Lighten Up to Live Your Healthiest Life

Research shows that there’s a surprising connection between elevating your mood and shedding stubborn pounds. It’s difficult to feel calm when you worry about what to eat, when to work out, and whether your effort will pay off – all while keeping up with your everyday obligations. So, someone suggesting you relax during this process is laughable.  

Stress, like a roll of fat above your waistband, isn’t easy to shed. But by learning a few ways to slow down, put yourself first, and yes, relax, you can get both your stress levels and your weight under control for good.  


We all have times when we fall into a self-neglect rut, but lately that seems to be almost an epidemic. The American Psychological Associated reports that 44 percent of Americans believe the level of stress in their life is increasing, but only 9 percent think they handle it well. In studying the relationship between stress and being overweight, researches have zoned in on a key hormone called cortisol. You’ve probably heard of it, but it’s not necessarily a bad hormone. Our bodies use it to maintain blood pressure, and it plays a key role in the way we metabolize both fats and carbohydrates for energy.  

The trouble happens when we are under chronic stress and secrete too much cortisol for our bodies to break down properly. A common side effect of extra cortisol is increased appetite. Being constantly hungry is bad enough, but cortisol also tends to direct pounds to accumulate in the abdomen, rather than the hips, and this belly fat is closely linked to heart disease and stroke. Stress has the biggest impact on weight gain in individuals with an already-high body mass index (BMI), making stress and weight gain something of a vicious cycle. 


One of the most effective ways to manage stress is also one of the simplest: Just breathe. You hear this a lot in yoga class, but you don’t need a mat to practice it. Simply set a timer for eight minutes and find a comfortable position. Now begin. Inhale for a slow count of eight, hold, and then exhale for a count of eight. The first few times you try this, your mind will likely wander. Be patient – when you notice thoughts creeping in, just return to counting your breaths, and when you lose track, start over.

When the eight minutes are up, stop. Shooting for eight minutes a day is an amazing first step. Health benefits will kick in with repeated practice. Sticking with a deep breathing meditation practice for 8 weeks will change how your brain responds to stress. You may sense that you become less reactive to tension and that you have stress-proofed your body.  

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Wellness Screenings Start

Earn your $100 incentive when you take part in a private and confidential wellness screening with an HCA Virginia Workforce Wellness Nurse including: Blood Pressure, Blood Glucose, Body Composition, Cholesterol and Lipid Profile

To schedule your appointment or  to see a complete list of screenings, please visit Power Henrico

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Healthy for Life! How to Live Your Healthiest Life – Adding positive habits and breaking bad habits, part three

+ Eat Healthy Fats-Limited Meat and High-Fat Dairy 

Does my body need fats? 

Yes, it does. Dietary fats are essential to give your body energy and support cell growth. They also protect your organs and help keep your body warm. Fats help your body absorb some nutrients (vitamins A, D, E and K) and produce important hormones, too. Your body definitely needs fat.  

Fats: They’re not all the same. 

Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are the best choices. Look for food products with little or no saturated fats and do your best to avoid trans fats. Saturated and trans fats tend to be more solid at room temperature (like a stick of butter), while monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats tend to be more liquid (like liquid vegetable oil and olive oil). 

Fats can also have different effects on the cholesterol levels in your body. The bad fats, saturated fats and trans fats raise bad cholesterol (LDL) levels in your blood. Monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats can lower bad cholesterol levels and are beneficial when consumed as part of a healthy dietary pattern. 

You can live heart healthy! 

Throughout the day, you’ll make decisions that affect how well you follow heart healthy lifestyle habits. Do I eat a hamburger with fries or soup and salad? Do I go for a walk or not? Be prepared for these moments of decision and strategize how best to guide yourself into making the right choices. Pretty soon, with continued practice, these moments of decisions will simply become habit. 

For more resources on healthy habits, visit Power Henrico.


Each February we celebrate National Heart Health Month by motivating our coworkers to adopt healthy lifestyles to prevent heart disease. Research shows we are more successful at meeting personal health goals when we join forces and work toward a common goal. Register today for the Healthy Heart Challenge.  

National Wear Red Day is February 7. 

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Team Henrico Update

Team Henrico Gets Tacky 

Saturday, December 14 Team Henrico participated in the Tacky Light Run for the first time. With a group decked out in tacky sweaters, holiday leggings, goofy hats, and holiday attire lead by Santa Claus, 50+ Henrico employees and family members set off on a walk/jog/run that was full of holiday cheer. The event included Christmas light lined streets, beautifully orchestrated houses with lights and decorations, and hundreds of supporters along the route playing music and cheering for everyone. The Fitness and Wellness Division of the Department of Human Resources recognizes that events like this are vital in developing and blossoming inter-departmental relationships that carryover from an extracurricular fun activity to professional relationships. The Tacky Light Run is now behind us and we are focused on the next Team Henrico event, that never fails to disappoint, the Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10k.

