Archive for the ‘Wellness’ Category

Now, it starts to get interesting.  As defined in the PPACA, the rules for building and running an insurance exchange are emerging.  The Feds (aka the Department of Health and Human Services)  have released the first major guidance document.  Want a peek under the hood?  Here is their web page… http://tinyurl.com/5uayxyq or click here if your link isn’t working.

There are 2 states with Exchanges up and running – Massachusets and Utah.  I’m going to do some research into the Utah experiment and report back…

The dawn of the Exchanges

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Just had a lunch of carrot sticks and hummus.  Good.  I’m motivated to get to a healthy weight and stay there, and it’s the season to make resolutions. 

My key motivator?  The impression I will leave with a certain 2 ½ year old.  My oldest grandbaby is halfway through his 2’s and on his way to 3, and I realized that he will have long-term memories through his life, starting about now.  My first memories were from about that time, and I realize that he is now gathering the first impressions that he will carry through life.

I want him to remember a healthy Grandpa.  I want him to have me as a health role model, not a cautionary tale.  Why?  Because I have been too heavy lately, and I see a lot of big people around me.  I want to be a good example to Christopher.  Also, if I’m doing a lot of work in organizational wellness, I need to walk the talk.  Pun intended – I wear a pedometer.

Also, I am angry that nearly 1 in 5 of our children ages 6 to 19 is obese. That’s up from approximately 1 in 20 in 1980. The hospital costs associated with childhood obesity are in the mega-millions.  That scares me, enough to change my own behavior.

And now, a brief rant.  The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says “the causes of childhood obesity are multi-factorial.” No, they’re not. Our children are obese because they consume too much bad stuff and move too little. Their diets are high in bad carbohydrates (i.e., junk food) like french fries, sodas and sweets, and low in fresh vegetables, fruits and healthy sources of protein. They spend entirely too much time in front of televisions, video games and computers and not enough time in physical activity.

The best physical activity for a child is free play. A child enrolled in a micromanaged sport is not getting half the exercise I got playing sandlot games in the 1950s and ’60s. I recently did 2 hours in hand-to-hand care of Christopher in a park, and I liked what I saw.  He is certainly aerobic.

The solution?  Parents must  make their children’s weight a high priority. Yes, schools need to eliminate carbo-load lunches along with soda and snack machines, but in the final analysis, childhood obesity is going to be prevented and solved at home.   This is not tough.   Eat at least 90 percent of your meals at home, around the table instead of in front of a television set.  Prepare meals that are heart-healthy. When your children are hungry between meals, offer apples, cheese and raw vegetables. When they’re thirsty, direct them to the faucet.   Christopher’s mom is doing a fine job of this.

Exercise with them. Take daily walks and bicycle rides with your kids. Play catch. Throw Frisbees. When they say they’re bored, point to the back door.   

Okay, I’m off the soapbox for now.  But, learn from this.  Find out what you should weigh, get there and stay there. Having an overweight parent (and grandparent) greatly increases a child’s chances of being overweight.  As my friend Suzanne Metzger says – “The greatest gift you can give another is the example of your own life working, and working well.

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It had to happen.  As the “wellness” bandwagon is getting rolling, lots of people are jumping on.  I have had three sales calls from vitamin sales people who started the call with a wellness pitch, and chiropractors are becoming “wellness” consultants.  Now, it looks like the workout/fitness world will be rebranding itself.

Read this article for a look inside a recent industry trade show about the subject.  Looks like a marketing blitz is about to start, just in time for new year’s weight loss program…

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A modern wedding cake...

I have spent the last week at several SHRM Conferences (Nebraska and Kentucky) and have started getting depressed about wellness. 

As I present about Strategic HR stuff, I have intentionally included an inflammatory statement about wellness.  I have included the sentence “And wellness plans don’t appear to be working.”  When I say that, I watch the audience carefully.  It’s kind of a litmus test.  The response has been that everyone sagely nods their heads and quietly agrees, then some put their hands up and offer some examples of their own wellness program.

They report that there is usually a flurry of initial success and energy, and within a year the air is out of the balloon and the health care cost trend line is still pointed to the moon.  It seems that we don’t have the motivators right.

Carrots and sticks are both needed.  Let’s get working on that part – the carrot part is in place and not working long term in changing the health behaviors of the public.  Perhaps it’s time to move to the stick side….

What “sticks” can you think of that might work?

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The office candy bowl has been replaced with fruit.  Yay!  One of the many reasons I like where I work is that we actually walk the talk in Wellness – and are pushing the envelope all of the time.  The common snack food has been upgraded.

"Call any vegetable. Call it by name" - F. Zappa

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In the trade show, a wellness booth had a blood pressure cuff.  Word on the street was that the numbers were running high…

Lots of stress and adrenaline...

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Just got back from having a “wellness lunch” with a CFO friend at the state fair, which is similar to having a vegetarian over for a hog roast.  I sent an invitation out to the CFO Roundtable roster, and had several takers until the weather turned into an outdoor version of a pizza oven.  100 degrees and 100 percent humidity.

Mark Winzinread, CFO of WalkerInformation, made it.  We had a great time finding the one healthy meal served in air conditioning at the fair, and I can happily report that it was worth it.  While we were there, we were also interviewed for a short story in the Indianapolis Star on the issue of wellness and healthy behavior in modern times.  It should be in the Sunday paper.

Walking through the tunnel, heading to the mecca of deep fried everything

We agreed that we should find the healthiest food possible without being totally boring.  Mark had done some research and found that there was a “healthy cafe” in the Ag Pavilion, so we headed that way.  The lines were long at the “Cheeseburger on Krispy Kreme Doughnut” stand, the “Deep Fried Butter” stand, and the “Chocolate Covered Bacon” stand.

Yikes. Deep fried Pepsi?

We found the healthy cafe.  No line.  Our roast pork and green beans was excellent, high quality, low fat, and great flavor.  Yum.

Now, a few reasons why healthy food at the fair is often a failure.  First, fair food is best eaten as you walk.  A nice salad requires both hands or at least a table.  Second, people really like fat.  Third, they really like deep fried stuff, especially if it is fat before you deep fry it.  You could open a booth that sells deep fried kitchen sponges and make a fortune.  Fourth, people feel that all diets are kaput at fairs and on vacation.

Then there is the issue of marketing.  I swear that there is a “gross out” factor at work here, with signs detailing how they make deep fried Pepsi.

Some things are better left unsaid...

These are foods that are just plain odd for any other time of the year…

Greetings, Earthlings! We come in peace.

And then there is the giant floating Corn Dog, the oddly shaped icon that floats above a deep fry booth on the main drag like the farthest thing in your mind from a food item.

It seems vaguely alien.

I understand that the fair has a tradition of serving fresh food that can’t be found elsewhere, but if concerns me that we are spiraling out of control as we invent new “amazing food” every year that pushes the envelope to the edge every year. 

I offer two challenges – this year, go to the fair and do what Mark and I did – seek out tasty and nutritious food from the few brave vendors that offer it.  Next year, let’s push the fair to make the signature dish a little more wellness friendly.  We can try to get Indiana from 14th most obese state to 15th.  It would be a start…

My list of low fat, high quality food at this year’s fair:

Pickle on a stick

Grilled pork chop

Smoked turkey leg


…and that’s about it.  Oh, and I was able to get a lemon shakeup with Sweet ‘n low.   I asked the sweet corn guy what percentage of his customers asked for their corn without the bath in high cholesterol butter… “One percent.”  then he thought and corrected himself . “Make that one fourth of one percent.  Whaddaya, nuts?”

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