them: Loss of interest in things you normally like If you find yourself losing interest or avoiding the things you once loved (e.g. outdoor recreational activites), this may be a tell-tale sign of SAD or other forms of depression. If you find yourself unable to pull out of the slump, it may be time to seek professional help. To avoid losing interest in normal activities, make a conscious effort to stay active during the winter. Instead of taking a run outside, join a gym during the colder months. Go with friends and make it a regularly scheduled activity. Consider a vacation to help your mental health. Spend time doing the things you love even if you have to tweak the specifics to accommodate the colder weather. For example, you may not be able to play football with friends, but you can certainly watch it with them. Make a plan to watch one game together each week at a set time and day, alternating the place you watch. This is a great way to stay active and enjoy the things and people you love. Changes in your sleeping habits If you have experienced changes in your sleep habits (sleeping all the time or having trouble sleeping), this may be a sign of SAD. By itself, this is a symptom of other potential health issues. But when it’s paired with other symptoms, it could be due to seasonal depression. A great suggestion for combatting a sleep issue is to establish a nightly routine. If you stay active during the day instead of becoming a hermit, this will help diminish your need to fill the time with sleep. When boredom sets in, so do the urges to sleep. Keep yourself from getting bored. Schedule a bedtime and turn it into a habit. At least one hour before your bedtime, start a routine to prepare your body for sleep. Take a warm shower and follow it up with a caffeine-free beverage and a good book. Turn off the TV as some shows may evoke feelings that make it difficult to sleep and the light is scientifically proven to keep you awake. Instead, listen to soothing music, meditate, read, or do another activity that helps you wind down. No working before bed, you workaholics! Overeating and weight gain during those colder months Boredom in the winter wreaks havoc on our bodies. When we get bored, we eat, we watch TV, we snack, and we have nothing to do outside, so we bake. You may not be the chef in your house, but chances are you are one of many taste testers. It’s really a double-edged sword. We eat because we are bored, and we are bored because there is nothing to do, except eat. Put the beer and chips away. Get off the couch and do some crunches. This goes back up to the first point about staying active. If that fails, then take an interest in healthy cooking. Use the long nights to learn how to become a gourmet chef. The point is to do something healthy instead of vegging out and eating junk all evening. And gentlemen, if you didn’t know, being able to cook is a very attractive quality in a man. Other warning signs of SAD Here are additional signs of Seasonal Affective Disorder: Mood changes (sadness, irritability, and anger) Feeling tired and lethargic Feeling generally depressed Changes in concentration Feelings of guilt and hopelessness There is relief available for Seasonal Affective Disorder and singing the winter blues. Recognize these changes and be proactive with your mental health. If you are experiencing these symptoms, get some professional help by consulting your physician or mental health provider. Robyn Flint writes for CompareLifeInsurance.com and has an MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. Her experience in the field of mental health includes counseling children and families through outpatient counseling, program management, clinical supervision, and therapeutic foster care. Robyn is also a freelance writer and published author.
Guest Post by Billy Ferguson How can you stay motivated while training during the winter? With miserable weather day after day, maintaining motivation to stay fit can be a real challenge. Short days and long nights are filled with pitfalls that test your resolve and pull you back to the sofa. Most of us in the United States experience cold winters and miss the warm training weather. It may seem hard to justify why you continue your training, but maintaining and building your fitness throughout the winter and spring is important as you look to the summer. 1. Mix it up Trying to stick to a fixed routine can be a killer for your motivation. To avoid this, mix up your training with different types of exercise. Get out there and smash a 5K Saturday morning park run, go climbing, or try a spinning class. Find some activities that usually are not part of your fitness regimen and give them a go. 2. Make investments If you don't own a turbo trainer, now may be the right time to invest in one. A turbo trainer allows you to train indoors using your existing bike. Adding this to your training will allow you to have easy access to equipment to help get your heart rate into the training zone. 3. Set a plan With advice by Don Fink (an internationally known triathlon and running coach) on nearly every bookshelf of wannabe triathletes, it is no surprise that we are learning why it is so important to establish a plan. Whether you are training for a 5K or a marathon, a plan will help you succeed. Set out a plan that you can maintain. Use this plan as motivation to help you get out and accomplish your goal. 4. Set a specific goal Having a goal can always help you resist the temptation to hit that snooze button on a Sunday. When you set a goal, make sure that it is specific. A targeted goal will help you refine your training