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Post-Conference Reflections

By: Emily Westlund, Program Coordinator

We just wrapped up another successful Midwest Worksite Health Promotion Conference, which was held on November 13 at the St. Paul RiverCentre. Our goal in hosting this conference is to bring other professionals together for a day of learning, sharing, networking and re-energizing. A common comment we hear from participants is, “We already know the dire situation of the health of Americans. What we want to know is, how do we change that?” Well, if it were as simple as handing you a list of 10 concrete things you can do to change employee behavior…we would already be doing it!  Unfortunately people are more complex than that. And each company has its own unique challenges to work around. Whether you’re a veteran of the industry, or new to the world of worksite wellness, you know that much of what we do is through trial and error. There is no fool-proof prescription that works for each company.

It is easy to get dragged down with depressing stats and figures about how obese we are getting, how many of us are smoking, and how few of us are regularly active. But then I remember all of the great success stories we’ve heard: how many people lost weight and kept it off because of a campaign their company ran, or how they quit smoking when their worksite went tobacco-free. And what we often don’t see is how those people in turn influence the people in their own lives with their transformation, inspiring them to make changes too. No matter how many programs we offer, it is ultimately up to each individual person to make the decision that their health is going to be a priority. And when they reach that point, they will engage in worksite wellness. We can’t make people change, but we can be there for them with education and support when they’re ready to do it themselves.

Midwest Worksite Health Promotion Conference Reaches Year 13!

By: Mary Kruse, President

Nine months of planning comes to fruition on Nov. 13, 2012. The Midwest Worksite Health Promotion conference is heading into its 13th year. It started in 1999 to replace the hole left when the Association for Worksite Health Promotion went defunct in 1996. Minnesota’s health promotion professionals wanted a venue close to home to gain and share new information and to network with colleagues.

Each year the conference has a new theme and is built around new trends, best practices, idea sharing and networking. This year’s conference theme, Balancing the Elements of Wellbeing, is designed around the five pillars of good health—career, social, financial, physical/mental and community. Each breakout session follows this theme and the presentations were chosen based on how they aligned with the pillars.

As a health promotion professional, it’s challenging to shift from the current paradigm which focuses on physical wellbeing, into a paradigm of career, financial and community wellbeing. We have implemented lifestyle and behavior change programs for years, but isn’t it HR’s job to deal with career? And benefits to deal with finances? As I look at these questions, I step back and realize you can’t expect a single parent with three kids who is barely making ends meet to succeed at a weight management program until they have more control in other areas within their life– they have way bigger concerns than their waist line. So, why aren’t we embracing the whole person with the same confidence and options that we have with physical activity, nutrition and stress management?

I find this new paradigm not about building from scratch, but rather doing what health promotion professionals do best: building partnerships and aligning and integrating services.

I am very excited about the opportunities this conference will present to our profession. I am confident that to build a culture of health, we need to step outside our physical paradigm and challenge ourselves to cast our nets wider and add new dimensions to our programming.

Heart Melters

By: Jenn Bonn, Fitness Specialist

Little kids have a special place in my heart; People Serving People does, too. When I used to volunteer at this Minneapolis homeless shelter regularly, I could walk in and with no introduction, toddlers would run up to jump on me, hug me, and ask me to play or rock them to sleep for nap time. There is nothing like the look of adoration from a child’s eyes when you do something as simple as read them a book (usually the same one a dozen times) or sit by them while they finish their afternoon snack (and shove a few graham crackers in your face, too).

How excited was I when it was announced that HealthSource Solutions would be leading activities for some of the kids at People Serving People! My co-workers were able to see the need - and want - from the kids for community involvement. We led the older kids through activities, played with the younger kids and did puzzles with the toddlers. The kids laughed through the different challenges and games and tried their hand at leading, too; I have never hopped like a bunny so many times! (Simon Says can be great interval training!) 

My heart melts each time I am with the kids at People Serving People (especially since they have a lot of room in my heart) and it was a joy to be back there again. That adoring look from the kids is extra special when you are modeling fun activities with a great and giving group of people.

Do what melts your heart.

For more information about People Serving People, click here.

Check out the “How to Help” tab if you want your heart melted, too.

De-clutter and De-stress

 by: Dawn Boyle, Executive Vice President

Spring cleaning is a common and natural reoccurrence for many every year. For me, fall is also a great time to clean, to clear and to mentally declutter. After getting kids back in school and falling into a new schedule, it’s a great time to clean out closets and cabinets, prepare the landscape and outdoors for winter and enjoy the change in season. Fall is a time to pursue calm and beauty and a time to clear your mind and prepare for upcoming events. For me, there is something about wrapping up one season and preparing for the next that creates a peaceful and relaxing mental framework. A time to appreciate what was just completed and a time to anticipate what lies ahead.

