22 Nov 2012

Could We have the Worlds Best Diet?

Hi folks,

Could our little country stand above other world leaders, as in so many times before, by adopting the healthiest diet possible? before i get too patriotic I'll explain: The other day I was putting some work together on nutrition for a client company of mine when I realised that here in the UK we have a fantastic opportunity to have a world-beating healthy diet!

What is the best type of diet? - The Mediterranean diet right! Well yes all the fresh fruit & veg, oily fish & olive oils are extremely good for us, but their traditionally fatty (& sometimes salted) meats, large amounts of wine & cheeses can all be big contributors to obesity, cardiac problems, & cancers. Maybe it's not the best diet after all.

Recently an American chef said that here in the UK we have unrivalled access to the range of world foods. Thinking about it, our temperate climate gives us fertile soils to grow a wide range of home produce, whilst our European neighbours can throw over many foods that we can't grow. We have some of the very latest technological farming methods to produce nutrient-rich foods that reach us in optimum condition. Plus as an island we can catch fish such as mackerel (one of the healthiest fish) from the hugely abundant supplies just off our own shores. We really are in prime position!

Problem is, recent surveys show that the typical UK citizen consumes too much sugar, slightly too much saturated fat, & not quite enough fruit & veg. Actually we're not too far away, most of us eat lean meat & wholegrain foods which are a good start, we just need to add oily fish & lots more fruit & veg to our shopping lists. Thing is, everyone knows what's healthy & what's not but how do we get the majority to 'Just Do It!'?


16 Nov 2012

One for You HR Managers:

Hi folks,

Normally I go on about exercise & nutrition, but the social side of the workplace is a really important part of any well-being program too. A work Xmas party can act as a huge boost to workplace moral or be a regretful flop! So how do we get it right?

Here's a few ideas:
  • Book a trendy venue for a fresh environment (definitely not at your workplace!)
  • Advertise it well (and with plenty of notice) so that people save the date.
  • Organise a free event such as meal / buffet or raffle to draw people there
  • 'Play to the mass'es' - Book entertainment with a proven track-record for being popular
  • Invite employee's partners (boosts company 'family' image & helps prevent anyone 'snogging the boss' etc)
  • A smart / casual dress code is best. Fancy dress or dinner suits are great but many people will be put off at the expense / effort involved.

A great hassle-free way of getting this sorted is to reserve a table(s) at a 'package doo' organised by a good local hotel or restraunt. If it goes badly people will be put off any work related social activities forever! But... if it goes down a storm then you'll have renewed fame in your department & be responsible for the huge boost in workplace moral!

No pressure then,


9 Nov 2012

How to make a Successful Well-being Program:

Hi folks,

I came across a really interesting question recently: "How 'well' do workers need to be for their well-being program to be named as successful?" Should they reach a certain standard in their health checks? Consider themselves totally stress free?

Wouldn't it be great if our companies were full of athletes & superhuman workers! This would undoubtedly give us optimum performance, reduced absenteeism & a good return on investment, all elements that the boardroom judge a well-being program by. Unfortunately this is not always realistic, many workers are hard to engage (usually the ones that really need to be) & even those that are, may not be committed. After all "you can lead a horse to water but..."

Perhaps the focus should really be on those that are in fact hard to engage, as their yellow-flag psychosocial characteristics may be acting as a drag on the company. We should maybe ask why they are hard to engage? What's happened to them between joining the company & now that's changed their attitude? What health measures would they like to see in a well-being program?

In my view the most successful well-being program does not need everyone to be in great health. It should involve the people responsible for the program to really know the demographics of their workforce together with how to use their particular workforce-culture to their advantage, only then are they in the best possible position. It should be judged by the quality of resources & the range of engagement methods used, the absenteeism stats & ROI will then look after themselves.

Let me know your thoughts


1 Nov 2012

2-Way Approach to Reducing Stress!

Hi folks,

I have recently been approached by a company to put some stress management workshops together. As a physical health trainer I immediately thought that this was not my area of expertise, however when looking in to it I realised that much of the work that I already do is very relevant to reducing stress.

So lets start by thinking of how to de-stress ourselves, well this is pretty much anything that we enjoy doing (releasing endorphins) or that relaxes us such as...

  • Socialising
  • Laughing
  • Singing (whether we're good or not)
  • Exercise (at any intensity)
  • Dancing
  • Treatments such as massage
  • Sleeping

I'm sure we'd all like to fit all of these into our lifestyle but unfortunately many of us are under pressure & don't have the time. So lets look at how to reduce stress building up in the first place by highlighting likely causes...

  • Bad communication between people (home & work)
  • Unreasonable work load / time frame
  • Lack of equipment of training for the task
  • Lack of control in your job (both physical & decision making)
  • Poor diet (mood, energy, & concentration levels)
  • Lack of sleep /rest
  • A sedentary lifestyle
  • Postural / muscle tension

If we firstly address any causes of stress (list 2), then we will need to implement fewer stress-busting measures (list 1), making our lives a little simpler & less cluttered = an overall less-stressed you!

Ah - I feel better already!