Humana associates step it up in 100-Day Dash

Humana associates logged about 7.2 billion steps during the annual 100-Day Dash.

Humana associates logged about 7.2 billion steps during the annual 100-Day Dash.

Humana’s dream of helping people achieve lifelong well-being has fostered a corporate culture where Humana associates are willing to take steps to improve their own health – about 7.2 billion steps.

Humana associates logged that many steps on their pedometers during Humana’s recent 100-Day Dash, an annual company-wide effort to encourage associates to literally walk the talk in terms of promoting health and well-being. Associates form and choose names for their own teams, competing for rewards such as Vitality Bucks for those enrolled in the HumanaVitality incentive program. Every competing associate wears a pedometer and uploads the results, which are tallied into individual, team and company totals.

Overall, associates averaged 9,330 steps per day while the dashers at the top of the 100-Day Dash leaderboard managed 30,000 per day. Chastity Palmer, a specialist for Humana subsidiary LifeSynch in Irving, Texas said, “Being a part of the 100-Day Dash motivates me to get moving!”

“Over those 100 days, we inspired each other’s health by coming together through this friendly competition,” said Tim Huval, Humana Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer. “Hearing the stories of how people are changing their lives – and enlisting their co-workers and families – is a great example of how we at Humana are living our values.”

From June 3 to September 10, 11,635 associates found numerous ways to get steps in. Some organized team walks during lunch breaks, others trained and competed in organized events in their communities.

“I did my first half-marathon ever,” said Humana MarketPoint coordinator Zoilabella Calo of Phoenix, AZ. “It was so inspiring!”

“We can all be proud of the steps we’ve taken together,” said Humana President and CEO Bruce Broussard, who participated in the Dash. “It’s great to be part of such an inspiring program that continues to grow each year. And I enjoyed being part of Team Inspire Health which really encouraged me to rethink my routine to get my steps in.”

Humana’s 7.2 billion-step total is enough to walk around the Earth 145 times and represents a 1.5 billion-step increase over the 100-Day Dash total for 2012.

Getting healthier with an emphasis on fun

It's easier to increase your level of activity if you add an element of fun, such as playing in the park with your children and grandchildren.

It’s easier to increase your level of activity if you add an element of fun, such as playing in the park with your children and grandchildren.

LifeSynch, a Humana subsidiary, offers extensive health behavior resources, including behavioral healthcare, employee assistance program (EAP)/work-life services, behavioral pharmacy services, health coaches and Web-based wellness tools. As part of their commitment to change health behaviors and improve lives, LifeSynch’s health coaches will be contributing a series of articles that demonstrate how easy it can be to make a healthy change.

Did you make a new year’s resolution to be more active? We are more than half way through the year so if you have stuck to it so far, congratulations and keep it up! If you stalled, it’s not too late to get back on track and meet the goals you set in January. It is easier to stay active if you make exercise fun rather than a chore. Healthy things can be fun, and fun things can be healthy. Here are 10 suggestions to get you started:

1. Join a team: Check out adult sport leagues offered in your area. There is usually something for everyone – from basketball and volleyball to kickball and dodge ball.

2. Get involved: Sign up for road races, biking events or fun walks. Some of these events also provide opportunities for helping others by raising money for charities.

3. Family fun: The whole family can enjoy interactive video games no matter the weather, skills, or fitness level. For example, Humana has partnered with leading video game developer Ubisoft to offer Your Shape®: Fitness Evolved 2012, a fun workout program to support healthy living for people of all fitness levels. And many cable providers offer exercise videos on demand free of charge.

4. Challenge yourself: If you are repeating the same easy workouts, you will cease to see results and become bored. If you run, try running a mile as fast as you can (without pain!) then try again two months later to see if you can beat your own time. You can do the same thing for pushups, holding a plank and so on. Reward yourself if you reach your goal!

5. Create a boot camp: Write out a list of things you can do for two minutes to raise your heart rate: push-ups, running in place, dancing, hula hooping or squats. Turn up the music and get a stop watch so you know when to rotate. Ask your kids to think of their own two-minute exercise ideas.

