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It’s time to sweat the small stuff




Some days does it seem that everyone you know is running a marathon, committed to clean eating, and has initiated a daily meditation practice?  Does it make you feel inspired, or just tired?

We are constantly bombarded with images and messaging promoting the ways we should be changing ourselves, and while it is great to be proactive about improving our health, wellness shouldn’t be about making us feel worse about how we are doing right now.  

Big, life-changing goals are helpful when they motivate us to take all the steps necessary to achieve them, but they can also seem so out of reach, and so drastically different from our daily life that we can become discouraged, losing our dedication and self-belief.  If you are someone who can commit and train from couch to marathon, fantastic and have a great run!  However, if an all-or nothing, “go big or go home” mentality isn’t working for you, we have a solution: it’s time to sweat the small stuff!


Forget the Fear and Find the Fun


We need a fix, and it needs to be sustainable.  Yet, even armed with the latest stats many of us are not making the lifestyle changes necessary for better health.  Instead of strapping on our running shoes, why are we pulling the covers over our heads?

Clearly the fear factor is failing, and behaviour economics is helping us to understand why.   Our   “affective response”  is how we emotionally respond to an experience, and it turns out scary stats are less motivating than remembering an experience pleasurably.  When applied to exercise the initial research suggests that two factors play a part in determining whether or not we will continue working out in the future.  The first is, how do we feel when exercising?  If the experience was more pleasure inducing than pain, chances are higher we will make it a repeat experience.  Although we have (thankfully!) moved beyond the “no pain no gain” mantra, exercise isn’t pleasurable all the time.  What than keeps us motivated to go back for more?  It turns out that how we remember the experience is crucial.  In other words, our memories of an event help determine our future actions.  Clearly we need to put the fun into fitness to help us get the hard work done.


Stressed OUT? Here’s how to find your IN.



We all need a little stress.  It’s a motivator to get started, pushing us to consider new ideas and explore possibilities. Importantly, stress can boost performance, helping us to achieve our goals.  However, stress only fully works to our advantage when we already have the mental resilience and physical well-being to use it as a catalyst for positive change.  

Are you using stress to help you tune-in, or are you just stressed-out?

Unfortunately, for many people stress is eroding their health and capability.  Canadians now list work as the largest contributor to their stress, with almost 60% feeling “on-edge”.

Stressed workers said they were less engaged at work, and that they put in less effort, hurting their productivity. They also called in sick more often, or went to work feeling ill.”

Employees are suffering, and employers are feeling their pain.

Work is therefore an ideal place to address the impact of negative stress.  Advocating for health and wellness at the office gives employees the foundation for managing the stressors in their lives, and gives employers a workforce ready to thrive. Here are three crucial areas the workplace can focus on in order to help get the stress out.


Championing Wellness at the office: how to get off to a healthy start

health employees


Healthy employees who are engaged, energetic and focussed:  sounds perfect!  The question is, how to help your workforce get there?   We know good health takes a great team, but a great team needs a leader.   If you are ready to champion wellness at the office, we are here to get you off to a healthy start.


Good Health Takes a Great Team




Do you ever feel you are living the life of a circus performer, juggling everything and wondering when you will drop the ball and all will come crashing down around you?  With careers, families and responsibilities, not to mention shadow work creeping into our daily lives, it is no wonder we are stressed, tired, and overwhelmed.  How then do we make time for our health?

Happily, we don’t need to go it alone.  Good health takes a great team, and here are reasons why we think it’s better together.

We spend a large part of our day at work, and unfortunately, we risk slipping into unhealthy habits there.  Excessive sitting, poor food choices and a propensity to spend lunch in front of a computer screen rather than with colleagues are common facts of working life.  However, how do we find the time for change when we already feel overextended?  More companies are investing in wellness programs to help employees gain traction for improving their health and the quality of their workplace lifestyle.  While we can all make personal choices for healthy change, when those goals are part of a team effort we suddenly gain four important cornerstones for success.  


It’s Time to Redefine the Finish Line




You trained, visualized the course, prepared your body and mind, and anticipated the euphoric moment of crossing the finish line.

The race is over.

Now what?  


Whether you are training for a race, committing to healthy eating, or deciding to improve your sleep habits, goal setting is important.  Not only do we know what we need to do, and for how long, goals provide motivation by reminding us why we have made a commitment.  But what happens after our goal has been met?  Or what if we never reach the finish line?

Below are three scenarios.  If one of them sounds familiar you could be at risk of losing motivation, not meeting your objectives, feeling frustrated and slipping back into unhealthy habits.  How then to stay inspired and engaged with the goals you set?  We think it’s time to redefine the finish line!


Make this September a New Year – 6 ways to reset your wellness this fall.




Are you ready for a reset mindset?

The kids are back at school – meeting teachers, exploring ideas, developing their learning, and enjoying new experiences.  Take a page out of their notebooks and discover how beginning fresh in September is the perfect kick-start for a great year.