Mental Health America, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping Americans live mentally healthier lives, lists the following suggestions for creating a healthier mental state.

  • Connect with others: strengthen current relationships or create new ones.
  • Stay positive: increase your optimism when faced with challenges.
  • Become physically active: physical activity increases endorphins to make you feel happier.
  • Help others: volunteer your time for a good cause.
  • Get enough sleep: make it a priority to get to bed on time.
  • Create joy and satisfaction: take some time to relax.
  • Eat well: fuel your mind and your body with proper nourishment.
  • Take care of your spirit: try meditating.
  • Deal well with hard times: find strategies to cope in times of distress.
  • Get professional help if you need it: don’t hesitate to seek help or get information on therapy or medications.

The busy, fun summer has come to an end, and the chaos of holidays, gatherings and celebrations is right around the corner. Now is a time to create a sense of calm and relaxation. Mental stress plays a major role in attitudes, wellness and lifestyle habits. Too much stress can cause overeating, depression and lack of sleep, which contributes to a lower quality of life. So take some time this fall to enjoy the beauty and create a healthier mental state!

Unplugged: Are you addicted to your smartphone?

By: Ashley Shumacher, Program Coordinator

Tech-savvy individuals from around the globe are anxiously awaiting the release of Apple’s newest version of the iPhone. Some people are even camping outside of retail stores for days in advance just to be the first with access to the phone’s handy new features and apps. This level of excitement seems extreme to me, but to some, it’s a day of digital delight.

There’s no denying that smartphones have changed the way our society lives. They allow us to communicate with friends and family, obtain vital information and manage day-to-day activities with the touch of a button. For instance, without my smartphone, I would have never known there were 10 pizza places within a 5-mile radius of my house. Useful as they may be, this real-time medium has created such an increased need for responses and information that it’s now likened to an unhealthy addiction.

The Pew Research Center in Washington D.C. found that a whopping 46% of adults in the United States own a smartphone and a majority of those people sleep with their phones nearby (myself included). One of the main complaints of smartphone users is sleeplessness. Researchers say this could be caused by checking emails, texts and social networking sites before bed.

By constantly checking messages, websites and phone applications, the compulsive action of phone-checking can become as involuntary as moving or blinking. I have even caught myself reaching for my phone during face-to-face conversations with friends. Clearly I’m addicted – are you? Quiz yourself with a few smartphone addiction warning signs:

  • You check your phone every 30 minutes to an hour. Not necessarily checking for missed calls, but text messages, status updates, emails, etc.
  • Your checking becomes so frequent you develop checking habits or the urgency to update certain applications such as Facebook.
  • You’ve sent emails, tweets or Facebook messages from your smartphone when there was a computer in the same room.
  • You can’t roam around your house or office without having your phone within an arm’s reach.
  • Not being able to leave home without your phone.

There are no 12 steps needed to break this addiction. Simply start by limiting your smartphone usage. Turn off the phone completely in the evenings and increase face-to-face time with friends, family and coworkers. This will help to minimize distractions during your daily routine and will increase the time spent cultivating relationships, finishing tasks and getting to bed at a decent hour.

Practicing Mindfulness

Have you ever started driving to a destination only to realize you haven’t noticed any details of your trip along the way? It is common to coast through the day without realizing what you are doing or why. Daily distractions, such as work deadlines, dinner plans or financial worries can preoccupy you from enjoying your daily routine. Adopting a mindful mentality can help resolve feelings of distraction and even change the way you handle your emotions.

Being more mindful of your daily activities involves being present in the moment and concentrating on the matters that immediately require your attention. Refusing to be present in each moment of your life can limit your attention to important details. The consequences of this inattention can result in missing information about your work, relationships and current well-being.

Practice mindfulness by becoming more aware of your senses and living in each moment. Check out the list below:

  • Consider what is happening around you in the present moment.
  • Observe your present thoughts without feelings, judgment or prejudice.
  • Notice the sights, smells and sounds around you.
  • Compare how your body feels right away in the morning to how it feels at night.
  • Be aware of your mood and how stressful events or daily hassles play a role in how you feel.
  • Practice mindful eating.

MN State Fair: All Things in Moderation

By: Emily Westlund, Program Coodinator

I recently heard a speaker in the wellness industry who introduced me to a wonderful expression: “All things in moderation…including moderation.” It was a refreshing reminder that sometimes, it’s okay to fall off the wagon. The Minnesota State Fair is, for many people, the perfect excuse to toss moderation out the window and indulge in whatever your stomach desires. It’s easy to talk yourself into it: “The State Fair is only once a year!” “All the walking I do at the Fair will help balance out the calories I eat.” “When else will I have the opportunity to eat bacon ice cream?”

