Reimagined space transforms into a Wellness Room for County 911 Dispatchers

County 9-1-1 Dispatchers within the Police Division usually experience overwhelming volumes of emotionally charged 911 calls from citizens needing help quickly. In addition, they often give essential first aid assistance over the phone while communicating with first responders who are on the way to the emergency. Even with the best training on controlling emotions when taking a call, this is psychologically draining for Emergency Dispatchers. After a traumatic incident, it is necessary to decompress for a few moments in healthy ways before getting back on the phone lines to do it all over again.

To aid in this and their employee wellness, the Police Division, the Human Resources Department’s Division of Fitness & Wellness (F&W), and the Emergency Management & Workplace Safety (EMWS) Office worked together to create a beneficial solution. The 9-1-1 Dispatchers now have a Wellness Room, or quiet room, to decompress and talk about a stressful call. Furthermore, F&W will continue to collaborate with the Police Division to provide workouts, mobility flows, and yoga stretches for the officers.


Many hands came together to make this space a reality. A very special THANK YOU goes out to the Police Divsion, especially the Radio Shop, Officer Milleker, Officer Lehatto, Lieutenant Burroughs, Emergency Management & Workplace Safety Office, Joey Pacelli with F&W, and Dick’s Sporting Goods.



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Your Fittest Year Starts Here!

Are you in an exercise slump? It happens, but are you going to sit there and let yourself join the ranks of the formerly fit? Unlike other vacations, exercise breaks generally last longer than you’d like – and the mementos they come with are ones you’d rather not hang on to. Two missed workouts snowball into two months of missed workouts, and suddenly you can’t button your jeans or do a pushup to save your life. In fact, research shows that body fat, weight, and waist size can rise – and fitness levels can dip – after just a five-week hiatus.

The new year is the perfect time to make your comeback. Regardless of what has been keeping you on the sidelines – a hectic schedule, an injury, a new baby, etc. – there is a solution. It’s not just physical roadblocks: there are also psychological and logistical challenges as well. Whether you’re looking to lose pounds, eat healthier or simple stick to a regular workout schedule, reaching your diet and fitness goals can be daunting. That’s where the Fitness and Wellness Division comes in – with Health Coaching services, kick-butt exercise programming and knowledgeable staff to help you hit whatever target you’re aiming for.

Join us for 2022 in 2022!

The New Year is upon us and perhaps you are already thinking about a New Year Resolution or two to master in 2022. Before deciding on your plans, we invite you to join the Fitness & Wellness Division in tackling exercise/physical activity consistency with our year-long quest of achieving 2022 minutes of exercise/physical activity each quarter in 2022.

The challenge starts by breaking down the year into quarters or 13-week blocks. Each quarter the primary goal is to achieve 2022 minutes of exercise or physical activity. This may seem like a daunting task, however, when broken down 2022 minutes equals 155.5 minutes per week or 2 hours and 36 minutes per week. Broken down further, 2022 minutes per 13 weeks can be achieved by engaging in exercise/physical activity for…

  • 23 minutes per day
  • 31 minutes 5 days a week
  • 39 minutes 4 days a week
  • 52 minutes 3 days a week

Increasing physical activity by going for a walk, taking on an at-home exercise video, or attending a fitness class all work! This does not have to be strenuous exercise. 

In addition to the 2022 minutes of physical activity each quarter (13 weeks), you can decide to tackle your secondary goal. You decide, and then let Fitness & Wellness know. It’s that simple.

  • Quarter 1 (January – March): Lose 13! Thirteen pounds, or 13 inches, or a combination of the two.
  • Quarter 2 (April – June): Complete 13 miles per week in steps taken and distance covered. Don’t panic – this is based on a 2,000 steps per mile formula. So, a total of 26,000 steps per week equals 3,714 steps per day or less than 2 miles per day. 
  • Quarter 3 (July -September) Participate in 13 group exercise classes at the Training Center with Fitness & Wellness, or at home, or at your local gym.
  • Quarter 4 (October – December) Improve your nutrition and try 13 new recipes! Fitness & Wellness will post a wide variety of recipes for participants to try, or you can find recipes that meet your unique nutritional goals.

