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Emerging Wellness Professional Award and Multicultural Wellness Committee Collaboration

Posted By NWI, Monday, August 26, 2019

EWP Award

The EWP Taskforce is pleased to announce that several applications from highly qualified emergent professionals were received for NWI's 2019 Emerging Wellness Professional Award.

This is the second year that we are presenting the award to an emerging Wellness Professional (EWP). The EWP Award recognizes the work and impact of newcomers to the wellness industry. The Award winner will be contacted by September 3rd, and will be presented with the award at the 44th annual National Wellness Conference, October 1-3 in Kissimmee, FL.  

The NWI Emerging Wellness Professional awardee will be offered:

  • A position on the Emerging Wellness Professionals Task Force
  • FREE voucher for the National Wellness Conference, including paid flight, travel, and lunch the year the award is presented to them.
  • A free annual NWI membership.


EWP Taskforce & Multicultural Wellness Committee Collaboration

The NWI’s EWP Taskforce and the Multicultural Wellness Committee are pleased to announce an ongoing collaboration to reach and empower diverse emerging wellness professionals (EWPs). The groups will be joining forces during the 2019 NWI Conference to connect with EWPs from diverse backgrounds, and to recruit leaders who are eager to address new challenges in the wellness industry based on innovative and inclusive approaches. 

Above is a quick tutorial on the Multicultural Wellness Wheel as a roadmap to inclusive wellness practices by NWI Board Member Eirasmin Lokpez-Cobo. 

Tags:  Emerging Wellness Professional  Multi-Cultural  multicultural competency 

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Keep Your Workforce Sharp with These 4 Simple Strategies

Posted By Wellsource, Monday, August 26, 2019

This is the fifth post in a six-part series focusing on the Six Dimensions of Wellness: emotional, occupational, physical, social, intellectual, and spiritual. Each post features a different dimension of wellness. This post will discuss intellectual wellness and the importance of pursuing activities that stretch your mind, expand your skills, and reinforce your memory.

Part 1: Using Gratitude to Improve Your Population’s Emotional Wellbeing
Part 2: 5 Ways to Highlight Occupational Wellness in Your Health Program
Part 3: How to Keep Your Workforce Population Moving
Part 4: Six Strategies to Promote Social Wellness
Part 5 : Keep Your Workforce Sharp with These 4 Simple Strategies
Part 6: Mindfulness: The Focus Path to Spiritual Wellness

Intellectual wellness enables a person to think quickly on their feet, solve problems creatively, and remember key facts from yesterday’s meeting.Ever have moments when you feel like Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz—the lovable straw man who longs for a brain? You meet someone at a conference and 10 minutes later can’t recall their name. The CEO asks you to clarify a detail from last month’s meeting, and you can’t think of a response. You’re not alone. Remember the time your team was in “problem-solving” mode for a work project and no one could come up with a creative idea? Brain freeze. 

Memory lapses don’t mean someone is in the early stages of dementia. Everyone has moments when they struggle with complex mental processing or can’t recall an important fact. The goal, though, is to minimize cognitive issues by promoting intellectual wellness. Intellectual wellness enables a person to think quickly on their feet, solve problems creatively, and remember key facts from yesterday’s meeting—or from a class they took 20 years ago. And it’s essential for a thriving, innovative workforce. Intellectual wellness powers sound decision-making, expands technological borders, enhances creativity, protects memory, stimulates curiosity, and assists in learning new skills. The result? Each individual within a workforce can contribute in meaningful ways, enrich the lives of others, and feel good about themselves and their co-workers. 

The good news is that significant cognitive decline isn’t inevitable. To understand how to delay decay, it helps to understand a little about the brain. The first thing to remember is that brains are always changing. It’s called “brain plasticity.” Brains are just like the rest of the body. Exercise a brain and it gets stronger. Practice a skill and it gets better. Yes, just about the time brains reach maturity and top performance, they start to decline. It’s also true that brains take longer to mature than some might think. In fact, a person might be “adulting” for only two years before the mental slide begins. Brain development continues well into the mid-20s. That’s one reason why psychologists say adolescence extends to age 25

The speed at which brains are able to solve puzzles, reasoning skills, and other cognitions factors start to slow at age 27, according to a seven-year study. The body gradually makes less of the chemicals brain cells (called neurons) need to work at peak performance, and they start to shrink. Over the next two decades, the gradual decline in reason, comprehension, and recall starts to be noticeable. By the mid-40s, individuals might have a few “brain fog” moments, but still be able to multitask. In the 50s and 60s, it will take a little more effort to learn new processes and multitasking might be a challenge—but both are still achievable. And if you work with a company that has an aging workforce, you can feel good knowing that they have strong creativity, wisdom, experience, and ability to understand how things work. In the absence of genetic predispositions, brain health can remain strong through the 70s and beyond when employees practice strategies for intellectual wellness. Want to keep your workforce healthy? Here are four ways to stimulate their mental wellbeing. 


1. Walking breaks are good for brains

Brains require exercise and attention to stay in peak condition as long as possible. Regular physical activity improves circulation and helps prevent some of the conditions that contribute to brain deterioration, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, inflammation, obesity, and diabetes. Both meta-analysis and systematic review studies show that regular exercise helps keep brains functioning strong. 

One study found that standing, walking, and cycling all improved cognitive performance when compared to sitting. Encourage employees to sit less throughout the work day to keep their brains fresh. 

  • Stock footbags (aka Hacky Sacks) in break rooms to encourage physical movement
  • Remind employees to step away from their desks for a minute of stretching every hour or so 
  • Organize team play for exergames like Pokemon GO, Beat Saber, and Zombies, Run!
  • Plan active employee socials, such as a kickball tournament during your company picnic and dancing at holiday parties 
  • Remind employees that any time is a good time to stand up and move—even when they aren’t at work
  • Offer quarterly prizes for individuals who meet the minimum physical activity recommendations

Now is the time for employees to adopt active lifestyles for current and future brain health. The Nurses’ Health Study found that the more women walked in their 50s and 60s, the better their memory in their 70s. Another study involving more than 2,257 elderly men found that those walking less than a ¼-mile each day were nearly twice as likely to develop dementia as men who walked at least 2 miles a week. Walking just 90 minutes each week can make a difference; more is better. 


