By guest author Jamie Gibberman RDN, CDE
“Teamwork Makes the Dream Work” has been a phrase I have subscribed to for years. As an only child who works by himself, you might wonder, what could I possibly know about teamwork? Well that is a story for another day – Today I want to share with you one of the members of my team.
Some of you may know that I have never been a skinny boy – as an adolescent, friends used to tease me about being pregnant and yes I always wore HUSKY sized boys clothing. As I have aged, the struggle became more of a challenge. Then, in the summer of 2014, I began to get serious about losing a few pounds – OK – I wanted to lost 50 pounds. I began to track my food intake and began to go back to the gym. I lost about five pounds and the next week gained four of them back and that went on for about two months.
I reached out to Jamie in late September 2014 when my doctor suggested that I see a dietitian. Jamie helped me drop about 25 pounds in 6 months before she moved to Richmond VA and, you guessed it – I gained every bit of the 25 pounds back, and then some.
This time, I vowed it would be different. Jamie still lives in Richmond and now, with technology, she is my virtual dietician. In the last year I have lost over 40 pounds. Why can a dietician help me so much? In a word – Accountability; Jamie is my accountability partner and I weigh less and feel better because of her.
As we approach the most difficult time of the year for many of us, asked Jamie about the impact our diet can have on, not just our personal health, but also the health of our team and overall work productivity.
Please continue to read as Jamie outlines some secrets to a healthier diet.
Have a great Thanksgiving and here’s to a more healthier you!
If someone told you there was a way to:
- improve team performance
- decrease the number of employee sick days
- increase productivity
- improve energy and overall morale
You would want to know the secret, right? It’s no secret – healthy eating and physical activity improve work performance dramatically. Studies confirm that healthy workers are better able to focus, are more productive, and are less likely to call in sick. Weight loss for those who are overweight or obese not only provides physical benefits but also increases energy, improves sleep, lowers stress, and decreases anxiety and depression. A mentally and physically healthy team means employees are more ready and able to accomplish. So how do you get them (and yourself) there?
GETTING YOUR TEAM HEALTHY
Shift corporate culture toward one that values healthy eating and overall well-being. Steps for increasing team productivity could include:
- Moving Meetings – Small groups can take a walk instead of sitting around a table. An email sent upon return summarizing what was discussed serves as minutes for the meeting.
- Team-Building Exercises that revolve around healthy activities instead of unhealthy eating. Make the annual holiday party fitness-focused instead of food-focused.
- Wellness Meetings – Employees bring their health goals and get support from their colleagues.
- Health Buddies – team up for accountability.
- Employee Pot Luck – Challenge all members to bring something healthy, and swap recipes.
- On-site Exercise Programs – during lunch or after work. Build relationships while you build muscle.
- Hire a Nutrition Professional. Registered Dietitians can provide healthy eating information sessions and demonstrations.
- Have a Registered Dietitian available for “drop-in” hours to assist employees with healthy eating goals and answer questions. Teaching members to fuel their bodies with food, instead of just filling their bodies with food, will have both measurable and immeasurable positive effects.
- Practices and Policies to Promote Health – Choose a healthcare plan and program that rewards healthy behaviors. Yearly physicals, phone health counseling, smoking cessation programs are health behaviors that can be rewarded with points which are then redeemable for gift cards or other “prizes.”
GETTING YOURSELF HEALTHY
Of course the individual must also make changes to move toward wellness. So ask yourself – what is your biggest obstacle to eating healthy? What is your biggest obstacle to regular activity? Often the two biggest obstacles cited are time and accountability.
There are many time “shortcuts” to improve health:
- Prepare your lunches on Sunday so you aren’t at the mercy of the cafeteria choices or fast food during the week. Buy pre-packaged veggies: Those that are labeled “steam in bag” are cut, washed and ready to use, or eat as is. Precooked proteins also make great options: pre-boiled eggs, grilled chicken strips, and roast turkey make prep-time minimal.
- Keep healthy snacks at your desk for when meals get delayed or you are stuck on a phone call: 100 calorie packs of nuts, tuna/salmon packets, and individual peanut butter packs with fruit are all shelf- stable and provide great nutrition.
- Take 10 minutes out of your lunch break and walk around the building or up and down the stairs.
How do you make yourself accountable? Merriam-Webster defines accountability in two ways – required to explain actions or decisions to someone, or required to be responsible for something.
Just as team members often answer to colleagues for a multitude of tasks, accountability is a significant component of healthy eating. While one can hope to be internally accountable, not everyone operates in that way. Having someone to whom you are accountable increases the likelihood of meeting your goals. Use the suggestions above for health buddies, wellness meetings, and hiring nutrition professionals to make success more probable.
So what will you do to help your team (and yourself) today? The question isn’t can you afford the time devoted to implement these changes, the question is can you afford not to?
Jamie Gibberman RDN, CDE is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator based out of Richmond, VA. With extensive experience in counseling for weight loss, diabetes and corporate wellness, she has helped hundreds of clients meet their health goals. She currently runs a virtual business providing nutrition counseling via phone and internet and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For additional information and research studies:
Photo by Michael Havens