How do you guide personal awareness in today's world of constant streams of information coming to us in all forms? The Internet has given us the gift of searching through the abundance of information to find answers to any question we have; from how to heal ourselves naturally, to what we should be eating.
We can subscribe to newsfeeds through social media on the topics of interest to us. Yet, how do we decipherer and disseminate what will work best for each of us on a personal level? This article will share a corporate example of a progressive way of bringing awareness to how we nourish our bodies.
WHO - Actualize Consulting Employees
The employees at Actualize Consulting - a financial services consulting firm with offices in New York and Virginia.
WHY - Foster Self Awareness to Feel Better
Provide interactive learning to aid in self-discovery on how different nourishment choices feel. We are unique and have our own preferences, schedules and tastes. One size does not fit all when it comes to nourishing our bodies, but there are basic nutritional concepts of which people can be made aware.
The why was clearly articulated by one employee as she noted after the experience, "I learned that my body feels completely different when I treat it with care. I feel light and clear in my head; and feel more energetic throughout the entire day."
This comment shows us that simple awareness is all it takes to make better choices regarding fueling our bodies. The information behind the food choice was provided and then the awareness of what the resulting feeling was after consuming or not consuming it was the result for the employees.
It is not as complicated as the market portrays. We can all start with striving to make better choices that work for us personally versus that which works for our best friends. If it is easy and feels good, we are more than likely to stick with the change.
HOW - Easy and Fun Information Sharing
A standard website provided data on nourishment using a mix of technology to include video, infographics, articles, cartoons and survey. The information was engaging, simple, and fun. A daily email was distributed as follows detailing what and why:
- Day 1: Drink water 15-20 before meals to ensure proper hydration in stomach for digestion of meals
- Day 2: Give up one vice to feel the impact
- Day 3: No snacking to allow for proper digestion of each meal
- Day 4: Bring awareness to food choices and pay attention to the feelings
- Day 5: Self-reflection survey on notations through the week, what will be implemented moving forward and favorite aspects
WHAT - Summary of Supporting Information
Supplemental information was provided to help in making decisions about daily nutritional choices. One example was details on the reasons not to drink soda; such as the acid wears down tooth enamel and that mechanics use it as a cleaning liquid.
Additional information was provided on the why behind not snacking; as a different view of eating 5-6 small meals throughout the day. Some employees that are very active stated this would not work for them, yet others that have problems with weight gain noted they would try this approach. One employee lost 20 pounds with healthy eating and no snacking.
From John Douillard (former professional athlete who now practices Ayurvedic and Chiropractic Sports Medicine) Our media is incorrectly telling us that eating many small meals a day is a better way to stabilize mood and lose weight. If you are hypoglycemic and have unstable blood sugar, this only temporarily covers up symptoms.
Eating six meals a day can never provide permanent blood sugar stability, because the body will become dependent on being fed every 2-3 hours. If a meal is missed, the blood sugar may crash again. If we want the body to burn fat, we must give it a reason. Why would the body burn its stored fat reserves if it is getting fed every 2-3 hours?
When we eat this frequently, the body burns what it has just been fed and has no motivation to burn stored fat. When you eat breakfast, and then nothing until lunch, and then nothing until supper, and then nothing until breakfast again, you provide a natural fast in between meals that will encourage fat metabolism.
If you have a snack, even a healthy snack like a carrot, in between breakfast and lunch you will burn the carrot, but not any stored fat. If you have nothing between breakfast and lunch, your body will be forced to burn stored fat in order to get you through to lunch without a blood sugar crash.
In the old days, folks had supper at 5 or 6pm and then ate nothing until breakfast, around 7am. It was common to go 13 hours without food and then break that fast (and thus reset fat metabolism) every day with "break-fast. This tradition has been in place for thousands of years around the world, until now - when we are the heaviest we have ever been.
Eating 5-6 Meals a Day is Just Not Sustainable
In the name of trying to stabilize blood sugar levels; we have actually made the problem worse. After a few decades of eating six meals a day, our blood sugar levels have become more unstable. Yes, at first people feel better, but shortly thereafter the blood sugar issues become worse. Now folks are starving after 2-3 hours without food. If we needed food every 2-3 hours to survive, humans would simply be extinct."
RESULTS - Self-Awareness Enhanced and Healthy Changes Made
Actualize Consulting performed the challenge the week before their annual retreat, and had a fruitful conversation as a group regarding wellness. The buzz the entire weekend was around wellness with a variety of healthy food all weekend. As a team, they came together with compassion and understanding that it can be hard to make good choices daily with busy schedules, yet we do feel better when we bring simple awareness and care to our overall well-being.
One employee noted that when he eliminated caffeine in the evening he slept better which then allowed him to be more cleared minded. Seemingly simple awareness's like this lead to overall employee health and productivity. Both the employee and the employer benefit from nutritional awareness.
There was 50 percent participation in the surveys and almost all employees at least read the emails and brought some awareness to nourishment. They enjoyed the challenge and the format was easy and informative. Employees noted changes they want to make:
- Being more mindful before eating random food spontaneously
- Drink more water
- Eat three meals and day and try to exercise
- Really take the time to think about what you are eating and drinking and when you eating and drinking
- Will try to be more involved in the eating process instead of mindless munching
- Cut back on chocolate, did not realize how addicted I was to chocolate
Overall comments on exercise:
- This was a good exercise; at least it set me on the right path to thinking about nutrition.
- Awesome exercise. I think it's great that Actualize is focused not only on the work that people do but also the people doing the work.
- This was a good way to get exposure to health tips
- Easy and informative
CONCLUSION - Include the Why and Foster Self-Awareness
When looking at how to best foster wellness in Corporate America, try an easy and interactive approach. Focus on the WHY to ensure participants know the benefits of the changes. As Simon Sinek, who is best known for popularizing the concept of Why, said, "People don't buy what you do, they buy Why you do it." Allow people to feel the results and reflect on what they are doing.
About the Author
Kerry Alison Wekelo is the Director of Operations at Actualize Consulting where her Leadership and Wellness programs have successfully influenced a teamwork environment. Contact Kerry at firstname.lastname@example.org