6. Start a friendly competition: Challenge your co-workers, friends or family to a contest that encourages you to increase your activity level and have fun doing it. For example, Humana associates are currently participating in their second 100-Day Dash, a companywide competition to track steps with a pedometer for 100 days. Learn more about how it works and the positive impact it has had by clicking here.

7. Help someone else succeed: Are you losing your commitment to walk three days a week? Invite a buddy along. Not only can you motivate someone else, you can re-energize yourself.

8. Check out your local parks: Take a nature walk with your kids and bring along a picnic basket for a fun, inexpensive meal.

9. Change your playlist: Find a new genre of music or add audio books and podcasts.

10. Make a game of it: Instead of sitting down to help your kids with their homework, take a walk while you quiz them – or make a game of it. For example, if they spell a word correctly, you have to run a lap around the house or do 10 jumping jacks. If they get it wrong, it is their turn!

Even small behavioral changes can make a big difference in your efforts to lead a healthier, happier life.

Lacey-pic-webLacey Starkey, a learning facilitator and personal health coach/mentor at LifeSynch, a subsidiary of Humana, has a bachelor’s degree in wellness science and a master’s degree in health education. She is also a certified personal trainer and group exercise instructor. In her spare time, she enjoys being outdoors, exercising and staying active in her local community garden.

Humana to open mail-order pharmacy facility in Texas

Humana will open a mail-order pharmacy facility in Irving, Texas. Similar operations are currently located in Arizona and Cincinnati. (Photo by Lisa Huber)

Humana will open a mail-order pharmacy facility in Irving, Texas. Similar operations are currently located in Arizona and Cincinnati. (Photo by Lisa Huber)

Humana will open a RightSource® mail-order pharmacy call center and support operation in Irving, Texas, in August, bringing more than 620 new jobs to the area over the next three years.

RightSource is Humana’s pharmacy management company providing mail-order delivery to members’ homes. The convenience of mail-order delivery and the lower cost of obtaining drugs by mail-order pharmacy have created tremendous demand for RightSource’s services. Humana RightSource, which has similar operations in Arizona and Ohio, serves 1.5 million people and filled nearly 20 million scripts in 2012, making it one of the nation’s largest mail-order pharmacies.

“The continuing growth of Humana’s mail-order pharmacy business shows us that we are improving our members’ health-care experience by making prescriptions more affordable,” said William Fleming, Pharm.D., President of Humana Pharmacy Solutions. “The opening of this new front-end operations facility is a testament to our commitment to provide outstanding service to our customers and a credit to the quality of the Irving-area workforce and excellent business climate.”

Positions to be hired will include pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, customer service representatives, and data-entry clerks. For information about employment opportunities at the Irving facility, 2001 W. John Carpenter Freeway, please visit careers.humana.com.

With its subsidiary companies Concentra and LifeSynch, and the addition of the employees being hired at the RightSource facility, Humana will have more than 2,500 employees in North Texas.

To learn more, read our news release.

Earth Day: Small changes add up

Earth Day pic

LifeSynch, a Humana subsidiary, offers extensive health behavior resources, including behavioral healthcare, employee assistance program (EAP)/work-life services, behavioral pharmacy services, health coaches and Web-based wellness tools. As part of their commitment to change health behaviors and improve lives, LifeSynch’s health coaches will be contributing a series of articles that demonstrate how easy it can be to make a healthy change.

