Henrico’s Newest Fitness Trainer Talks Healthy Hearts and Black History Month

Every February, the United States honors the contributions and sacrifices of African Americans who helped shape the nation. In our diverse, multicultural community here at Henrico, seeking to understand and support our peers goes a long way to promoting positive relationships and elevating respect for the experiences and insights of all cultures. 

This month, we encourage you to participate in celebrating the black community’s rich cultural heritage, triumphs, and adversities. In Henrico County, there are many opportunities to immerse yourself in Black History Month and engage our community through events and connections.

Building positive relationships with others has benefits beyond forging connections and deeper understanding. Studies show that having positive, close relationships with others can improve your ability to recover from stress, anxiety, and depression and can benefit your heart health. Each February, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) and The Heart Truth celebrate American Heart Month by motivating Americans to adopt healthy lifestyles to prevent heart disease.  

To understand more about heart health, a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Division team member interviewed Sydnei Douglas, a trainer and health enthusiast in the Department of Human Resources’ Fitness and Wellness Division, to ask her thoughts about the importance of heart health. These are some of the highlights of the conversation:

 Why is heart health so important?

Sadly, cardiovascular disease is a public health crisis as it is the leading cause of death in the United States. About one person dies every 33 seconds in the U.S. from cardiovascular disease or related conditions. A big reason for this could most likely be hypertension—high blood pressure—which is the number one cause of cardiovascular disease. About 40-45% of the U.S. Adult population has hypertension. That’s almost half of our adult population! 

I think it’s important for our employees to be aware of this and to take steps towards prevention. It’s never too late for a change. Start with the small steps. 

What do you think people should know about heart health or heart disease?

When you think about our workplace setting, a good portion of our employees experience a high volume of sedentary activity because of sitting at our desks. Sedentary behavior and lack of physical activity can also play a huge role in cardiovascular disease. For employees, it’s important to note that we do sit down a lot of the time throughout the day, so one of the things we can do is be more intentional about moving more and getting more physical activity in our daily lives. 

What are three things one can do to be more intentional about heart health? What advice would you give?

The first thing would be to move more. The steps you take towards prevention don’t have to be super intense. Everybody is on a different journey and physical level, so start with what is capable for you. Perhaps start with taking the stairs or getting up to walk around at certain times during the day. Being more physically active in small increments over time is a great way to start being more intentional with your heart and overall health. 

We offer many classes throughout the day at the Training Center for employees to be active. It is also a great way to make connections with other employees! Exercising in groups brings about a sense of community, holds you accountable, and empowers you to overcome challenges. 

Changing your diet is a big one. A small step I recommend is cutting down on fried foods. Fried foods are filled with fat, which can cause plaque buildup in your arteries and blood vessels. We offer many classes and workshops—for both physical activity and nutritional knowledge—throughout the year that our employees participate in. 

Get involved with the programs we have available. You can find this information on the Fitness and Wellness SharePoint site

If you are a smoker, choose a quit date. There are good resources out there that provide knowledge and support throughout your journey, including Employee Health Services and our Anthem Employee Assistance Program (EAP). And if you aren’t a smoker, vow never to start!

Even if you have high blood pressure, which is a huge risk for cardiovascular disease, it can be reversed. Making healthier choices now can improve your heart health over time. 

How can employees celebrate American Heart Month and Black History Month in February?

A good way would be to attend our Heart Health Initiative program in February! I will be doing a bunch of different workshops and educational initiatives to help our employees understand how to improve our heart health. You can register online or email me at dou065@henrico.us

Week two of this initiative will be dedicated to health equity, where we will be talking about health disparities regarding cardiovascular health in the black community. This is a great opportunity to educate yourself about the history behind these disparities and the social determinants and recognize black healthcare professionals and clinicians who have impacted cardiovascular health. 

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The 50-30-20 Budget Rule Explained

We all know the feeling of our spending getting out of control. We often don’t realize how much we are spending on the “little things” like ride-sharing, our daily lunch at the deli around the corner, or all those subscriptions to streaming services we pay every month.

While the big things like rent or mortgage, car payments, and groceries often have the biggest impact on our spending, creating a comprehensive budget is one of the most important things you can do to manage your finances responsibly. However, there are many different approaches to budgeting and many different kinds of budgets.

