Manage Blood Sugar with the American Heart Association’s Life’s Essential 8

Knowing how sugar (glucose) and insulin work in the body is essential for understanding how diabetes impacts health. Diabetes happens when the body has a chronic build-up of extra sugar in the bloodstream, causing blood sugar (also called blood glucose) levels to rise higher than average, known as hyperglycemia. When you eat, your body breaks food down into sugar and sends it into the blood. Insulin, a hormone made by the pancreas, helps move the sugar from the blood into your cells. When sugar enters your cells, it is either used as fuel for energy right away or stored for later use. In a person with diabetes, there is a problem with insulin. And not everyone with diabetes has the same insulin problem. There are different types of diabetes – type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes. If you have diabetes – type 1, type 2, or gestational – your body either doesn’t make enough insulin, can’t use the insulin well, or both.

Nutrition and physical activity are essential parts of a healthy lifestyle when you have diabetes. Following a healthy meal plan and being active can help keep blood sugar in your target range. Managing blood sugar is about balancing what you eat and drink with physical activity and diabetes medicine, if you take any. What you choose to eat, how much you eat, and when you eat are critical in keeping your blood glucose level in the range your healthcare team recommends. The American Diabetes Association recommends using the Diabetes Plate Method to create perfectly portioned meals with a healthy balance of vegetables, protein, and carbohydrates – without counting, calculating, weighing, or measuring. 

Remember, along with diet and medication, regular physical activity is an integral part of managing diabetes or dealing with prediabetes. When your body is active, your cells become more sensitive to insulin, working more effectively to lower your blood sugar. Light walking is a great place to start and a great habit to incorporate into your life. Walking with a loved one or just by yourself while listening to an audiobook are good ways to move more. If you are struggling with getting started or feeling overwhelmed by the idea of creating a more active life, there are health coaching resources available to support you through this behavior change journey. 

Community resources are available if you are concerned about your risk for developing diabetes or are looking for help in managing your current diabetes diagnosis. 

Anthem ConditionCare offers tools and support to Henrico County health plan subscribers and their covered family members for diabetes management.

The Balm in Gilead – Southeast Diabetes Faith Initiative – Virginia, 620 Moorefield Park Drive, Suite 150, Richmond, VA 23226. (804) 644-2256

Bon Secours Center for Healthy Living Sarah Garland Jones Center, 2600 Nine Mile Road, Richmond, VA 23223. (804) 287-7941

VCU Health Hub at 25th, 1330 N. 25th Street, Suite A, Richmond, VA 23223. (804) 628-6401

Henrico County Employee Health Services offers health education and individualized dietary counseling. 7740 Shrader Rd, Suite A, Henrico, VA 23228. (804) 501-1600


Resource list:

‘Managing blood sugar’ link: 

‘Diabetes Plate Method link:,you%20need%20is%20a%20plate!

‘Health coaching resources’ link:

‘Diabetes risk’ link:


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Finding Your Way to Well-being

Self-care can take many forms. At its core, it’s about doing things that support and nourish your physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health and well-being. This is especially true when it comes to managing stress. It’s about being in tune with what you need to take care of YOU.

One way to thrive more is with consistent self-care practices. These may change over time or even daily. The key is to consistently do something daily. Here are some ways you may choose to practice self-care:

  • Take a walk or hike
  • Meditate
  • Read for pleasure
  • Keep a journal
  • Make time for friends
  • Eat healthy foods
  • Listen to calming music
  • Make sleep a priority
  • Make time for health care appointments

To get a jump start on setting up daily self-care activities, use a monthly calendar to record your efforts. Intentionally set aside time within your day to:

Be mindful – such as a gratitude journal or avoid doing other things while eating to become a mindful eater

Move more – like getting up from your desk to take a walk break or track your steps

Nourish your body – bringing healthy snacks to work and avoid overeating at night

Sleep well – use ear plugs, a fan, or a white noise machine to block out disruptive nighttime noise

Whether they suit you on a daily or you commit to them once a month, make it a priority to add them to your routine to help yourself feel better, whenever.


“Nothing is impossible. The word itself says I’m possible.” – Audrey Hepburn, American Actor

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The Division of Fire Continues Their Reign

The May 6th all-employee kick-off reenergized the sixth anniversary of the Public Safety Games season. Forty-six registered athletes between Police, Fire, and Sheriff began to compete for the 2022 Fittest Public Safety Division bragging rights by accumulating as many points as possible over four weeks. There were three individual events, four team events, and ten mini-event challenges for the athletes to attempt. (Visit our SharePoint page for a complete list of events.) The top teams with the most points earned them a spot in the head-to-head final obstacle course challenge, and the division with the highest total number of points was declared the overall division winner. The energy and motivation surrounding the events by each athlete was invigorating and really turned up the heat of the friendly competition. (Check out our SharePoint page to see pictures of each challenge.)

There was a lot of anticipation going into the final team challenge as there was no clear overall winner at that time. Thus, the first to finish the final challenge would be the decide the winner for the entire Public Safety Games season!

The final competition was the consummation of many performance tasks a tactical athlete could endure: teamwork, communication, tactical awareness, mental acuity, dexterity, maneuvering, endurance tasks, strength tasks, and the overall ability to work for an extended period in a high-stress environment. Zachary Sayles and Nathan Beahm from the Division of Fire went head-to-head with Dustin Hazelgrove and Trevor Holmes from the Police Division for the title by completing a seven-part obstacle course with a mental twist:

View the Final Obstacle Course Event recap video.

Congratulations to Zachary Sayles, Nathan Beahm, and the Division of Fire for claiming the Fittest Public Safety Division of the year title for the fourth time! Their names have been added to the Public Safety Games “Fittest Public Safety Division” plaque inside the lobby at the Henrico Training Center. We look forward to the 7th anniversary of the Public Safety Games in 2023, as our vision continues to unfold.

If you are sworn public safety personnel interested in either the Public Safety Games or joining our sworn-only fitness programs, please contact Joshua Gaskins at or 501-7218. 

For more information about all of our programs, please view the Fitness and Wellness Division Sharepoint page


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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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