with the end in mind. Note: If you are planning to participate in an event, whether it be a simple community run or a competitive race, don’t delay your registration until you feel "ready." Signing up and committing will help you push harder get ready and achieve your goal. 5. Build a support group Allow your loved one to help keep you going. If you let them in on your goal, they will be able to help push you to achieve it. As you bring them into your plan and invite them to feel a part of what you are doing, they will be more likely to help you get up on those cold mornings and stick to your plan. For more tips on how to include others in your fitness goals, click here. 6. Find a training buddy Training is not only beneficial to your fitness, but it can be a great social outlet. You will find that your training becomes easier as you and your training partner push each other to do more and follow through with your commitments. If you can find a partner who is slightly better than you, you will be pushed to limits that you would not have achieved on your own. 7. Adopt a mantra Find a training mantra that is personal to you. For example, "No pain, no gain" might be a bit too corny for you, but you will find one that works for you. Once you have found the mantra that you would like to use, repeat it in your head while you are training. Let it become an empowering phrase that helps you to go a bit longer and a bit harder than you did the previous training session. Bonus tip: If you struggle remembering to use this phrase as you train, print it out and take it with you to the gym, put it on your bike, tape it to your water bottle. The more that you see it, the more effective it will become. 8. Reward yourself We all love new things. Don’t be afraid to sneak in the odd purchase every so often. Whether it be a pair of socks, some shoes, or a shirt, something new may help you to get excited about getting up off the couch and going for a run. 9. Make it personal If every event that you decide to participate in is for charity, you will burn out sooner than later. If you are working hard towards a goal to become more fit or stay active during the winter, make sure that the events that you participate in help you to achieve this goal. If you do participate in charity events, evaluate your reasoning and make your ability to participate personal and meaningful. As you do this, you will feel a greater sense of accomplishment as you achieve your goals. Billy Ferguson is the Founder and CEO behind Trivelo and a triathlete for the past 10 years. Never a podium finisher, he still struggles to find the right mix of ingredients to ensure a successful winter base training regimen.
Guest Post by Sahara Rose De Vore When you think of self-care you probably think about going to the gym, joining a yoga class, spending an hour a day meditating, drinking a green juice, getting a massage, or trying out the newest health trend like testing out your Eskimo skills with cryotherapy or floating in a sensory deprivation tank. These are the typical self-care rituals that we commonly talk about. Something that we turn to at different points in our life is travel. When we are feeling stressed out from work, we are dealing with a terrible breakup, there was a death in our life, when we need to shake up a relationship or strengthen the bond with a loved one, or we need to break out of our daily routine and feel something new, we turn to travel. We often do this without recognizing our deeper intent or reasoning. Travel is healing. It fulfills us in a way unlike any other. Vacationing is a restorative behavior with an independent positive effect on health where the benefits can take effect before, during, and after a trip. Decades of research show the positive effects of travel on people’s overall health. Travel activities reinforce physical and mental activity, provide opportunities for human interaction, deepens relationships, aids in combating burnout, enables you to disconnect, and improves your self-awareness. Improves your mental health Resting the body and relaxing the mind are just two ways that travel helps improve your mental well-being. Being in new environments, having exciting new experiences, meeting interesting people, exercising your senses, increasing mindfulness, learning about yourself and what you want out of life, and being part of something bigger than yourself are a few ways that travel can positively change your mental state of mind. Research by psychologists and neuroscientists has found that travel can affect mental change. According to a five-year study by the Wisconsin Medical Journal, “the odds of depression and tension were higher among women who took vacations only once in two years or once in six years compared to women who traveled two times or more each year” and “women who take vacations frequently are less likely to become tense, depressed, or tired.” Traveling can help you take a breather to focus on yourself, explore your emotions, and realign with your inner self. The Wisconsin Medical Journal also states that “women who took vacations were much less likely to suffer from depression and other mental health issues, so they subsequently enjoyed a higher quality of life.” Traveling to warm climates, exposure to sunlight, and getting Vitamin D all have a positive effect on depression. Travel increases our happiness hormones and keeps them flowing. "One of the enemies of happiness is adaptation,” says Dr. Thomas Gilovich, a psychology professor at Cornell University. Travel is the opposite of adaptation. Your environment is constantly changing, you hear different