Promoting Wellness at Work

A few months ago I became a wellness champion at work!

The role of a wellness champion is to promote health and wellness in the workplace.

I think it’s a great way to get more positivity in the office, promote a team environment and create happier, healthier employees.

As I have previously posted, my company has a wellness tool called Sprout. It is a website where you can track your fitness and nutrition choices and earn points. Points aren’t just for bragging rights, for every level of points you obtain, you receive a number of ballots to be entered into a draw to win an extra week of paid vacation. Exercise, eat well and I could win extra vacation time? That’s a win win situation to me!

As a champion we are organizing some in office events to get the ball rolling:

Yoga in the Office

Last Friday, we hosted our first in office yoga class! We took over our merchandising room and replaced office chairs and tables with yoga mats.  It was the perfect way to end the week!  All of the 9 participants really enjoyed the session and we are looking to host regular sessions in the office.  Word has made it around the office and we have many more associates who are interested in joining!yoga10 Week Wellness Challenge

Much like the biggest loser; it is a 10 week challenge to see how much percentage of body weight you can lose.

We are currently on week 4. Two Fridays ago was the second weigh in and I lost 1.6 pounds in two weeks – off to a good start!  Departments are competing against each other which is creating a lot of friendly competition and motivating everyone to work hard to their team achieve the highest percentage of weight-loss.

Random Fitness Challenges

(First up: The Push Up Challenge)

I would like to create challenges that are not intimidating, but allow participants to try something new and build their strength over time.

Week 1 of the push up challenge would require participants to perform 10 reps of push ups per day for 7 days.  These reps can be done against a wall, on an exercise ball, on your knees or toes.  Any fitness level can complete this challenge.  Week 2 requires 20 reps per day, week 3 requires 30 reps and so on – until we get to 4 or 5 weeks.  After each week is completed and a new week begins, participants will be encouraged to challenge themselves by performing reps at a higher intensity.  So, if they started week 1 doing push ups standing up against a wall, in week 2, try performing push ups on the knees.  If in the previous week they performed push ups on knees, try it on an exercise ball or on the toes.

The goal is to build strength and realise how that strength can be built in a short amount of time.  All it takes is dedication and daily practice.

These types of competitions can be done with so many exercises like squats, sit ups, planks etc.

When associates participate In these events they get Sprout bonus points and those points earned go towards the chance to win that extra week of vacation.

Other events we are looking to plan include a healthy pot luck lunch, more team challenges, and dance lessons!

I encourage anyone who has a passion for living well to speak to management at their company and start promoting wellness in the workplace.  It’s more than just about being physically healthy, it also promotes unity and more positive energy in a place that you can spend more time in than your own home!
If you have any wellness events happening at your workplace, please let me know I would love to hear some new ideas!

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Fitness: Changing it up for the Summer

Summer is here! and I haven’t been to the gym in about 3 weeks *gasp!*.

The last couple of years of going to the gym and working out using circuit training or a group exercise class, I found that it can get a little boring after a while.  In the summer, I want to spend as much time outside as possible, which makes it the perfect time to change it up and make fitness fun.

In the last 3 weeks, I have ditched the gym and found other ways to burn calories.  I’d like to share them with you, because summer is the perfect time to switch it up and find new ways to be active, to new things and even meet new people.

SUMMER BOOT CAMP

Participating in a boot camp workout is a way to get intense cardio and strength training.  During the summer months, many of the boot camp programs held are outside – so you can also get your tan on.  The boot camp programs I have tried allow you to pay for a period of time or sessions so you can commit yourself to a specific time each week.

Here are some bootcamp programs that I have participated in the Toronto area:

Fit Chicks, Various locations across GTA, $120 to $298

Fit Chicks is a women’s only boot camp that has classes across the Greater Toronto area.  They offer outdoor session during the summer with 4 and 8 week programs.

Last year, I tried a 4 week program at High Park.  It was easy to get to, with a small class size of about 10 people with a really great instructor.

Toronto Fit Factory Fitness, Monarch Park and Yonge and Wellesley, Toronto $30 to $1000

Fit Factory is the latest boot camp I have tried.  I took advantage of their 30 days for $30 promotion.  This program is perfect for the summer because all I need for bootcamp is a month, then I can move on to other outdoor activities for the rest of the season.  Fit Factory also has monthly memberships for those looking for something long term.

Out of the two boot camp programs that I have tried, Fit Factory is definitely the most challenging. I would recommend both programs, but for those who want the most intense workout in a short period of time, I would suggest Fit Factory and you can’t go wrong with the 30 days for $30 promotion.

