The 2014 Inter-Hospital Health Challenge is here!

Is there a better time of year than the Spring (now that it has finally arrived) to renew your commitment to healthy living!? What better way to do just that, than the 2014 Inter-Hospital Health Challenge!? Open to all UHN staff, physicians, volunteers and students, the IHHC is an online challenge that takes place from May 1st-31st, where participants collect points and compete against other UHN teams and hospitals from across the province. Earn points for minutes of physical activity, servings of fruits and vegetables, minutes of mental health breaks, hours of sleep, and servings of water. Register now!

Launch Event-Lawn Shot

How do I register for the Challenge?
• Form a team of 4-7 people.
• Assign a Team Captain. Team Captains will visit www.ihhc2014.com to register your Team Name and determine your Team Password.
• Team Captains: Email your team members both the Team Name and Team Password.
• Captains & Members: register for the challenge at www.ihhc2014.com (You’ll need your Team Name and Team Password)
• Once a minimum of 4 people have enrolled your team will be activated.

There will be weekly draw prizes plus prizes for UHN’s top 3 winning teams. The winning hospital is also awarded the coveted gold cup. Let’s bring that trophy home!

All UHN staff are invited to the 2014 Challenge Launch on Thursday, May 1 at 12:00pm in front of Sick Kids Hospital on University Ave. There will be Music! Stretching! Games! And Prizes! Represent UHN by wearing Yellow.

UHN Walking Challenge

As part of the Get Up step Up campaign, the Oasis Wellness Centre is pleased to bring back the March walking challenge.  March into Better Health, a one-month walking challenge began last year and had over 100 participants in its inaugural year.  The challenge is FREE for UHN employees to register and consists of using a pedometer or pedometer app to track your daily steps.  Participants can then submit their weekly totals for a chance to win prizes from a weekly draw. As well a grand prize will be awarded to the participant with the greatest number of steps at the end of the month of March.

There are several ways you can begin to count your steps:

*The Oasis Wellness Centre will have a limited supply of pedometers for those unable to download, borrow or purchase one.

To register:

  1. Email UHNWalkingChallenge@gmail.com  with the following information: Name, site, your method for pedometer use (App, library, your own, Wellness Centre) and your goal .
  2. Send weekly updates to UHNWalkingChallenge@gmail.com with your weekly step count totals! (Send each Friday with results from the previous Friday – Thursday)

For more information or to register email UHNWalkingChallenge@gmail.com

Are you ready to March into Wellness?

New Ways to Pray

According to Koenig, a researcher in spirituality and health, over 95% of people aged 50 or older pray. Prayer and meditation help us to optimize our health in many ways. In my own journey over the last few years, I have found that there are many more ways to pray than I was traditionally taught. For most of us, prayers for ourselves (traditionally called prayers of petition) and prayers for others (traditionally called prayers of intercession) form the back-bone of most of our prayer life. But what happens when our prayers seem fruitless and frustrating? Perhaps one of these other forms of prayer might help you over this challenging time.

Contemplative Prayer
Coming out of monastic tradition this form of prayer encourages participants to find a quiet place where you can sit comfortably with no distractions. Try to allow yourself to be present. If distracting thoughts come into your mind, simply name them and let them go. Choose a sacred phrase or word that will help you to clear your mind and remain open. Try to practice this form of prayer for 15-20 minutes each day.

Allow Text to Speak to You
Ever had a “thought for the day” or a saying on a T-Shirt speak loudly to you? You can re-create those “aha” moments more often in your life by reading more intentionally. This could be sacred literature, poetry, a meaningful book or a thoughtful article. To get this effect, read it several times until some words jump out at you. By reading prayerfully and attentively, we open up space in our souls.

Insert Yourself Into the Story
This is particularly effective if you have a series of stories that are meaningful to you. What is the Goliath in your life that you feel too small to knock down? Put yourself into the story and then you realize that Goliath is so big, you can’t miss! Who is the Darth Vader of grief? Can you envision yourself conquering the darkness?

