In the second post of BeAdvised’s Wellness Wednesday, Unison’s Emily Wert talks about the problems she encountered while the changes to her life as part of EBA’s wellness challenge. Wert will work one-on-one with a personal health coach in a 12-week program that will be covered in the magazine and weekly on this blog. Have any tips for Emily? Share them in the comments.
Last week I began working with my personal health coach from Onlife Health. In addition to evaluating the results of my online health risk assessment, my coach and I discussed what I felt I needed to work on in order to improve my own health and wellness. I began to share a lengthy list with her, ‘I need to focus on making healthier meals each night for dinner. I need to stop skipping breakfast. I need to fit stretching and yoga into my exercise routine. I need to get more sleep each night. I need . . .’ And the list kept going and going.
Many of us know the assorted things we NEED to do to improve our health, and we know what we would LIKE to be doing on a daily basis. The problem, especially for me, is when to do it and how to stick with it. Once I make the decision to jump on the wellness bandwagon, before you know it, I’ve fallen off because I can’t keep up with the many changes I have implemented. Life seems to get in the way.
If only we all had a few extra hours in the day to do it all, right? After talking this over with my coach, we decided that instead of implementing all of the changes at once, I should focus on one change that will give me the biggest bang for the buck: starting each day with a healthy breakfast. This gets me thinking about healthy eating first thing in the morning and provides endless benefits throughout the day. The goal is to focus my efforts on this one activity until it becomes part of my daily routine, at which point, I can identify and work towards accomplishing new goals.
With each small realistic goal set and achieved, small changes occur, and success can be celebrated. This type of small step by small step approach will ultimately result in healthy behaviors that are more sustainable over time.
As we think about sustainable wellness programs for companies, a similar strategy can be implemented. Just as with our own personal wellness, a corporate wellness program is more than just a onetime event. Steps need to be taken to make wellness part of the company’s culture and part of the “everyday routine” for all employees. Through small changes, an organization begins to develop an environment that naturally cultivates and supports healthy behaviors. Here are some examples of small steps that can be taken: implement health promoting company policies, write worksite wellness initiatives into the job descriptions of those responsible, align wellness goals with the overall mission of the company, and make physical changes to the campus that encourage healthy choices or discourage unhealthy ones, and continually communicate health and wellness messages.
These changes don’t need to be huge and certainly don’t need to happen all at once. Slow and strategic implementation can benefit the company and allows employees to adjust and grow accustom to the changes taking place. Over time, continually making small changes will result in a more sustainable culture of wellness and a successful wellness program.
Wert is worksite wellness coordinator at Unison Inc. in Minnetonka, Minn. She can be reached at 952-345-2315 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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