What Diet Works Best, Part 1: Put Down The Grapefruit

Why is chosing a diet so hard?

The information we receive about diets, food, and nutrition is confusing.  Millions of dollars are spent on weight loss schemes that never last.  So, how do you choose a diet that will work?  This post is the first in a series of articles exploring questions to ask when choosing a diet.  Here goes…

Does the grapefruit diet work?

It’s not the grapefruit’s fault.  This morning, however, I had three emails touting a celebrity with a “new” grapefruit diet to get in shape for the holidays.  This sort of thing drives me crazy.  First, celebrities aren’t experts in medicine or nutrition and they certainly aren’t experts in what will work for YOU.  In the case of grapefruit, this lack of expertise can be dangerous.

Eating grapefruit interferes with the way your body processes many drugs.  In some cases this interference can be life threatening.  For example, people on some types of statin drugs used to treat high blood pressure should avoid grapefruit. Grapefruit messes with the enzyme that processes the statin and allows too much of the drug to build up in the body.  I learned a great deal about statins while working on a new cholesterol awareness campaign. In fact there are options for grapefruit lovers too – which is why it is a good idea to talk to your doctor about the medications you are taking before making drastic changes to the way you eat.

Many other common medications interact with grapefruit including those to treat:

  • High blood pressure
  • Anxiety
  • Chron’s disease
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Abnormal heart rhythms
  • Seasonal allergies
  • Even birth control pills!

While birth control pills are still effective in preventing pregnancy, eating grapefruit may increase estrogen in the body and produce PMS syptoms including bloating and weight gain.  Not exactly what you were looking for in a diet, right?!

My point?

You should ask a real expert, a doctor or registered dietician, about whether any new diet will cause issues with your medication.

The grapefruit diet also fails two of my 7 questions to choose a diet:

  • Does it revolve around a “miracle” food or supplement? There are no magic potions, pills, or foods to maintaining a healthy weight? Good health comes from eating a variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, and low fat protein.
  • Does it mention the word “starvation”? A healthy eating plan allows you to eat lots of food – good food with lots of fiber which forces your body to work to digest it. Getting your metabolism fired up to burn calories and fat is the key. Starving your body will cause your metabolism to slow down, setting you up for failure when you resume eating normally.

Answering YES to any of these questions means the diet will probably not work for permenent weightloss.

Eliz Greene survived a heart attack at age 35 while seven months pregnant with twins. Her down-to-earth strategies to manage stress and improve heart health and reduce stress are used by thousands of busy people all over the world. She is a motivational wellness speaker, author, and job stress researcher.  Visit elizgreene.com to book Eliz for your next event.

My personal story and opinions are my own. I am not a medical professional and am not qualified to give medical advice. Please talk with your doctor about your individual medical situation.

How does cholesterol affect the heart?

Conn TV Interviews Heart Health Expert Eliz Greene

Eliz shares lessons on why it is important to talk with your doctor about the options for controlling cholesterol as part of the Take Cholesterol To Heart campaign.

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Kowa Pharmaceuticals America, Inc. and should not be construed to constitute medical advice. My personal story and opinions are my own. I am not a medical professional and am not qualified to give medical advice. Please talk with your doctor about your individual medical situation.

 

*Harris Poll conducted ACTION: The Statin Survey (Understanding Patient Adherence and Concerns with Statins, and Medication Discussions with Physicians) online on behalf of Kowa Pharmaceuticals America, Inc., within the United States from July 7- August 4, 2017, among 5,014 U.S. adults aged 45 or older, who have been diagnosed with high cholesterol, and have ever used a statin to treat high cholesterol. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact Erin Bittner at W2O Group, 212-301-7226.

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Eliz Greene survived a heart attack at age 35 while seven months pregnant with twins. Her down-to-earth strategies to manage stress and improve heart health and reduce stress are used by thousands of busy people all over the world. She is a motivational wellness speaker, author, and job stress researcher.  Visit elizgreene.com to book Eliz for your next event.

How To Talk To Your Doctor: Statins, Side Effects, and Heart Attacks

This post was sponsored by Kowa Pharmaceuticals America, Inc. Personal opinions and thoughts are my own.