2. MIND the food choices

Eating a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats is good for overall health and happiness. It’s also essential for mind-power. The Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay (MIND diet) protects neurons and significantly slows cognitive decline. The MIND diet emphasizes plenty of whole foods, rather than processed. Just telling employees the health benefits of eating more cruciferous vegetables (e.g., broccoli, cauliflower), green leafy veggies, beans, and nuts might not be very effective. Here are some ways to encourage a MINDful diet:

  • Schedule weekly fruit, veggie, and bean potlucks
  • Set out nuts, berries, and cruciferous veggies for employees to snack on
  • Use posters and emails to explain the brain benefits of a healthy diet
  • Require office party meals to be healthy, for example, baked salmon or grilled chicken with lots of green leafy veggies
  • Start an office garden (e.g., tomatoes, peppers, lettuce)
  • Create a shared cookbook filled with healthy recipes
  • Gift clients and employees with healthy food baskets or fruit bouquets for special occasions or to show appreciation

Administering a health risk assessment can reveal how many in your workforce eat enough fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats. Use the HRA data to guide your suggestions for improvements.


3. There’s value in unplugging from work

Apparently neurons get tired too. According to a study by UCLA – Los Angeles Health Sciences, sleep deprivation causes brain cells to respond slowly and cause mental lapses on par with excessive drinking. Sleeping 7-9 hours each night is more than a luxury. It’s essential for intellectual wellness and mental health. Poor sleep quality and difficulty falling asleep seems to age brains more quickly. Stress, multitasking, and information overload can also negatively impact reasoning and problem-solving. 

  • Urge employees to take unplugged vacations – no checking work email!
  • Reinforce your company policy about work breaks and lunch breaks
  • Check with employees often to be sure they are not burdened with unnecessary tasks; for example, lines of communication and areas of responsibility should be clearly delineated 
  • Share ideas for healthy bedtime habits, including adhering to a regular sleep-wake schedule
  • Work with managers to create a culture that discourages excessive overtime work
  • Offer classes that teach employees to relax and manage stress
  • Encourage employees to have positive social interaction with friends and family
  • Volunteer together for a cause employees care about 


4. Challenge individuals to keep their minds active

Work is often stimulating and informative. And that’s good for brain health—as long as it doesn’t result in an imbalanced life. The Global Council on Brain Health (GCBH) recommends engaging in brain-stimulating activities for a well-rounded mental exercise. Math equation speed drills will improve mental processing speeds, but won’t necessarily improve episodic memory (e.g., that detail from last month’s meeting that the CEO wants to know about). It takes a variety of mental challenges.

  • Provide reimbursements for college course tuition
  • Hold juggling classes or other activities that increase attention and spatial skills
  • Challenge each other to memorize lists 
  • Post a new vocabulary word on a white board each week
  • Put Sudoku and crossword puzzles on a white board in the lunch room so everyone can work on them
  • Encourage employees to keep trying new things – like the Train Your Brain Health Challenge®
Ready to get started? Download our health challenge “Train Your Brain” which includes: 
  • A basic quiz for employees to see how much they know about habits for a healthy brain
  • Tips on how to boost brain health
  • Tricks to help them improve memory
  • A calendar to track brain workouts each day

This is the fifth post in a six-part series focusing on the Six Dimensions of Wellness: emotional, occupational, physical, social, intellectual, and spiritual. Below are links to the other published in this series.

Part 1: Using Gratitude to Improve Your Population’s Emotional Wellbeing
Part 2: 5 Ways to Highlight Occupational Wellness in Your Health Program
Part 3: How to Keep Your Workforce Population Moving
Part 4: Six Strategies to Promote Social Wellness
Part 5: Keep Your Workforce Sharp with These 4 Simple Strategies
Part 6: Coming Soon!


About Wellsource

Wellsource, Inc. has been a premier provider of evidence-based Health Risk Assessments and Self-Management Tools for four decades, making us one of the longest-serving wellness companies in the industry. With a strong reputation for scientific research and validity, we offer an innovative family of products that empower wellness companies, health plans, ACOs, and healthcare providers to inspire healthy lifestyles, prevent disease, and reduce unnecessary healthcare costs. Our assessments connect lifestyle choices with healthy outcomes, measure readiness to change for maximum results, and drive informed decisions with actionable data.

For more information about Wellsource products, visit www.wellsource.com or connect with Wellsource at well@wellsource.com.

Works Cited

Hettler, Bill. “The six dimensions of wellness model.” National Wellness Institute, cdn.ymaws.com/www.nationalwellness.org/resource/resmgr/pdfs/sixdimensionsfactsheet.pdf.

Steinmetz, Katy. “This is what adulting means.” Time, Time Magazine, 8 Jun. 2016, time.com/4361866/adulting-definition-meaning/.

Wallis, Lucy. “Is 25 the new cut-off point for adulthood?” BBC News, 23 Sep. 2013, bbc.com/news/magazine-24173194.

“’Brain decline’ begins at age 27.” BBC News, 16 Mar., 2009, news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/7945569.stm

“How to remember things like a 20-year-old.” AARP Life Reimagined, AARP, 29 Jan. 2015, huffpost.com/entry/remember-things-like-a-20-year-old_n_6518762.

“The Changing Brain - What Is Brain Health?” National Institute on Aging, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, brainhealth.nia.nih.gov/the-changing-brain.