languages, you are faced with new decisions and problems to solve, and you are exposed to new foods, people, cultures, and ways of life. Like Matador Network says, “new experiences increase your cognitive flexibility and keeps your mind sharp”. Decreases burnout There continues to be a rising burnout epidemic in today’s workforce but studies show that the majority of companies are not prioritizing travel in their wellness programs. Research proves that travel is a key ingredient to combating burnout. Taking time for yourself, doing something that makes you happy, checking things off of your bucketlist, being in nature, fulfilling your needs, and exercising the mind and body aids in lowering work-related fatigue and stress. According to the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, “a four-day ‘long weekend’ vacation had positive effects on well-being, recovery, strain, and perceived stress for as long as 45 days.” Benefits of travel are almost immediate. After only one or two days of vacation, 89 percent of respondents saw significant drops in stress according to the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies and the United States Travel Association. Although traveling can put your anxiety to the test, it can also teach you new ways to cope and learn about your limits. Keeps you physically fit Travel can keep you physically fit both inside and out. Although some vacations may entail plenty of laying on the beach, many also involve plenty of walking and physical activities. Walking to explore new cities, going on hikes, dancing the night away, and snorkeling in the sea are some common physical activities during traveling that keep your body active and your heart strong. Being fit also means your internal well-being. Exposure to the salty sea air and eating local seafood and marine plants can increase your iodine levels which aids in boosting the immune system. The more that you travel to new environments with different foods, climates, flora, and fauna, the more you build antibodies, ultimately boosting your immune system. If you suffer from sore muscles, achy joints, or arthritis, soaking in the salty sea or mineral-rich hot springs can help alleviate pain and stiffness. Places like the Blue Lagoon in Iceland, Turkish hot springs, and the Dead Sea in Israel and Jordan are prime destinations for this. According to a study by The Framingham Heart, “men and women who traveled annually were less likely to suffer a heart attack or develop heart disease.” There is an association between infrequent vacationing and increased incidence of heart problems or death due to coronary causes during a 20-year follow up of women participants. Traveling can increase your chance of living longer and having more fun doing it. It is a healthy way to keep your spirit youthful as you age. Multigenerational travel benefits both grandparents and grandchildren. According to the U.S Travel Association, grandparents “cite valuing the opportunity to travel with their grandchildren to help them feel and stay more youthful.” New destinations can also make eating healthier easier. Asia and South America are saturated with local markets where you can buy vitamin-rich fruits and vegetables. You can try exotic new produce that would otherwise be expensive or non-existent where you live. Various fruits like sour sop, papaya, and persimmons are popular fruits known to have healing properties. Eastern healing practices like massages and yoga, homeopathic remedies, Chinese medicines, ancient herbals and teas, and meditation are more accessible and affordable when traveling to that region of the world. Traveling gives you the opportunity to align with your inner self and prioritize your self-care from the inside out. Ignites your self-esteem Traveling also makes you an interesting storyteller. It can boost your confidence levels and self-awareness. Being challenged, trying new things, solving problems on your own, and navigating a foreign place ignites your self-esteem. Vacation offers the opportunity for freedom, intrinsic motivation, creativity, and self-determining factors, which ultimately results in psychological benefits. Studies have shown a connection between travel and creativity, a deeper sense of cultural awareness, and personal growth. When traveling, you expand your mind, adapt to new situations, learn new skills, exercise your thinking process, and become more globally and culturally aware. Travel sends you home with life-long memories to keep and stories to share. Are you putting travel in the forefront of your self-care regime? Ask yourself what truly drives you to get away and what kind of experience you need to have the wellness outcomes that you desire. Sahara Rose De Vore is an Intuitive Wellness Travel Coach who has traveled solo to 84 countries. Founder of The Travel Coach Network, she is on a mission to bring travel to the forefront of well-being both in and out of the workplace.