Earth Day is Monday, April 22, and is the perfect time to look at your surroundings and find ways to make small changes that can result in a positive difference to the environment. A healthier environment will make it easier for all of us to live longer, healthier lives. Here are just a few suggestions to get you started:

  • Turn down heat and air conditioner by 2 degrees
  • Reuse plastic grocery bags or buy clothe bags to take to the store with you
  •  Drink your beverages from a reusable mug or cup
  •  Reuse plastic baggies
  • Use baking soda and vinegar to clean when you can
  • Shorten your shower by three minutes
  •  Only run the dishwasher and washing machine when full
  •  Air-dry your clothing when possible
  • Turn down the water heater a few degrees
  • Learn how to make a compost pile
  • Go paperless when paying bills
  • Use natural light whenever possible
  • Shop at a farmer’s market
  • Make sure your car tires are inflated correctly to save on gas
  • Cut up old T-shirts to use for cleaning instead of paper towels

Earth Day is also about starting new life. Planting trees can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, reduce air pollution, prevent soil erosion, and keep our ecosystem going. Trees create shade which helps with cooling costs in the summer. In the winter, trees help protect your house from cold winds – and reduce heating bills. If you don’t have a place to plant anything outside, put some flowers in a window sill or purchase some indoor plants, which can help clean the air of toxins like formaldehyde, carbon dioxide and benzene.

Before you simply toss out the things you no longer need or use, try to think of alternatives to simply transferring your “trash” into another pile. Can these items be used by someone else? Can it be composted? And to reduce the amount of stuff in the first place, ask yourself whether you can you buy and use less? The following is a list of items and estimated decomposition time (U.S. National Park Service website):

  • Orange/banana peels: Up to 2 years
  • Cigarette butts: 1 to 5 years
  • Plastic bags: 10-20 year
  •  Leather: Up to 50 years
  • Tin cans: 50 years
  • Aluminum cans: 80 to 200 years
  •  Plastic six-pack holders: 100 years
  • Disposable diapers: 450 years
  • Glass bottles: 1 million years
  • Plastic bottles: Indefinitely
  • Styrofoam: Indefinitely

On April 22, Earth Day, join me in asking: What can I do to be less wasteful? It may be easier than you think.
Lacey-pic-webLacey Starkey, a learning facilitator and personal health coach/mentor at LifeSynch, a subsidiary of Humana, has a bachelor’s degree in wellness science and a master’s degree in health education. She is also a certified personal trainer and group exercise instructor. In her spare time, she enjoys being outdoors, exercising and staying active in her local community garden.

Can fitness apps help you reach your health goals?

fitness app HN13 AprilLifeSynch, a Humana subsidiary, offers extensive health behavior resources, including behavioral healthcare, employee assistance program (EAP)/work-life services, behavioral pharmacy services, health coaches and Web-based wellness tools. As part of their commitment to change health behaviors and improve lives, LifeSynch’s health coaches will be contributing a series of articles that demonstrate how easy it can be to make a healthy change.

There are thousands of health and fitness apps that do anything from record mileage on your runs, to provide reminders to take your medication, to calculate the amount of fat you consume in a day. The options are endless and more come out every day.

How effective are these fitness apps in helping you reach your health goals? Behavior-change studies take time, and there are no statistics to share just yet, but if you find an app that can motivate you to make positive change, it is certainly worth a try. (However, you should always check with your physician with any concerns about dietary changes or fitness regimens.)

Whether you need motivation, information or are simply looking to join a like-minded group of people who will provide encouragement, competition and a social outlet, there is an app for you. Here are some of the most popular apps to get you started:

  • Map My Run/Map My Ride – Calculates mileage, pace and calories burned during your work-out.
  • Coach to 5K (C25K) – This app will help take you from no activity to running a 5K (3.2 miles) in nine weeks.
  • 101 Revolutionary Ways to Be Healthy – A great tool when you just need a little push.
  • PocketYoga  – A customizable app offering a range of yoga poses. You choose the difficulty and duration.
  • GymPact – An app that provides incentive by asking you to commit to going to the gym a specific number of times a week and holds you accountable by docking your credit card (you determine the amount) if you miss a workout. At the end of the week, GymPact divides the money collected from the slackers among the people who kept their commitment to exercise. This is a free app – unless you skip workouts!

For more ideas, check this list of fitness and health apps: http://greatist.com/health/best-health-fitness-apps

Fitness apps can help you achieve your goals if you choose the right one for your needs. If you go that route, choose one that keeps you inspired, engaged and on the road to success.