Ahlskog, J. Eric, et al. “Physical exercise as a preventive or disease-modifying treatment of dementia and brain aging.” Mayo Clinic Proceedings, 86(9): 876-884, Sep. 2011, doi.org/10.4065/mcp.2011.0252.

Loprinzi, Paul D., et al. “The effects of exercise on memory function among young to middle-aged adults: systematic review and recommendations for future research.” American Journal of Health Promotion, 32(3): 691-704, 1 Mar. 2018, doi.org/10.1177/0890117117737409.

Mullane, Sarah L., et al. “Acute effects on cognitive performance following bouts of standing and light-intensity physical activity in a simulated workplace environment.” Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, vol. 20, no. 5, pp. 489–493., doi:10.1016/j.jsams.2016.09.015.

Lieberman, Debra A., et al. “The Power of Play: Innovations in Getting Active Summit 2011.” Circulation, vol. 123, no. 21, 2011, pp. 2507–2516., doi:10.1161/cir.0b013e318219661d. 

Weuve, Jennifer, et al. “Physical activity, including walking, and cognitive function in older women.” JAMA, vol. 292, no. 12, pp. 1454–1461., doi:10.1001/jama.292.12.1454.

Abbott, Robert D., et al. “Walking and dementia in physically capable elderly men.” JAMA, vol. 292, no. 12, pp. 1447–1453., doi:10.1001/jama.292.12.1447.

“Health risk assessment data reveals link between happiness, good habits, and health.” Wellsource, 29 Apr. 2019, blog.wellsource.com/hra-data-happiness-good-habits-health.

Morris, Martha Clare, et al. “MIND diet slows cognitive decline with aging.” Alzheimer’s & Dementia, vol. 11, no. 9, pp. 1015–1022, doi:10.1016/j.jalz.2015.04.011.

Harvard Health Publishing. “Foods Linked to Better Brainpower.” Healthbeat, Harvard Medical School, health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/foods-linked-to-better-brainpower.

“Want Positive Population Health Trends? Use HRA Data to Suggest Improvements.” Wellsource, 8 Aug. 2019, blog.wellsource.com/want-positive-population-health-trends-use-hra-data-to-suggest-improvements.

Nir, Yuval, et al. “Selective neuronal lapses precede human cognitive lapses following sleep deprivation.” Nature Medicine, 2017; doi:10.1038/nm.4433

“10 Strategies to Improve Mental Health in Workforce Populations.” Wellsource, 29 Apr. 2019, blog.wellsource.com/10-strategies-to-improve-mental-health-in-workforce-populations.

“Twelve simple tips to improve your sleep.” Healthy Sleep, WGBH Educational Foundation and the Harvard Medical School Division of Sleep Medicine, healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/healthy/getting/overcoming/tips.

Global Council on Brain Health. “The Brain and Social Connectedness: GCBH Recommendations on Social Engagement and Brain Health.” A collaborative from AARP Policy, Research and International Affairs; AARP Integrated Communications and Marketing; and Age UK, 2017, doi:10.26419/pia.00015.001.

Wellsource 2018 Data Review. “Happiness, Habits, and Health: Measuring mental health with health risk assessment data,” Wellsource, 2019, go.wellsource.com/2018-data-review

Tags:  Intellectual  Intellectual Wellness  Six Dimensions  Wellsource 

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The Energetic Dance of Friendships

Posted By Michelle J. Howe, Wednesday, August 7, 2019
Updated: Monday, August 5, 2019

Young couple dancing in the woods.We choose our circle of friends.

We dance with them.

Why do we choose certain people, and not others, to dance with us?

There is one word that explains our decisions.

The word is RESONANCE.

Resonance is a metaphysical term describing a subconscious energy dynamic that is plays a role in our decision making.

The term ‘resonance’ measures our desire, drive, or lack thereof, for an idea, person, place, or thing. It measures our agreement or lack thereof to an idea, person, place or thing. Resonance measures our general feeling or vibe.

To be ‘in resonance’ feels expansive, appropriate and comfortable. In this way, we move towards something that resonates with us.

To experience ‘no resonance’ is sometimes referred to as ‘dissonance’. It shows up as a repulsion or aversion. In this way, we stand back from it. Resonance shows up when you experience:

  • An immediate liking or attraction to one another.

  • An interest and commonality of interests.

  • A feeling of excitement or a similar sense of humor.

  • A synchronicity of sorts that allowed you to meet.

When a thought, idea, place or thing holds resonance for us, we listen, connect or, gravitate towards it.

When a person shares a resonance with us, the stage is set to come together. The doors open for this individual to step more fully into our life. They come into our sacred space and, we dance together.

Resonance begins the dance—to learn, share or support one another.

The dance of friendship isn’t always smooth.

There can be a mix of fun and entertainment. There can be casual enjoyment of time spent together or jarred engagement. There can also be conflict as well – as friends don’t always agree.

The dance continues for a season, a reason, or a lifetime. It ends when there is no longer a desire, drive, or circumstance that brings the two together. Within each dance, the melody changes with twists and turns.

Each dance brings unique energy dynamics between you.

Positive dynamics includes companionship, laughter, dependability, or affirmation of value, love, affection, etc.

Negative dynamics include drama, lack of validation, dismissive attitudes, betrayal, etc. Neutral dynamics brings a steady, comfortable, and paced connection between you. In this way, you accept one another, there is a vibrational match between you, and, an equal exchange of energy.

Within neutral dynamics, each person allows space for independence and interdependence. Within these wonderful dynamics, each person takes special care and responsibility for themselves and their life.

Why don’t we all embrace neutral dynamics in our friendships?

Unfortunately, neutral dynamics are not the norm. Most people engage in a friendship dance with a mix of negative and positive dynamics.

Neutral dynamics are precious and rare. They show up in select relationships or friendships that involve old souls who are deeply aware of their heart connection. Old souls are awakening today to embrace neutral energy dynamics. Their goal is to empower themselves—to enjoy beautiful connection, support, and harmony with others.

