Tagged "Wellness"

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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Spring Cleanse Series: Your Mind

Posted by Julia McVeigh on

The second installment of our Spring Cleanse Series is all about clearing up one of the most cluttered spaces we have: Our minds! Yep, if you're finding that you're feeling distracted, worried, anxious, disorganized or just downright stressed lately, this post is for you. So let's get to it. 



The biggest reason for our distracted and disorganized states of mind? Technology. Yep, as we've written about recently, our smartphones and laptops might make us feel more connected and productive than ever, but they are quite literally draining our valuable brainpower. This is because responding to texts, "liking" Instagrams and fielding emails might seem like easy, basic tasks, but they actually require significant amounts of energy and a constant need to process information. Resultantly, we're less present, less energized and more scattered than ever. Furthermore, we've come to crave these interactions with our screens; studies like this one show that we're increasingly addicted to our technology -- and experience withdrawal symptoms when we cannot access things like our phones or the Internet. This is why it's more important than ever to shut down our screens and find time to "detox." Use this new season as an opportunity to instate rules limiting technology use. We personally try and do four hours tech-free on Sundays, which is a relatively easy place to start. 


Regardless of your political orientation, does anyone else feel like the news is bringing them down lately? It's a topic we've discussed on the blog -- and an area that we're always working on -- but we struggle with the increasingly fraught state of affairs here in the United States and beyond. While meditation and calming techniques can help, sometimes stepping away from the acrimonious and polarizing news cycle is a necessary (and totally healthy) coping mechanism. In lieu of watching your evening news, then, try reading a book or taking a bath. If you still like to stay in the loop, subscribe to a newspaper or a weekly magazine and use your "current events" time for thoughtful reading, not depressing TV punditry.


Although exercising can be amazingly mind-clearing, intense workouts can sometimes have us thinking "I wish this was over" versus "Isn't this lovely?" Long walks are a great way to use your body, clear your mind and engage in some thoughtful time with yourself or with others. Aim to do 1-2 long walks per week, either by yourself or with a partner. Listening to music is fine, but if you can handle it, try going totally tech-free. Use this time to observe your surroundings, organize your thoughts and feel your body and breath.


Love cooking? Into knitting? All about DIY-ing? Get out of your head and channel some of that pent-up energy into physical work. You may find that some of the issues that are causing you to engage in mental gymnastics will naturally work themselves out while chopping some veggies, plus you'll give yourself a much-needed (focused) distraction from all that's going on inside of your head. Added bonus? This stuff can be fun! 


It's springtime after all -- so get outside! Use the season's milder temperatures, greener pastures and lighter days to alleviate some of your mental burden. This can mean anything from walking home from work instead of cramming into the stressful subway, eating lunch outside versus at your desk, opting for a morning run in lieu of a stuffy gym or simply stepping outdoors and breathing. If you live in an urban area, seek out locales with greenery, as research shows that spending time in natural, foliage-filled areas can have immediate positive impacts on our brains, particularly when it comes to city-dwellers. Park date, anyone? 

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Spring Cleanse Series: Your Diet

Posted by Julia McVeigh on

Spring cleaning: Whether it's emptying out our sweater-filled closets, engaging in some serious Swiffer-ing (yes, that's a verb), or embarking on a new clean-eating plan, we all attempt to do it in some capacity. But, let's face it, the motivation to full-on cleanse doesn't necessarily come naturally. That's why we're sharing our tips to how clean up all areas of your life in our new, ongoing Spring Cleanse Series. First up? Your diet!

(PS: Watch the space for a revamped BusyHappyHealthy cleanse comin' atcha soon...) 


Spent the winter hunkered in, fortified by cheese and wine? It's time to back away from the brie and Bordeaux and use the new season as an opportunity to shift habits.

Below is a plan of attack, which focuses consuming quality, whole foods, eliminating toxins and addictive substances, and staying super hydrated. While doing all of these things at once might seem overwhelming, they really are best instituted in tandem. With that noted, any progress is great progress, so feel free to slowly integrate each change until you're in full Spring Cleanse mode. Godspeed. 


Begin by upping your daily water intake, which is a supremely easy -- and effective -- way to stay healthy and detox. We recommend you drink about half of your weight in ounces daily; increase that amount if you happen to be very active. If you're feeling bored with plain old H20, add a bit of alkalizing fresh lemon juice to your water.


Refined carbs -- you know, the fun stuff like cookies, white bread and rice -- are certified diet killers. They'll spike your blood sugar, throw your hormones out of whack, and keep you from functioning like a lean and mean fighting machine. But this doesn't mean you need to go entirely carb-free. Opt for quality, complex carbohydrates that won't send your blood sugar skyrocketing. Think: Ancient grains like quinoa, buckwheat, amaranth, or gluten-free rolled oats.


Your beloved "healthy" granola bar might seem like a cleanse-friendly selection, but it is likely filled with processed ingredients and loaded with sugar. This isn't to say that there aren't great bars (or packaged foods) out there, it's just to underscore that many of them aren't so great. Use this cleanse to eliminate them entirely; if that's too difficult, allow yourself 1-2 packaged items per week. 


Eating a diet heavy in plants -- from leafy greens to colorful veggies -- is a cornerstone of a clean, healthy eating plan. Doing so ensures you're getting all of the essential vitamins, antioxidants and minerals you need, helps keeps calories in check and maintains a healthy blood sugar level. 


Yes, we want you to eat plenty of plants while cleansing. But that doesn't mean that meat needs to be the enemy. In fact, lean and organic meats are wonderful natural sources of protein (which keeps you fuller longer), along with other vitamins and nutrients. Along those lines, healthy fat is awesome, too. Eat regular servings during your cleanse to further nourish your body and keep you satiated. Need a benchmark serving size? Go for one-fourth of an avocado or a tablespoon of olive oil per meal. 


New research continues to show that refined sugar is basically like poison to our bodies.  Okay, that might sound sort of extreme, but here's the deal: Eating too much sugar causes a cluster of symptoms associated with metabolic syndrome. These include weight gain, abdominal obesity, increased blood sugar, elevated triglycerides, and high blood pressure. This is why it's more important than ever that we regulate our sugar intake, particularly refined sugar -- you know, the kind that goes straight into your bloodstream. If you are using sugar while cleansing, use only natural sweeteners like agave, honey, and dates... and use sparingly. 


We saved the worst news for last. Sorry. While we won't entirely demonize coffee and alcohol, they are highly addictive substances and can contribute to a slew of health problems -- from adrenal fatigue to weight gain. If if you really want to Spring Cleanse, these two have got to go in order to have our body function optimally and for you to see the cleanse magic actually happen. Cheers! 

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