By Tonya Mott, Director of Continuous Improvement
Well, it’s been a few weeks since I wrote about my success in finally getting my butt to the gym.
I’m proud to say that I’m still going and don’t see an end in sight!
The only concern I experienced for myself was about a month after I was consistently going and my left knee and right hip started hurting. It hurt to the point where I couldn’t jog on the treadmill or do a true leg workout. At first I kind of brushed it off and thought, oh it will go away, my body is just not used to working out so much. Then a week went by and another week with no change. By the end of week three there was no change and I was worried that I may need to go to the doctor.
I came home from a workout and my husband handed me his old knee brace and said, try this. I was thinking oh geez, am I really getting that old that I need to walk around the gym with a knee brace on. I figured oh well what could it hurt, I’ll give it a try.
I also bought myself a nice pair of running shoes at Skinny Raven. They have you get on the treadmill for a quick 15 seconds and are able to make a recommendation based on your running style and your arch.
The last thing I realized was that I wasn’t stretching or cooling down after my workout. I came across this article that offers tips on warmups (before workout) and stretching (after workout):
After all of these changes I’m happy to say that today is the first day in about 6 weeks that I was able to run on the treadmill and actually feel great during and after!
By Shayla Dablemont, RISQ Consulting Individual and Family Benefits Consultant
My husband and I got married in July in the middle of COVID-19. This created newlywed comfort along with the push to support our local restaurants. The result? Double the weight gain. I like to call it the quarantine 15, but it was more like the quarantine 25.
When enough was enough, I started working out and eating better, but the weight sure goes on faster than it comes off. My newfound love for fitness came along with an escalation to my already prominent struggle with my sleep wake cycle. My maternal grandmother has insomnia and my paternal grandmother had narcolepsy. For me, this means I have some weird combination of each. I am wide-awake at night, no matter how eventful the day and exhausted ready for a nap during the day.
I would wake up early to complete my 30-minute exercise before work. The natural energy would last me until approximately 3pm when it was time for an afternoon pick-me-up. Ah sweet nectar from the Gods, COFFEE!! After my shift, I spend the evening binging my TV shows and nodding off, so tired. When it is finally an acceptable time to go to sleep…BOOM WIDE AWAKE.
My mind won’t shut off and I developed a strange tendency to online shop at 3 in the morning. I have always heard the concept that a good night’s sleep and overall health and wellness go hand in hand, so during one of my sleepless nights I decided to help my pocket book and dig deeper into the correlation instead of browse Amazon.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night. Short sleep duration increases the likelihood of obesity by 55%
Why is this?
Sleep deprivation actually lessens the activity in the frontal lobe, which correlates with decision-making and self-control. If you are having a craving, with a lack of sleep, it much harder to resist. There is also a correlation between lack of sleep and an increase in cravings. For example, you are craving a big bowl of ice cream and your brain is making it hard to resist. That is when excuses of why it’s okay to eat the big bowl of ice cream start creeping in.
Poor sleep can also decrease your metabolism. Your metabolism burns a certain number of calories when you are resting. This is your resting metabolic rate.
Poor sleep can cause muscle loss. Muscle burns more calories at rest than fat, so when muscle is lost your resting metabolic rate decreases.
Poor sleep can cause insulin resistance. Insulin moves sugar from the bloodstream to the cells where it is used for energy. When your cells are insulin resistant, the sugar can’t get there and remains in the bloodstream and your body creates more insulin to compensate. The additional insulin makes you hungry and tells your body to store more calories in fat.
What you can do to help get a good night’s sleep: (I am still practicing)
- Avoid dark during the day. Open the windows turn on the lights. This helps keep your circadian rhythm (natural sleep wake cycle) in harmony.
- Reduce Blue light exposure up to 2 hours before bed. Blue light comes from devices like smartphones, tablets, TVs and computers. Blue light tricks your brain into thinking it is daytime, which reduces melatonin.
- Stop caffeine intake around 3 PM. Caffeine can have effects in your body for up to 8 hours after consumption
- Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. This will help reset your circadian rhythm.
- Do not exercise before bed. Exercising releases endorphins, which can make you wide-awake and alert.
- Keep your room cool and dark. The sweet spot for night temperature is between 60 and 67 degrees. Use a blackout shade or curtain to block light from entering the room.
Since implementing the above suggestions, (and a little melatonin) I have found myself sleeping better and waking with more energy. I have completely cut caffeine from my diet, I no longer make large purchases in the middle of the night and I am happy to say my clothes are fitting much better!
By Tonya Mott, Director of Continuous Improvement
Against all odds because it took me 20 years to make it happen, I have been going to the gym 6 days a week consistently since January 1, 2021. And, no, this was not a New Year’s resolution type deal, it just so happened to line up with the new year. I’ll add that I’m married, have two small children, a full-time job, and a million excuses why I could never show up. So here goes…
It started with a book I was reading for work called, Atomic Habits by James Clear. Initially, the book had me analyzing my current habits. After carefully considering what I do from the minute I wake up to the time I go to bed I decided that there wasn’t much I wanted to change. So then I moved onto thinking about what new habits I wanted to incorporate into my life. The gym!!!! Challenge accepted, can I get my butt to the gym consistently? Probably not, knowing my “rebel” self, I notoriously can talk myself out of anything. Hmmm, go to the gym, meh, it was a long day, maybe tomorrow, I’m tired, maybe tomorrow, I’m too busy, maybe tomorrow…and on and on the vicious cycle continues.