Michelle J. HoweMichelle J. Howe is “The Wise Empath.” Michelle is a powerful channel of high vibrational, healing energies. She serves today as an Awakening Speaker, Evolutionary Guide, and a Master Healer. Michelle is a perpetual student of life, holds many healing certifications, and is a graduate of the Orin & DaBen Awakening Light Body Program. Michelle’s mission is to awaken and guide Highly Sensitive Healers, Feelers, and Empaths on their Path to Joyful Expansion.

Resonance is an important and relevant topic for those embracing their personal journey to Self. To expand your knowledge, I would recommend any of the following three books:
Personal Power Through Awareness by Sanaya Roman
Frequency: The Power of Personal Vibration by Penney Peirce
Quantum Success: The Astounding Science of Wealth and Happiness by Sandra Anne Taylor

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Sugar Addiction: Is It a Real Thing?

Posted By Anka Urbahn, Monday, August 5, 2019

macaronKnow that feeling when you can’t stop thinking about that bag of chocolate chip cookies you have sitting in the pantry or that pint of ice cream in the freezer? You try and distract yourself, but your mind keeps reminding you of those sweet, delicious treats you could be enjoying right now. And then you give in and decide to have a small piece only to inhale the entire package until not one crumb is left. What’s left are empty bags and you hating yourself because you were weak. You gave in instead of sticking to your convictions.

Where does this insane craving for sweets come from? Is sugar really as addictive as some people say it is?

Studies have shown, sugar addiction could be real. But before you start booking yourself into rehab, hold up, because the science is conflicting. It sure as heck feels like an addiction when you can’t distract your mind from those sugary treats—but that's not quite what's going on.

It's all about the sugar rush

What the scientists agree on is that sugar sparks the "reward" center of our brains. Consuming sugar can stimulate the brain to pump dopamine into your system. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that tells you "hey, this stuff is good, have some more!" This is what causes sugar cravings—not an addiction to sugar itself, but to the rush of feel-good hormones you get whenever you eat it.

Beyond that, there's very little support for sugar addiction in humans. Addiction is a serious medical condition where the brain actually changes to need more and more of the substance to get the same high. Researchers have seen these brain changes with drug addiction, but they just aren't finding them with sugar. I’m not the only one who avoids using the phrase “sugar addiction” because it almost assumes that consumption of sugar is beyond people's control.

So if craving sugar is not an addiction, what is it?

The obvious answer is that it's a habit. The difference between the two is dependence—addiction is driven by a NEED to do something while a habit is driven by the ROUTINE of doing it. As a society, we've developed habits around sugar consumption where our bodies have learned to expect to have sugar at the same time each day. If you can't function without that caramel macchiato in the morning or the afternoon pick-me-up in the form of a cupcake, then you'll know exactly what I'm talking about!

The problem with sugar is it’s energizing. Who hasn’t felt better—at least temporarily—when using sugar as a quick fix when feeling low or stressed? A break-up can lead to weeks of bingeing on the sweet stuff. We all know that this is not the solution to our problems. But in that moment, it can feel so darn good.

For sure, you'll need the willpower to break a bad sugar habit. But the good news is, it's not impossible. You're not going to experience any major withdrawal symptoms from sugar the same way you would if you stopped using heroin. Ditching the daily sugar "fix" is not going to interfere with your ability to turn up for work the next day. And it's really worth thinking about if you want to tip your body into optimal health.

candy filled suguar conesThe ugly truth about sugar

The average American takes in 22 teaspoons of added sugar daily—almost four times the amount suggested by the World Health Organization. And it’s not only the obvious items like ice cream and cookies that are loading us up on sugar. Other big culprits are sugary drinks—sodas, Slurpees, fruit juices and fancy coffee. And although it has never been considered a "health" food, the evidence is mounting that sugar can do more damage than previously thought.

A diet heavy in the sweet stuff—even when it comes from natural sources like fruit—increases your hunger more than any other type of carbohydrate. Not only does it spike insulin, a hormone that causes you to lay down fat, it also blocks leptin, a hormone that regulates hunger and tells your body to stop eating. Too much sugar is a clear risk for weight gain.

More worryingly, high sugar consumption spikes your triglycerides, blood sugar, blood pressure and inflammation—all risk factors for heart disease, diabetes, cancer and even dementia. Some researchers even call Alzheimer's "Type 3 diabetes." High sugar intake has also been linked to acne, accelerated (skin) aging, bad teeth and not to forget depression and accelerated cognitive decline.

But wait, don't we need sugar?

No. You do not need sugar, EVER. Your brain needs very little glucose (around 25 grams) to work optimally. In the absence of sugar, your body is designed to use fatty acids for fuel. Even if you cut your sugar intake to zero, your body would function optimally by using fat as its main energy source.

So how do you reduce sugar?

Some swaps are obvious. For example, ditching just one regular (12-ounce) can of soda can cut around 40 grams (10 teaspoons) of sugar from your daily diet.

Other sources of sugar can take you totally by surprise. For instance, you might chalk a bowl of granola and a small cup of low-fat fruit-flavored yogurt up as a super-healthy breakfast, but when you read the nutrition label, you could be taking in 30 grams of added sugar—more than a Snickers bar!

Food manufacturers have found that with virtually every product they sell, they can add a little more sugar to make it tastier. The "bliss point" describes the sweetest and therefore the tastiest a product can be before adding any more sugar makes it too sweet. This is why sugar is in everything, from granola and bread to peanut butter and pasta sauce.

Bottom line: The most effective way to reduce your sugar intake is to eat mostly whole and unprocessed foods. However, if you decide to buy packaged foods, read the labels. Avoid anything with sugar near the top of the ingredient list and watch out for fancy marketing words for sugar like "evaporated cane juice" and "maltose." This article lists 56 different names for sugar that food manufacturers use to fool us into eating more sugar than we realize.

addiction scaleWhat about the cravings?