So how do you choose the right budgeting approach for you and your family? One type of budget you might want to consider is what’s called the “50-30-20 budget.” It’s a percentage-based budgeting approach that is designed to make it easy for you to allocate certain percentages of your income to “buckets.” This can help you gain more control over your spending and, hopefully, achieve your financial goals.

3 main expense categories

With the 50-30-20 budget, you assign all of your household income to one of three main categories of expenses:

  1. Needs — The 50-30-20 approach dictates that you devote 50% of your income to this category. Needs are things like housing, utilities, food, clothing, insurance, and transportation.
  2. Wants —You’ll devote 30% of your income to this category. Wants are things like entertainment, eating out, vacations, recreation and hobbies, and non-essential items such as big-screen TVs, audio systems, and boats and motorcycles.
  3. Savings —You’ll devote the remaining 20% of your income to savings. This includes savings to meet both short- and long-term goals. It may also include debt repayment (other than a home mortgage, which should be considered housing and included in the needs category).

Distinguishing between wants and needs

While these expense categories may seem cut-and-dried, there are some expenses that can bleed over from one category to another. Take clothing, for example.

Obviously, we all need clothes. But there’s clearly a big difference between buying basic clothes and frequently purchasing designer clothing at a high-end boutique. The former would be considered a need while the latter would be considered a want.

Cars are another example. Unless you live in a big city where you can reasonably get around via public transportation, you probably need some kind of vehicle. A basic, dependable car like a Honda or Toyota could be considered a need, while a luxury car like a Mercedes-Benz or Jaguar could be considered a want.

Don’t get too hung up on these kinds of distinctions, though. Decide which category each of your household expenses fits in best and go with that. You can always make adjustments to your budgeting categories later.

The savings buckets

One of the biggest advantages of using a percentage-based budget like the 50-30-20 budget is that it forces you to devote a fixed percentage of your income to savings. Other budgeting systems can tend to just make “savings” whatever is left over after you’ve met all of your needs and wants.

With the 50-30-20 method, your savings should be further divided into two distinct buckets: short-term savings and long-term savings.

Short-term savings

Short-term savings may include an emergency fund, a planned surgery or medical procedure, or saving for a down payment on a car that you’re looking to buy in the near-term. For your emergency fund, it is generally recommended to have between three to six months’ worth of expenses set aside.

Emergency funds are there for you to tap to pay for large expenses like a major car or home repair, or to carry you over during an unexpected time of unemployment. Building an emergency savings account is a short-term savings goal that we recommend everyone set for themselves.

Long-term savings

Conversely, saving for retirement or your children’s college education is usually considered a long-term savings and investing goal. You might use tax-advantaged accounts such as a Roth IRA, 401(k), or 529 plan to help you meet these objectives. The amount you allocate to long-term saving and investing like this is going to be highly personal and depend on your specific goals.

If you can’t devote 20% of your household income to savings right away, don’t let that stop you from adopting a percentage-based budget like the 50-30-20 budget.

Start off with a savings percentage that’s realistic for you and adjust the formula accordingly. For example, a 60-30-10 budget might work better for you now, with the goal of gradually building your savings up to 20% over time.

How Empower can help

Empower provides free online tools that can help you implement a 50-30-20 budget. Empower’s financial tools offer a holistic view of your overall household finances in one central location; this is the first step to creating any kind of budget.

You can link your investment, retirement, bank, and credit card accounts to the dashboard in order to see all of your expenses and total monthly income to get a quick snapshot of your monthly cash flow. Based on this, you can start allocating income to the three expense categories dictated by the 50-30-20 budget system and make adjustments in order to get the percentages right.

In addition, you can create sub-categories beneath the main categories of needs, wants, and savings to help you track cash flow and categorize expenses more closely.

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10 Ways to Beat the Winter Blues

Dark mornings, darker evenings, and chilly gray days in between mean winter is here — and with the coldest season comes the winter blues. There’s no clinical diagnosis for the “winter blues,” but experts at the National Institutes of Health say the so-called winter blues are fairly common and are usually marked by feeling more down than usual, sad, less energized, or less interested in activities one usually enjoys.

Here are ten ways to lift your mood this winter:

If you think it is more than the winter blues or want to talk to someone about them, don’t forget about the Anthem Employee Assistance Program! It has resources and professionals available help you!

Source: https://www.everydayhealth.com/depression/your-best-weapons-against-the-winter-blues.aspx

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