Lacey-pic-webLacey Starkey, a learning facilitator and personal health coach/mentor at LifeSynch, a subsidiary of Humana, has a bachelor’s degree in wellness science and a master’s degree in health education. She is also a certified personal trainer and group exercise instructor. In her spare time, she enjoys being outdoors, exercising and staying active in her local community garden.

National Nutrition Month: Healthy eating doesn’t have to be a chore

Making a list and planning meals ahead of time can make grocery shopping - and eating healthier - less of a chore.

Making a list and planning meals ahead of time can make grocery shopping – and eating healthier – less of a chore.

LifeSynch, a Humana subsidiary, offers extensive health behavior resources, including behavioral healthcare, employee assistance program (EAP)/work-life services, behavioral pharmacy services, health coaches and Web-based wellness tools. As part of their commitment to change health behaviors and improve lives, LifeSynch’s health coaches will be contributing a series of articles that demonstrate how easy it can be to make a healthy change.

It’s National Nutrition Month and the perfect time to talk about making the most of your time and money – and about making healthier choices. What better place to start than the source of most of your family’s meals: the grocery.

Grocery shopping and meal planning can be a tedious chore for many, but spending just two hours a week planning, shopping, and prepping will save you time and money in the long run and could have long-term positive effects on your health. Eating out a lot can take a toll on your wallet and your health.

Follow these easy steps, and grocery shopping will not only become easier but will have a positive (healthy) domino effect for the rest of your week.

Planning:
Find recipes that you like and add the ingredients to an ongoing list throughout the week. A simple notepad on the fridge works, but there are many phone apps, such as Shoplistfree, are also available. Check the local grocery ads to see what is on sale before you make a final list.

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Healthier diet, healthier kids

It's never too early to develop healthful eating habits.

It’s never too early to develop healthful eating habits.

LifeSynch, a Humana subsidiary, offers extensive health behavior resources, including behavioral healthcare, employee assistance program (EAP)/work-life services, behavioral pharmacy services, health coaches and Web-based wellness tools. As part of their commitment to change health behaviors and improve lives, LifeSynch’s health coaches will be contributing a series of articles that demonstrate how easy it can be to make a healthy change.

Getting your kids to eat a healthier diet might be easier than you think. Check out some of the ideas below to see if any would be a good fit for your family. Adults and kids alike can enjoy these easy ways to boost the nutrition in your family meals. The ideas at the end of this article are not exactly recipes but are guides for putting together kid-friendly, nutritious dishes from food you like and probably already have in your kitchen.

Change it up

  • Use half white and half whole-wheat noodles when making pasta.
  • Use a vegetable peeler to cut ribbons of vegetables and replace some of the pasta or any other grain in your dish.
  • When making burgers and meatballs, run vegetables such as carrots, spinach, bell peppers, and tomatoes through a food processer and use the mixture to replace some of the meat or bread crumbs.
  • Dice vegetables finely and add to any dish – from baked potatoes to quesadillas.

Prepare ahead of time

  • Cut up small pieces of raw chicken and season with your child’s favorite flavors such as lemon pepper or a BBQ seasoning. Freeze portions in zip-top bags. When ready to eat, bake frozen chicken bites at 400 for 15-20 minutes.
  • Think waffles are reserved for the weekend? Bake a double batch of whole-grain waffles or pancakes on the weekends and refrigerate or freeze. On hectic mornings, pop a couple in the toaster, spread with peanut butter, and you have breakfast on the go.
  •  Cook up a batch of a whole-grain product (rice, millet, or quinoa) on Sundays. It will last in the fridge all week and can be used for stir-fries and side dishes.

Have fun!