So here’s what I did and it seems to be working:
- Make it an obligation – I hired a personal trainer, choosing the least expensive option possible because I’m not rich. This managed to get me to the gym at least once a week for 30 minutes. It costs me money, I made an appointment with someone that’s expecting me to show up, and it made me feel like there was no way I could back out. This plan had its benefits but it wasn’t enough, so next…
- Just show up, even if it’s only for 10 min. – Strive for action, not perfection. Sounds easy enough:
“Where to focus:
For the beginner, execution.
For the intermediate, strategy.
For the expert, mindset.” – James Clear
- Best time to show up, morning, during the day, or in the evening? – I imagine this is different for everyone. For me, it’s first thing in the morning before everyone in my house is awake. This guarantees no excuses for not showing up. At first it took some major discipline, to the point of even sleeping in my gym clothes so I could just roll out of bed and run out the door.
- Bad-ass playlist – Having a playlist specific to working out is a must for me. I need music to get me and keep me motivated. My music of choice is mostly gangster rap:
- Nipsey Hustle
- Three 6 Mafia
What can I say I’m an 80’s baby J (warning all mostly explicit language).
- Bonus – There’s lots of eye candy. I found this good for inspirational purposes. When you don’t have a clue what you’re doing it’s nice to see others that are in great shape and get ideas from their routines. Of course, I try to do this without staring like a creeper, lol!
In summary, I’m six weeks in to consistently going to the gym. I know it doesn’t sound like a long time but that’s short of a miracle for me so I’ll proudly run with that. I feel great and for the first time in my life I look forward to going to the gym. I actually get a little anxiety with the thought of possibly missing a day. This is something I’ve never felt before and it amazing. Now, let’s see if I can keep it going, wish me luck!
By Tiffany Stock, Vice President, Marketing & Client Relations
Our agency has really gone against the grain when talking about who is a leader within the organization. Preferring the definition of a leader as someone who can see how things can be improved and rallies people to move toward that better vision. At RISQ, everyone can be a leader and is encouraged to take the initiative.
A colleague introduced me to a business-coaching firm called Proffitt Management Solutions, led by Nancy Profit. She publishes a weekly blog to bring insightful thoughts and comments on a variety of business topics, and I really enjoy her articles focused on Leadership. If you are someone who considers themselves a leader, I encourage you to check out her recent post: 3 Ways to Be a Better Leader Right Now. Nancy breaks down three key areas to help you be a better leader by clarifying your values, developing your communication abilities and connecting in meaningful ways. Check out the post for more details.
By Andrew Kupperman, RISQ Consulting Employer Services and Workforce Technology Consultant, SHRM-CP
G2 is one of the best review sites out there when it comes to Workforce Technology. They’ve recently shared their 2021 top 50 list for HR Products. RISQ Consulting has experience in using, as well as consulting for the systems at #1, #2, #9, #15, #19, #24, and #25 on this list, but we can also help consult on any workforce technology out there. Remember, many of these systems are just a tool to create an efficient and effective workforce experience. You still need to create an organizational mindset, and identify the right processes and people in order to get the most of that tool. This is where RISQ helps.
By Dena Lythgoe, Senior Account Executive & Partner
I don’t know about you, but I have worn more active gear without actually being more active since March 2020. COVID being the main cause for virtual meetings has helped create a new style definition, ‘below the shoulder’ attire. We have all seen the horrible faux paus of the individuals who didn’t think the camera was on, followed quickly by commercials portraying the difficulties of working virtually while wearing pants. I am not afraid to admit, I too am guilty of succumbing to ‘below the shoulder’ attire and lean towards comfort versus style.
I have asked around and have come to the realization that, if people don’t go to work, they don’t wear dress pants or, in some reported cases, pants at all. If given the choice would you wear slacks when leggings, sweatpants, or shorts would be an acceptable option? The COVID- 19 pandemic has created a surge in options for lounge wear and while jeggings is no longer a new concept more and more designers are coming up with accommodations for the growing desire to look professional while also being comfortable. This has created an explosion in the fashion world to fill the growing desire for what is known as athleisure wear.
Athleisure wear is a hybrid style that can be worn to multiple locations such as the gym, casual outings and to work without necessarily having to change from one location to the next. Well, maybe a gym change depending on the workout, but hey, we’ve all done it. Numerous people working from home have chosen this garb over the more professional look and while some embrace the change in fashion others who tend to be more formal do not.
I work in a professional setting where throughout the years the office has become more relaxed regarding professionalism attire. In the last 15 years we have changed and in many cases for the better. Ten years ago men used to wear suit, dress shirt and tie every day but Friday when they could remove the tie for ‘casual Friday. ‘Jean days’ were awarded as special days for doing something above and beyond and you must turn in your paper ticket for a manager to approve. I will never forget the conversations regarding footwear. Open toed shoes were only allowed because the manager liked to wear them herself. If you chose to go this route and show toes, it was well known you must have manicured feet. Yes, I could say times have definitely changed.