Other ways to switch it up for the summer:

Getting involved in sports like swimming, tennis or paddle boarding.  Check out your local YMCA for fitness programs or find a listing of Tennis courts (which are free for use) and get out there and play.  Summer is the perfect opportunity to get involved in the sports you have always wanted to try, or the ones that you used to play in school, like beach volleyball at Ashbridges Bay Beach, basketball, baseball or soccer.  Almost every community has adult leagues where anyone at any level can play and have fun as well as work places that have organized team sports.

OUTDOOR YOGA

What would be more perfect than outdoor yoga?  There are yoga studios all across the GTA, but let’s check out the ‘no excuses’ classes.  By ‘no excuses’ I mean, you can get outside in the great weather and it’s FREE – so there’s no excuse not to try it.

Harbourfront Centre has free Yoga sessions every Thursday at 6:30 starting June 26.  I attended the first session last Thursday and they had a really great turn out.  Each week, they will focus on the practice of yoga with a specific emphasis on yoga for the heart, for runners, and for stress management.

There’s free Yoga in High Park every Sunday at 10am and I can’t forget Yogapalooza that will also be held at Harbourfront Centre on August 16 and 17.

RUNNING OR WALKING

The easiest of them all!  Just lace up and hit the pavement.  You can do it before work, on your lunch, after work or on the weekend.  The best part is to find a magical place to walk or run. The lakeshore, from Toronto’s east end to Mississauga’s Port Credit is the perfect place to get a good run or walk, along beautiful scenery.

The possibilities are unlimited – because you can participate in marathons, bike rides, fitness or charity challenges.  It’s all up to us to find these opportunities and take advantage of them to better bodies and our minds.

I hope everyone has a fun and active summer.  It’s a short season, so let’s make the best of it!

Recap of the Toronto Fitness Challenge!

TFC

On June 1, I participated in my first Toronto Fitness Challenge.  I raised $125 in support of the Sick Kids Foundation.  I was under my goal of $300, but still happy that I had great support from friends to help contribute to the healthy and happy kids initiative.

The event was held at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.  My pass gave me access to the Toronto Pro Show, the fitness challenge events, as well as competitions and demonstrations of sports like kickboxing, weight lifting, CrossFit, boxing and fitness modelling.

I tried new fitness programs including Stratusphere Yoga with Trish Stratus (the former wrestler) and CrossBell Fitness.  Stratusphere Yoga was a combination of flow yoga and strength training.  I love flow yoga and adding the element of strength training was enough to make you break a sweat.  The pictures below are from Stratusphereyoga.com

Stratusphere Yoga

CrossBell is a new routine for me.  That was a really challenging class.  I selected 5 pound Crossbells and we performed routines using a bar and crossbells, Tabata drills and work with a free-weight crossbell.  Now that was a sweat session!  Pictures below are from CrossBell Fitness’ Facebook Page.

Crossbell Fitness

I loved the fact that the sweat sessions that I attended weren’t so big.  It was easy to follow the instructor’s direction and view the demonstration.  The space also made it easy for the instructors to walk around, correct your form and motivate you to keep working.  Another plus is that many of the companies had promotions on their products or services.  I received a free pass to try Stratusphere Yoga in their own studio and found out a special offer for Bootcamp in Toronto – 30 days of unlimited classes for $30.  I’ll be taking advantage of that!  I am also ready to try CrossFit.

Attending the event is a perfect example of how physical activity can change your outlook on life:

It makes you get out of your comfort zone:  Fitness drives me to keep changing it up.  I didn’t know what to expect from the challenge but I am glad I took the plunge to try it on my own.

Take the initiative, don’t wait for anyone:  I could have convinced a friend to come with me, but this was my interest.  It is a lot easier to attend and enjoy on my own.  Don’t be afraid to take on new opportunities because you don’t want to do it alone.  Having the support of someone else is great, but you will miss out on new opportunities because of a fear of doing it alone.

Be open to try new things:  going to the show has shown me some new work outs.  Power Yoga that promotes stretching along with strength training and a kettle bell type work out that was really challenging.  Because they had so many sports and fitness routines on display it was a great way to look for new sports to try.  Soo… now I am looking forward to trying CrossFit and Bootcamp with Fit Factory Fitness in Toronto.

Looking forward to the next challenge!

Making Healthy Living a Priority Everywhere You Go

I’ve made it through the first week at my new job!  I got a promotion at work and now I am working in a different division of the company in Markham, Ontario.

I feel nothing but positivity at my new location.  My team is great and the people I’ve met have been very nice and welcoming.  A perfect example of the good vibrations that I have experienced at the new office:  I was saying good morning to one of the Category Managers and at the end of our conversation he said, let’s make today a great day.

I love when people make an effort to make the workplace a positive environment.  Sometimes, it feels like we’re at the office just as much as we are at home.  If you create a positive environment with your colleagues and guests in the workplace, you can make the office almost as comfortable as your home.