Praying in Color
Developed by Sybil MacBeth, who sought to find a way to hold friends who were suffering from cancer and other ongoing illnesses in her thoughts and prayers by coloring and drawing as she was thinking of them. The resulting drawing, however simple, can be shared with those whom we are praying for. The technique doesn’t have to be limited to drawing. It can be any activity that helps us to focus. Knit a prayer shawl or run a mile in prayer.

Sing
As the saying goes “s/he who sings once, prays twice.” Music connects us deeply to our own souls, creation around us and is the universal language.

Your Spiritual Care Providers are available to help you navigate the challenging times in your life. Be in touch with us if we can help.

Koenig, Harold G.   Is Religion Good for Your Health?  Hawthorne Press, 1997, pg. 43

Macbeth, Sybil.   Praying In Color, Paraclete Press, 2007.

Snow Day

This past Saturday there was quite an accumulation of snow fall. Had it been a weekday, it more than likely would have been a snow day for many areas. As it was, the roads were very treacherous so I “self-declared” a snow day and cancelled my plans for the day in lieu of a pyjama day. With a cup of tea, a good book and a few jobs that seemed impossible to do with my busy schedule, I relished the found time.

As I’m reflecting on my decision, I realized that I didn’t have to wait for “snowmaggeden” to find the time, but only had to give myself permission to step back and take a little time to enjoy doing nothing. In fact, I’m convinced that one of the best ways to get through the busyness of this season is to not impose traditions and activities that are overwhelming and onerous, especially if this time of year is difficult due to financial hardship, job losses, or the first time when you will be without a loved one.

The first year following my divorce, I didn’t have the time, money or energy to prepare a big holiday feast so we picked up pizza on Christmas Eve and watched a comedy movie. It is just as much a treasured tradition in our house now as my mother’s elaborate holiday feast was when I was a kid. I’ve also learned that you can do something elaborate one year and choose to do something simpler the next year. Some years I’ve had a house full of people and other years just a couple of friends for a quiet dinner. Each celebration was enjoyed.

So this season, think about having a “snow” day. Give yourself permission to enjoy simplicity. Create traditions that don’t leave you exhausted and worn out. May you find time.

Healthy (and non-healthy) Holiday Treats

It’s that time of the year again…it’s the Holiday’s!!

This is a time to kick back and relax as you attend countless family and social gatherings and lets not forget of course about the feasting! Sadly with all the lovely Holiday feasting and dinning that occurs between Thanksgiving acute_snowflakend New Years studies have shown that people on average can gain up to 1 pound in weight!

Now you might consider that a relatively low number, one pound, but a pound a year over several years can add up rather quickly!

So here are some Holiday treats that you should probably avoid and others to love :)

Try to avoid this tempting treats…

Eggnog: This oh so tasty treat may tantalize your taste buds, but consider this before having a glass…one 8-oz (~250mL) serving can exceed 250 calories and 5g of saturated fat! Throw around the idea of having a small glass of red wine or some light fruit juice as an alternative :)

gty_egg_nog

Dips: Though they are extremely delicious you never actually know what can be lurking within them…extra extra cheese…heavy cream? The only thing that is not a mystery about them is the fact that they are like a chorus of angels in your mouth when you eat it. As an alternative to the mystery dip try hummus or a home made salsa instead.

Now for some Healthy Alternatives!

Sweet Potatoes:  These yummy powerhouses are absolutely delicious! and they taste like dessert!! Packed with an assortment of healthy nutrients you can swap out your regular potatoes and add these guys in to amplify the taste and you can cut back on added sugars too!

Cocoa: Chocolate lovers will love this one, in moderation of course.  Studies have shown that having a small amount of chocolate (the darker the better) can actually lower your blood pressure!

hot.chocolate

So remember this Holiday season to watch what you are treating on and look out for these guys! Maybe you’ll save yourself a pound if you do! :)

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