“The best resolution is one that you will keep!” — Dr. Barbara Bushman of Missouri State University In 2018, only 4 percent of people actually stuck to their New Year’s resolutions. You don’t need to be a mathematician to know how bad of a percentage that is. Let’s face it, both you and I have set resolutions that we have been unable or unwilling to keep. Do you want to change that this year? You likely set some resolutions at the end of 2020. Are you still keeping them? Whether you are or aren’t, the following tips and tricks from a wide panel of over 25 experts will help you stay on track. Why you aren’t being successful “No matter our goals, sometimes we end up making choices or acting in a way that undermines what we really want. Even with the best of conscious intentions, we often allow this self-sabotage to creep in and prevent us from reaching our goals,” said Dr. Bradley Nelson, veteran holistic physician, lecturer, and author from Discover Healing. Setting goals is easy enough, but actually acting on our goals is much harder. Dr. Nelson points out some of the ways that we might sabotage our success: Focusing on failure — We often forget that some of the most successful people are only where they are because they have previously failed a number of times and learned from those experiences. Focus on learning from mistakes, not on beating yourself up when you come short. Not celebrating small victories — You don’t have to wait to celebrate your success until the end of your goal. Enjoy the journey and celebrate the baby steps. Procrastinating — If you allow fear, dread, or insecurity to control you, you will continue to put off accomplishing your goals. Get rid of these thoughts and you will accomplish much more. Faking it — Don’t be afraid of letting people know exactly where you are. The more honest you are, the better people know how to help you. Suffering from Imposter Syndrome — This means that you feel that you are not worthy of happiness or success. Write down all that you accomplish; you will soon see that you have done more than you expected and are worth more than you could ever know. Erika Lee Sperl, a (PES) performace consultant based in Los Angeles adds, "I believe that our inability to stick with the majority of our New Year's resolutions comes down to three things: No one is holding you accountable but yourself, the approach needs changing, but you don't know how, and the goal becomes irrelevant as life situations change." How to choose a resolution To start, you should not make a long list of resolutions. If you did that, look over them and pick one that you would like to focus on. Dr. Susan Besser, MD, MBA, FAAFP, and CIME at Mercy Medical Center suggests that making multiple resolutions will set you up for failure. She also suggests that you treat any resolution you make as a goal. She said, “Decide what one thing (that you can change) is upsetting you the most, then make small changes to improve yourself in that area.” If you do end up slacking off a bit, be kind to yourself. If you find yourself getting stuck, Dr. Besser recommends evaluating what has happened and looking for positive changes to make to your current situation. If you can do this, you will be able to maintain a happy and healthy outlook during your journey to change. Fitness resolutions A recent study by Finder found that over 39 percent of Americans set resolutions to improve their health. These resolutions are often to lose a certain amount of weight or increase physical activity. To prevent burn out, here are some suggestions to make this goal more attainable: Start small — If you hope to run a 5k in the near future, Bushman recommends that you start with a walking program. Work your way into things so that you don't get burned out. Take a walk — Joyce Shulman, Founder of 99Walks said that walking has incredible benefits for your mind, your mood, and your body. It offers time and space free of distractions, fuels your creativity, and is the easiest way to effectively improve your fitness. Facilitate more movement — Teri Dreher, Founder, RN, CCM, and BCPA with NShore Patient Advocates suggests that you park at the further end of the store lot or consider getting a fitness tracker and start counting steps. “Improving posture provides a plethora of health improvements, from reducing torso pain, arthritis pain, knee pain, and of course back pains. Gastrointestinal issues are reduced or corrected by improving posture, and mental acuity is improved. It involves correcting a lifetime of living in bad habits, and that’s not an easy pattern to change.” — Bill Schultz, Founder of Alignmed Have you ever considered working to improve your posture as a New Year’s resolution? Shultz suggests that improving your posture is one of the most important resolutions that we could make for ourselves. If you have recently experienced unexplained back or neck pain, it is possible that your posture is poor. Shultz has found that this pain begins with soreness, turns into inflammation, and then becomes pain and discomfort. Common symptoms for poor posture include: A forward lean when standing straight Fatigue throughout the day A slow metabolism Alignmed has created clothing that acts as a posture corrector. It can be worn while working in the office, when you are out and about, or when you are participating in physical activities. Some professional athletes use it during training to improve performance. If you are looking for help with your posture, it may be worth looking into. Get more sleep Do you get eight hours of good sleep each night? The reality is that most of us don’t. We should, but we get side tracked with friends, family, TV, video games, or other activities. Imagine how good it would feel to get a solid eight hours of sleep each night. Here is what the experts have to say about sleeping habits: Routine — Bill Fish, Founder of Tuck.com, feels that the quantity of sleep is not as important as the quality of sleep that you are getting. He said, “Our bodies are equipped with an internal 24-hour clock known as our circadian rhythm. It tells our body when to rest and when to be alert, and craves consistency. Thus, going to bed and getting up at the same time each day will help your body immensely.” Time — It is not uncommon for us to plan so many things in our day