And to assist you in keeping track of all that you are doing, Fitness & Wellness will supply you with an Excel spreadsheet so you can enter your exercise/physical activity minutes and secondary goal progress. To sign-up for 2022 in 2022, send an email to

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The Real Way to Treat Yourself

We all have times when we fall into a self-neglect rut, but lately it seems almost epidemic. The American Psychological Association reports that more Americans believe the level of stress in their live is increasing, but only a marginal few think they can handle it well. In looking at the relationship between stress and being overweight, professionals have zeroed in on a key hormone called cortisol. You’ve probably heard of it – and that it’s gotten a bit of a bad rap. But in and of itself, cortisol isn’t a bad thing – our bodies use it to maintain blood pressure, and it plays a role in the way we metabolize both fats and carbohydrates for energy.

Part of the problem is that we seem to have forgotten how to pamper ourselves in healthy ways. We now translate “be good to yourself – you deserve it” into splurge on foods that aren’t good for us at all. Often, it’s because food is an easy solution – it’s fast and provides instant gratification. It’s no wonder that researchers have found a persistent connection between poor self-care, low self-esteem, and binge eating.

When you’re neglecting yourself, certain foods (rich ice cream and gooey mac ‘n cheese come to mind) may seem nurturing. But that feeling quickly fades and is replaced with empty feelings like unhappiness and regret. The same can be said for how we view physical activity. Instead of treating yourself to a stress busting workout, or a walk in the great outdoors after a long day, we now plop ourselves down on the couch to watch hours of TV to distract the mind and body. And in the end, we have only gained a very temporary release of tension and stress.

A Secret to Staying Motivated

Making healthy connections can pay off in significant health benefits. People who reach out to others for help are more likely to achieve their goals The Fitness and Wellness Division provides Health Coaching services to assist employees improving their fitness, nutrition, and well-being. Staff health coaches work with groups and one-on-one, virtually, to establish health-related goals and provide resources and creative tips to achieve success. The goal is to equip you with the knowledge and skills needed to begin and maintain a healthy lifestyle-path.

Here is what your co-workers have said about their Health Coaching experiences:

“This group has helped us focus on healthier habits, redefined relationships with food, and set reasonable goals for getting healthy.”

“I learned a lot about eating healthy and fueling your body without dieting.” 

“I enjoyed discussing healthier nutrition habits and choices with other colleagues and our health coach in this work group. We learned useful tips and resources to help us stary mindful of healthy eating.” 

“Working with our coach alongside friends pushes me to stay committed and keep the big health picture in mind. “


“I am a permanent remote worker and needed help in getting started again with my daily work routine. The Stress and Management/Finding Balance 10-week Health Coach session really helped get that process going. It really broke down how a habit works and how that habit was going to benefit me. The individual meeting with the Health Coach, broke down even more how I could improve the habit and the group meetings kept reminding me that it wasn’t just me going through the journey of improving our Mental Health. I really appreciated the Fitness and Wellness group putting these Health sessions together. Definitely going to take advantage of another one.”

The next block of Health Coaching is scheduled to begin the week of January 12th. To learn more about this service, visit the Fitness and Wellness SharePoint site Health Coaching page

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To-do List Tips with Virginia Extension Office

Looking back on the holidays, adding family meals, present shopping, and events to your busy schedule may have been overwhelming. Adding those tasks on top of your regular to-do list were fun but daunting. Maybe in the new year, you are focusing on being less stressed while still being productive. Recently, Sarah Pratt, an Extension Agent with the Virginia Cooperative Extension Office discussed her tips for Tackling Your to-do List to Mitigate Stress as part of the Balancing Life Webinar series.


Before getting into the individual steps, she says it is important to first acknowledge that everyone is in a different place and space in life. We are all busy with different responsibilities and what overwhelms each of us is not going to look the same for everyone. Try not to compare your task list or your responsibilities to someone else. That will only add more stress. Also, she notes that her tips are geared toward managing the to-do list and alleviating the stress that you already have. This is not a how-to guide on being more productive but rather how to manage your tasks at hand. 


Step 1: Brain Dump

Take a few minutes and write down every task that comes to mind. These are not long-term goals or events in a few months but rather things that need to be completed or worked on in the next week or so.


Step 2: What is Good Enough?

Look at your list and see which items can be checked off even if they are not done perfectly. We tend to strive for perfection which can lead to being overwhelmed. Take a look at tasks that just need to get done. 


For example, if grocery shopping is on your to-do list: you need to do it and not eat out every night, but you can’t do it until you make your meal plan for the week. Once you make the meal plan then you must do a pantry inventory to see what you need to buy. Now you have added 2 more tasks to your list. Instead, go to the store and buy the staples. Buy food you enjoy that can be frozen and/or stored if you already have it. Don’t overcomplicate it. If the laundry is on your to-do list, is it enough to just have clean and sorted clothes? Do you need to fold and put away every single item?


