Healthy Living in the North

Making wellness work at work

In September and October of this year, we supported a month-long campaign to promote wellness in the workplace, called “My Healthy Workplace.” In total, 80 teams registered for the weekly challenges. In the northwest region, the Working Dead Zombie Collective took this opportunity to solidify their intentions for workplace wellness. They got lots of different departments involved in the campaign and gave it all they had for some very creative submissions!

We talked to some of the participants to find out how the Collective came together and how they approached the challenges. Take a look:

Doug Quibell, NW public health protection manager, described his involvement in the campaign for us too:

I got involved in this campaign because it had great potential to exemplify our vision of breaking down artificial silos, and bringing a multi-disciplinary team together to collaborate upstream. We’ve been speaking about this for some time, but in retrospect, this project really clarified the benefits for me. Complex chronic diseases can only be tackled when mixed groups like this bring their divergent perspectives to the table. In our group, it was fabulous how these varied backgrounds added a wide range of pieces to the puzzle. Over the course of the project we saw participants move from representatives from their respective departments, to part of a Public Health team. Enthusiasm and engagement grew throughout the project as we were able to work with folks we don’t routinely get to, and the relationships developed. It was also a lot of fun being a zombie!

At the same time as we held this challenge for all residents of the north, we also held an internal contest for NH staff, asking them to show us how they use the messaging from the NH position papers to make their workplaces healthier. Congratulations to the Working Dead Zombie Collective, who won this for the northwest region.

20131204coozombifiedAt approximately 3:45, November 8th, Northwest COO Penny Anguish made a “grave” mistake. Usually quite careful, onlookers were quoted as questioning, “what the heck is she thinking?”

While awarding the Working Dead Zombie Collective their first place awards for their work on the internal My Healthy Workplace competition, the Zombie Collective unsurprisingly became peckish.

 

Jessica Quinn

About Jessica Quinn

Jessica Quinn is the regional manager of digital communications and public engagement for Northern Health, where she is actively involved in promoting the great work of NH staff to encourage healthy, well and active lifestyles. She manages NH's content channels, including social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc). When she's not working, Jessica stays active by exploring the beautiful outdoors around Prince George via kayak, hiking boots, or snowshoes, and she has recently completed her master's degree in professional communications from Royal Roads University, with a focus on the use of social media in health care. (NH Blog Admin)

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Workplace Food Wars

health foods in the candy dish

Celebrate good food together and take the war out of your workplace by sharing food that is a healthy choice for everyone.

I am a foodie. I love to eat good food and share good food with others. However, the last thing I want to find are brownies in the lunchroom for everyone… with a note to please “help” eat them!

I love brownies, but they aren’t a good food choice for my health. They typically have high sugar and fat content and low nutrient value, but if those brownies are on the table, they’ll be on my mind all day. After passing them up fifteen times, I’ll be ready to throw away my common sense, give into the addictive struggle and eat them anyway.

I can control my food environment at home and make sure it’s safe, but how do I manage it at work when I am surrounded by candy dishes, chip bowls, and sweet leftovers people bring in from home? This got me thinking about why people bring food into the workplace. Food can create a friendly environment, an opportunity for conversation and sharing, a brief escape from duties and – in the case of sugar – a short-term sugar high.

Now, to be clear, the challenge is not having food in the workplace. The challenge is the types of food in the workplace. We need to find healthier ways for coworkers to gather, celebrate, and enjoy food together. For example, I’ve had great success with black bean brownies from the new Dietitians of Canada cookbook. I made them and brought them into my workplace. To my surprise, the healthy alternative was quickly eaten and everyone wanted the recipe.

Why should we think about the food we bring to the workplace? Many workplaces (including Northern Health) have policies restricting scents in the office due to allergies. We don’t smoke at work and many schools are nut-free. These policies are in place to keep people safe while at work and, in order to create safer environments, they should be extended to consider the food environment at work.

I encourage you to think about the food environment where you work:

  • Remove the candy from the candy dish.
  • Start the counter-movement and fill the candy dish with healthier alternatives. I have candy jars with almonds, kale chips, roasted chickpeas and often a bowl of fruit.
  • Make a personal statement: “I will not contribute to sweets and unhealthy foods in the workplace.” This means not bringing leftover cakes, cookies, Halloween candy, and Christmas goodies.

Celebrate good food together and take the war out of your workplace by sharing food that is a healthy choice for everyone. Visit our website for more guidelines on living a healthier life.

What health promoting foods do you put in your candy dish?

[Ed. note: Don’t forget to join the September Healthy Living Challenge and enter the Week 2 Challenge for your chance to win a Fit Kit!]