that we end up staying out later than we would like. If this is a habit of yours, Jocelyn Nadua, Registered Practical Nurse and Care Coordinator for C-Care Health Services, suggests that you start trying to go to bed a bit earlier. She said, “It's okay to go to bed late on some occasions, but those few extra hours of sleep you get when you go to be early will go a long way in keeping your body healthy.” Sleep apps — Dr. Tanya Altmann, Pediatrician and Author, recommends trying out a sleep app to better your sleeping patterns. She points out that “smart apps for sleep can track sleep cycles, aid in falling asleep, or potentially guide your dreams.” Get more exercise Who doesn’t want to take better care of their body at the beginning of a new year? There are so many ways that you can tackle physical health. To start, here are five tips from Billy Ferguson, CEO and Founder of Trivelo. Keep variety in your exercise regime. Mix things up and have some fun. Resist routine. Keep your body guessing and prevent muscle memory from reducing the effectiveness of your training. Combine cardio, strength training, and low resistance stretching based exercises to create all round fitness and maximize the time invested. Vary times of training and type. Don’t feel the need to workout for exactly an hour every day. Reward all efforts from 50-mile bike rides all the way down to getting 10,000 steps of walking in a day. Sometimes improving physical health can be intimidating. That being said, there are ways to make it more palatable. If you are not the best at going to the gym or working out, it is important to start with baby steps. Renata Trebing, Founder of Nourish With Renata suggests that you get out and move your body for 30 minutes each day. To help you create a habit, she offers these three suggestions: Select a time of day that works for you (during a lunch break, nap time, or before dinner, etc.) Hold yourself accountable (write your goal down) Invite people that you are close to to help you (build a support group) “You should exercise (moderate physical activity) 150 minutes per week: 5 days of 30 minutes each session.” — American Heart Association Jocelyn Henning, MS, PA-C, Stroke Program Director, and Director of Patient Safety at Mercy Medical Center, suggests pairing fitness with nutrition by setting regular eating and exercise patterns six out of seven days per week. The seventh day is a day for you to enjoy your favorite meal or some treats. If, like the majority of us, you have a couple of bad days and are unable to meet your daily goals, just jump right back into it. Henning said, “One or two not so good days aren’t an excuse to ruin the rest of the week.” Improve your nutrition Making changes to your eating habits is easier said than done. One of the best ways to improve your health is eating a nutrient-rich diet. Dr. Stacey Bell, DSc and RDN with Drink Nutrient, offers a few suggestions to help you get started: Stay hydrated Don’t count calories, count nutrients Avoid the “Naughty Nine” preservatives gluten GMOs excess sugar excess sodium acrylamide artificial flavors/sweeteners/dyes binders/emulsifiers Whole Foods-banned ingredients. Expert parenting tip: Pack a lunch for your kids. There are many resources to help you get some inspiration. Jessica Gury, Cofounder and CEO of Teuko, a company that helps parents know how to pack good lunches for their kids, suggests that parents pack lunches for their kids to help them develop healthier eating habits. Making changes to your diet usually will require you to replace the bad foods that you are eating with healthier options. Amy Van Sydow Green, MD, MS, and RD with Honey Brains, adds her recommendations on eating better foods: Increase veggies and fruit in your daily diet. Aim to make half of your plate vegetables at lunch and dinner. Add a fruit and veggie smoothie with your breakfast egg. Slice up an apple to eat with nuts for a nourishing evening snack. Get in the habit of having a side salad with dinner. Eat more whole foods and less processed foods. For example, fish, chicken, nuts, eggs, fruits, and vegetables are more filling and can help you manage a healthy weight. Stay hydrated “Proper hydration is not only essential to health, it regulates body temperature, it helps your kidneys function, helps your digestive tract move things along, and helps your body send essential nutrients/electrolytes to their proper destinations in your body.” — Amanda A. Kostro Miller, RD and LDN with Smart Healthy Living It's important to stay hydrated throughout the day, every day. But that doesn't have to mean just drinking more water. Though this would be ideal, it is certainly only one of many sources of hydration. Miller suggests that you can help keep your body hydrated by consuming the following: water, broths, juices, teas, fruits, and veggies. All of these sources can be used to increase your fluid intake during the day. Proper hydration for you can be determined by a registered dietitian (there may be certain health conditions that have specific fluid recommendations). For more suggestions, see what Medical News Today has to say. So how can you tell if you are dehydrated? It's actully pretty simple. According to Miller, unless you have any conditions that may cause your body to act differently (kidney disease, diuretic medications, etc.), you will be able to judge your hydration based on the color of your urine. If it is dark yellow or amber, it is likely that you need to increase your hydration. Ideally, urine should be clear or very pale yellow. Breathe better Have you ever thought about making a goal to improve your