Conversely, make sure items that need to be done perfectly get the quality attention that they deserve. If you are sending out holiday photos and want good quality photos, don’t rush and take them yourself. Plan them out and hire a professional. 


Step 3: What Is Your Timeline?

Do any of your tasks have specific deadlines? Write those out so you know exactly when they are due. Do any of the tasks take less than five minutes? Put a star or an arrow by those tasks so you know if you need that endorphin rush of feeling like you’ve completed something, you have those tasks to check off easily.


Step 4: Would You expect The Same From a Loved One?

Take a look at your list and how many items are on versus the time you have to complete it. Is it reasonable? If someone you care about had this same to-do list and time constraints, how would you feel? If you think it is too much for them, consider cutting yourself some slack too and see what items can wait a little bit longer.


Once you have finished your to-do list, some people may feel guilty like there is something else they should be doing. If you are that kind of person, try adding self-care tasks to the list or some form of reward. Allow yourself to take a nap or watch a movie. Maybe share your accomplishments with friends or colleagues as a way to pat yourself on the back. Be proud that you completed the list, but more importantly, do not guilt yourself if you do not finish it. Try again tomorrow.


Sarah goes on to discuss how we can get so consumed in the day-to-day and perfection that we allow ourselves to get overwhelmed. We forget about long-term goals and things that bring us joy. She relates this to habits versus motivation. Our brains are resistant to change; we are creatures of habit. However, motivation can be fleeting so we create habits to make up for the times we lack motivation. Creating simple, reasonable to-lists daily can help us create new habits. For the long-term goals, Sarah recommends adding the simplest task to your daily list that will help you achieve your objective. It is important to pick a long-term goal that is solely for yourself, too. This can be in addition to goals for your family, career, etc., but pick something specifically and personally for you. Then, pick a small enough task related to that goal, that can be completed every single day. For example, if your goal is to run a marathon, maybe your daily task is to put on your tennis shoes every single day. Most days, once you have your shoes on, you will probably want to go for a walk or a little jog. Some days you may put your shoes on and sit back down on the couch (which is ok). You are repeating a daily task to instill a new habit. You will often do more than the minimum but getting started is half the battle.


The Virginia Cooperative Extension Office hosts weekly webinars in the Balancing Life series. If you want to learn more or view the whole webinar recording visit their website.



Balancing Life: Tackling Your To-Do Lists to Mitigate Stress: Sarah Pratt shared some basic ideas that have fundamentally changed the way I deal with my tasking! Not only do we make the lists, but we prioritize it, see what takes 5 minutes or less and…..drum roll please….. determine what has to be done “excellently” and what can be done “good enough!”  From one who can be a bit “perfectionistic” at times, this is mind-blowing and freeing at the same time. Check out the tips on the recording, in the slide deck, and those shared by other in the chat!




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A New Year, a New You! In 2022 Put Effort into a New, Improved, and Healthier You!

With 2022 just around the corner, it is time to start setting your sights on what you want to accomplish in the new year. For many, embarking on a New Year’s resolution is met with a couple of weeks, maybe a month or two, of staying on track and meeting your goals only to gradually fall off the new set course and revert to your old habits.  How can you make 2022 different? What can you do to be more focused on achieving your objectives? Well, if you have goals that are centered around your health, wellness, and/or fitness, here is how!

In 2022 the Fitness and Wellness Division of Human Resources is hosting a year-long challenge available to every Henrico County employee and retiree. The challenge, 2022 in 2022, will consist of breaking the year into quarters (13-week blocks) where each quarter focuses on a specific objective. There will be one constant through each quarter which is accumulating 2022 minutes of physical activity/exercise. 2022 minutes may seem very daunting, however let’s look at it broken down. 2022 minutes = 155.5 minutes per week or 2.6 hours per week or 2 hours and 36 minutes per week.  If we break this down further, it is:

  • 7 days at 23 minutes per day
  • 5 days at 31 minutes per day
  • 4 days at 39 minutes per day
  • 3 days at 52 minutes per day.


An important thing to remember is that this does not have to be strenuous exercise. Increasing physical activity, going for a walk, taking on an at-home exercise video, or attending a fitness class will work!  If you would like to learn more about participating, please email Fitness and Wellness at

In addition to the year-long challenge, Fitness and Wellness is also continuing the 10-week health coaching groups. The health coaching groups are centered around small group-based topic-specific behavior changes. So far there have been two 10-week sessions completed with great success!  Here is what a few who have participated in health coaching so far had to say:

“This group has helped us focus on healthier habits, redefined relationships with food, and set reasonable goals for getting healthy.”