Christine Glennie-Visser

About Christine Glennie-Visser

Christine is the regional coordinator for the HEAL (Healthy Eating, Active Living) Network in northern B.C. Christine loves to share good healthy local food with family, friends and co-workers and is passionate about making the healthy choice the easier choice for everyone. Although she is currently limited in her physical activity choices for medical reasons, she has become creative at fitting in activity and spends many happy hours deep water running and using gentle resistance training and stretching to maintain muscle strength. Christine can often be found in her kitchen, developing or testing recipes, and conspiring with her six grandchildren to encourage their parents to eat more fruits and vegetables! (Christine no longer works with Northern Health, we wish her all the best.)

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Adding activity to your work day – it’s easier than you think!

Fit Kit

Take on our Week 2 Challenge for your chance to win this Fit Kit!

Yesterday, we introduced your Week 2 Challenge in the September Healthy Living Challenge. Tell us how you fit activity into your work day, enter our contest, and you could win your very own Fit Kit, including the great items pictured here!

In order to show you how some of these items work,  Christine Glennie-Visser, NH HEAL Coordinator, met with Michael Leisinger, Regional Director of Board and Administration Services. Together, they show you how you can fit activity into your work day!

Jessica Quinn

About Jessica Quinn

Jessica Quinn is the regional manager of digital communications and public engagement for Northern Health, where she is actively involved in promoting the great work of NH staff to encourage healthy, well and active lifestyles. She manages NH's content channels, including social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc). When she's not working, Jessica stays active by exploring the beautiful outdoors around Prince George via kayak, hiking boots, or snowshoes, and she has recently completed her master's degree in professional communications from Royal Roads University, with a focus on the use of social media in health care. (NH Blog Admin)

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Recess isn’t just for kids (and September Healthy Living Challenge #2!)

Jessica and Anne using Dyna bands to stretch in their office.

Jessica and Anne using Dyna bands, part of the kit, to stretch in their office.

At one time or another, you may have walked past the office that I share with my colleague, Anne Scott, and noticed strange things occurring: push ups, yoga stretches, even chin ups in the doorframe. Yes, that’s happened. We’ve received a few strange looks, but definitely more cheers and, happily, several joiners.

My job involves a lot of desk time and sometimes I can get so wrapped up in editing or writing or some other consuming task that before I know it, three hours have gone by and I’ve barely moved. My body deeply resents these moments.

To help correct this negative behaviour, Anne and I have started incorporating activity breaks into our day-to-day routines – times when we both stop whatever task is at hand, stand up, take a few deep breaths and get our blood flowing and our muscles responding again. Besides being good for our bodies (you can read all about it in Northern Health’s guidelines on sedentary behaviour and physical activity), we find it really helps keep us alert and focused on our work throughout the whole day.

Woman using Dyna bands.

We’ve gotten visitors wanting to join us for stretch breaks too! Here, Barbara Hennessy, Regional Coordinator, Cardiac and Cerebrovascular Services, shows off with the Dyna bands.

Realizing that office workers sit for much of their day, another co-worker recently introduced me to a kit she’s developing (to be called a “Fit Kit”) to help people build extra activity into their day. Anne and I gave this kit a trial run for a couple of weeks and can happily report that it made our activity breaks a whole lot more fun and gave us quite the variety of stretches to work into our routines. People should be practicing resistance training (or weight training) three times per week, so having the option of using the kit for this while at work definitely saves a lot of time!

Now here’s where your Week 2 Challenge comes in! We want to know how you add activity into your work day: how do you find ways to get out of your chair and move? Send us your tips (and your photo proof) for your chance to win your very own Fit Kit!

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post when we show you a video demonstrating how to use some of the Fit Kit items – you never know, it could just change your whole work day!

Tips for taking activity breaks in your office:

  • Do you ever get so wrapped up in what you’re working on that you forget to stretch? Try setting a timer (maybe an app on your smartphone or even an egg timer) or scheduling it into your calendar.
  • Partnering up with a colleague to help remind you (and vice versa) when it’s time to stretch can really help to motivate!
  • Creating a daily activity routine will help make your new activity goals stick better. Pick a time (or times) when it works for you and be sure to get active every day.
  • Getting weird looks while you do those push ups under your desk? Why not give them weird looks back for not doing push ups next to you! It’s time to break the stigma against sudden attacks of lunges and squats next to your desk!
  • Visit the Physical Activity Line website for more information on workplace activity.
Jessica Quinn

About Jessica Quinn

Jessica Quinn is the regional manager of digital communications and public engagement for Northern Health, where she is actively involved in promoting the great work of NH staff to encourage healthy, well and active lifestyles. She manages NH's content channels, including social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc). When she's not working, Jessica stays active by exploring the beautiful outdoors around Prince George via kayak, hiking boots, or snowshoes, and she has recently completed her master's degree in professional communications from Royal Roads University, with a focus on the use of social media in health care. (NH Blog Admin)

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