Fighting sugar cravings can be a challenge at the start. You've stopped giving your body something it has been habitualized to expect so of course, it's going to fight back. If you pick up a muffin on auto-pilot each day after lunch, then your body is going to be stuck on those routines.

You need to tackle this with the attitude that sugar does not improve your life in any way; it simply gives you a temporary dopamine hit. When you're not dependent on sugar, then your baseline mood and energy stays constant all day. You don't get the post-lunch slump or the highs and lows of blood-sugar crashes. And the longer you go without sugar, the more stable you feel—most people feel the benefit in as little as one or two weeks.

Here's another trick: keep a food diary. Write down what signals your body is sending you when a craving comes up (boredom, stress, time of the month and so on). This information is ammo for when you next get a craving so you can get it under control and let it pass.

Important: don’t starve yourself. Sometimes we experience cravings when we are thirsty or hungry. Often a glass of water and a healthy snack including some protein and fats (such as a hard-boiled egg and a handful of nuts) can successfully stave off that craving.

"My family members are enablers!"

You may find that your family and friends are not as supportive as you'd like. People are stuck in their own habits and those who themselves are sugar addicted often act as enablers for everyone else. They want you to continue eating poorly because it validates their own choices.

And what about the workplace? You arrive at the office on Monday morning, ready to get down to some work, and you have to walk past a whole bunch of “healthy” snacks your employer has provided as a job perk. There are pastries in the cafeteria, desserts served at lunchtime and what’s this? An email from Sue saying its her birthday and she’s brought in cakes. They’re on the table by the printer, enjoy! Pure peer pressure. If you don’t participate in this high-sugar, supposedly morale-boosting lifestyle, people might be offended.

I say, empower yourself! The best defense is a good offense, so why not read up on sugar and get educated on the subject? Then you'll always have a comeback when someone says, "sugar can't be unhealthy because fruit has sugar in it." The more you know, the more you'll strengthen your resolve to continue with your low-sugar lifestyle. For example, did you know an apple contains naturally occurring sugar, but it also has fiber, which slows digestion. Your body will experience less of a blood-sugar spike after you eat an apple than if you had, say, a soda. “This doesn't mean that you can eat all you want of natural sugars. You still need to have portion control,” says Alissa Rumsey, R.D. and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Eat well, be happy

Ultimately, your body doesn't need sugar for survival. Having less is better. That doesn't mean you can't enjoy the occasional dessert without feeling guilty. But there is simply no nutritional value in adding sugar to your diet. We should all be looking to protein, fat, complex carbs and plenty of veggies for nutrition—these are the things that our bodies truly love. Combine these foods with your training program, and you're going to look and feel amazing!

Anka UrbahnAnka Urbahn (@mindsets_fitness) has been part of the health and fitness world her entire life, first as a competitive gymnast and speed skater in her native Germany, then as a U.S.-based martial artist, bodybuilder, blogger, and certified fitness trainer. Her ethos is simple—no quick fixes or deprivation, just a balanced program designed to improve your (fitness) life and take the frustration out of training. Her holistic approach blends strength training, nutrition coaching, and lifestyle adjustments to build a stronger and fitter you, take your confidence to the next level, and empower you to become the most awesome version of yourself that you can be.

Tags:  diet  nutrition  sugar 

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Are Wellness Professionals Focusing on Equality or Equity?

Posted By Chuck Gillespie, Friday, July 26, 2019
Updated: Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Equality or Equity

The above Robert Wood Johnson Graph is a great visual about why wellness and health are failing. The question you need to be asking yourself or your clients is simple, “what makes you believe a one-size fits all program is going to be successful?” 

What reasonable accommodations (or reasonable alternative standards) are you providing people with disabilities for a physical activity challenge?  How are you incorporating access to healthy foods to individuals who live in areas that lack the access?  Are you reviewing who is actually involved and if there is selection bias?  Where, specifically, do you believe your wellness initiative can make an economic impact?  

Most communities and organizations around the world have a wellness plan with equality in mind – not equity.  The implementation plan is simple – lets provide everyone with every possible health promotion and they can decide for themselves what they need to do.  Which means your community or workplace wellness programs do not target any one of the important needs that your assessment has indicated. 

We are spending millions of dollars on health analytics, so we can create highly targeted strategies to develop highly customizable programs, yet we stop at the analysis.  Why?  It gets hard and requires change.   Further, we straddle the line between customized help and legal compliance issues.

How can wellness build an equitable system and get away from an equality strategy?  It begins with competencies:

Wellness promotion competencies allow for leadership to understand critical success factors and desired behaviors within the wellness profession to facilitate a common culture and standard of practice.  Having a person who has the training and understanding of the 6 Dimensions of Wellness should be an absolute.  Make sure they can discuss how each of the dimensions is interrelated. 

Multicultural competencies allow wellness professionals to be better able to communicate, engage, and connect with individuals whose worldviews are different from their own. This leads to increased effectiveness of wellness interventions and programs, resulting in more impactful outcomes.

Metric competencies provide a realistic understanding about what wellness strategies can specifically target and impact.  Wellness professionals must be able to deliver to leadership a sound financial impact statement covering social determinants of health, economic factors, and traditional health outcomes. 

Professional competencies for wellness expertise.  One of the best ways to know they are highly competent is to ask if they are a Certified Wellness Professional (CWP).  The CWP credential signifies competence as a wellness professional, through strong academic preparation and a commitment to continuing education and professional development.  Remember that medical or clinical expertise does not mean they are wellness experts.  It means they are health experts.  There is a difference.  Ask a medical expert if they have been through a “Wellness in Clinical Practice” type of training.  If not, then find other ways to confirm they are wellness and health experts. 