“I learned a lot about eating healthy, and fueling your body without dieting.” 

“I enjoyed discussing healthier nutrition habits and choices with other colleagues and our health coach in this work group. We learned useful tips and resources to help us stary mindful of healthy eating.” 

Working with our coach alongside friends pushes me to stay committed and keep the big health picture in mind. “

If you are interested in improving your health and wellness and these health coaching groups interest you, please reach out to Liz Stovall at

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World Mental Health Day

World Mental Health Day. First celebrated in 1993, this day is meant to increase public awareness about the importance of mental health, mental health services, and mental health workers worldwide.

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Now is the time to take care of you… you deserve it.

Human Resources’ Fitness and Wellness Division health coaches are your personal advocates for living an energized life. We work with employees to help create happy, healthy lives in a way that is flexible, fun and free of denial. By working together, the health coach and the employee can discover the lifestyle choices that best support you to reach your current and future health goals.

Our group health coaching is designed to address weight loss, better nutrition, becoming more active and finding balance. Our health coaches understand that getting on the right path toward your health goals is a process that requires support, adjustment, and taking small steps to make lasting and positive changes. Whether you want to lose weight, eat better, be more active or you just want to feel better overall, you have a team of qualified health coaches who are ready to help.

Joey Pacelli is currently leading a group of three individuals working to lose weight and had this to say about the success of the group:  “{They} have become very close and are using each other for accountability measures in multiple aspects of their weight loss journey – this includes keeping each other honest with goals, meal planning recipes, being workout partners, and supporters when someone is having a rough day/week. Through our group and individual meetings, I have challenged each of them to keep a measure of multiple things as a way for us to measure progress. This group is really coming together and forming a tight bond which has visually helped them stay motivated and focused!”

“I joined the health coaching series because I had completely lost all my healthy habits over the last year. While my main goal was to lose weight, I really needed to re-learn healthier habits.  I knew I needed a higher level of accountability if I was going to get back on track.” Recalls Ty Parr, one of the group participants.

“This group has really helped me focus on healthier habits, redefine my relationship with food, and set reasonable goals for my health journey.  It’s easy for me to stay focused on the scale, and struggle with my thought process. This has helped me recommit to a healthier lifestyle.  The social networking and coaching check-ins are encouraging, educational, and motivating. Working with our coach alongside friends pushes me to stay committed and keep the big health picture in mind.”


The next session of health coaching groups begins the first week of October. If you are interested in learning more visit the Fitness and Wellness SharePoint Site

Now is your time! Talk with someone about your health and received the personal attention you deserve!

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Say ‘Good Night’ to Improve Health

A good night’s sleep is just as important to your health as dieting and exercising. Unfortunately, there is a lot that can interfere with natural sleep patterns and quality. Here are 10 reasons why good sleep is so important.

1. Poor sleep is linked to higher body weight.

Adults that do not get enough sleep tend to weigh significantly more than those who get adequate sleep. In fact, short sleep duration is one of the strongest risk factors for obesity. The effect of sleep on weight gain is believed to be mediated by hormones and motivation to exercise. If you’re trying to lose weight, getting quality sleep is crucial.

2. Good sleepers tend to eat fewer calories.

Sleep deprivation disrupts the daily fluctuation in appetite hormones and is believed to cause poor appetite regulation.

3. Good sleep can improve concentration and productivity.

Sleep is important for various aspects of brain function, including cognition, concentration, productivity, and performance. Good sleep improves problem-solving skills and enhances memory performance in both children and adults.

4. Good sleep can maximize athletic performance.

Longer sleep is shown to significantly improve speed, accuracy, reaction times, and mental well-being – just a few aspects of athletic and physical performance.

5. Poor sleepers have a greater risk of heart disease and stroke.

Sleep quality and duration can have a major effect on many health risk factors such as an increased risk of chronic diseases. For example, sleeping less than 7-8 hours per night is linked to a heightened possibility of heart disease and stroke.

6. Sleep affects glucose metabolism and type 2 diabetes risk.

Poor sleep habits are strongly linked to adverse effects on blood sugar in the general population. Those sleeping less than 6 hours per night have repeatedly been shown to be at an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.

7. Poor sleep is linked to depression.

Mental health issues, like depression, are strongly linked to poor sleep quality and sleeping disorders. Those with sleeping disorders like insomnia and obstructive sleep apnea also report significantly higher rates of depression than those without.