  • Plant a small garden with a few vegetables or herbs, and ask your children to help you water and harvest what you grow.
  • Ask kids to help you create the grocery list. If they get to choose their own healthy snacks they feel more control over their choices and might be more likely to eat what they choose.
  • Have them help you in the kitchen. Check out the following link for more information. http://kidshealth.org/parent/nutrition_center/healthy_eating/kids_cook.html

Meal ideas

  • Making your own granola is easy. Combine ¼ cup of canola or coconut oil, a few drizzles of honey, and a sprinkle of cinnamon in a bowl. Add 3 cups of oats and 1 cup of your favorite nut (or combination). Spread on baking sheets and bake at 325 degrees for 20-30 minutes stirring a few times. Once cooled, mix with fruit and store in airtight containers. Want ideas for add-ins? Try raisins, coconut, dried blueberries, dried bananas, or dried mangos. You could also try adding wheat germ, dry quinoa, barley, or flax seed.
  • Pack food in a jar. Pour a few tablespoons of dressing in the bottom of jars and let your kids load it up with their favorite vegetables. Or, pour in plain yogurt, a little honey, fruit, and granola. Be creative with your layers!
  • Make homemade dressing. Combine your favorite vinegar with olive oil, mustard, and a drizzle of honey for a kid-friendly dressing. Or, combine ranch powder with plain yogurt and a splash of milk instead of mayonnaise.

Lacey-pic-webLacey Starkey, a learning facilitator and personal health coach/mentor at LifeSynch, a subsidiary of Humana, has a bachelor’s degree in wellness science and a master’s degree in health education. She is also a certified personal trainer and group exercise instructor. In her spare time, she enjoys being outdoors, exercising and staying active in her local community garden.

New Year’s resolutions: Small steps lead to big changes

 

Taking small steps can make it easier to reach your bigger goals of improved health and wellness.
Photo by Lisa Huber

LifeSynch, a Humana subsidiary, offers extensive health behavior resources, including behavioral healthcare, employee assistance program (EAP)/work-life services, behavioral pharmacy services, health coaches and Web-based wellness tools. As part of their commitment to change health behaviors and improve lives, LifeSynch’s health coaches will be contributing a series of articles that demonstrate how easy it can be to make a healthy change.

It’s that time of the year when we start talking about New Year’s resolutions. Some are large, some are small and some are simply unreachable. We are so motivated to make improvements as a new year approaches that we often set the bar too high, which inevitably leads to failure and disappointment.

Each January, according to a recent study, approximately 1 in 3 Americans will make a resolution. While about 75 percent of us stick to the goals we set for at least a week, only 40-45 percent are still on target six months later. Why is it so hard to stay on track?

I believe that the biggest problem is how we set goals in the first place. Why not set smaller goals so that we can celebrate a quick success that will motivate us to take the next step toward a larger goal? For example, let’s say my goal for the first week is to cut back on my sugary drinks. If I currently have two sugary drinks a day, my initial goal will be to cut back to one sugary drink a day. That doesn’t sound too difficult, right? If the first week’s goal was achieved, set a new goal, such as cutting back to two sugary drinks a week.

The point is to set realistic goals. If you know that you aren’t going to be able to cut sugary drinks completely out of your diet, then don’t set an initial goal to do so. You’re setting yourself up for failure.

Here are a few other ideas to get you started:

  • Drink more water: Most of us should drink more water and don’t come close to the recommended eight 8-ounce glasses a day. If you don’t drink much water now, then you will probably want to start out with a goal of drinking a much smaller amount and work up to eight glasses.
  • Run a 5k: My fiancé has set a goal to run a 5k every month, but I’m not asking you to do that right away. Instead, set a goal to run a 5k within the next three months. Make it realistic to your lifestyle. Check out this couch to 5k program for tips and inspiration.
  • Challenge yourself to try something new every month. For example, have you ever had spaghetti squash or quinoa? They are both delicious and healthy.

I want to challenge you to think outside the box and come up with a resolution that you will be successful in keeping. Celebrate once you’ve met that goal. (But don’t reward yourself with cake! Indulge in something you love that is going to make you feel good about your success.) Now get out there and take just one step toward a healthier new you.

