Tagged "Wellness"

How to Negotiate a Great Wellness Package

Posted by Julia McVeigh on

When it comes to pursuing a new job, many of us are solely focused on the bottom line: Salary, bonus, equity. No doubt about it, money talks -- and it's a large determining factor when taking a new position. But money, it seems, isn't enough to keep employees satisfied. In fact, a recent study via jobs website Glassdoor noted something we've kind of known all along: Money doesn't buy employees happiness. What can buy happiness? Well, there remains consistent evidence that being healthy -- emotionally, physically and mentally -- are all positive indicators for happiness.

If wellness directly impacts our professional happiness, then, shouldn't be negotiating as rigorously for our health as we are for our money? That's what we think -- and ahead, we're dishing out some of the ways in which you can negotiate a great wellness package. 


Let these stats sink in: The U.S. is dead last in developing countries for our maternity and paternity leave policies, with only 12% of U.S. workers in the private sector being able to get paid family leave through their employer. Given this dismal state of affairs, it has never been more important to insert maternity and paternity leave into negotiations, particularly if you're planning on starting a family soon. While we still have a very long way to go, companies are increasingly beginning to understand the importance of a reasonable leave and most HR departments will be willing to negotiate (we think 12 weeks paid leave is the goal). 


So, you may be making the big bucks, but how's your vacation time looking? This is a personal one for me, as I once worked for a company that payed me very well, but offered only one week of vacation in my first year (which I couldn't take until I had worked there for six months!) Not surprisingly, that type of culture didn't bode well for me and I left within the year. (And took a serious vacation!) I use this anecdote to emphasize that getting vacation and paid time off is a really important negotiating point, especially when it comes to mental health. Push for at least two weeks and don't forget to cover sick leave, too. 


I have a good friend who just had her first child and was able to negotiate working from home every Friday with her employer. She told me that it's the best thing she's ever brokered -- better than any raise she could have ever asked for. She's not alone; telecommuters consistently report having more control over their schedules, feeling less burnout and stress and being able to spend more time with their families. So, if you're starting a new job and prefer working from home (or have a family and would like that flexibility), make that a negotiation point in your offer discussions.


Okay, you have a guaranteed bonus. But do you have a discounted gym membership? Seek to clarify the various employee health offerings that are available under your contract, including wellness discounts. Moreover, many progressive companies will lower our health insurance premiums if you take regular fitness assessments -- ask about it! 

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How to Embrace Your Sunday

Posted by Julia McVeigh on

I’ve always had mixed feelings about Sunday. Growing up, I was notoriously blue and anxious come Sunday evening – it meant going back to school (and homework), back to sports practice (after only one day of rest) and …back to reality. In my college years, this feeling only intensified, as a weekend’s worth of work often loomed over my head (alongside a mild beer hangover), and Sundays were often spent cramming late into the evening at the library. And throughout my twenties, my “Sunday Scaries” only intensified: Adult realities like returning to work, paying bills and generally “figuring my life out” all seemed insurmountable come Sunday evening.

While I still get the Sunday blues from time to time, I now see Sundays in a more positive light. For one, while my Saturdays are usually filled with social engagements, errands and to-dos, I seem to spend Sundays in ways that are much more thoughtful, restorative and mind clearing these days. Moreover, I now structure my Sundays in a way that gets me prepped – and dare I say excited – for the week ahead. Ahead, I’m sharing just some of these ways – how do you spend your Sunday?



We’ve talked about the benefits of meal prepping on this blog before, and let me tell you: I consider it to be a form of therapy on a Sunday. It gets me organized, it releases stress and it adds a sense of control and certainty to the ensuing week. That’s to say, it’s great knowing that in the coming days, I have items readily on hand for lunch, snacking and even dinner – a boon if you’re a busy person like me. Furthermore, meal prepping is a must-do if you’re trying to stay healthy and keep your budget in check, as it eliminates the need for that last-minute takeout.

