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The Business of Health and Wellness

What if caring for yourself wasn’t seen as more work, but instead, a way to make what we have to do better?

A friend shared a story about how she attended a business lunch meeting convened with the best intention to improve health and wellness in the community. The menu included fried chicken, biscuits, mayonnaise loaded “salad”, sweet tea, and cookies as they discussed what should be done to make wellness a priority.

conference-1886117_640Who hasn’t experienced a meeting without breaks, running hours past lunch, and/or one that packed excessive calories, packaging or food waste into the agenda? Or perhaps with a schedule not aligned with what we know about adult learning theory?

Somewhere along the way, application of knowledge about how to succeed as humans and care for ourselves got a little lost. It started to be treated as a marketing tactic instead of a values conversation. We’re missing the boat when we think of caring for ourselves as a business play or as a separate thing to do instead of how to maximize our skills personally and professionally.

What if the moments described above were seen as the sitcom script they sound like vs. reality?

What if it is easier, more fun, financially better and more delicious to take care of yourself than not?

Guess what? It can be that way. Here’s how. In three easy steps.

First, know that people will notice changes you make. This is not necessarily bad. It’s human nature to notice these things. If you have a new haircut or outfit, isn’t it nice when someone notices and says something positive about it? This could also be the case when someone notices you making new and better choices in food or activity.

Second, get over the FOMO (fear of missing out). Life offers tons of choices. We don’t get to do everything. The reality is, there is often a default choice that may seem like a treat but it might not actually be what you want every time. Here are two simple examples:

salad-2756467_640A restaurant go-to side dish is oftentimes French fries. Perhaps they also have a delicious broth-based veggie or chicken soup, a beautiful salad, or fresh cut fruit. Doesn’t it feel special when someone else chops the veggies or fruit at a party? Why not think about that at a restaurant, too? Fries are a treat when you have them once in a while. Instead of mindlessly eating them every time, see if you could have a baked potato with salsa (a personal favorite) or one of these other yummy options (also personal favorites) instead. Then, when you do CHOOSE to have whatever side dish you desire that day, it’s special. Not something to feel guilty about.

businessmen-2890412_640Meetings are set up to sit. If you are planning one, order tall (standing) tables for the room. By providing this option, you are granting permission to stand. There’s so much talk about how sitting is so bad for our health. Talk is cheap. Take action. Make it easier to shift this behavior for yourself and all attendees.

Third and lastly for now, take a moment to ask yourself what is most important to you and make sure how you are spending your time matches this. In this world of being ever connected, it’s easy to get side tracked. Here are a few ways to shift back into high gear:

  1. Review your kitchen and dining room to see if it’s helping you succeed. If it’s hard to get to the equipment you need to make meals, pack your lunch, and/or eat those tasty fruits and veggies you bought, rearrange things. I did this after moving into my house. Where I thought I wanted things like my coffee pot, food processor, and knives was not where I actually was using them. I took a few hours one weekend and moved it around. It’s been more fun and efficient to work in the kitchen ever since.StockSnap_G3SXPR90XV
  2. Dress the part, for success and for fun. I have a treadmill and workout equipment in the basement. I like to wear silly t-shirts when working out at home. No one sees them but me, but that’s sort of the point and part of personal motivation that’s a different need than when going to the gym. I also like fun socks to wear inside boots in winter and wearing classic, tailored work attire with one nod to the trend/colors of the season in a scarf or other accessory. You don’t have to spend a lot to dress well, and it’s often fun to see what you can find within a tight budget. What you wear can help motivate you and lift your spirits.funny-629675_640.jpg
  3. Walk the talk. If you say health is important to you, don’t feel guilty for doing what you know is right for you. Washing your hands. Covering your mouth when you cough. Taking time to eat a balanced meal. Sleeping enough. There is evidence that physical activity supports health – both physical and mental success. Whether you are the boss or the employee, you are in a role to set an example and support your own success and that of those around you. Take that power. Use it for good.key-2114313_640

What will you do today to best align your values and your actions?




By Kim Kirchherr

I am a dietitian working in food and fiber (agriculture) through retail, addressing opportunities to make things better for people and planet.