Tuesday, May 26, 2015

To Amy: Thanks! Love, Your Body and Mind

I don’t like working out. I do it anyway because my body and mind thank me afterward. Like a lot of other busy people, my ability to get much-needed physical activity outside of work hours is not ideal. Maybe because I have an older kid who isn’t stroller-bound, or maybe because there are now two of them, my evening neighborhood walks have dropped-off a lot in the last few years. And time seems to go on fast forward in the 30-45 minutes between the end of dinner and the start of bedtime rituals.

So, I thank my lucky stars that my work environment supports physical activity. My boss is super supportive of walking meetings. We have an empty room with a DVD player, some yoga mats, weights, and workout DVDs. The room has the list of exercises for the 7 minute workout – sometimes I just do that two or three times in a row and get pretty sweaty doing so. We even have some classes starting. My supervisor supports employees to flex our schedules to have time for physical activity. We have showers and locker rooms in our buildings, and bike racks for bike commuting. Our stairwells have music and are well-lit. Senior leaders send supportive messages to staff, encouraging physical activity. The state government wellness initiative worked with insurance carriers to give employees a discount in our deductible if we take part in a web-based program that individuals can tailor to their health needs.

Workout room- nothing fancy, but it as everything I need!

Between running around with the kids and a walk or workout for 25-30 minutes per day, I actually think I get the recommended 2 ½ hours of moderate physical activity or 1 ¼ hour vigorous level each week because of all this support. I can accomplish this on most, but not all weeks — the downside of counting on doing this at work is that sometimes I’m just too busy. On those weeks I participate with the kids in the evening doing gymnastics shows, tag, dancing, running around outside, or Simon says. I’ve had dreams of creating a seven minute workout that parents can do with kids…they make great weights until about age two.

When I first started here 10 years ago, none of this existed — and I didn’t need it because I had time to go the gym or walk after work (I didn’t like going to the gym, either, but I did it anyway). At that time, I didn’t understand the potential impact of worksite wellness on physical activity, especially for those with limited time due to a long commute, family duties, or a multitude of other reasons. This hasn’t happened overnight — it’s taken a lot of effort by internal wellness teams to create policies, and support from employees and leadership to develop a culture that accepts and even encourages us to be active at work.

For more information on physical activity and worksite wellness, check out these links:

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Concert Clothes (By Cathy)

My son has been waiting for his growth spurt since first grade. That’s when he realized  he was smaller than other boys his age. He was diagnosed with delayed bone growth at age three. The doctor confirmed that yep, he stopped growing for a while, and his wrist bone X-ray showed a two year delay. There’s nothing to worry about, he’ll just be small throughout childhood. He would be one of those kids who would suddenly amaze everyone with a growth spurt, but it will be later than his friends.

Among the many joys of having a string duet in the household (daughter on cello, son on viola) is that every couple of months they have to dress-up in concert clothes, totally transforming them from their day-to-day look. I get to take a few pictures, which usually involve them mugging for the camera, but they look spiffy even so. Since they started playing instruments in fifth grade and I’ve been taking pictures of the concert clothes, I have a nice montage of the two of them growing, always with big sister a good 10 inches taller than little brother, even though they’re only 13 months apart.

December 2013 – we’re heading out to their 6:30 start time for the 7:00 concert. My girl is in the car, saying we’ll take the concert picture after, because we’re going to be late, late, late! (She hates being late, but only if it is someone else’s fault). I’m waiting, tidying-up the kitchen, waiting. And waiting. Finally, I go to my son’s room. “What’s up honey? We need to go” says I. “I can’t go. I can’t get these pants on.” He’s struggling to button-up and close the zipper. I start to help, and soon his sister joins us. The three of us pull and push as he jumps up and down and holds his breath. Finally we get him buttoned and zipped in. I see two inches of bare leg between the pants leg and his shoes. I bade him put on long black socks and we’re off. I wonder if the zipper and seams will hold for the entire concert, but he’s unconcerned, although he looks a little uncomfortable. I make a mental note for next time to have him try on the concert clothes before the night of the concert.

Spring, 2014 – the new size 12 concert clothes I buy the weekend before fit perfectly, which is a happy thing since he just turned 13. Up to now he’s been two sizes below his age (that is, he wore size six when he was eight, and so on). As he emerges from his room with his new finery and goes to put on his shoes, he stops. “I can’t go. My shoes don’t fit.” Concert shoes have to be regular shoes, and he never uses them except for concerts. He puts on his tennis shoes and says he’ll put the concert shoes on when we get there. He hands me his tennis shoes when we get in the gym, then proceeds to walk around on his toes, his heels not in the shoes. He looks like he is walking in high heels, but I don’t tell him that. Finally right before the concert starts he crams his feet in the concert shoes. He complains for the next week about his sore feet.

Fall 2014 – OK, buy new shoes. The weekend before the concert I have him try on the size 12 concert clothes that fit so well four months ago. His 45 minutes of PE and 120 minutes of after school soccer every day for three months have resulted in the pants now being too big. I remedy that with a belt I buy the next day. I think I have this under pretty good control. When I line them up to take the concert photo that night I realize he’s now up to his sister’s chin. Sister’s growth spurt has come and gone, and she has settled in nicely around 5 foot 3. They eye each other suspiciously, and then she says, “I think you’re going to be taller than me by the next concert.” He grins, really big. I take the picture.