Resetting your mindset allows you to create goals that reflect your current reality and provides a roadmap for where you want to go.  Harness the energy of the changing season and the “back-to-school” outlook in order to tailor your own wellness agenda.  To help you get “top marks’ we’ve put together a plan:  6 Ways to Reset for your best year ever.


Sprout announces additional funding and plans for growth

Sprout extends partnerships to usher in a new era of workplace health and wellness. (CNW Group/Sprout)

TELUS and Techstars extend partnerships to usher in a new era of workplace health

TORONTOAug. 4, 2016 /CNW/ – Leading Canadian wellness company, Sprout is proud to announce additional funding from two key influencers in the healthcare technology movement: TELUS, Canada’s largest health IT company, and Techstars, through its ventures arm. With these continued partnerships, Sprout plans to usher in a new era of workplace health, expanding its exceptional user experience, data analytics and ecosystem of partners, which will in turn promote wellness across corporate cultures internationally.

These partnerships evolved from Nike+’s first accelerator program powered by Techstars, where Sprout was one of 10 growing tech companies chosen to participate in an immersive, mentor-driven startup accelerator.

“We focus our partnerships around companies that are both building great businesses and contributing to the pace of digital innovations on a large scale,” says Mark Solon, Managing Partner at Techstars. “Beyond their growth during the accelerator, Sprout continues to exceed expectations with its imaginative, forward-looking offering that has a proven impact on workforce wellness and productivity.”

TELUS too has seen the continued alignment between their own efforts to boost workforce wellness through wearable devices and Sprout’s growing contribution to social health technology.

“At TELUS, we’re committed to helping Canadians make positive lifestyle choices, and are excited to advance our partnership with Sprout so together, we continue to strengthen the emphasis on health and wellness and improve long-term results,” says Rich Osborn, Managing Partner of TELUS Ventures.

Sprout’s offering is twofold. First, Sprout provides technology based tools engineered to motivate employees to get active in the way they choose. Second, Sprout provides leaders with the ability to measure the positive impact of wellness on their business. In addition to a growing suite of tools that includes physical activity tracking, nutrition, mental health, and biometrics, the platform integrates with leading fitness trackers. But this is only the beginning.

“TELUS and Techstars are both invaluable influencers of wellness technology. TELUS is making huge strides in generating awareness about the benefits of preventative health and Techstars continues to support developments in wearable wellness,” said Martha Switzer, co-founder of Sprout. “Through these partnerships, we hope to advance our platform even further so we can create a wellness movement across corporate cultures, for happier, healthier people and happier, healthier companies.”

Sprout is the leading Wellness Engagement Platform, used by progressive companies to improve the health of their employees and their business. Sprout creates a work culture that enables individuals to lead happier, healthier lives, while empowering employers to effectively manage and measure wellness outcomes. More information is available at www.sproutatwork.com.


For further information: Martha Switzer, Co-Founder and CMO, T: 604-365-4112, m.switzer@sproutatwork.com

15 Ways to Bring the Olympics Home this Summer!

15 Ways to Bring the Olympics Home this Summer!



The 2016 Summer Games are almost here! This athletic tradition has brought together the world for hundreds of years, uniting nations with their shared passion for sport.

Just as countries come together to rival for gold, support their teams and admire other countries’ performances, so can you by bringing the Olympics home this summer! Whether you’re hanging out with the family on a summer weekend in August, going on a date or getting together with friends, there are a number of ways that you can incorporate some Olympic fun into your plans.

Don’t just watch the Olympics – be an Olympian! We’ve come up with 15 activities to get you started.

1. Go for a new personal best: Walk around your neighbourhood and set your route. Now time yourself doing 1 lap of your route. This is your baseline. Keep timing yourself and by the end of the summer score your personal best!

2. School’s out, so it’s time to kick it old-school, Olympic-style!  Create your own tournament: hopscotch, skipping, four-square, water balloon toss, hula-hooping; so much fun, the kids won’t even think about recess.

3. Golf is back in the Olympics this year for the first time in 112 years. Head out to a local golf course, driving range or mini-putt and go fore it! Or, if golf isn’t your game, try croquet.  Ready to make it more competitive?  Try the Dead-Ball-Option or Poison.

4. Got a hot date? Make it an active one by going for a bike ride – maybe you can even rent a bicycle-built-for-two! Finish the bike ride with a picnic to add some romantic flair.

5. Let everyone go for gold!  Create your own treasure hunt (you can draw pictures for your littlest participants), and let the fun begin.  Elevate your play beyond simple hide and seek, by factoring in a fitness challenge. Ten jumping jacks to unlock the next piece of the puzzle; balancing on one leg for 30 seconds gets an extra clue. The best part? The whole team arrives at the finish line together!

6. Don’t sweat it if you don’t have enough players to create your own Olympic basketball team.  Grab a ball and a buddy, set up a challenge, and get ready for 21, HORSE, Around the World or Knock Out.

7. Summer and tennis go together like sunshine and fun.  Playing with little ones?  Enjoy a game of mini-tennis. Do you have a crew on your hands?  How about a round of Stinky School Bus?  Courts are at a premium?  Hit the balls against the wall of your neighbourhood school.  