Eventually people will be going back to office settings and, while there is talk of the new normal looming in all areas of life, will the professional attire for an office setting become even more relaxed? Don’t get me wrong sweatpants and leggings are great, but there is something about getting dressed up that makes me feel ready to take on challenges and face the day. When I have bright red lips along with bright red pants, my head is held higher and my confidence doesn’t waiver. But just as the definition of power suit has changed will perception of professional attire be thwarted by Athleisure wear?
By Joshua Weinstein, Employee Benefits President
I’m no longer a member of the youngest and hippest generation. My daughters keep me apprised of the trending memes, hand gestures, and terms, but at heart, I know I’ve crossed into deep mid-life. With that ascension comes maturity and growth, right? While I still break into fits of childlike moments of wonder, I have thought about the HOW of my work process and systems. Benefiting from nearly 20 years in my profession, I’ve observed how my knowledge lake has grown both in breadth and depth. Still, I think my greatest contributions have come in the form of learning to trim the extraneous, the fat, and get to the root of my client’s needs.
In summary, the tectonic shift occurring as I round out 20 years in my profession, which happens to be employee benefits consulting, is that my path is now less of ascent and more of one of descent. In metaphorical terms, today I strive less to climb in my career. Rather, I’m here to mentor and lead the next generation as they ascend and reach for their goals. I’m invested more in sharing and surrendering any trade secrets I may possess than personal gain right now. Perhaps I’m just an old soul ahead of my time, but it’s where I am. In a spirit of sharing, here are a few life lessons that I’ve embodied after much trial and error.
- When I started as a newbie in my professional career, I read documents cover-to-cover, and now, with that framework in place, I scan for updates and relevant changes. I’m still a content-level expert in my field, but I can be more efficient since I’m adjusting what I already have learned.
- I had been accused long ago of micromanaging my work, and now I’ve learned to trust others to succeed and make their learning mistakes. Surrendering control is integral to efficiency and others’ prosperity.
- Take proper vacations. For each week out, I build in a “phantom day” upon my return while I’m working under the radar. I’m still out as far as others know, but I’m getting caught up.
- I have a better handle on the types of work I do best during certain parts of the day. For this blog, right after coffee at 9 AM is the spot. Social time and forming big ideas with co-workers is best had in the late afternoon.
- As a leader, I am less tolerant to mediocrity, both in myself and others. I’ve heard we’re shaped most by the five people we socialize with outside of immediate family, and so I’ve laid to rest friendships that were no longer mutually beneficial. Same goes in the workforce. If a colleague isn’t in the right role, our servant leaders attempt to help him or her adjust as needed. Failing success after a fair number of attempts to cultivate it, we part ways. Building an A-class team within our division at work has meant more letting go than holding on. Those that remain likely have careers for life.
How about you? What have you learned to surrender and let go of that’s made you and those around you more prosperous and empowered to lead?
By Tiffany Stock, Vice President, Marketing & Client Relations
Normally I try to share articles that are deep, insightful and nonetheless thought provoking, but sometimes we all need a little break from the norm as long as it provides some inspiration!
Based on the most recent data from the CDC, in Alaska, only 19% of adults and 41.6% of adolescents in grades 9-12 consume less than one vegetable per day. Nationally only 1 in 10 adults get enough fruits and vegetables, which means 90% of adults are not getting the recommended 2-3 cups of vegetables per day as part of a healthy eating pattern. I don’t know about you, but sometimes my vegetable repertoire has much to be desired and can we say, lacks some creativity and can seem a little boring. If you can relate to this, I encourage you to checkout a recent blog post I came across through one of our insurance partners, Premera, titled How to Break Out of Your Winter Vegetables Rut. This piece is sure to get those creative culinary ideas circulating with some very mouth-watering recipes!
By Joshua Weinstein, Employee Benefits President
I’m a minimalist by nature. I believe everything you own is a relationship you’re in that requires maintenance. That said, many things spark joy and should be kept around, even if they require TLC. When new “things” are needed, I try to maximize my purchasing power. Heck, we so often trade our most precious resource, time, for money, so we might as well earn something for doing what’s otherwise needed. Enter, Shopsmarter.com.
I found Shopsmarter.com on a UPS shipping label for a Best Buy purchase. The ad proposed receiving a $15 sign-up bonus and 10% cash back at over 1,000 stores, including my beloved Best Buy. So, I signed up, and the monthly checks started rolling in. Mind you, there’s a $1,000 cash back limit per membership year and a $9.95 monthly fee, but some simple arithmetic shows I can make sense of this.
New running shoes for my wife and me? ASICS had our favorites on sale, plus we got 10% back, to the tune of $11 per pair. A new refrigerator at Lowe’s? $172.40 cash back. It adds up, especially when stacking store discounts, coupons, and credit card rewards. My favorite stores participate, and perhaps yours do too!
Here are a few of mine: