Tagged "workplace wellness"

Four Work Habits That May Be Derailing Your Health

Posted by Julia McVeigh on

We’ve discussed the importance of a healthy workplace at length on this blog, and rightfully so. After all, the average American spends 8.8 hours of his or her day in the office. To contextualize this, that’s more time than we spend doing any other activity, including sleeping. Given the outsize importance of work in our lives, fostering a healthy workplace is absolutely critical. That’s why we’re sharing the four sneakily (or not-so-sneakily) wellness-derailing work habits. Read on!


That Friday happy hour.

Let’s be clear about one thing: We’re all for team bonding and, for that matter, for a good old-fashioned happy hour. But post-work drinks can turn from casual to crushing quickly, which is why it’s important to be conscious of several things when punching out on Friday. For one, given that most of us roll right into happy hour straight from the office – usually on an empty stomach, at the end of a long week – drinking alcohol can impact us very, very quickly. Limit your drinks to one or two, maximum, and space them out, sipping on water on seltzer to ensure you stay hydrated. Moreover, if you know that a happy hour is looming, eat a protein-heavy snack before you head out the door, such as a serving of nuts, a hard-boiled egg or a low-sugar protein bar. Doing so will slow down the absorption of alcohol, plus you won’t be tempted to (slightly) drunkenly order that plate of chicken fingers.


That drive-by office candy bowl snag.

It may not seem like anything, but grabbing a scoop of M&Ms here or a couple of mini Twix bars there from the beloved office candy bowl can really add up throughout the day. In fact, you may be unwittingly and unconsciously downing hundreds of calories if you’re a regular candy bowl devotee. I say “unwittingly,” because when food isn’t technically “yours” – say, you’re picking off of your husband’s plate – it’s easy to disassociate from it. (In other words, you start to think those calories “don’t count.”) But your body doesn’t distinguish from your candy versus your office’s candy, so wise up.


Those days of marathon meetings.

Ever look at the clock and realize you’ve been sitting in a conference room for three hours? It’s a sobering (and bizarre) feeling. While your meeting might be productive work-wise, those long stretches of being sedentary really take a toll on your body. In fact, researchers and medical professionals alike are now sounding the alarms, noting that “sitting is the new smoking. We’re not saying abandon your meetings, but make a point to get up, stand and stretch your legs every 20 minutes or so, ideally for about five minutes. Don’t worry if your colleagues are giving you strange looks. Simply tell them, “I have some back issues and my doctor told me I need to get up and move regularly.” No one will say a peep.


That afternoon coffee break.

When I first started working, my younger colleagues and I made a habit out of getting out of the office around 4 o’clock to take a break, gossip and gulp down a latte. Many times I remember not even wanting coffee – and feeling jittery after consuming it – but I simply enjoyed the ritual. That’s understandable: I’m all for taking an afternoon break with work buds, especially if you're putting in long hours – which I did at the time. But relying on the quick fix of caffeine, particularly at that time of day, can really do a number on your bod: For one, it can tax your adrenals, leaving you feeling more rundown than you were pre-java. Furthermore, the additional of sweeteners and other sugary additives can cause your blood sugar to spike and then crash, again leaving you lethargic. Lastly, it can disrupt your sleep pattern, keeping you wide awake at night and  you guessed it  rendering you exhausted in the morning. So, by all means, head out for “a coffee” with your coworker, but opt for a sparkling water, low-sugar green juice or a caffeine-free herbal tea.

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Why Every Busy Professional Should Consider Getting a Colonic

Posted by Amina AlTai on

It used to be quite a taboo topic: But thanks to health coaches, the rise of cleanses and books like Everybody Poops, we've all got potty mouths these days.  And for good reason.  Gut health is tied to immunity, brain health, susceptibility towards autoimmune disease and much more.  And nothing is more telling about our gut health than a casual glance into the toilet bowl.   With over 74% of American’s living with GI issues, it’s certainly something we should be talking about.

So what’s causing all this distress? The causes can vary greatly, but top culprits include:


“Ninety percent of humans will have a problem with parasites in their lifetime.” – Dr. Oz

Parasites are pervasive and often unavoidable.  Intestinal parasites can infect the gastro-intestinal tract of humans and pets.  Though they can affect other areas of the body, they usually make a home in the intestinal wall.  Parasites from undercooked meats, unwashed fruits and vegetables and infected water are usually to blame.  The symptoms can range from diarrhea and vomiting, to gas to unresolved fatigue.  


Everyday we’re exposed to thousands of chemicals from cleaning supplies, to our beauty products, to environmental toxins.  In fact, new born babies reportedly arrive in this world with 287 chemicals in their umbilical chords—180 of which are known carcinogens and endocrine disruptors.  Generally, our bodies filter out these toxins, but maldigestion, malabsorption, leaky gut and loss of liver detox function can all contribute to accumulated toxicity, reports Dr. Joseph Pizzorno, ND.  

“This results in unhealthy metabolites (“toxins”) from gut bacteria entering into circulation. In fact, research has shown that up to one-third of the small molecules in the blood come from bacteria in the gut. Worse, however, is when a patient has overgrowth of particularly unhealthy bacteria, especially Gram-negative, the absorbed lipo-polysaccharides (LPS) are highly toxic with blood levels correlating with many chronic diseases,” says Pizzorno.

SIBO & Candida

15% of the US population has small intestinal bacterial overgrowth or SIBO and a whopping 70% of the US population is estimated to suffer from Candida—a systemic fungal infection.  Symptoms can range from a little gas and bloating to major brain fog, debilitating fatigue and memory troubles—none of which is very good if you're trying to fire on all cylinders.  While supplemental therapy can help in a big way, it can take several months for symptoms to fully abate.

So, what's a busy professional to do if they have parasites, toxins and bacteria sabotaging their every (bowel) movement?  Get a colonic, that's what.  

Colon Hydrotherapy has been made popular by celebrities like Madonna, Gwyneth Paltrow and Pamela Anderson.  They work to eliminate the waste by irrigating the colon which allows the digestive system to function better.  Proponents of the holistic therapy even suggest it can remove accumulated plaque in the colon, which is where, reportedly, most of the bacteria and toxins are hiding out.

The procedure is painless with a disposable tube being inserted into your rectum to allow warm filtered water to flow through your colon.  The warm water, often accompanied by charcoal and other herbal remedies, works to soften up any lingering waste materials and expel it from the body.  According to celebrity therapist and founder of the Piper Center for Internal Wellness, Tracy Piper, people “...have figured out that cleansing the body in this way enables them to perform better, reduces stress, improves attitude, skin, and endurance, allows them to age seamlessly, and of course, look AMAZING on the red carpet," she says.

Here are four reasons you might want to consider colon hydrotherapy as part of your wellness routine.  

1. Increases Energy and Concentration

Removing toxins and excess waste allows energy from the intestines to focus elsewhere—which could support lingering fatigue and overall energy levels.  

2. Better Nutrient Absorption

Similarly, colonics can help support energy and concentration by way of nutrient absorption.  An unhealthy colon can contribute to malabsorption of key vitamins and minerals and since nutrition is critical to mental health and cellular energy, a healthier functioning colon can lead to better absorption and therefore energy and mental clarity. 

3. Supports Better Sleep

Ever tossed and turned all night thanks to acid reflux, poor digestion and other GI issues? Us too.  When elimination and detoxification are impaired, our bodies have to work even harder to carry out simple tasks.  Digestion and elimination become even more labor-intensive and our bodies can't focus as much on rest and repair.  Colon hydrotherapy does some of the heavy lifting for a struggling system and allows the body to rest more deeply and therefore restore more fully.  

4.  Reduces Inflammation

Our bodies function optimally with a balanced pH level of 7.35-7.45.  Foods that cause blockages in the colon are generally acid-forming foods.  The tissue in the colon eventually becomes inflamed and impaired from these acid-forming foods.  Bacterial, yeast and fungus can overgrow and enter the blood stream causing our pH levels to alter which can lead to weight gain, inability to concentrate, immune deficiency, hormone disruption and more.


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    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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    The Art of the Salad Jar Plus My Two Go-To Recipes

    Posted by Amina AlTai on

    Let’s face it; lunches can be boring and predictable. Plus, it can be a real challenge to get the right balance of macronutrients in every brown bag. That’s why I’m a fan of salad jars—they’re simple and easy to assemble and are great way to ensure you’re getting enough greens, protein, fats and healthy carbohydrates.

    When I work with my clients, the first place we start is with balanced meals. Oftentimes, lethargy, headaches, mood swings and inability to focus are a result of poor choices on the plate.  With each meal, it’s important to make sure you’re eating in the right proportions and eating to support a healthy blood sugar, because a healthy blood sugar is paramount when it comes to a properly functioning body and brain.

    When designing lunches and dinners, I always recommend starting with 50% veggies—it’s a great way to crowd out the bad with the good and make sure you’re getting powerful antioxidants as well as vitamins and minerals.  Protein also plays a big role in a properly functioning body, so including animal or plant protein that is roughly the size of your palm is a great place to start.  Adding in healthy whole grains and good fats are a great way to round out the dish. 

    Salad jars are my go-to because they’re very visual and it’s easy to see when I’m getting enough goodness and when I’m not.  They’re also great for meal prep.  You can use the same veggies and proteins and just change up the sauces to feel like you have a completely different dish.  If you’ve never made one before, grab a few 16-24-ounce mason jar and try out my two favorite recipes below. 

    The Paleo Taco Salad Jar



    Cilantro, guacamole, jalapeno

    LAYER 5


    LAYER 4


    LAYER 3

    Black beans & quinoa

    LAYER 2


    LAYER 1




    • 1 lb. ground turkey
    • 1 can black beans, drained
    • 1 packet taco seasoning (I use simply organic)
    • 1¼ cups green salsa
    • 1 quart cherry tomatoes, halved
    • 1 small to medium red onion, chopped
    • 2 tbs of guacamole (optional)
    • 5 cups chopped romaine lettuce

    In a medium pan sauté onions until translucent.  Add the turkey and cook until no longer pink. Add seasoning packet, and the amount of water stated in seasoning packet directions. Let taco mixture cool.

     In a separate pan, bring quinoa to a boil and simmer until the water is absorbed and the quinoa is ready.  Stir in the black beans and add salt and pepper to taste. 

    Divide ingredients among mason jars starting with salsa, tomatoes, quinoa, taco meat, then lettuce and garnish. Place lid on and close tight. No need to vacuum seal or anything like that.

    When ready to eat, shake well, then pour into a bowl and enjoy. Can serve with tortilla chips.

    The Vegan Curried Chickpea Salad Jar



    Cashews & Raisins

    LAYER 5


    LAYER 4


    LAYER 3


    LAYER 2


    LAYER 1

    Lemon Vinaigrette



    • 2 teaspoons cider vinegar
    • 2 teaspoons lime juice
    • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
    • 2 teaspoons curry powder
    • 2 teaspoons maple syrup
    • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
    • 1 pound carrots, shredded
    • 1 can (15-ounce) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
    • 1 package arugula or baby spinach
    • Cashews and raisins for garnish

    In a small bowl, whisk together lemon juice, salt, oil, and honey. Pour desired amount into the bottom of each quart-size Mason jar (about 2 tablespoons).

    Bring quinoa to a boil and simmer until the water is absorbed and the quinoa is ready. 

    Prepare each Mason jar salad by adding even amounts of the chickpeas, carrots, quinoa and greens.

    Add the nuts and raisins to the salad jar, cover with a lid, and then shake it up or pour it in a bowl and enjoy!


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    How To Avoid Post-Flight Brain Fog

    Posted by Amina AlTai on

    From coast to coast, red-eye flights to long haul international jaunts, airline travel can be exhausting and a drag.  And for more and more Americans, it’s all in a day’s work. After all, the United States is the largest business travel market in the world and it’s only growing.  But what does all this time in the air do to our bodies and how can we mitigate it?

    Many of my clients take planes as often as they do trains or taxis.  And as soon as the wheels touch down they’re expected to be on and ready to deliver groundbreaking insights, presentations and performances. But that is a major challenge for a few reasons. When you’re flying at altitudes of 30,000+, the cabin pressure is low and that pressure does a few things to your body.  First, your blood receives less oxygen, which can cause fatigue, foggy brain and more. Additionally, cabins are kept at around 10-15% humidity which is why many of us leave flights feeling severely dehydrated.  So what’s a road warrior to do?  Well, a few things. 

    Get Some O2: Oxygen makes up 65% of the human body - and oxygen is responsible for 90% of the body's energy!

    • I recommend bringing chlorophyll drops in-flight to support oxygenation of the blood while flying. Chlorophyll is extremely detoxifying and also fights oxidative stress, which we get a lot of on commercial flights.
    • Drink a green juice before flying and after you land. The chlorophyll in a fresh green juice is a great way to get oxygen into your blood stream fast.  Make sure your juice contains parsley and cilantro as they’re both uber-alkalizing.
    • Try some liquid oxygen drops: Stabilized liquid oxygen can be a great additional to your inflight beverage as it’s quickly absorbed via the digestive process and delivered to the blood stream.  Many international flights sell the drops right on the plane.

    Hydrate Right: When flying, it’s important to add an addition 6-8 ounces of water for every hour flown to compensate for the dehydrating effects of flying

    • Bring a refillable water bottle: On a recent flight from London to NYC, I found that my airplane was equipped with filtered water stations. Since I’m always concerned I’ll never get enough water via the inflight service, I usually bring a few bottles of my own—which can get heavy.  Traveling with these camping inspired bottles that are lightweight, foldable and BPA-free is a great way to ensure you stay hydrated without having to carry it all with you.
    • Avoid alcohol and other dehydrating beverages: One vodka soda at 35,000 feet might seem completely harmless, but that’s not exactly true. When alcohol is present in the blood, it interferes with the bloods absorption of oxygen. Now, couple that with the fact that higher altitudes have less oxygen, the effect now becomes magnified, so you’ll get even less oxygen to your brain. Additionally, you want to steer clear of other caffeinated beverages such as coffee or colas, as caffeine is also a natural diuretic.

    Eat the Right Foods: At high altitudes, our palettes change and it’s much harder to taste subtleties.  As a result, airline food is often heavily salted and sweetened for your taste buds to perceive it as edible. 

    • Stay away from sugar: Airport lounges are filled with candy of all varieties. But I urge you to steer clear of it if you’re looking to stay sharp.  Yes, they taste great as we’re cruising across the Atlantic, but they will wreak havoc on our blood sugar, which is a recipe for extreme foggy brain, moodiness and lethargy.
    • Opt for protein-rich foods: Pack your carry-on full of clean protein bars, unsalted nuts and seeds and roasted chickpeas. They’ll ensure your blood sugar stays balanced and you stay satiated.

    We’d love to hear your ideas!  How do you beat the post-flight fog?

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