Vender competency is critical.  The quickest way to determine their understanding of wellness is if they have changed the name of their program from wellness to well-being.  Wellness is the system, the program, the strategy, the resources.  Well-being is the outcome, the metric, the end result.  They should know the difference.  If not, then I suggest you move on to a vendor who can help you with your wellness initiative.  By the way, this holds true for brokers, consultants, health coaches, and health professionals.  We deliver wellness to achieve well-being.   

Get onto the right side of wellness – stop focusing on equality and begin to better understand equity.  Doing so will net you better results.  s

Chuck Gillespie is Executive Director of the National Wellness Institute.

Tags:  equality  equity  racial equity 

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Wellness Trends - July 2019

Posted By NWI, Thursday, July 25, 2019

Surgeon General Priority: Community Health and Economic Prosperity

The health of Americans is not as good as it could be, despite large expenditures on healthcare. Our poorer health status creates costs and challenges for individuals, families, communities, and businesses, and can be a drag on the economy, as too many jobs remain unfilled and productivity is adversely affected. Many of our poor health problems are rooted in inadequate investments in prevention and unequal economic opportunities in our communities.  Read more at HHS.gov.


Is #MeToo a Multicultural Competency? 

Great article on how the #MeToo movement is shaping policy at work. Consultants, public health leaders, health coaches, academics, clinicians need to consider the positive impact that can be had with understanding multi-cultural strategies.  The article states, “The #MeToo movement set in motion a nationwide discussion and contributed to countless positive changes. The next step is to make sure that current sexual harassment policies are in place and understood by everyone to create a safe, welcoming workplace for all employees.”  As you read this, think about the multi-cultural competencies that must be considered beyond gender.  Read more at BenefitsPRO.com.


Can summer stress cause employee burnout? 

While summertime is often seen as a leisurely season where Americans take time off for extended family vacations and enjoy long days at the beach, new research suggests time off doesn’t always translate into reduced stress.  Read more at benefitnews.com.


Self-Care Guidelines and How to Teach Others about the Power of Self-Care

In an effort to bring the practice of self-care to a broader audience, The World Health Organization(WHO) has launched its first guideline on self-care interventions for health.  It’s aimed to “empower individuals, families and communities to optimize their health as advocates.

While this is a great resource to offer, just handing out a guidebook will not solve the issue. We must train individuals to teach others about the power of self-care.  It begins with understanding how to dive into one’s conscience, in an effort to make the change.  Programs like NWI’s Empowered Health Consciousness is a great way to learn these tools.  Please read the WHO guidelines and learn for yourself, but consider how you can teach others to develop better self-care.  


Worksite Wellness 


Well-Being Enhances Benefits of Employee Engagement

Two major factors influence employee performance, Gallup has found: engagement and well-being . Read more at Gallup.com.


8 Things You Need To Know About Employee Wellness Programs

Employee wellness programs can look different at different companies, and that’s a good thing.  Read more at Forbes.com.


The Right Ingredients Brew Wellness Program Success

Stress management and tech tools improve outcomes, but incentives are questioned. Read more at SHRM.org.


Financial Wellness


6 Ways to Measure the Success of Financial Wellness Efforts  

Employers are missing out on opportunities to improve these programs.  Read more SHRM.org.


Pay Off Debt Or Save For Retirement? It's Time For An Actuary-Splainer 

What's the best approach to managing finances?  Read more at Forbes.com.


5 Things to Know About Financial Wellness Programs  

More employers offer workers guidance on budgeting and paying down debt. Here's how to make the most of it.  Read more ConsumerReports.com.


Tags:  burnout  Community wellness  employee wellness  Empowered Health Consciousness  Financial Wellness  multicultural competency  self care  trends  wellness trends  Worksite Wellness 

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Financial Wellness and Retirement – The SECURE Act

Posted By NWI, Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Financial Wellness and Retirement – The SECURE ActThe Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act of 2019 upends some of the traditional planning and savings strategies for professionals or business owners and their families. Nyhart is a recent addition to our strategic partnerships at the National Wellness Institute. Nyhart put together a very basic overview about what could change should the SECURE Act become law. There will be changes to the bill as written, but now that we have a strategic partner like Nyhart, we will be able to be better informed about these and other health and financial policies, which means you have this expertise available as a part of the NWI Network. Further, should the SECURE Act become law, with the help of Nyhart, the NWI Community will be better informed to provide the needed information about how this could affect the way people save for retirement. 


About Nyhart

NyhartThe National Wellness Institute is excited to have the actuarial expertise available for health care, retirement planning and financial wellness through our newest partner, Nyhart. Nyhart also is a majority owner of a unique financial platform called Votaire. Votaire has teamed up with another one of our financial wellness partners, Foundation for Financial Wellness, to deliver to your employees or clients the training and resources needed to drive sound financial habits. Contact us to learn more about this partnership or if you need independent actuarial services from one of the largest and oldest employee-owned actuarial firms in the United States. 

Tags:  Financial Wellness  Foundation for Financial Wellness  Nyhart  Retirement  Votaire 

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Community Food Security: Resources and a Wellness Perspective

Posted By Christina Peterson, Wednesday, July 24, 2019
Updated: Monday, July 15, 2019

As wellness professionals, we know nutrition is more than just healthy or unhealthy choices. The environments in which people live, work, and play influence food availability, accessibility, dietary behaviors, and ultimately, health. As NWI’s recent attention to social determinants of health, highlights food security and diet quality varies across neighborhoods, counties, and states. It’s evident that socio-economic factors, such as composition of local food environments, household social capital, and concentrated disadvantage, influence diet quality. In response, Community Food Security (CFS) has emerged as a movement and framework to ensure, “safe, culturally acceptable, nutritionally adequate diet through a sustainable food system that maximizes community self-reliance, social justice, and democratic decision-making”. We are witnessing the growth of this movement in our communities as local food policy councils form coalitions, worksites implement programs that connect employees with local foods, and states raise minimum wages in the food-service industry.

cityscape with light trails at night

CFS Resources

My research focuses on understanding the determinants of CFS and implications for evaluation. Through my work, I’ve reviewed many great CFS resources that wellness professionals may find useful. The following sections provide links to these resources and a review on ways to build strengths in the practice of CFS and wellness.

