Sometimes when you’re out there trying to inspire the rest of the world to fitness and wellness, you neglect taking care of business “at home.” We know you can relate to this because we’ve had this conversation with many of you time and again over the years. The cobbler’s children are the last to get shoes, as the old saying goes.
We decided earlier this year that IDEA culture needed a shot of its own inspirational fitness and wellness medicine. To that end, we have set out to create a world-class corporate wellness experience for the IDEA staff that we can learn from and, hopefully, share with the world. We aim to accomplish this by using our considerable knowledge and resources from internal staff and from around the industry, and by learning through trial and error what works within a corporate structure. We hope that by experimenting first-hand we will be able to recognize a scalable model for others. Mahatma Gandhi’s wise words “Be the change you want to see in the world” have sent all 47 of us off on this journey of discovery with confidence and optimism!
On April 5, we kicked things off with a staff meeting outlining our health and happiness initiative. Everyone participated by sharing ideas of what we could do to make IDEA a happier and healthier place for all. Later, the staff voted for the top 10 they’d like to see implemented. Some were very ambitious and will have to wait to be implemented over time (e.g., a state-of the-art kitchen to inspire us to cook and eat healthier foods); some were very simple and can be changed immediately (e.g., better water, coffee and tea options). The point is, everyone here has a stake in creating the program, and we are taking it seriously.
Behavior change requires a clear mission, a gap analysis, action, daily engagement and consistency in the practice of new habits. The IDEA staff is starting with manageable changes that are designed to layer one over the next—as a sustainable fitness and wellness practice should. Our first program, “7 Weeks, 7 Changes,” gives our group structure and accountability as we begin the process of forming healthier habits. Each week builds on the last, so by the end of week 7 we hope each employee will have made or reinforced 7 healthy lifestyle habits. Many thanks to IDEA member Margie Kidd, director of wellness for Clayton Homes in Knoxville, Tennessee, for her help in designing this 7-week structure.
- Week 1: Complete at least 10 minutes of stretching 3 days of the week.
- Week 2: Choose at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day.
- Week 3: Complete at least 30 minutes of cardio 3 days of the week.
- Week 4: Eliminate or replace an unhealthy item from your diet this week.
- Week 5: Complete at least 5 minutes of sit-ups or push-ups 3 days of the week.
- Week 6: Drink at least 64 ounces of water each day.
- Week 7: Sleep 7–9 hours each night.
So far, everyone is doing well and staying motivated. A few of us have even gained new clarity on the power of choice in the context of wellness. “This program has helped me realize that happiness and wellness are choices that are within my control,” says Jared Ashlock, IDEA’s senior programmer in the Internet technology department. “I see that I have the power to make changes in my lifestyle—whether small or drastic, and many of which I can do while in the office—that will increase my fitness and happiness. With everyone on the staff making positive changes, it makes it easier to continue to make healthy choices myself.”
We will keep you posted on our progress as our health and happiness initiative unfolds! In the meantime, if you have any suggestions for things we can do to sustain our progress or motivate the staff when the novelty of the program wears off, we’d love to hear from you: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Be the Change!
Kathie and Peter Davis