Along those lines, cooking on a Sunday is a great tradition to get into, especially if you suffer from the “scaries": It gets your mind off of the week ahead, it gives you an outlet for creativity and it is just a really nourishing act. Added bonus: You have all weekend to shop for a Sunday dinner, so there’s no excuse about not being able to get to the supermarket.



This may sound like the most depressing use of a Sunday ever, but hear me out. Putting in a couple of hours of work on Sunday can make a world of difference come Monday morning, since you’re already ahead of the game, so to speak. Furthermore, peeking at your email (or workload) on a Sunday feels infinitely less overwhelming when you know that your boss or client isn’t breathing down your neck. So, the next time you’re dreading going through your inbox on a Monday morning, try starting the process on a Sunday – I promise you’ll feel more relaxed come the start of the week.



On the other end of the spectrum, I often reserve Sunday (or parts of Sunday) for a total shutdown of my usual communication channels – emails, texts, et cetera. This can be a liberating and relaxing exercise; one that helps to clear your mind and get you ready for the onslaught on communication for the week ahead. Try doing this for an hour in the beginning, gradually working your way up over time.



Come Monday morning, the list of must-dos suddenly feels insurmountable. But oftentimes, it’s hard to even parse out what it is you need to do versus what you feel like you need to do. For example, if you’re in the process of looking for a new job, you may start your week thinking, “I need to start finding a new job this week.” Which is a totally overwhelming statement – and one that won’t get you anywhere, either. Instead, try making your to-do list on a Sunday, when you’re feeling the most clearheaded and relaxed. Be as specific as possible and try putting dates / timelines next to each item. (In the case of job searching, maybe that means something like, “Monday evening: Contact old colleague with resume.”) You get the picture…



We just covered self-care on the blog; coincidentally, many of our recommendations are a great way to spend a Sunday. Whether this means coloring like a kid, having a spa day or taking a time to practice some meditation, earmark the last day of the week to give yourself some love.



Which brings me to my final (and favorite) way to spend a Sunday. In lieu of wallowing in your sorrows, use this day to catch up with friends and family. Whether it's a walk with your BFF or a phone call with your mom, these weekly check-ins about life can really help provide clarity when you’re feeling frantic or overwhelmed, plus they help you contextualize the problems that you’re facing. After all, you probably aren’t the only person who is stressed about having to go back to work. 

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Lead Your Workplace Into Wellness—Here's How

Posted by Amina AlTai on

Although some corporations have come a long way in terms of supporting employee wellness, there is still a mountain to climb. From cookie-filled catered events to the ubiquitous office vending machine (and its requisite processed snacks), most businesses could use a wellness makeover. Considering that we spend more of our heartbeats at work than anywhere else, this can often create a serious health challenge.

While many of us are resigned to the idea that our workplaces are inextricably unhealthy, there are plenty of ways that you can give your office a wellness revamp. The key to changing your workplace is to be the change. In fact, you’d be shocked at how receptive your fellow employees and/or corporate leadership will be when you use your voice and lead by example.

Here are some of the ways you can do so.



Recently in my health coaching business, I was consulting for a large organization. In nearly all of my one-on-one sessions with employees, they complained that office snacks were sabotaging their healthy habits. They’d be doing great all day...and then the 4pm witching hour would hit and they’d reach straight for the office-provided corn nuts or buttery popcorn.


Take the lead and speak to human resources about bringing in healthy vending options through companies like h.u.m.a.n, which supplies macronutrient-dense office snacking options. If cost is a concern, then look to invite in local vendors and have them sample products to employees during the workday. Whether they’re making kombucha or creating gluten-free snacks, most of these business are clamoring to get exposure.