It has taken me many years of State Fair-going to come to terms with the fact that I am not capable of gorging on whatever I want at the Great Minnesota Get Together. I have been practicing good eating habits for so long that I actually don’t like how I feel physically afterward. I used to feel like I had to eat everything on my “must-eat” list in order to have a “successful” Fair outing, but it felt like a chore. One year it finally sank in that I wasn’t actually enjoying it. I had been ignoring what my body was telling me loud and clear: this is too much!

This is both a blessing and a curse. Obviously it’s good that I don’t eat as much of my artery-clogging favorites, but at the same time, I really love food and definitely have a sweet tooth. So I have learned how to balance myself by choosing my absolute favorite fair foods and bidding the rest a regretful adieu. I have also learned that I can be satisfied with even a taste or two of someone else’s treat, which allows me to enjoy more variety without feeling like crud afterward (apart from perhaps feeling like a mooch).

Although this is what my body has taught me, I realize this is not the case for many people. Most have no problem eating their way through the Fair, and because I agree with the statement, “All things in moderation…including moderation,” I have no problem with that. But I do encourage you to assess how you feel as you are putting various Fair foods into your body. Think about portions and consider sharing with a friend or family member instead of attacking it solo. Ask yourself if it’s an absolute must-have, or if it could perhaps be on your list for next year. If your body is protesting, listen to it; if not, enjoy yourself…then hop back on that Healthy Eating Wagon the next day.

My Must-Eat Treats at the Fair

  • French fries (shared)
  • Chocolate shake from the Dairy Building (not shared)
  • Hot dog (but not the foot-long)
  • A mini donut or two
  • A cookie or two from Sweet Martha’s
  • Cheese curds (shared)
  • Water, water and more water…I would rather eat my calories than drink them!

Just Stand!

By: Julie Broberg, Program Coordinator 

A 2009 study from the British Journal of Sports Medicine, say most adults on average, spend about 9.3 hours each day doing sedentary activities.

Someone who spends several hours per day working at their computer may already know that they may be at risk for repetitive stress injuries, but it may come as a surprise to learn that there are other risks to prolonged sitting. Sitting for extended periods of time during the day can increase your risk for health problems, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and low back pain.

A new study from American Cancer Society found that it's not just how much physical activity you get, but how much time you spend sitting that can affect your risk of death. Researchers say time spent sitting was independently associated with total mortality, regardless of physical activity level. They conclude that public health messages should promote both being physically active and reducing time spent sitting.

What can you do?
Taking movement breaks throughout the day can lower your risks and also prevent or reduce muscle stiffness and pain. Any movement no matter how small is worth the effort! Try taking a standing break every 30-60 minutes. Standing can increase your energy, improve your posture, increase blood flow and burns more calories!

Need more reasons to stand?
Other standing benefits include:
• Strengthens leg, ankle and foot muscles
• Improves balance
• Improves alertness
• Encourages movement

For more information and to get more ideas visit:

HealthSource Solutions receives Hennepin County’s Wellness by Design Silver Award

HealthSource Solutions was a recent recipient of a 2012 Wellness by Design Silver Award for their work in promoting worksite wellness. The awards ceremony was held at the Earle Brown Heritage Center in Brooklyn Center on June 21st. A total of 78 organizations were honored.

HealthSource Solutions’ wellness committee, Heart & Soul, sponsored many events and programs during the year which were fundamental in achieving the silver award. Some of the programs include:
• Corporate Challenge physical activity program
• Healthy Employee BBQ
• Train for the Trail physical activity program
• Health assessment and screening
• Volunteering at the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon

Other requirements needed to be eligible for the award include senior leadership support, a wellness infrastructure, a communication plan and a work environment that is supportive of healthy behaviors.

HealthSource Solutions is proud of the work it has done to support their employee’s health and well-being. We also applaud all other award recipients for the wonderful job they are doing in promoting health at their worksites. For a list of all award recipients click here.

HealthSource Solutions Gets in Gear

HealthSource Solutions employees trained and ran as a corporate team in the Get in Gear race held on Saturday, April 28th.  Seven competed in the 5K race and four competed in the 10K!

Heart & Soul, the wellness committee at HealthSource Solutions, offered an eight-week training program leading up to the race for any employees who wanted to compete. Heart & Soul stands for Healthy Employees Actively Reaching-out Together, Supporting Outreach, Unity and Living well. Our wellness committee is committed to offering the same quality programming and culture of wellness to HealthSource employees that HealthSource Solutions does for the clients we consult and work with.

Congratulations to all the runners who participated. Although it was a cold and wet morning, it was a beautiful event with around 8,000 total runners competing. It’s not about which race you ran or what your time was. It’s about being healthy, working together and living well!