So, the new office is great!  It has beautiful grounds and an in house gym with 5 circuit training machines, stability balls, a step, resistance bands, a rack of free weights and more – everything a fit chick needs!

The new location is  about 44km from my home, which meant I had to plan travel and plan on how I am going to incorporate healthy living into my new schedule.  Here is how I will make sure that my health is still a top priority in my new routine:

Preparing meals for the week:  I prepare and pack meals on Sundays so I don’t have to worry about preparing any food during the week.

Open Gym Membership:  I am a member of GoodLife Fitness.  I have a corporate membership that allows me to go to any gym in my province.  There is a gym 3.9km from work that I can get to for evening classes.  No matter where I am, I can bring my gym bag with me and get a workout in.  This week I did Body Pump on Monday and Body Attack on Friday.

Lunch time workouts:  I am going to use lunchtime to do a bit of cardio and focus on strength training.  This week during lunch I completed 5-10 minutes on the treadmill or elliptical, along with strength training for arms, shoulders, legs and core.  (I’ll share some of my routines very soon!)

Another plus is the company has a program called Sprout.  It’s an online wellness tool that encourages employees to make healthy choices including eating well, exercising and sleeping well and tracking your progress with some friendly competition with work mates.

I have been asked how I manage to make my health a priority and for me – it is exactly that.  I believe that fitness and eating well is just as important as going to work every day to make a living.  That awareness wasn’t always there.  In the beginning I had to push myself beyond just not wanting to do it.  After being consistent with diet and exercise I created a habit and saw the results.  I have stuck with it and now I know that if I want continue to feel good and look good, I have to make this a part of my life, for the rest of my life.

On to week to at the new job.. hopefully I won’t be saying any of this…

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Saturday Smoothie

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I haven’t had a smoothie all week!  I indulged in some candy and a piece of cake yesterday and my stomach was feeling off this morning.  So, I thought some fruits, veggies and ginger would help settle it… and it did!  Here are the ingredients:

1 handful of spinach

Scoop of plain 0% Greek yogurt

Scoop of plain 0% plain yogurt

2 slices of pineapple

1/2 large carrot

1/2 large orange

1/8 (slice) of lemon

about a tablespoon of ginger

1/2 cup of blueberries

Blend and serve!

What a great background to take a shot of this delicious smoothie.  These are all of the plants and herbs (including tomato, basil, and parsley) that are waiting to go in the ground.  Lately the weather has not been cooperating to get out there and roll around in the garden, but we’re hoping for some good weather on Victoria Day (Monday), so that we can get these goodies in the ground.

Still looking forward to some summer weather.. the tank tops are waiting!

Next Up: The Toronto Fitness Challenge

Fitness ChallengeI am signed up and absolutely PUMPED to participate in the Toronto Fitness Challenge!  The event is being held on May 31 to June 1, 2014 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.

The two day event consists of fitness classes, competitions, motivational speakers and of course, opportunities to shop for everything fitness.

I will be participating in Sunday’s festivities because I will be participating in the my first 5K run in High Park on May 31.

This is another new challenge that last year, I could not imagine myself doing.  Fitness has pushed me to be more outgoing, to think positively, not to fear trying new things, and most importantly, it has made me see how important it is to share strength and positivity with my friends, family and my community.

Speaking of sharing positivity, I am also fundraising on behalf of the TFC for the Sick Kids Foundation.  The foundation’s goal is to spread awareness about childhood obesity and to encourage children to be active and healthy.  Sick Kids holds a special place in my heart not only because the hospital is a world-renowned leader in pediatric care; my mother was a nurse in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit for just under 20 years.

My mother shared her memories of Sick Kids with me.  She cared for many ill newborns and premature babies and was a vital part of their fragile lives and the lives of their families.  The most rewarding part of her job was to help families bring home a healthy baby.  Nurses are amazing people!

My drive to complete the fitness challenge will be motivated by my mom and the efforts of all of the health care professionals and volunteers that make a difference in the lives of children in need.

Please feel free to visit my fundraising page and sponsor me.  My fundraising goal is $300 in 40 days so I better get to it!

Sunny Sunday Smoothie

Sunny Sunday Smoothie

What a beautiful day to enjoy this sweet smoothie outside on the front porch.  It was so nice to see the clear blue sky and feeling the sunshine on my skin.  I think it’s appropriate to close the door on Winter and finally say Hello, Spring!

I blended up the ingredients above using my NutriBullet (of course!).  It is full of my staple smoothie items (spinach and carrot), then sweetened with berries and lemon that make you forget that there’s a carrot in there.  Today, I used water as my liquid, but fat free milk, coconut milk or almond milk would have been delicious too!

Happy Easter!