As a heart attack survivor, a good relationship with my doctors has been very important. Over the years I’ve had challenges with medication side effects, worried about interactions with other medications, and had other frank conversations about what it feels like to live with my health issues. Open communication with my doctors has led to better choices and a better quality of life. My advice:

Your doctor can’t help you if you aren’t open about the challenges you experience – a stethoscope isn’t a mind-reading device!

Many people with high cholesterol take cholesterol-lowering drugs called statins, a class of medicines which are proven to be both safe and effective in the treatment of high cholesterol.   Statins can reduce the number of heart attacks and strokes, and are one of the best-studied medications according to the Journal of the American Medical Association (AMA). Statins are so effective the AMA also recommends statins for people who have heart disease, or are at high risk for heart disease, even if they do not have high cholesterol.1

As patients, we have to do our part!

Whether you are concerned about side effects, drug interactions, or just wonder why taking a statin is right for you, having a frank conversation with your doctor is essential. Not all statins are the same and you can talk to your doctor about your options.

Here are some tips to have a productive conversation with your doctor about whether you are taking the right statin for YOU:

  • Do Your Homework: Take the time to understand how a statin works and the health benefits it provides. You may find this article helpful. I am also proud to support a new educational campaign called Take Cholesterol to Heart to help people understand their treatment options for high cholesterol and motivate them to speak up if they are thinking about stopping their statin.
  • Be Realistic: Each of our bodies is unique. What works for me, may not work for you. It sometimes takes fine tuning to find the right fit. Luckily, there are many choices in statins, and they each work differently too.   The first one you try may be the right fit. If not, keep the lines of communication open and ask about your options.
  • Be Specific: Keeping a log of what you experience with side effects can be very helpful. Tell your doctor HOW the side effects are affecting you. What aren’t you able to do comfortably? What are you avoiding? Has your quality of life changed? This information paints a clear picture of the problem.
  • Ask the right questions up front: “Am I taking the best statin for me, or are there other options?” It is easy to get sidetracked and run out of time. Make sure your doctor knows what is on your mind and don’t be shy about asking for another appointment if there isn’t time to discuss your options thoroughly. A stethoscope can’t read your mind! Also, make sure to attend all your appointments and speak up in between appointments if you’re experiencing side effects or symptoms that concern you.

Please, if you are experiencing challenges with your statin, or any medication, talk with your doctor and explore your options BEFORE you stop taking it.

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Kowa Pharmaceuticals America, Inc. and should not be construed to constitute medical advice. My personal story and opinions are my own. I am not a medical professional and am not qualified to give medical advice. Please talk with your doctor about your individual medical situation.

 

*Harris Poll conducted ACTION: The Statin Survey (Understanding Patient Adherence and Concerns with Statins, and Medication Discussions with Physicians) online on behalf of Kowa Pharmaceuticals America, Inc., within the United States from July 7- August 4, 2017, among 5,014 U.S. adults aged 45 or older, who have been diagnosed with high cholesterol, and have ever used a statin to treat high cholesterol. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact Erin Bittner at W2O Group, 212-301-7226.

 

Sources:

http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamacardiology/fullarticle/2599102

 

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Eliz Greene survived a heart attack at age 35 while seven months pregnant with twins. Her down-to-earth strategies to manage stress and improve heart health and reduce stress are used by thousands of busy people all over the world. She is a motivational wellness speaker, author, and job stress researcher.  Visit elizgreene.com to book Eliz for your next event.

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How Does Cholesterol Medication Work? Reducing Your Risk of Heart Disease

This post was sponsored by Kowa Pharmaceuticals America, Inc. Personal opinions and thoughts are my own.

More than 100 million Americans have high cholesterol and are at high risk of developing heart disease or having a heart attack. Statins are prescription treatments that are proven to be effective in lowering cholesterol and reducing the risk of heart disease.