8. Sleep improves your immune function.

Even a small loss of sleep has been shown to impair immune function. Those who sleep less than 7 hours a night are 3 times more likely to develop a cold than those who slept 8 hours or more.

9. Poor sleep is linked to increased inflammation.

Sleep loss is known to activate undesirable markers of inflammation and cell damage. In fact, poor sleep has been strongly linked to long-term inflammation of the digestive tract, in disorders knows as inflammatory bowel disease.

10. Sleep affects emotions and social interactions.

Researchers believe that poor sleep affects the ability to recognize important social cues and process emotional information.


The bottom line… along with nutrition and exercise, good sleep is one of the pillars of health. You simply cannot achieve optimal health without taking care of your sleep.

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Water and Nutrition

Drinking water every day is vital to your health. It prevents dehydration, when your body loses more fluid than it takes in, a condition that can cause unclear thinking, mood changes, temperature changes, constipation, and kidney stones. Regular consumption of water helps to keep a normal body temperature, lubricates and cushions joints, protects sensitive tissue including the spinal cord, and rids the body of wastes through urination, perspiration, and bowel moments.

As we move into the hottest and most humid months of the year, try to drink water throughout your day to prevent becoming dehydrated. Here are a few tips to help meet your daily water intake needs.

  • Carry a water bottle with you and refill it throughout the day.
  • Freeze water bottles and take them with you for ice-cold water all day long.
  • Opt for water when eating out. (Bonus – you’ll save money and reduce calorie intake).
  • Add a wedge of lemon or lime to your water to improve the taste.

Remember, the goal is to drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day. And the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine suggests that women consume 92 ounces of water per day and men consume 125 ounces per day in the form of fluids and food to maintain desired hydration levels.

The exact amount you need depends on factors including age, gender, activity level, pregnancy, and breastfeeding status. The good news for those who have a hard time sipping water all day is that the foods you eat play a big role in keeping you hydrated. Water-dense foods are not just hydrating to the body, they also provide various nutrients including vitamins and fiber. Keep in mind that these water-dense foods will lose water if they are cooked. To optimize the hydration potential, it’s best to eat them raw or minimally cooked.

Here are the eight most hydrating foods and some ideas on how to enjoy them.

  1. Cucumbers (95% water-dense) – Get creative about incorporating cucumbers into your diet. Try dipping cucumber slices into dip or humus in place of chips.
  2. Celery Sticks – With only 15 calories in 4 sticks of celery, there is not much to them except water, vitamins, and minerals. Try stuffing them with peanut butter or tuna salad, which can help reduce your carbohydrate intake if you use celery in place of bread.
  3. Watermelon – This refreshing summertime fruit has water built into its name – and that is not a coincidence. Watermelon is high in water, low in calories, and a welcome addition to many summer dishes.
  4. Cantaloupe – This summer melon packs 427 milligrams of potassium, making it a decent source of the nutrient. Potassium is important to hydration – it’s an electrolyte, which means it helps the body balance water content. You can eat cantaloupe solo, or in a fruit salad, or pair it with prosciutto for a sweet and savory snack.
  5. Strawberries – The sweet, red fruit is an excellent source of vitamin C and incredibly hydrating – with 91% water. Get your fix by serving a strawberry and basil salad or dipping the fruit in melted chocolate for a nutritious dessert.
  6. Iceberg lettuce – All types of lettuce and greens, like kale and spinach, have high water content, but iceberg lettuce wins as the most hydrating at 95% water by weight. The most obvious way to enjoy it is chopped in a salad, but you can use it in place of a bun on your next burger.
  7. Tomatoes – With 94% water content and like cantaloupe, they’re a source of potassium, offering 292 milligrams in one medium tomato, they are versatile and delicious. You can enjoy them in pasta sauce, fresh salsa, gazpacho, or simple sliced and sprinkled with a touch of salt and pepper.
  8. Bell peppers – A low-carbohydrate hydrating food that can be diced to add a crunch to salads, cut into slices as an alternative to chips for scooping hummus or dip, and stuffed for a dinner entrée.

When it comes to water intake, you don’t have to overthink it. If you are eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, hitting the hydration mark should not be hard. Follow tried-and-true nutrition advice by aiming for two to three servings of fruit and five or more servings of veggies daily.

If you feel you can benefit from increasing your water intake this month, join the Fitness and Wellness Hydration Intake Challenge.

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