lung capacity? It may sound silly, but some of the things we do every day really do affect our ability to breathe. Bob Prichard, President of Somax Performance Institute, shares some of his findings below: Stop smoking — Anything (vaping, marijuana) that you inhale that is not clean air will irritate the sensitive lung tissues. The result is that you gradually, imperceptibly lose chest expansion, lung capacity and brain oxygen. Wash your hands — Colds and the flu can cause similar effects on your lungs as smoking. Avoid corset undergarments — Want a wasp waist? Say goodbye to your brain oxygen. Travel more Did you know that traveling can help reduce stress levels and boost self esteem? In a recent article by Lonely Planet, travel was identified as an act of self care. It is not uncommon for people to want to travel more, but the number of those who actually do is fairly low. While traveling requires time, energy, and money, in exhange you get experience, memories, and a richer life. “Travel is a key component to maintaining a healthy and happy lifestyle,” said Sahara Rose De Vore, Founder of The Travel Coach Network. She continues, “People are drawn to travel for reasons including healing, connecting, exploring, adventure, soul searching, and other fulfilling purposes. Therefore, travel is a health resolution that people should keep up with all year.” If you would like to travel more, but always run into roadblocks, here are some tips from De Vore to help you change that: Treat travel as self-care Be involved in the planning process (don’t just leave it to a travel agency) Set a specific budget and plan accordingly Put money aside each month into a travel fund Create a travel vision board Explore the hidden gems of your hometown, state, or country on a stay-cation See if your employer offers any travel perks (remote work or volunteering abroad) The better you are at caring for yourself, the more effective you will be in all that you do. Improve your mental health Have you ever set a goal but felt that you would never be able to achieve it? When we set lofty goals but are not in the mental space to take them on, we can easily become discouraged. Strive to look at your goals through a positive lens. McKenzie Caldwell, MPH and RDN with Feed Your Zest, feels that the best type of diet is no diet at all. Thinking that you are on a diet can be restrictive and mentally taxing. She recommends sticking to a couple of guidelines (rules) to improve your physical and mental state. This is called intuitive eating. She said, “Intuitive eating is all about tuning into your inner signals of hunger, fullness and cravings. In this way, you can pursue a healthier lifestyle, and have better body image and mental health in the process.” If you start getting anxious or upset about your eating and fitness goals, take inventory of your social media feeds. If you are following people or companies that discuss dieting or exercise, unfollow them. There is no point focusing on others successes when you should be enjoying your own journey through conscious decision making. Do you expect to be perfect immediately when you start a new goal? Let’s face it, you won’t be. Everybody makes mistakes. Everybody falls short in some capacity and needs to start over. To help you navigate this in your life, Cynthia Thurlow, Functional Medicine Nurse Practitioner, Nutrition Expert, and Wellness Entrepreneur, shares four key tips: Be honest with yourself — Analyze what is working and what is not without making excuses. Consistently assess — No matter your goal, take the time to assess your progress and identify places where you are doing well and places that you think you could improve. Take time — Give yourself at least 30–60 days to transition into a new habit. Change requires time. Turn around — Take some time every so often to look back and see how far you have come. You will be surprised to see how big a difference each small change can make.
Guest Post by Shyam Bhardwaj Corporate lifestyles are causing a significant proportion of the U.S. workforce to face lesser productivity. Sedentary lifestyles, poor nutritional choices, bad posture, improper work-life balance, and excessive alcohol use have all been identified as contributors to chronic illnesses among workers. Chronic illness has become a major burden on the workplace due to health care costs, absenteeism, and reduced employee productivity when at work. Work-load and associated stress levels undeviatingly impact mental as well as physical health. The American Heart Association uses CVH metrics to define physical health comprising several observations, including non-smoking, body mass index, blood pressure, and cholesterol, etc. Reportedly, CVH metrics + Healthy Diet + Physical Activity are arbitrarily linked with better engagement and performance. Many organizations have addressed these issues by inducting workplace wellness programs to inspire employees to adopt healthier lifestyles. Programs are either implemented directly by the employer or through a program developed by the company's health-care provider. Cited by the RAND report, nearly half of U.S.