According to a recent online survey called ACTION*, 67 percent of patients say they weren’t told or can’t recall being told by their healthcare provider why a particular statin was prescribed. Results of the survey, which polled more than 5,000 people aged 45 or older with high cholesterol levels and who have ever been treated with a statin, showed a clear need for more doctor-patient dialogue about statins. Shockingly, as many as 50 percent of people stop taking their statin medication within one year of starting it.

That is why I am proud to support a new educational campaign called Take Cholesterol to Heart to help people understand their treatment options for high cholesterol and motivate them to speak up if they are thinking about stopping their statin.

Understanding how statins work and why they are important may help you be more effective in your cholesterol-lowering efforts. Let’s start with some of the basics:

Why Is It Important To Lower Cholesterol Levels?

Cholesterol isn’t all bad. HDL, the “good” cholesterol, is a soft, waxy substance naturally found in your body and is needed to digest fat, make hormones such as estrogen and progesterone, and produce vitamin D in the skin. Healthy people have high HDL cholesterol levels.   On the other hand, LDL, the “bad” cholesterol, is a major contributor to heart disease caused by the hardening of the arteries. High cholesterol doesn’t have any symptoms, but if you have too much “bad” cholesterol, it builds up in the vessels and clogs the flow of blood. This sticky build called plaque reduces the blood flow through the arteries and robs muscle and tissues of nutrients and oxygen.1 When the plaque breaks off, it can float down the blood vessel and completely block the flow of blood causing a heart attack or stroke. Heart disease risk factors don’t only add up; they act as multipliers on each other. For example, if you have a family history of heart disease, having high LDL cholesterol levels exponentially increases the chances you will have heart disease, a heart attack, or stroke. Controlling cholesterol levels is essential, and statins are very effective tools in that effort.2

How Do Statins Work?

Statins work by blocking a liver enzyme called hydroxy-methyl glutaryl-coenzyme A reductase (HMG-CoA reductase) which is responsible for creating the “bad” LDL cholesterol in the blood. As a result, statins:

  • slow the collection of plaque
  • reduce the size of plaque buildups already in place
  • reduce inflammation
  • stabilize plaque that collects in arteries (preventing it from breaking free and causing a heart attack or stroke)

 

To get the most bang for your buck, you have to take your statin every day as your doctor prescribed. Unfortunately, people who experience side effects may be less consistent in taking their statin medication.3

What Are The Side Effects Of Statins?

Good communication with your doctor is the key to minimizing potential side effects of statin therapy, which can include muscle pain. However, you should never stop taking your statin without talking to your doctor and discussing your options.

Tell your doctor immediately if you have muscle pain or are experiencing any other side effects. Many patients find adjusting the dose or trying a different medication can make a huge difference.

Should I Avoid Grapefruit While Taking Statins?

Grapefruit and grapefruit juice can mess with your body’s ability to process many medications, including some statins. However, there are some statins that do not require you to avoid eating grapefruit or drinking grapefruit juice. Check with your doctor to learn more about your options.

What Else Should I Discuss With My Doctor About Statins?

  1. What other medications and supplements do you take? Statins can interact with other medications including protease inhibitors used to treat AIDS, oral fungal and yeast infection drugs, Vitamin B Complex, and other cholesterol-lowering drugs.

The ACTION survey also showed that patients may be unaware of the risks of drug-to-drug interactions. Despite the average number of medications (7.7) that patients currently treated with a statin are taking in addition to their statin, 76 percent who are taking another medication (either prescription or over-the-counter) concurrently say they are not concerned about their statin interacting with other medications or supplements.

  1. Are you pregnant or planning to have a baby? Pregnant women, women who are breastfeeding, or intend to become pregnant should not take statins.3

 

  1. Do you have liver disease? Talk with your doctor about the risks of statins and liver disease.2

Do you want more information about statins?

Visit www.TakeCholesterolToHeart.com to learn more.

Seriously, don’t stop taking your statin without talking to your doctor first. If your current medication isn’t working well for you, there are other statins you and your doctor can consider. In fact, the ACTION survey found 24 percent of patients currently taking a statin say they had challenges with the first statin they took and 62 percent of past statin users said the same.   Have that conversation with your doctor about your options to lower the risk of heart attack.