2020 Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10k – March 28, 2020 

As with all Team Henrico supported events, we are offering a discount for 50% off the current registration fee. There will be a price increase starting January 16th so make sure to sign-up now to get the best deal available. The code to utilize during registration is HenricoRuns10k20. Our standard discount code rules apply: They can only be used for permanent Henrico County employees – i.e. not for friends or family. In addition, this code will only be available to be used once per transaction so if you are signing multiple Henrico employees up at one time you will need to do so in separate transactions.   

If you are questioning your ability to complete the 10k please check out the 10k Training Program written by the Fitness and Wellness staff to get you on the path to completing the 10k in March- whether you are looking to walk it, jog it, or run it. On the off chance that the 10k just does not seem appealing to you, we welcome you to join the Team Henrico Spirit Team. Our Spirit Team is amazing, each year, and last year we had the National Champions Highland Springs Cheer Squad with us cheering on everyone- but especially any Henrico County employees we saw. 


If you have questions about the event please email Joey Pacelli at [email protected] and be on the lookout in the near future for updates. 

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Live your Healthiest Life: Setting Personal Wellness Goals and How They Can Help You Be Successful

Achieving and maintaining a healthy lifestyle is a lifelong journey and there may be times when the task may seem overwhelming. Living your healthiest life is a big project – possibly one of your biggest undertakings yet. 

As with any big project, if you focus only on the end result (which may seem endlessly far away!) the process seems daunting. For those trying to lose weight, setting goals can often mean the difference between success and failure. Goals help motivate you and keep you focused. They put your thoughts into actions and help you meet your expectations. But goal setting is easier said than done. You cannot just write something down and expect that it will happen.  

Your ability to reach your fitness and wellness goals is closely tied to how realistic they are. Many have unrealistic expectations. They set goals for themselves that are too big, too quick, or too impractical. Before you identify your goals, take some time to reflect on your situation. You know you want to lose weight, but why? What is it that you are really striving for? Once you have answers (or at least some pretty good assumptions), develop a plan. Break those big goals down into smaller steps that seem within your grasp.  

Here is a hands-on guide to help you establish and achieve your goals: 

If you have not already, write down each of your goals on a piece of paper. Underneath write why this goal is important to you. What is it that is motivating you to make this big change in your lifestyle? Next, ask yourself how confident you are that you can achieve each of the goals you have written down. If you have more than one goal, consider whether working on multiple goals at once will be distracting or energizing. Analyzing your goals may cause you to refine or even change them. Perhaps your goal of losing 50 pounds was sparked by an upcoming class reunion, but now you realize what you really want is just to get healthier and feel better. Most often personal health goals tend to center around weight, activity, healthy eating and feeling better.

It is OK to dream big. Big things do not happen unless you have big aspirations. But recognize that big things typically do not happen without big efforts. Champion athletes do not become champions and then start training like one. It is the other way around – they dream big, do the necessary preparation, and then carry out their plan to reach their goals.  

So, dream big if you want to – keeping realism in mind – but understand that you will need a well-planned effort to reach your healthiest life.

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Power Up your Health (and your wallet)!

Begin or continue your Health Trip journey with an annual health screening, February – May 2019.

The focus of Power Henrico is the County’s commitment to the health and wellness of its employees. This commitment continues with the annual Biometric Screening and Personal Health Assessment. In partnership with HCA Virginia Workplace Wellness, Henrico County is offering permanent employees an opportunity to complete an onsite biometric screening and the on-line personal health assessment. Participants will receive an individually tailored personal wellness program designed around their own unique health needs and a financial incentive in their May 31st paycheck.

This annual biometric screening is an important and effective way to keep track of your personal health. It is a great way to gain awareness and understanding of your own health and ensure that you are living a healthy lifestyle. The biometric screening along with the on-line personal health assessment can help to identify any future health risks and behavior changes you can make to minimize these risks. It flags areas of concern of which you may not have otherwise been mindful of and provides an opportunity for follow-up action with myriad County services if deemed necessary or desired including EHS, Fitness and Wellness, and others.

The Biometric Screenings are delivered by professional nursing staff who will gather your basic details, such as health, weight, body mass index (BMI), and blood pressure. They will then administer a finger stick to assess your current cholesterol and blood glucose (sugar) levels. The nursing staff will privately discuss your lifestyle choices with you, such as your daily activity levels, whether you smoke, and your dietary habits. This annual biometric screening does not only check your health statistics – it provides a valuable opportunity to talk to a health care professional in detail about any issues you may have, such as existing conditions, general questions or concerns.

During your biometric screening appointment, you will have time to complete the on-line personal health assessment and review your wellness report results. This is very useful as often waiting for results from a doctor’s office can be frustrating and lengthy. If you do not understand anything about your wellness report, you can ask questions directly. You will also be provided with the results of your biometric screening, so you have a record of your assessment.

To schedule your biometric screening appointment, visit the Power Henrico website. You will find the information right on the homepage! Look for the on-line registration link to schedule your appointment.

Any questions, concerns or comments should be directed to Liz Stovall at 501-7556, or by email at mailto:[email protected].

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