RamonapicRamona Cash, a site administrator for the personal health coaching program for LifeSynch, a subsidiary of Humana, has a bachelor’s degree in health education and a master’s degree in health science. She is also a certified health educator. In her spare time, she enjoys riding her bike, going to the farmer’s market, and cooking healthy recipes for her food blog, “Keep It Fun and Healthy.”

Celebrate holidays without sacrificing healthy goals

Stay on track with your health goals during the holiday season.

LifeSynch, a Humana subsidiary, offers extensive health behavior resources, including behavioral healthcare, employee assistance program (EAP)/work-life services, behavioral pharmacy services, health coaches and Web-based wellness tools. As part of their commitment to change health behaviors and improve lives, LifeSynch’s health coaches will be contributing a series of articles that demonstrate how easy it can be to make a healthy change.

The holidays are a special time of year, but the celebrations can derail our healthy eating goals. Statistics show that most Americans will gain one pound during the holidays. That may not seem so bad, but even if you gain only one pound during one season of the year, that’s still adds up to a big difference in 10 or 20 years. And let’s be honest, most of us will gain a pound or two here and there at other times of the year if we are not careful. The reminders below may make it a little bit easier to stick to your goals and prevent you from gaining an extra pound or two during the holidays.

Don’t drink too much
Holiday drinks, especially those containing alcohol, can contain a lot of calories especially if you aren’t paying close attention to how much you are having. You may also drift over to the buffet table a little more often if you are drinking a little more than you should. Try drinking more water and replacing high-calorie alcoholic beverages with lower-calorie alternatives such as a wine spritzer (2 ounces of wine mixed with club soda and a little cranberry juice. And as another alternative, check out this wonderful hot chocolate recipe during the holidays:

No-Sugar-Added Minty Hot Cocoa

  • 2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1-2 teaspoons Agave natural sweetener
  • Dash of salt
  • 1 cup of 1 percent milk
  •  1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract

Mix cocoa, natural sweetener and salt in large mug. Heat milk in microwave for 1-1/2 minutes, until hot. Gradually add hot milk to cocoa mixture in mug, stirring until well-blended. Stir in vanilla and peppermint. Yields 1 serving. (more…)

Thanksgiving with a twist: Add a dash of healthy flavor to your feast

It’s easy to make a few adjustments that will make your Thanksgiving feast a little healthier without losing taste.

LifeSynch, a Humana subsidiary, offers extensive health behavior resources, including behavioral healthcare, employee assistance program (EAP)/work-life services, behavioral pharmacy services, health coaches and Web-based wellness tools. As part of their commitment to change health behaviors and improve lives, LifeSynch’s health coaches will be contributing a series of articles that demonstrate how easy it can be to make a healthy change.

If you would like to serve something a little less traditional and a little more healthful this holiday season, try one of these recipes.  The sugar and fat found in much of our holiday food has been cut, but freshness and flavor has been added.  No marshmallows or canned soup here! These recipes are great for a holiday feast and are easy enough for a weeknight side dish.

Sweet and Spicy Potatoes

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes
  • 1-2 tablespoons each of chipotles in adobo
  • 1-2 tablespoons of brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons of butter (or butter substitute)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Poke a few holes with a fork in each potato. Bake sweet potatoes about 1 hour. Smash sweet potatoes with a fork or potato masher until broken apart. Stir in the rest of the ingredients until well-blended. Serve hot.

Fresh Green Beans

  •  1 pound of fresh green beans, rough edge trimmed off
  • 1 diced shallot or 3 tablespoons of diced purple onion
  • 2 slices of lean bacon, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, diced
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Blanch green beans in boiling water for 5 minutes and drain. At the same time, sauté diced bacon in large skillet. Once bacon is crisp, remove from pan and drain all but 1 tablespoon of bacon grease. Add diced shallot/onion and garlic to hot skillet and sauté along with drained green beans for two additional minutes. Stir in bacon and serve at room temperature.

For tangy green beans, add 1 tablespoon each of brown sugar and apple-cider vinegar the last two minutes of cooking. (more…)

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