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Kowa Pharmaceuticals America, Inc. and should not be construed to constitute medical advice. My personal story and opinions are my own. I am not a medical professional and am not qualified to give medical advice. Please talk with your doctor about your individual medical situation.

*Harris Poll conducted ACTION: The Statin Survey (Understanding Patient Adherence and Concerns with Statins, and Medication Discussions with Physicians) online on behalf of Kowa Pharmaceuticals America, Inc., within the United States from July 7- August 4, 2017, among 5,014 U.S. adults aged 45 or older, who have been diagnosed with high cholesterol, and have ever used a statin to treat high cholesterol. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact Erin Bittner at W2O Group, 212-301-7226.

Sources:

 

  1. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/statin-medications-heart-disease-heart-health
  2. http://jaha.ahajournals.org/content/6/3/e004909
  3. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/Cholesterol/PreventionTreatmentofHighCholesterol/Cholesterol-Medications_UCM_305632_Article.jsp#.WdWN_ltSypp

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Eliz Greene survived a heart attack at age 35 while seven months pregnant with twins. Her down-to-earth strategies to manage stress and improve heart health and reduce stress are used by thousands of busy people all over the world. She is a motivational wellness speaker, author, and job stress researcher.  Visit elizgreene.com to book Eliz for your next event.

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Fear And Stress: Coping with media coverage of tragedy

Dealing fear and stress triggers in the wake of 3 hurricanes and the Las Vegas Shooting.

Television coverage is designed to enagage the viewer and can trigger unwelcome emotions, stress and fear.

I understand those triggers and watching the coverage of three hurricanes and the shooting last night in Las Vegas brings back a cold, naked feeling, when the world seemed scary and my ability to deny it is gone.

My sense of denial, the thing all of us need to get up and leave the house everyday was damaged when I had a massive heart attack at age 35 while pregnant with twins. In a matter of minutes, my world view changed. The world was no longer safe. I knew for certain bad things happen and suddenly the world was too scary.

For months, each day I had to talk myself into going out the door, living life despite my fear. While I was pretty good at it, I felt alone in the struggle. Then came September 11, 2001, and the world became scary for the entire nation. I felt a guilty sense of relief. Everyone felt like I had for months – scared. It was suddenly okay to talk about how to cope with fear publicly. I was relieved to know others felt scared too, and my coping strategies seemed to help them.

Today it is a good thing to reflect on how life can change in a matter of minutes. While it is scary to be reminded of how it feels when your denial is torn away, it is also good to be thankful for resilience.

For those who are triggered by recent events, emotions may be conflicting:

  • euphoric to have survived
  • angry at the loss of what you expected life to be
  • guilty or unworthy for the gift of a second chance
  • fearful of what you can not control
  • sad, just sad

Remember, it is okay to feel whatever you feel. Saying, “I shouldn’t feel like this,” doesn’t allow you to process your feelings. Feel it, name it, and by doing so, cope. Stress and anger are emotions that often defy logic. Yes, it’s been more than a decade, but when triggered, the fear can feel just as fresh. Your body’s reaction to stress is instinctual, and often doesn’t make sense. A cold flush, racing heart, or upset stomach is just you body’s way of processing the stress. Pay attention to physical and emotional signals, and be kind to yourself.

Sometimes simply reminding yourself, “It’s going to be okay,” will be enough. If it isn’t remember:

It’s okay to need:

If you cut yourself deeply, there would be a scar. Sometimes that scar will get irritated. This is a wound too – you just don’t see the blood. It is okay to reach out. Talk to someone you trust. It’s okay to seek help from a professional, or to find someone who has experienced something similar. Get what you need.

It’s okay to ‘What If’:

One of my most helpful coping strategies is to “what if” a situation that scares me. To some it may see morbid – or as if I’m dwelling on the negative – but I need to think through all the things that could go wrong and figure out what I’d do. Upon entering a new place, I quickly scan for AED equipment (used to restart a heart). When traveling, I know where the nearest hospital with a heart center is located. This makes me feel more secure. I don’t want my daughters to be held back by my fear. Whenever they go off for a school event or new adventure I have to “what if” though the possible dangers in my head, think about what is likely to happen, talk to them about reasonable safety measures (take your phone, stay with the group – not to scare them, but to make sure they are safe) and talk myself into letting go. As they approach being drivers, this is a more common internal conversation! Sometimes I need to talk about my fears with my husband, do a reality check, to get past my fear. Being afraid isn’t bad, letting fear stop you, or the people you love, from living fully is a problem. Talk it through, get help if you need it, and find a way to “what if” past your fear in a situation and move forward.

