An Alternative to the Standing Desk – Meet Cubii #Kickstarter

I am IN LOVE with Kickstarter — its not just the the scientist (aka the geek in HR) in me who loves all the creative inventions — the innovation really fuels and inspires me — and then there are the times I come across something that I’ve just gotta have.

This is my next gotta have — the Cubii! The Cubii comes to us from the folks at fitnesscubed.com. I almost missed it — but thanks to TechCrunch, I came across this cool product!

I went to a standing desk earlier this year — well a “makeshift” desk. I’ve been documenting my experiences (trying different options and waiting to blog about it) over the last few months and as much as I love it, I still kinda hate it. It does take a while to get use to the standing and the days that I wear my high heels I either hate myself or I’m walking around barefoot — fortunately, I work at a place where no one even questions that or gives a second look.

What I like about the idea of the Cubii gives you another alternative to the standing desk. I’m really tempted to buy it to try it out and use it in addition to one of my set ups. Finding ways to combat “the sitting disease” is on my list of things to combat (its at the forefront of my mind and writings)– and I know its on many others’ lists as well by the number of publications and studies on it — plus my sessions at #IHRIM14 and #SHRM14 really continue to shine the light on employee wellness, particularly for those who are working sitting at desks all day.

What do you think (of this alternative and the whole standing desk things in general? Would something like this work in your office place or at your desk?

If I give in to my kickstarter temptation and try it out, I’ll let ya know!


Making the HR Connection, yours

Hello Summer and Monthly Wellness Challenge

May’s always been a big month and an important month — it has always triggered for me — “Summer is Coming!” — June 1, says, “Summer is HERE!” Yeah I know that its technically not until later in the month — but by all measures of the phrase, for me (and our A/C, which we’re been running since late March/Early April) its Summer.

Fall is probably my favorite season, but next is Summer. I love the sun (but not the over-bearing heat). The longer days. The various holidays. The blooming flowers. Now I’m not in school and we don’t have kids yet – so my day to day doesn’t really change — so I’m sure its more nostalgic than anything. Going back to my school days.. summer was the opportunity to take a break before getting ready for the next grade — almost like cleaning the slate.

With that in mind — I thought that I’d bring back my monthly wellness challenges. I quietly did away with them because I failed each one — despite putting “it out there” to help hold myself accountable. I’d come close with a few of them, but never accomplished my goals. That’s not my normal character — so frankly, I found it demotivating.  Well — I thought June was a good time to bring it back — but scale it back. Well that was the original intent — but then after thinking about my wellness goals — I know I have a big goal in front of me because I want to greatly reduce the amount of sugar in my diet.  There are several blogs that I recently started to follow to help inspire me in the kitchen with recipes — that pointed me to a few other sites around cooking and fitness … and that’s where I got my call to action.

First — it took my some time to *really* understand that sugar has addictive properties! DOH! But when I did some more searches and started to looking into it, I am just shocked and dumbfounded. I almost feel silly now that I didn’t have greater awareness. I’ve been reading labels more — and can’t believe all the places that it sneaks into my food. So even when I’m trying to make a “better” choice (backing away from the chocolate, candy, and cookies) I choose something that is laden with sugar. Ugh!

My struggle is going to be finding the time as a busy professional to create and cook more at home — where I know what I am putting into my meas and saying “no” to all the sugary-goodness that finds its way to my desk at work.  Food is EVERYWHERE and while I applaud the fact that we do have healthy options at my office – -they are sadly far less abundant than the unhealthy ones and a bit more expensive.  Its just too easy to pick up the unhealthier stuff — its cheaper, faster, and more readily available.

The more I think about it, the more it sounds like I’m making excuses — so I want to put a plan in place and really take the right steps to reset and make a long term change. I’d love to think that I have the potential to be a great homemaker — but I’m terrible at cooking and doing things in the kitchen – -so this is going to be something new for me to learn AND embrace.Also getting my sig-o on board. We have wildly different bodies, metabolisms, and even, worse, tastes in foods. So its also going to be an adventure in finding things that we both like, both need for our bodies (he could stand to put some weight on and I would like to take some off), and fitting in the time to organize it and make it work. I also think that some planning and advanced prep will help too. I’m inspired and have some awareness — and I think that’s a big piece in trying to start and commit any big change.