1. Learn more about CFS:
Community Food Security in the United States: A Review of the Literature
Whole Communities Fellowship
(Applications for the 2020 fellowship cohort will open in November 2019)

2. Plan and evaluate:
Whole Measures for Community Food Systems
Values-Based Planning & Evaluation
USDA Community Food Security Assessment Toolkit

Building on Strengths: Wellness meets CFS

Wellness is defined by the National Wellness Institute as an “Active process through which people become aware of, and make choices toward, a more successful existence”. Wellness promotion focuses on creating the conditions that support health (rather than just preventing disease) by leveraging strategies grounded in respect for human agency, self-determination, authentic relationships, and participatory decision-making. Yet, individual wellness is embedded in and inter-dependent with the wellness of the community. Community wellness models stress the importance of fairness and justice to wellness promotion. By viewing nutrition through a community lens, focusing on strengths, and engaging members in making decisions about their food environment, the vision and practice of CFS is a natural fit with wellness promotion.

CFS is a growing movement and while the resources currently available are helpful, wellness practitioners may face challenges in initiating change on CFS issues. However, there are ways to build upon the strengths of wellness and CFS to improve participatory decision-making, multi-cultural competency, financial wellness, and evaluation.

Participatory Decision-making

Participatory decision-making is a value at the heart of wellness promotion and CFS as it enables individuals and communities to exercise agency and self-determination. However, power within communities is not evenly distributed and can influence participation in decision-making, agenda setting, and the shaping of perceived needs. Long-term engagement in community planning and evaluation efforts often requires time, transportation, child-care, and skills. These constraints can prevent marginalized groups from influencing the types of programs and policies initiated to improve the food environment in their community (see What Wellness Professionals Need to Know about Sugar Taxes as an example). Ensuring that planning meetings are accessible to a diverse range of community members is critical. Practitioners must also recognize that capacity building may be needed to ensure that everyone at the table has the skills to contribute to their full potential.

people in the cityMulti-cultural Competency

Multi-cultural competency is an essential aspect of wellness practice. There is substantial evidence that CFS and nutrition initiatives can reinforce racial hierarchies by divorcing nutrition and food preferences from a sociocultural context. For instance, deficit-based nutrition education programs that ignore participants’ culinary traditions or experience risks, violate personal agency and self-determination rather than supporting it. That’s not wellness. Moreover, some food advocates argue that the term “food desert” supports white privilege by implying emptiness in (often-times) black and brown communities and failing to recognize the robust informal food networks that exist. Organizations can provide staff with multi-cultural competency training that goes beyond one-size-fits-all nutrition programs and policies.

Financial Wellness

Nutrition is multi-dimensional and connected to each aspect of wellness, not just physical. In terms of occupational wellness, the food-service industry is one of the largest and fastest growing sectors in America. Although financial wellness has received a lot of attention recently due, in part to its influence on stress, current conversations overlook the role of economic justice. Socioeconomic patterns, such as geographic concentrations of low wages, high rent costs, residential instability, and unemployment adversely impact the financial wellness of individuals, but also entire communities. CFS expands the concept of financial wellness by building local wealth with policies like promoting local business development, community economic literacy, living wages, and investment in infrastructure that supports environmental health—Green New Deal anyone?


The final strength to build upon relates to evaluation. The CFS resources cited earlier provide guidance on how to define intended outcomes and select indicators in a participatory manner. However, CFS and wellness are characterized by complex systems that may not be fully understood, controllable, or predictable. Thus, unintended outcomes are inevitable. Current CFS evaluation guides do not provide detail on methods for evaluating systems and unintended outcomes. When evaluating CFS and wellness initiatives, practitioners can partner with an experienced evaluation team to implement systems-based evaluation frameworks or appreciative methods like Ripple Effects Mapping that can help uncover unintended outcomes influencing the system.

Christina PetersonChristina Peterson (@foodkindness) is a PhD student in Evaluation, Statistics, and Measurement at the University of Tennessee. She is passionate about promoting sensible nutrition, inclusive communities and economic diversity through food system program and policy evaluation. Christina also has a MS in Nutrition and a BA in Economics. Prior to starting her PhD, she worked for a wellness non-profit conducting needs assessments, program evaluation and research on certification standards. Christina has worked and volunteered in many countries, including Singapore, Myanmar, Vietnam, Kenya, Spain, and Mexico. She is currently working as a Graduate Research Assistant for the Office of Information Technology Research Computing Support group. 


Tags:  Community wellness  Financial Wellness  food  food security 

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Wellness Without Borders: A roundtable discussion at the Tourism Naturally Conference 2019

Posted By Louise Buxton and Dr. Charles Spring, Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Louise Buxton (VP NWI UK) and Dr Charles Spring (Secretary NWI UK)
Senior Lecturers in Spa and Wellness Management, University of Derby, United Kingdom

Wellness Without BordersThe third annual Tourism Naturally Conference took place in Buxton, United Kingdom (UK) on the 4th to 6th of June 2019, bringing together over one hundred delegates from thirty countries.  Surrounded by the Peak District National Park, Buxton a leading spa town, provided an ideal backdrop for conversations regarding the conference’s key themes of tourism, health, wellbeing and sustainability.  

Within the conference, a roundtable discussion was facilitated by Dr Charles Spring and Louise Buxton, both Senior Lecturers in Spa and Wellness Management at the University of Derby, that brought together people with an interest in wellness from around the globe.  The discussion was attended by National Wellness Institute members Chris Andrews (UK Representative NWI International Standing Committee, President NWI UK) and John Brazier (Treasurer NWI UK), as well as delegates from countries including: Austria, Finland, France, Greece, Lithuania, Spain, UK and the United States of America.  The session aimed to share cross-cultural experiences with the concept of wellness and allow participants to explore wellness challenges and opportunities from a range of contexts.  Furthermore, the session provided opportunities for participants to make connections and develop understandings relevant to the wellness industry. 