It’s okay to laugh:

Not to be all, “laughter is the best medicine” – but the endorphins released when you laugh truly help restore your ability to cope with fear and stress. Finding humor in a stressful situation is an excellent way to cope. Seeking out humor when you are feeling sad, fearful, stressed, or depressed is essential. Watch a funny video or movie, talk to a witty friend, read something to make you laugh and take advantage of the endorphins. One of my favorite videos makes me laugh every time. Enjoy:

 

Be kind to yourself. Give yourself time. Seek help when you need it.

Laugh and live life fully, even when it is scary.

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Stress Management and Atrial Fibrillation

Eliz presented a stress management program for patients with Atrial Fibrillation at the Get In Rhythm. Stay In Rhythm Conference.

She shared strategies to protect yourself from stress during periods or high stress, crisis, or in the case of Afib, chronic uncertainty. The program is based on her research on job stress.

Chaos In My Home Office: Women’s Stress Management

How do you stay productive and manage stress when your office is in chaos?

A home office has its challenges:

Interruptions are frequent.  Work hours are fluid.  The line between work and home is blurred.

Working next to a construction site… well, that is my life and work for the next eight weeks.

How do you work in chaos?
Keep your eye on the big picture, define victory, and check your attitude.

My office is located in our home, upstairs next to the master bedroom.  Yesterday, an incredible team demolished the master bathroom in preparation for our remodeling project.

Yes, it was loud.

In the scheme of all things, eight weeks of noise and people working 20 feet from my office door isn’t a crisis.  It is inconvenient.  However, I can already tell the distraction factor is going to be large.

Right now, I can hear the project manager and plumber discussing the tub layout and where the new wall will be placed.  Focus Eliz, you are supposed to be writing a blog article.

As I said, this isn’t a crisis, but it is chaos.

Here is how I’m managing the stress of working in (organized) chaos with two simple statements:

Victory depends on your definition.

Ultimately, I need to market and book speaking engagements, and the good folks from Paul Davis need to construct our new bathroom.  There is significant art, and quite a bit of science, to the construction process.  Being present at the site makes their job easier because we can discuss things as they come up and make decisions.  Victory #1 of each day is staying on the aggressive construction schedule.  Victory #2 is getting some marketing done.  Setting one achievable business goal per day is essential to keeping my stress in check.  Today, my aim is to write this article written, posted, and shared.  How’d I do?  Well, if you are reading this, I guess I can declare victory.  (By the way, my amazing husband gets the credit for this statement.  It was his parting comment this morning) Sure, there are other things I need to do today.  Some will get done, and some may not.  But I’m declaring victory if we stay on schedule and this article gets posted.

My attitude frames my experience.

It would be easy to see this experience as an ordeal.  Yes, it is noisy. Yes, there are interruptions.  But I also get to see the work and progress first hand, and that is exciting.  I learned new things about plumbing this morning.  Each step we get closer to the finished project.  It is exciting.  It is an adventure. Often the key to reducing stress is to mitigate stressors by changing the way we feel about them.  In many ways it is a cost-benefit analysis.  Is the end result worth the chaos?  So far the inconvenience and interruptions are far outweighed by the excitement about the renovation.

Hopefully, that excitement will continue.

manage stress in chaos of constructionOn the days it gets harder, I’ll repeat these two statements…

Victory depends on your definition.
My attitude frames my experience.

I welcome your tips and ideas.  How do you work in chaos?

Do Fundraising Emails Work?

How many emails does it take to get a donation?

According to a new study from M+R Benchmarks it takes 2000 emails to land one donation.  For every 1000 emails, non-profits receive $36.