-based employers run a sort of wellness program. Most of these programs combine screening for risk factors with interventions to reduce risk. Individual's data set on weight, blood pressure, blood glucose levels, and fitness habits are commonly collected by employers as part of these wellness initiatives. Interventions offered in the wellness programs involve smoking cessation programs, on-site weight measurements, on-site vaccinations, weight-loss competitions, nutrition educational activities, stress management educational activities, substance abuse counseling, and fitness promotion programs. About half of the employers with wellness initiatives also offer disease management assistance, with diabetes as the most commonly targeted condition. The biggest obstacle for employers to make these programs extremely successful is the ratio of positive participation from employees. The majority of wellness programs used incentives such as money and prizes to encourage employee participation in the programs. Organizational wellness programs might differ based on personalized goals and company-size, but usually, the following points decide the wellness plan structure: What is pushing the most extravagant claims onto your health care plan. Humanize your organization and set realistic expectations. Integration of workplace wellness with other benefits. Lead by example; Practice what you preach. Implementation is the key. Corporate wellness programs do more than just promote healthy lifestyles among employees. Aside from providing positive reinforcement to get in shape, they also boost the company's bottom line. In the past, employers used to do small things to encourage employee health like hanging motivational posters or encouraging employees to take the stairs instead of the elevator. Today, companies are shelling out significant sums of money for wellness programs because they really do work. The initial investment ends up paying for itself and then some over the long haul. Let's take a look at a couple of benefits of taking the wellness plunge. Fewer sick days Corporate wellness programs typically offer employees incentives for reaching health goals and sometimes even punish them with a bit of negative reinforcement for being unhealthy. The result is a significant improvement in overall employee health. When employees understand how to live a healthy lifestyle and are encouraged to do so through a corporate wellness program, they get sick less often. This helps the company stay profitable. Fewer workers' compensation claims Better levels of health are directly linked to fewer workers' compensation claims. Employees who are in shape are less likely to strain muscles, tear ligaments, and break bones while performing work activities. Healthcare savings Corporate wellness programs boost a company's bottom line by saving money on health insurance costs. In a study conducted by Richard Milani and Carl Lavie, over 185 couples were given cardiac rehabilitation training. Over 100 couples recovered from high-risk to low-risk health status at the end of a six-month wellness program. The savings is passed on to the company in the form of reduced healthcare premiums and fewer workers' compensation claims. Mutual benefits One of the best aspects of a corporate wellness program is that it has the potential to be mutually beneficial to both the company and the employees. Most employers will provide financial rewards to employees who hit health benchmarks for things like blood pressure, weight, and cholesterol levels. Increased happiness Healthy people are generally much happier people than those who are unhealthy. Happier people are also more likely to show up to work and take fewer sick days and personal time off. Beyond merely showing up for work, happy employees are also much more productive than their unhealthy counterparts and will boost the company's bottom line. Don't underestimate how contagious a positive attitude can be. Happy people liven up the workplace atmosphere and lift the moods of others, making the environment much more productive. External benefits One of the best ways to sell employees on a wellness plan is to stress the fact that it can benefit them beyond the workplace. Although the company's primary interest is maintaining a healthy workforce, it can also benefit from an employee who has a happy life outside of work. Those who enjoy their time off of work will be much more productive while on the clock. If employees understand that a wellness program will help them get in shape so that they can spend more quality time with their family and live a long life, they'll be more likely to participate in the program with sincere interest and effort. Long-term investment While a corporate wellness program will be a sizable initial investment, it will eventually produce results. The key is patience. Once employees get in the habit of taking care of themselves, they'll be more likely to practice healthy behaviors over an extended period of time. The result will be a healthier, happier workforce that lowers the employer's future healthcare premiums and workers' compensation claim costs. Group mentality One of the more interesting aspects of corporate wellness programs is that employees are much more likely to participate because their co-workers do. While it is difficult for an individual to motivate himself to sign up for a gym or start a workout routine all by himself, it is much easier for him to participate in a wellness program when his peers do it with him. Nobody wants to be the odd man left out. When asked, employers tended to be confident that wellness programs were effective and cost-saving for the corporations. It pays off in reduced absenteeism and boosted productivity, plus a fairly large discount on its healthcare costs from its healthcare provider. Shyam Bhardwaj has over seven years of experience in marketing and branding space. With background experience in software engineering, he also deals with IT and web development areas. He often writes about entrepreneurship journey, start-up success stories, marketing hurdles, and business operations.