I actually think its easier at home than it is at work — Aside from what I get for my sig-o for junk food (which isn’t much and mostly stuff that I don’t like)- I don’t keep much in the house. I’m good to turn down the chips and cokes (that he loves) and some of the other sweets at the house — although I’m a sucker for Blue Bell Cookie and Cream Ice Cream.  I going to try to make some incremental changes instead of doing my usual thing of going from guardrail to guardrail.

So my goals for the month of June

  • Say “NO” to all those temptations at work — cut out the obvious food baddies
  • Take my lunch to work; and if one is provided, pass over the junk food and the bread
  • Charge up my fitbit and hit my daily goal 4 out of 7 days each week

I juice and do green smoothies in the AMs, but I’m not all that consistent about it — so I while not making it a formal “goal” I’m going to work on that too — and be very mindful of fruit to veggie ratio to make sure that I have more of the latter.

Any other suggestions that you’d give me as I start this journey — or interesting reads/blogs? I’ll share a list soon of some of the ones that I’m currently following.

Getting my wellness challenge on, yours,





I’m Stressing the Children I Don’t Even Have Yet

Photo credit: Olimpia Zagnoli

I lead a pretty stressful life — I like to work, I like to work hard, and I like to be involved in a lot of activities — coupled with a high sense of responsibility and accomplishment — yup, I have a lot of stress.

So imagine my “stress” when I read this article in the NY Times,
Inheriting Stress, which explores the question: Can children inherit stress from their mother? My initial thought, “YIKES!”

WE intuitively understand, and scientific studies confirm, that if a woman experiences stress during her pregnancy, it can affect the health of her baby. But what about stress that a woman experiences before getting pregnant — perhaps long before?

It may seem unlikely that the effects of such stress could be directly transmitted to the child. After all, stress experienced before pregnancy is not part of a mother’s DNA, nor does it overlap with the nine months of fetal development.

Nonetheless, it is undeniable that stress experienced during a person’s lifetime is often correlated with stress-related problems in that person’s offspring — and even in the offspring’s offspring. Perhaps the best-studied example is that of the children and grandchildren of Holocaust survivors. Research shows that survivors’ children have greater-than-average chances of having stress-related psychiatric illnesses like post-traumatic stress disorder, even without being exposed to higher levels of stress in their own lives. — excerpt from article http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/09/opinion/sunday/can-children-inherit-stress.html?smid=tw-nytimes&_r=0

Okay, okay, okay. So I don’t have any kind of post-traumatic stress, but the piece goes on to explore if the stress has an impact on parenting style?

I’m always concerned about the amount of stress in my life–  barring the impact to my future children, I know that its not very helpful to me, but the thought of my stress potentially having this kind of ripple effect, takes stress management to a whole… ‘nother.. level.

I met with a friend last week and she swears by yoga and feels that it has made positive changes to her life and her sense of stress. I’ve always viewed it as just a means of exercise, but she urged me to get into the meditative pieces of it as well (maybe Bikram is out?), but silly as it may sound, I have a new found motivation.

Even if there is no link — we all know the benefits of a life with less stress.

The battle goes on… how to “relax, relate, release” … but still maintain my “intense” and competitive edge with my career. Could meditating be the answer?

Do you have employees who have this truly mastered, or is just as elusive as a purple cow?

Still searching… 🙂






Photo credit: Olimpia Zagnoli


What is the opposite of depression…

I recently wrote a post on employee depression and its impact on engagement. Well this evening I came across this TedX talk and thought that I’d add a bit more to the conversation. I know its kinda downer thing to talk about and explore, but it could be something that is really impacting your employees — so as HR people, we should explore it and learn more about it… plus I really enjoy Ted Talks :).