The pace of change in online marketing, advocacy, and fundraising is taxing.  Non-profits and associations are finding it harder and harder to have their messages heard.

According to a new study from M+R Benchmarks it takes 2000 emails to land one donation.  For every 1000 emails, non-profits receive $36.

Probably not.  Email is still an essential part of reaching members and donors, but lists must be nurtured and email efforts must be combined with other digital marketing efforts. Here are some key insights from the report:

  • 26% of online revenue came through email solicitation even while open rates fell.
  • Larger email lists are important, as is the number of emails sent.
  • Traffic to website grew in 2016. A user-friendly website is essential.
  • Social media audiences grew, including a 101% growth in Instagram.
  • Investing in digital ad spending is up and may be the key to conversion

    Read the full report and use M+R Benchmarks cool tool to benchmark your digital marketing efforts here: http://mrbenchmarks.com/

Let’s Talk About STRESS!

Women’s Wellness Speaker Eliz Greene knows women want to talk about stress!  Book her entertaining and informative stress management keynote “The Trouble With Busy: Shattering the Myth of Work-life Balance for your event.  Get on her 2017-2018 calendar now!

Stop Feeling Guilty About Food

Book Review: Food Truths From Farm To Table

Ever feel guilty about what you eat or buy? Ever judge what other people put in their grocery carts?  Ever feel confused by food labels or what you see in the media?

Me too.

I love this new book by Michele Payn.  It’s easy to read, packed full of surpising truths, and based in science.  It is a great resource to feel confident in what you choose to eat and buy.

Find it at www.FoodTruthsBook.com

Help spread the word by joining the Tunderclap to promote the book’s release.

 

Eliz Greene survived a heart attack at age 35 while seven months pregnant with twins. Her down-to-earth strategies to manage stress and improve heart health are used by thousands of busy women all over the world. She is a great fit as a Women’s Leadership Speaker and Women’s Wellness Speaker.  Find out more at www.EmbraceYourHeart.com

What Is Missing In Your Employee Wellness Program?

Employee Wellness Program Challenges

Recently Eliz keynoted the Biz Times Wellness Summit and facilitated roundtable discussions about “What’s Missing In Your Wellness Program” with HR professionals, CEOs, and wellness providers.  These discussions resulted in insights on challenges facing employers and best practices beneficial to anyone managing an employee wellness program.

Employer Challenge: Overcome Stigma To Supply Mental Health Resources

One of the themes of the Summit was mental health and addiction.  This theme carried through to the roundtable discussion as we addressed how to overcome stigma to supply mental health resources. Two insights in this area include:

  • Managers need a way to start supportive conversations about mental health and addiction. Managers are often provided with training and even scripts to have supervisory conversations about attendance, performance, and discipline. Most, however, receive no training in starting a conversation about mental health.  The stigma of mental health is often a barrier to discovering when employees would benefit from assistance.  Develop scripts and training to start supportive conversations about mental health and addiction is essential.
  • Employee Assistance Programs must be highly visible. Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) often seem like a well-kept secret.  Employees need regular reminders of the benefits available to them.  Whether it is a visit to a lawyer or the opportunity to talk with a mental health professional, these services need to be communicated regularly.  Having a physical presence of the EAP is important.  Providing education programs on mental health, addiction, and other EAP services is essential to visibility as well.

Employer Challenge: Low participation or engagement in wellness programs

Many of the companies attending the summit struggle with engaging more than 30 to 40 percent of their employees in their wellness programs.  Three insights from the roundtables include:

  • Wellness programs must be led from the top down. Eliz shared in the keynote stories of wellness programs defeated by inconsistent communication from leadership.  For example, a “leave work at work” theme encouraging employees not to answer emails between 7 pm and 7 am is easily defeated by a boss emailing at 11 pm.  Also, leaders have to share personal experiences to place importance on wellness efforts.
  • Wellness programs must be flexible enough to serve different locations, job categories, fitness levels, and environments.
    Managing a wellness program to serve employees in multiple states or vastly different job workspace is challenging.  For example, the needs of warehouse employees are different than the needs of business office employees.  Using an evaluation tool, such as Eliz’s stress study, to discover needs across the organization is essential to providing programs to serve different populations.
  • Wellness programs must be assessed regularly. Surveys are often the best tool to examine the success of wellness programs.  Best practices involved allowing employees to sample wellness offering and then choose programs to fit their needs and goals.  Incentives to encourage participation were also suggested as a best practice.  One organization rewarded participation in programs throughout the year with a playing card.  At the end of the year, the employee with the best poker hand won a prize.