Following introductions from the delegates, the first question posed was “What is difference between wellness and wellbeing?”.  This led to an interesting debate about the origin of both terms, their use of academic and marketing literature and how they can mean different things in different contexts.   Delegates were then asked what opportunities they foresaw in relation to wellness and many people talked about the fantastic opportunities practitioners and businesses are given has increased recognition of wellness globally.  Challenges in relation to wellness were also discussed and these ranged from: the red tape faced in many countries for simple wellness activities, such as taking children to forest schools, to the dichotomy of the use of technology and its potential positive and negative impacts on wellbeing.  The session concluded by asking delegates what they would like from a formal wellness network and the word cloud below shows the responses received, with collaboration being the overarching theme. 

The next Tourism Naturally Conference is planned for May 2020 and will take place in Bavaria, Germany. To find out more please visit the Tourism Naturally Conference website. or contact Louise Buxton l.c.buxton@derby.ac.uk or Dr Charles Spring c.spring@derby.ac.uk

Louise BuxtonLouise Buxton: Senior Lecturer in Spa and Wellness Management, University of Derby UK; Vice- President NWI UK
Starting her career as a beauty therapist, Louise went on to study management, education and coaching, and mentoring at university.  Louise is currently studying for a PhD exploring the factors which contribute to memorable guest experiences in destination spas. Louise led the team who validated the first degree in Wellness Management in the UK.  In all aspects of her work, Louise has a passion for lifelong learning and helping people to reach their full potential.  
Dr. Charles SpringDr Charles Spring: Senior Lecturer in spa and Wellness Management, University of Derby, UK; Secretary NWI UK
Charles’ research has recently been focussed in the area of wellness around the area of physical activity and especially using interventions with people with varying degrees of ability. Current lecturing duties in spa and wellness management include specialisms in management areas around business development and entrepreneurship and contemporary issues within the discipline area. He is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

Tags:  Health  International Wellness  Sustainability  Tourism  Wellbeing 

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Who are Health Coaches?

Posted By Samantha Diedrich, Monday, July 15, 2019

Health coaches—or wellness coaches, are wellness professionals. The buzz words, "Health Coach", are heard almost daily now; from worksite wellness programs to health and fitness clubs, social media groups, and nutrition stores. Health coaches wear multiple hats and come from a broad spectrum of health and wellness backgrounds.

The one thing a health coach will not do is tell you what to do.

The role of a health coach is to assist their client through the stages of change by setting SMART goals with their client. Health coaches work with people to overcome barriers and help their clients celebrate small successes. Goal setting is the fundamental backbone of health coaching. When you set a goal with a health coach, the coach becomes your ally in your personal wellness journey. Health Coaches will help motivate you, keep you accountable, as well as provide feedback and ideas when needed. The one thing health coaching will not do is tell you what to do. Health coaching is not a “tell me my plan and what to do to meet my goal” kind of experience. It is specifically there to work with clients to find the goals that mean the most to them and work past the barriers that may come up along the way. Coaches are also there to be the clients' first source of accountability; eventually decreasing that need along the goal pathway.

Health coaches are there to help people create lifestyle changes by accomplishing goals that last. Through behavior change, the coach will help figure out what has made their client struggle in the past and plan to overcome that challenge in the future. The health coach can bring ideas to the table, but the client always has the floor as to what will—or won't—work for them.

Health coaches are more than just a trend in wellness, they are here to stay. Health coaches are wellness professionals who are trained in behavioral change, motivational interviewing, and working with people to achieve and celebrate personal goals. Many health coaches work in worksite wellness and business health career fields. They tend to come from different areas of expertise, such as clinical exercise physiologists, registered dietitians, personal trainers, and/or have college degrees in health, fitness, exercise science, or wellness promotion. health coach with clientHealth coaches may also have other wellness credentials, such as the National Wellness Institute Certified Wellness Practitioners, CHES, Nutrition Specialists, and/or Personal Trainers. Health coaches have a wide span of expertise, which helps clients across a broad spectrum of wellness issues. This enables coaches to work with clients in various areas to create a plan that is individualized for each client.

Many employers now require that health coaches hold a certification to call themselves health coaches, but not all health coaches are certified. The science of wellness is still evolving, and as with many aspects of wellness, proceed with caution as a consumer. Most states will allow anyone to call themselves a health coach, whether they have been trained as a health coach or not. Some “health coaches” may not have a degree in health and wellness, let alone training in behavior change. As a health and wellness consumer, make sure your health coach has proper evidence-based training in behavior change, motivational interviewing, and wellness before you commit to their programming.

If you are an aspiring health coach, do your research and look for evidence-based certifications. The best health coaching certifications will contain a classroom component, case study review, written exam, and practical exams. The practical exam is an essential component to health coaching and learning to apply motivational interviewing skills to client sessions. Many wellness employers—especially in the health care setting, are looking for certified health coaches to add to their staff. To make yourself marketable as an emerging wellness professional, obtaining a health coaching certification is a new job skill requirement found in most wellness job descriptions. If you are passionate about exercise, nutrition, stress, mental health, etc., work toward finding accreditation for that passion. This will help you strive in coaching as well as make you an ideal candidate for future employers.

Samantha Diedrich, MS, CWPSamantha Diedrich, MS, CWP, is a Certified Wellness Practitioner and Health Coach with Aspirus Business Health - Wellness. She is passionate about engaging business partners and clients to improve their lives through health and happiness. She is a member of the National Wellness Institute's Emerging Wellness Professional task force.

Tags:  Coaching  Emerging Wellness Professional  Health Coach  Wellness Coach  Wellness Professional 

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