“The opposite of depression is not happiness, but vitality, and it was vitality that seemed to seep away from me in that moment.”

A gut-wrenching talk on overcoming depression:

What’s up with your employee … Disengagement or Depression?

I found this article (Depression in the workplace) by chance — I saw a tweet from Dr. Sanjay Gupta on twitter … and it really made me stop and look twice. 1 in 8 US workers… that’s just over 12% .. totally likely that someone that I (or you) work with is depressed.

What if we are mistaking disengagement with depression? Is there a difference or is one impacting the other? What if you take this as a sign that they are being a jerk but its really depression?

Often employees’ signs of depression go unnoticed. “Even if someone is less efficient, feeling less creative or they can’t smile much, which is common, it’s rarely showing as much as it seems,” said Sally Winston, PsyD, a psychologist and co-director of the Anxiety and Stress Disorders Institute of Maryland.  —http://www.everydayhealth.com/health-report/major-depression-resource-center/sanjay-gupta-depression-in-the-workplace.aspx?xid=tw_dsg

Ulitmatately, we can not make assumptions — one way or the other. I have no doubt that being depressed would have a positive correlation to a decrease in employee engagement…but a dip in engagement doesn’t necessarily mean that one is depressed.

I’d recommend that you ensure that you are creating an environment of trust at all times. Create a sincere and genuine relationship with your employees so that if they need to talk to you about what is on their minds or share that they are undergoing treatment that they feel safe to disclose. I have no doubt that as HR professionals that you’d handle it discretely and professionally to work with that employee and manager to make reasonable accommodations.  However, a great relationship built on trust can also help open the door to talk about changes in behavior or things that might be out of the norm for that employee that might suggest that they are disengaged. Imagine the difference if you could openly and honestly talk about why someone might be disengaged before it becomes a larger issue.

A great relationship also shows that you care and that you notice changes that may be going on – and you can point them out as matters of conversation and not a coachable moment. Keep the right line of “friend” to keep it professional, but as of late, I’m starting to think that there is just a lack of genuine compassion for others in the workplace. Life happens outside of the office (and sometimes, in the office) and people carry that with them. It can (and does) impact engagement and maybe even depression.

There is also a need to put in place a good EAP (employee assistance program), provisions for counseling visits, and/or a neutral ombudsman.  You don’t have to do all three, but make sure that if something is going on with your employees, that they have some options to work it out.  Do know that all of these programs, while options, have different purposes — you’ll need to make sure that it is clearly defined and well marketed to your employees. They should be able to access these with little to know effort (without having to draw a whole lot of attention to it if they want to use them.) We’d all like to think that if people have problems that they will go to the source and work it out, but the truth is, that often doesn’t happen. So provide other avenues and don’t be offended if they don’t come to you but choose another means — just be happy that they went somewhere.

IMHO, you don’t need to know the difference — but understand that they are not the same thing. Don’t just jump to “disengaged employee” mode and try to attack the problem from that angle. It could be something way bigger. You do need to know when something is different or out of character — take note, be supportive, and leverage a great relationship to help your employee back get what they need to be happy and productive. And remember… you may not even see the signs of depression … Give them the right tools and the option to make choices to help them get back to where they want to be.

Making the HR connection, yours,

photo credit: http://curitibainenglish.com.br

November 2013 Wellness Challenge

So — I’m having a terrible run with these monthly wellness challenges. 🙂  I don’t think that I’ve completed one successfully yet – -but I’ve learned a lot and continue to try.

I was SO close with the October challenge — I even got others involved, but being out sick for almost 2 weeks made is a no-go. I got up to 2 minutes pretty and heard from a fitness coach that a 2 minute plank is “respectable” — but I still want to get to that 5 minutes — so I’m still working on that and plan to pick up again at 2 minute marker.

My focus for November is to try eating Clean. I’ve heard a lot about it and my guy and I want to give it a serious attempt. So I’m reading up on it and making a plan and want to try to eat clean for a week.  I also am making a serious attempt at work life balance, so I also wanted to plan a trip before the end of the year — and I’ve got that in the book! CHECK!