8. Heading on vacation this summer? Spending lots of time down by the lake or at the beach? Turn your daily swim into a synchronized swimming competition. Pair-up and choreograph your best poses and strokes and go for style points!

9. Athletes may need to train and perform regardless of weather, but when Mother Nature isn’t co-operating, here are tips for taking your little Olympians inside.  Relay games down a hallway burn off energy and get everyone cheering.  Who can push a ping-pong ball with their nose the fastest?  Fill a cup using a teaspoon?  Pass the ball over and under?  And of course, bonus points for coming up with the most inventive team cheer!  

10. Jump, Flip, Twist, FUN! Gymnastics has been a part of the Olympics since 1896 and is known as a foundation sport. The core skills you acquire from gymnastics allow you to excel in almost every other sport. Check out your local Gymnastics facility for drop-in options for the kids or adult classes to get in on the action! Or do your own core activities on the floor while watching the Games on TV.

11. Heading to the beach? Bring a volleyball and showcase your serves, bumps and spikes with a game of beach volleyball! Or better yet, join a summer intramural team and commit to playing once a week!

12. Up at the cottage without much athletic equipment? Don’t fret! Pick an island or spot on the lake to swim to and make it your goal to swim there each day. To increase those competitive juices, time yourself the first time and try to beat that time a little bit every day! Or tread water and add a couple of minutes everyday.

13. Need to get from A to B while up at the lake? Ditch the motorboat and take the canoe, rowboat, kayak, or stand-up paddleboard. Work that upper body while also transporting yourself; you will feel extra accomplished at the end of the ride!

14. Having trouble balancing a social life while also staying active? Suggest hitting up the local tennis court or soccer field the next time you and your friends are planning a get together—combining friend time and physical activity will make you feel like you really can do it all!

15. Water Polo was the first Olympic team sport and was a men-only competition for the first 100 years—get your women together to make up for lost time and organize an ‘Olympic’ water polo team for the summer!  This fast-paced, exciting game will be sure to get your heart pumping!

Will you bring some Olympic games home this summer? What other sports-inspired activities can you do with the family?

How (And Why!) To Eat Like an Olympian at Work

How (And Why!) To Eat Like an Olympian at Work


The Rio 2016 Summer Games are just around the corner. As momentum and excitement builds leading up to the games, there is one thing that Olympians are taking more seriously than ever: their diets. What we consume and how we eat has a profound impact on our physical and mental wellness. The adage, “You are what you eat!” carries weight (pun intended), as athletes across the globe ensure their nutritional habits are fueling their bodies for high performance.

Just as athletes carefully consider the innate link between diets and performance, so should employees in every workforce. What employees eat is directly related to their focus, productivity, stress levels and overall health.
Take a look at these dietary tips from nutritionists, which apply to Olympians and employees alike!

  • Have a breakfast of champions
    It’s long been known that breakfast is a critical – if not the most important – meal of the day. Skipping breakfast is often attributed to low energy and glucose levels, poor focus, high stress levels and irritability. When it comes to high performance, Olympic athletes can’t afford to skip breakfast and, if you want to improve your productivity at work, neither can you!

    Montreal-based Naulleau, a registered dietitian and sports nutritionist for the Canadian Olympic Committee, suggests that athletes start their day with toast, almond butter and bananas. She explains that the greater population also benefits from protein, and should consider eggs and cheese in the morning.

    Looking for a recipe? Try this Egg White Frittata breakfast for a low carb, high protein meal.
  • Sip what you cannot eat
    Smoothies are an excellent way to pack in a plethora of nutritional goodies that you can’t always incorporate into your regular meals. Protein pieces like chia and nuts, coupled with carbs like wheat germ are an excellent mix of antioxidants. Particularly after a workout, a cold smoothie can reduce inflammation – a term usually associated with arthritis, chronic pain and acid reflux.

    Inflammation is your body’s reaction to stress. As an employee, stress at work can lead to a number of health issues, reducing your productivity and ability to fully function. Try infusing your day with a smoothie break instead of a coffee break.

    Nicole Barnhart, goalie for the women’s soccer team, recommends this smoothie recipe:  16-ounce smoothie made with banana, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, mango, pomegranate juice, coconut, milk, almond milk, flax seed, whey protein, Trader Joe’s peanut butter, and Vega Sport energy powder.
  • Prioritize H2O
    Need a reason to drink water? Here are five: water boosts energy, lowers stress, tones muscles, keeps you regular and nourishes your skin. A glass of water is the best sidekick for every Olympian (and employee!). By the time you feel thirsty, you’re already dehydrated, and that is why we are encouraged to drink a lot more water than we’re used to throughout the day.

    Athletes should be consuming .5 to 1 ounce of H2O per pound of body weight every day,” says Amanda Carlson-Phillips, who regularly consults with Olympic contenders and pros.

    Many athletes encourage the idea of taking smaller drinks more frequently to prevent feeling bloated. Employees can practice this habit too by keeping a very large jug of water beside them during the day and ensuring the water is gone before they leave when work has wrapped up.

What other nutritional tips can athletes and the workforce both incorporate into their diets?

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