Employer Challenge: Negative work environment is overshadowing wellness efforts.

As Eliz’s keynote demonstrated, often the largest source of stress is the work environment.  Offering yoga at lunch or access to cooking classes can’t address this problem.  Best practices from the group for addressing negative work environments include:

  • Employers must shift communication, interaction, and even location to address negative environments.
    • Using an improvisation game such as “Yes and…” can be useful to shift negative attitudes at the beginning of a meeting.  If everyone speaks and is encouraged to be collaborative before any work discussion begins, people are more likely to contribute to the conversation, and the outcome is more likely to be positive.
    • Changing the way interaction happen can also have a positive effect.  Having a meeting while standing can speed up communication, avoid one person monopolizing the discussion, and keep the group on topic.  Having a conversation while walking side-by-side can add emotional cover during more uncomfortable situations as eye contact is diminished.
    • Shifting locations changes interactions as well.  Holding meetings outside of the regular workspace can reset communication patterns.
  • Employers must recognize employees with rewards of real value.
    Employee recognition efforts only work if the employ values the reward.  A trinket might hold value for one employee and be an annoyance to another.  Some suggestions of “real value” included extra vacation days, early release Fridays, and late start days.  One organization uses a program which encourages employees to nominate team members who are then rewarded with things which benefit the entire team.  For example, an outstanding employee can earn a catered lunch for the whole team.

Employer Challenge: Change in the workplace is overshadowing wellness efforts.

Undergoing change often creates stress in a work environment.  Addressing the change head-on is often essential before progress on wellness initiatives can be made.  Insights from the roundtables include:

  • Employers must clearly communicate the end goal of the change consistently and often. Without the end goal, the frustration of change, especially technology changes, can overwhelm employees.  One announcement will not be enough, regular reminders of the reason for the change will keep the focus on the big picture rather than the daily frustration. During times of change employees often fragment their focus onto small details and lose sight of the goal. Conversations about “why we do what we do” on personal and organizational levels reset the focus as well.
  • Employers must allow employees to grieve what is lost.  Loss of comfort in familiar routines, technology, or people often results in anger.  Adjusting to something new naturally requires letting go of what is known.  Acknowledging and allowing time to process this loss speeds adoption and lowers stress.
  • Employers must celebrate incremental progress towards goals.  Any large change consists of smaller steps.  By celebrating short-term milestones, the change seems more achievable and success more possible.  These celebrations also offer a reprieve from constant stress.

Employer Challenge: Starting or reenergizing a wellness program:

Many of the attendees came from smaller organizations searching for ways to integrate a wellness program.  Best practices included:

  • Employers must assess the unique needs of their organization. Wellness programs should be tailored to address the causes of job stress in the organization.  Using a tool such as Eliz’s job stress study or internal surveys allow employers to create opportunities for impact.
  • Small employers should take advantage of grant opportunities.  The State of Wisconsin offers grants for companies with 50 or fewer employees to start wellness programs.  Contact your local American Heart Association for assistance in finding your state’s opportunites.
  • Download AHA’s resources:

The Biz Times Wellness Summit Roundtables were a wealth of wisdom and lively conversation.  For more information on Eliz Greene’s Employee Wellness programs and Job Stress Research visit www.ElizGreene.com/Wellness/

About the Author Eliz Greene

A top female motivation speaker and author Eliz Greene is ridiculously excited about stress. Surviving a heart attack at age 35 while seven months pregnant with twins propelled Eliz on a mission to share her story to inspire other busy people to pay attention to their health. Eliz is dedicated to leading others on a path to lower stress and great success. Her stress management keynote is a great fit for closing a conference. Find out more at www.ElizGreene.com