I’ll tell you how it goes at the end of the month! What about you — what are some of your wellness challenges for the month?


How to Have a Blissfully Unproductive Weekend

Getting some much needed rest and relaxation is on my mind (again) — This is one of my struggles as I still can’t find the balance. However, I’ve learned a few times over my working career, and once again as recently as last week, that if you don’t take the time to slow down and rest, your body will do it for you. I’ve been sick the last 13 days — twice! And while I’m starting to finally feel like “myself” I know that I largely got sick because I’d over extended myself for too long.

Still my challenge to overcome so I maintain committed to finding the balance — and sharing with you want I find. I found this great article from Debbie Woodbury with some great tips:

1. Change your mindset, if only for the weekend. If you have a workaholic, productivity-proves-validity mindset, like me, you don’t relax easily. Why not try changing your mindset for just a weekend? Everyone needs time to relax and recharge, and anyone who thinks they are productive 24/7 is just kidding themselves anyway. So go ahead, throw relentless productivity to the wind and resolve to be blissfully unproductive this weekend. You can always go back to being a crazed workaholic on Monday.

2. Unplug from your electronics. Put the stresses and obligations of the workweek on hold by separating yourself from your cell phone, tablet or laptop. Deliberately unplugging makes a statement to yourself and others, “I choose to relax and be blissfully unproductive for a few days.”

Go one step further and seek out silence. As Deepak Chopra said, “Silence is the great teacher, and to learn its lessons you must pay attention to it. There is no substitute for the creative inspiration, knowledge and stability that come from knowing how to contact your core of inner silence.”

3. Stay in the moment. As hard as it is to unplug from your electronics, it’s even harder to unplug from your monkey mind. You know what monkey mind is — the incessant chatter of worry, “shoulds,” “what ifs” and a past/future focus. When the chatter starts building, take a breath and stop. In that moment of awareness, you create a gap that allows you to recognize the noise for what it is, before it takes you away with it. Practicing “catch and release” of your monkey-mind thoughts keeps you present in the here and now and focuses your mind on one thing at a time.

4. Play. Play is not a luxury. Let me repeat. Play is not a luxury. In fact, play is vital to health and increased productivity. Spontaneous play and the fun it elicits are transformative, and happen more often when you’re in the moment. Planning play is as important as planning your meals. And play takes all kinds of forms — run through the sprinkler, have sex, read a fun book, take a hammock nap or just jump up and down! Play doesn’t have to be big and noisy. Play is whatever feeds your soul and makes you feel more alive. Go play!

5. Reconnect with loved ones. Sometimes we’re so overwhelmed with obligations, schedules, responsibilities and appointments that we forget to really be with the people we love. If you turn off the TV, phone and laptop — if you stay in the moment and open yourself to play and fun — guess where you’ll end up? Reconnecting with friends and family!

via 5 Steps to a Blissfully Unproductive Weekend | Debbie Woodbury.

Seems like its just 5 simple things, but some of these are still going to be a real challenge for me. I think I’ll have to take it one at a time and work my way up to all 5 at once :).

Relaxing, relating, and releasing — thanks for joining me on the journey to better work life balance! Making the HR connection, yours

All Work And No Play Means No Play

I am so lame. This you may have already known if you’ve been a long term reader of my blog 🙂 — but seriously I did the silliest thing ever last week.

About two months ago I brought 2 seats for my and my guy to go see Bill Burr in San Antonio. I was so looking forward to it. We don’t get out much. We haven’t assimilated much into the area and this was something that we would have done from “back home.” I bought our tickets (I even splurged and got ‘the good ones.’ Got excited. And waited for the date to come.

Coincidentally, the last 2 months have been some of the busiest in a long while. You’ve probably noticed that the blog has been a little quieter than normal too right? Its been a lot of late nights and early mornings at the office — long weekends working on projects for work and for other HR projects — but our night out with Bill was coming!