If unhealthy catered lunches are taking you down, put in a request with team leaders to look into healthier options. Large, shared salads, veggie-centric wraps, and fruit platters aren’t always more expensive than sandwiches, muffins, and cookies. Find some menus of locations in your area, share them with whomever is responsible for ordering, and watch the healthy magic unfold. Along those lines, companies like Square Roots and Green Top Farm can help further facilitate healthy eating in the office and beyond. These innovative business come straight to your office and deliver farm-fresh produce and meals. For anyone who struggles to get the groceries post-work, they’re truly game-changing services.



Sitting all day can be hard work -- on your back! According to the American Chiropractic Association, back pain costs employers at least $50 billion per year; the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons estimates it to be closer to $200 billion dollars per year! If you’re worried about postural deficiencies or impending back issues, talk to your employee wellness officers about procuring standing desks. These days, they’re so sophisticated that you can choose from a treadmill, bike or standing varieties. If that’s too expensive for your new-to-wellness-workplace, it’s incredibly easy to create a makeshift standing desk out of a pile of books. Do it and I promise you that your team members will follow suit.



When I started my career, it seemed like every activity revolved around drinking or generally over-indulging. We’d wine and dine clients and then arrive home so late that we’d inevitably miss our workouts. That was my life until it took such a toll on me that I developed two autoimmune diseases and had to change everything. These days, work dinners are usually “spin and din” or a fun exercise class followed by a great, healthy meal. 

So, instead of going out for boozy activities, try something a little more active. If sweating with your coworkers isn’t your thing, there are still plenty of ways to keep it healthy. Maybe it’s an interactive experience like Escape the Room or a healthy gelato-making class. Whatever it is, share your ideas with team leads and planners and get the wellness ideas circulating.  



Many local studios will actually comp passes to companies in an effort to get them to experience their offerings. Reach out to a few places in your neighborhood -- it can be anything from group strength training class to yoga to team-inspired indoor cycling (I love Swerve) -- and see if they'd be willing to do a group introductory class. Not only will you be saving your colleagues money, you’ll be setting the stage for an office-wide commitment for good health. And you know what they say: Strength in numbers!

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Cleansing: Myths and Facts

Posted by Julia McVeigh on

“I’m going on a cleanse.”

For many of us, hearing that statement produces waves of confusion, fear, skepticism and maybe even a bit of envy. After all, cleansing seems like an intimidating proposition: An endeavor that is taxing to undertake, but could ultimately be redeeming. Unfortunately, the lack of understanding about what a cleanse really means can inhibit many of us to embark on one; alternatively, it can inspire cleansing for all the wrong reasons. Ahead, we’re separating fact from fiction, offering up the “truth” about what really happens when you embark on a responsible cleanse, the BHH way.


Myth: Cleansing is as form of extreme dieting.

If you’re bracing yourself for drinking nothing but juice while on a cleanse, then maybe think again. While there are certainly “cleanses” out there that entail such extreme measures, we view cleansing in a quite a different way. The purpose of a BHH-approved cleanse is to energize and recharge the body with nutritious, whole foods that are free from inflammatory ingredients. This means lots of vegetables, some fruits, healthy fats, some lean protein and absolutely no refined carbohydrates, dairy, sugar, caffeine and alcohol. Consider it a welcome reset for your body, which entails eating – and eating well. (More on what that means below.)


Myth: Cleansing is all about weight loss.

While some people will absolutely lose weight on the version of a cleanse we just outlined, it all depends on what your eating habits were like prior to cleansing. That’s to say, if you ate fairly clean and lean ahead of cleansing, your weight loss may be modest at best. Alternatively, if you were chowing on fast food for breakfast, lunch and dinner, you should really see the pounds come off. 

With that said, the purpose of a BHH-approved cleanse isn’t simply about dropping weight – it’s about enhanced mental clarity, increased energy, getting better sleep, experiencing a more balanced mood and enjoying greater consciousness around the foods you consume and the way that they affect your body. In short, you should be seeing holistic improvements across the board when you’re on a great cleanse – and one of them may indeed be a smaller waistline.


Fact: Cleansing isn’t about deprivation, but it is about elimination.

