Today’s blog post is the third in a special series of posts that celebrates the month of May as Global Employee Health and Fitness Month, the international observance of health and fitness in the workplace. Our series, titled “Mind, body, and stomach,” is the work of Jim Heffernan, senior accountant at Discovery and Employee Wellness Committee ambassador.
I do love me some food! I believe you could deep-fry just about anything and it would taste great. I know it’s not good for me, but it just tastes so good! Growing up in an Italian household probably didn’t help me learn how to make good food choices. When you are surrounded by breads and pastas and wonderful desserts, it’s not easy to pick healthier options to snack on.
Over the years, I’ve come to realize how important it is to incorporate healthier foods into my diet. Healthier foods help maintain a healthy body weight, increase proper nutrition, and promote an overall healthy body. Try some of these easy tips to improve your diet today!
Need some ideas on how to increase your intake? Add roasted veggies to your meal. Find seasonal vegetables, sprinkle with olive oil, and roast them up. Stack veggies on your sandwich. Most people already add lettuce and tomatoes, but consider slicing up a cucumber or shredding a carrot and adding it to your sandwich. Make it a lettuce wrap and swap out the bread altogether! Add fresh fruit to your cereal or oatmeal in the morning, or pair fruits with cheese and a good glass of wine for an evening treat.
Good carbs to eat
Carbohydrates are one of the body’s primary sources of energy and are an essential part of a healthy diet. A healthy diet should include more complex carbohydrates than simple carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates are high in fiber and starch and take longer for the body to digest. They contain more essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Examples include grains, beans, and oats. Simple carbohydrates contain natural sugars easily digested by the body to provide quick energy. Examples of good simple carbs include fruits, vegetables, milk and milk products. Some examples of bad simple carbs include refined foods like soda, white sugar, and pastries. These are the items that should be a very limited part of your diet.
When you are cooking, try to use brown rice instead of white. Brown rice is a whole grain and higher in fiber than white rice, which has been processed. Brown rice also helps lower cholesterol, promotes fullness, and can help prevent blood clots. Another good carb to incorporate are vegetables, as mentioned above. Try baking a sweet potato or adding a side of roasted vegetables. You can’t go wrong with a simple side salad either—vegetable combinations are endless.
Water, water, water
Did you know that water carries nutrients to the cells in your body and oxygen to the brain? It helps the body absorb vitamins and minerals essential to the function of your organs. Water also helps regulate the body’s temperature and maintain bodily functions. It can boost skin health and lubricate joints, promoting beauty and reducing pain. Water is also a main component of the digestive system, converting food into energy and excreting waste from the body.
You might be thinking it’s boring to drink a simple glass of water. Well, it can be. But did you know there are many food options high in water content? Cucumbers, tomatoes, and spinach are over 93% water. Melon, apples, and oranges are over 85% water. Besides the water consumption, these fruits and vegetables are good sources of the daily nutrients our bodies need. I bet you could grab a few off this list of top hydrating foods and toss them together to make a delicious salad or fruit plate!
Another way to maintain a healthy diet is to add healthy snacks to your day. Healthy snacks can increase your energy level and help you lose weight. They can improve your concentration, increase memory, and enhance awareness. Be prepared—have an assortment of healthy options available to keep you on track. Examples of healthy snacks include an apple or carrot sticks. Grab a handful of cashews. Have a bowl of cottage cheese and add some berries. Looking for additional snack ideas? Check out SnackNation’s list of healthy and filling snacks.
In addition to these tips, keep in mind it’s not always what you eat, but how! You need to get to the root of your nutritional imbalances. It’s not always where you go for lunch, but how often you go and what you choose to eat. Are you eating food too close to bedtime on a regular basis? Are weekends becoming your cheat days and causing you to binge on unhealthy foods? Mindful eating can even be as simple as looking at how quickly or slowly you eat your meals. There are many factors to look at when trying to sustain a healthy diet. Just remember, baby steps—Rome wasn’t built in a day.
Find out more about Global Employee Health and Fitness Month here.
James HeffernanFood for thought—an ingredient for good health
Today’s blog post is the second in a special series of posts that celebrates the month of May as Global Employee Health and Fitness Month, the international observance of health and fitness in the workplace. Our series, titled “Mind, body, and stomach,” is the work of Jim Heffernan, senior accountant at Discovery and ambassador of our Employee Wellness Committee.
Not everyone loves the physical cards they were dealt. Believe me, I sure don’t! But there are so many things we can do to change that. First, it starts with your mental approach. You have to get in the right mindset to change the body.
Exercise can make you feel happier. It has been shown to improve mood and decrease feelings of depression and anxiety. It helps build stronger muscles and bones, helping to reduce injuries and prevent osteoporosis later in life. Exercise can increase your energy levels and reduce feelings of fatigue. It can reduce your risk of chronic disease and improve brain function. And, obviously, it can help with weight loss. According to the CDC, many people sit at a desk all day, making us much more sedentary and leading to weight gain and other medical problems.
Just because you might be working from home, don’t have access to a gym, or don’t have all the professional equipment doesn’t mean you can’t get a good workout. Sometimes you just have to be a bit creative. Here are some creative workout ideas that might inspire you.
Sounds very easy—and it is. Grab your favorite shoes and go for a walk. You might even want to invite a friend along so you can encourage each other. Walking can improve your mood and reduce anger and hostility. It will help you burn calories and is one of the best low-impact ways to change your body composition. Walking can boost your immunity and reduce your risk of disease.