I was working late a couple of Friday nights — I was WAY TOO tired to go out, and figured I would work a bit longer and then go home and crash. And when I got home, I was SO tired that I literally fell asleep with my clothes on. I made it up the stairs, took my shoes off, and feel asleep. Out like a light. I woke up the next morning and checked email and my Facebook. I was greeted by a stream of photos, tweets, and updates from people talking about Bill Burr. Weird. Weird. Weird? What? Wait.. No.. no.. oh no.. seriously.. no way.  Yup. I MISSED the event that I had been looking forward to for months.

I wasn’t mad for the money that I wasted for the event that I didn’t get go to. My sig-o didn’t even remember ( but to be fair, I AM the calendar and he goes where I go). I was annoyed that I was so busy with work that I clearly had not made time for ME! Sounds cliche.  Cue every single work life “out of balance” saying you know out there now.

I’m bummed to have missed Bill Burr. But I’m even more bummed on all those other things that I missed. Don’t get me wrong – I LOVE my work — but October is gonna be all about bringing “balance” back.

Have you ever been “here” before? Let me here your stories?

Tell me I’m not alone 🙂 Thank goodness I have Netflix and can catch Bill there (its not the same, but its a lesson).

Making the HR connection, and fumbling through Netflix, yours,

The Girl in HR’s September Wellness Challenge

Well .. August’s challenge was a bust!

I had pretty much failed the goals by the end of the week, so I think I will try to restructure them so that it doesn’t seem like its an “all or nothing” kind of thing because even though I failed I actually made some great strides.

August was a challenging month for me — it as ALL work and NO play. Seriously, I was working some 12-16 hour days at my ‘day’ job — which left little time for anything outside of work (including my blog, I had only a few posts last month) and a couple of side projects that I’m working on with my local SHRM chapter. I’ll catch yall up on those later.

Here is where I landed for August:

  • Only water (fruit infused water is okay) and try to get my recommended daily dose (I live in Texas, its hard to stay hydrated) – FAIL – I had mostly water about 95% of the time and tea and lemonade on a few occasions, but sodas (regular and diet are out)
  • 6 veggies a day (I’m planning juicing and doing green smoothies — YUM) – FAIL – the days I was in the office this worked, I even brought a little fridge to the office for my juices, but the weekends was all about sleep
  • two meatless dinners a week (may be a challenge as my sig-o LOVES meat and expects meat at EVERY meal) – FAIL — I did get one in a week and found some great new recipes
  • two yoga classes a week – FAIL – I didn’t get away not once during the month to a single yoga class
  • run 10 miles a week – FAIL – so close every week, but never made the ten miles.

So September Goals — I want to rollover the August ones 🙂 with some revisions

  • 95% water-only  (fruit infused water is okay)
  • 1 green smoothie/juice a day or eat the equivalent of 6 veggies
  • eight meatless meals over the month
  • get to the yoga class
  • 50 miles during the month

I’ll check in with you at the end of the month! How did your wellness and fitness goals go over the month of August?

Getting my health on! yours,

Relax — And Fast! 8 Quick Tricks For Stress Relief

Stress is something that I hone in on — I seem to have no shortage of it in my life — and I don’t even have kids yet! Seriously, there are so many triggers to all the negative health triggers of stress to you — and to your overall productivity and wellness at work.

So I wanted to share these 8 quick tricks! You can used them most anywhere.

Relax,Relate, Release!  Take it easy!

Making the HR connection yours,






We all have a little (or maybe a whole lot of) stress in our lives. The way we deal with that stress is crucial to our well-being.

Put simply, high stress levels can lead to unwanted weight gain. Stress promotes the production of a hormone called cortisol, which increases your appetite for foods high in sugar, carbohydrates and fat. (Translation: weight gain!) Even worse is that the weight gain is typically centered around the stomach, and this type of fat is closely linked to heart disease and stroke. Research has consistently linked belly fat to high cortisol levels, especially in women

via Relax — And Fast! 8 Quick Tricks For Stress Relief.