In a BHH-approved cleanse, you shouldn't feel super hungry. This is because you’re keeping your blood sugar stable and feeding your body regularly with satisfying, filling foods: You will not be starving yourself in the hopes of a quick weight-loss fix. Nevertheless, we’ll shoot straight with you – you are going to be eliminating some foods and substances that you may really, really miss: That slice of pizza, your nightly glass of wine, your go-to midday brownie and  oh yes  your morning coffee. This will be hard at first, but eventually you’ll get used to life without them – and, frankly, you may feel so good by the end that you won’t even feel deprived.


Myth: Going on a cleanse is expensive.

Yes, there are certainly cleanse programs that require you to plunk down hundreds of dollars per week to eat clean and stay lean. But a manageable, sustainable cleanse is really just about adjusting your everyday shopping habits and being smart about your purchases. In fact, since you’re going to be eliminating items that are likely mainstays of your daily spending – coffee, gluten, alcohol – you may even find that you’ll save money. So don’t get it twisted – shopping for a cleanse is just like regular old grocery shopping – and if you need help, do check out this post about purchasing healthy foods on a budget. 

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What’s the Deal with Alcohol?

Posted by Julia McVeigh on

When it comes to our health, where do we stand on alcohol, really? The broad consensus is that, generally speaking, cutting back on (or altogether cutting out) alcohol can have positive impacts for our health. After all, excessive alcohol consumption can do everything from shrink our brain tissue to enhance the risk of cardiovascular disease to increase our propensity to develop cancers of the liver, colon, breast, esophagus, and mouth. Phew. That’s enough to scare even the most fervent partier away from the bar for at least one night.

But then there are studies like this one that point to red wine’s antioxidant effects, which include helping our body increase levels of "good" HDL cholesterol. In fact, research has shown that moderate red wine consumption – a glass of wine per night for women, up to two for men – can also help lower our risk for diabetes and cardiovascular disease. And health benefits aside, let’s not forget that for some of us, a casual glass of wine at dinner, a cold beer on the beach, or a fun cocktail out with friends is a source of pleasure. Must we sacrifice that in order to preserve our brain tissue?

The simple answer is no. But the more complex is answer is… it’s complicated.



Since alcohol is an addictive substance, it can be hard to display restraint when consuming it: Even the most prudent of us will admit to letting one glass of wine slide to three on occasion. At that point, unfortunately, most of its beneficial effects are lost. Add in the fact that some of us our genetically predisposed to have issues practicing restraint (alcoholism is a disease). This creates a situation wherein alcohol simply isn't a healthy choice for everyone. 



Along those lines, alcohol is a depressant – at least, when you over-consume. That’s to say, many people enjoy alcohol for its stimulating effects: It makes them laugh harder, dance more easily, and generally feel “loosened up.” But when that casual drink turns to shots at the bar, alcohol’s depressant effects take hold – which can be seriously destructive if you are already depressed or suffering emotionally. This is why it’s incredibly important to be mindful of your mental and emotional health when consuming booze.



Moreover, the type of alcohol you are drinking is important. Even though you may love your mojito, it is loaded with sugar and empty calories that immediately get stored as fat. This is why it’s important to choose wisely: We recommend sticking with heart-healthy red wine or high-quality tequila paired with seltzer and a wedge of citrus. Take your time to really enjoy these drinks, ideally sipping on them with food. And, yes, of course you can have your mojito once in a while! 



Alcohol isn’t the devil. But it should be consumed in moderation and, in our opinion, in settings that bring you joy. I grew up in a very healthy, active family and my parents drank a glass of red wine every night at dinner – mostly because my dad is a bit of an oenophile and it really enhanced the food. It’s a ritual that I think is healthy, enriching, and has been practiced in societies like France and Italy for years. But if you are drinking simply to get drunk, you are drinking for the wrong reasons – period. So, always ask yourself: Why am I drinking? The answer may be sobering.

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