Resistance training is a physical activity that is designed to improve your muscular fitness and endurance. Usually this training incorporates weights or tension bands into the workout. But let’s say you don’t have access to weights or bands—then what are your options? Try doing exercises that utilize your own body weight. Try push ups, sit ups, jumping jacks, squats. You can even do exercises while holding household items. One good exercise to strengthen your core is planking. Planking engages many muscles across the whole body to improve posture, increase muscle definition, and improve balance. There are always opportunities when at home to get a good workout. Check out this article for additional workout tips.
Yoga and Pilates
Yoga is a form of exercise that focuses on breath control, simple meditation, and body posturing for improved health and relaxation. Its purpose is to bring the body, mind, and environment into harmony. Some benefits of yoga include increased flexibility, muscle strength, and improved respiration. Check out this beginner-level yoga workout.
Pilates consists of low-impact flexibility and muscular strength and endurance movements. Its purpose is to increase muscle strength, particularly in the abdomen or core. Some benefits include a total-body workout, improved posture, and decreased pressure on your knees and joints. Check out this beginner-level Pilates workout.
Extra creative workout ideas
Do you like to dance? Even if you don’t, try putting on some fun music and dance like nobody’s watching. It’s a great way to get your heart rate up, burn calories, and improve muscle tone. Or try boxing/kickboxing. You can take a class or just set up a weighted bag in your house and throw some punches. It’s my favorite way to relieve stress! How about housework? I’m not a fan of cleaning the house, but adding some loud music can make it fun and help burn some extra calories. If these ideas don’t appeal to you, you can find all kinds of free workout videos online. Find one you like and try it!
Incorporating exercise into your daily routine does not have to be difficult or time-consuming. You don’t have to spends hours in a gym lifting huge weights to improve your overall appearance. You just have to find something you are interested in and stick to it. Make your workouts fun and change them up as needed. Set goals, encourage yourself, and achieve them. In time, you will see a difference, feel better, and—most importantly—improve your overall health.
Find out more about Global Employee Health and Fitness Month here.
James HeffernanThe body issue—because we all have one
Today’s blog post is the first in a special series that celebrates the month of May as Global Employee Health and Fitness Month, the international observance of health and fitness in the workplace. Our series, titled “Mind, body, and stomach,” is the work of Jim Heffernan, senior accountant at Discovery and Employee Wellness Committee ambassador.
An accountant by trade, I’ve been working on Discovery’s Finance team for over two years and have been in this profession for over 20. One thing I’ve found to be true—accounting and creativity are not a good mix on the job. It’s not a good idea to get “creative” with a company’s finances—it’ll usually land you on the front page of the Wall Street Journal for all the wrong reasons.
In order to express my creative side, several years ago I decided to sign up for an improv acting class to channel my creativity. I found this outlet to be more than just learning improv; it allowed me to be creative and confident with my comedy and found a whole new community to work with. In turn, I formed an improv comedy troupe and have enjoyed creating laughter ever since.
What I’ve learned first-hand over the years is that laughter is a very important part of health and wellness.
“A day without laughter is a day wasted.”
When was the last time you laughed so hard you cried? How did you feel after that bout of hysterical insanity? I bet it felt great. There are medical reasons for this feeling. It has been proven that laughter improves your heart, lungs, and muscles due to an increase in oxygen intake. Also, laughter can relieve stress and help you deal with difficult situations. When you laugh, the body releases endorphins, which are the body’s natural feel-good chemical. These endorphins lighten your mood and possibly help you live a longer life.1 Laughter is also linked to burning calories. And believe me, I’ll take a good laugh-until-you-cry moment over exercise any day!
We all need to increase our opportunities to laugh these days, especially while working from home due to COVID-19. With limited social interactions, finding the right way to express ourselves becomes more difficult. We need to find those outlets for laughter to continue to improve our well-being and keep ourselves interested and engaged. Here are a few ideas that can help bring some laughter into your otherwise ordinary day.
Fun with children
There was a whole television show based around kids saying the darnedest things! It’s very true. Sit down with your kids and tell funny stories and jokes. Pull out games or puzzles and play together. Suggest something crazy like an obstacle course through the house or dressing up in crazy outfits. You’ll be shocked how much you laugh and, in turn, your child will laugh with you. It’s important to take the time to have fun as a family.
Fun with pets
Laughter is an important part of human interactions. When you live alone with a pet, you tend to treat your pet as your companion, and he can provoke laughter in you. Think about it this way, if you talk to Fido, why wouldn’t you laugh with him, too? Get down on the floor and play tug-of-war or throw a ball. I bet you laugh. People tend to laugh when they see a dog fail at catching a ball or do something unexpected like jumping on the ball. This surely will bring a smile to your face.
Fun with co-workers and friends
Humor is a social activity. That’s why you laugh more watching a movie in a theater full of people rather than alone in your house. Reach out to your co-workers or friends. Schedule a meeting for lunch and share some of the funny things that have happened to you or your family—you may be surprised how happy this will make you. Nowadays, you can do almost anything virtually, from playing games to happy hours. You just have to find the right platform and enjoy the fun.
It’s important to find opportunities that work for you based on your individual style. There are many multimedia platforms, ranging from television shows and movies to online videos to visiting a comedy club. During this time, there are many comedy clubs that are offering online performances and classes you can take. Check your local neighborhood listings for these opportunities.
There are literally hundreds of possibilities for increasing laughter in your life. You need to find what’s funny to you. It can be as easy as finding some simple items like comic strips or funny photos—put them on your refrigerator, add funny quotes to your home office, watch your favorite funny movies, or listen to comical podcasts when you need a humor boost. I think it’s safe to say that we are all experiencing a certain degree of new stress these days. Find a way to laugh about your own situation and give yourself the permission to laugh at yourself! Feel the stress melt away. Make it a habit to find the funny every day and improve your overall well-being.
Find out more about Global Employee Health and Fitness Month here.