“5 Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Dramatically Improve One’s Wellbeing”, with Dr. William Seeds & Amanda Joplin

In a perfect world, moving for 5 minutes every hour at work would be fantastic. I have a Garmin watch that buzzes at me if I haven’t moved in an hour. It reminds to at least stand and stretch if I can’t get away from my desk. Simply setting an alarm can be beneficial to […]

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In a perfect world, moving for 5 minutes every hour at work would be fantastic. I have a Garmin watch that buzzes at me if I haven’t moved in an hour. It reminds to at least stand and stretch if I can’t get away from my desk. Simply setting an alarm can be beneficial to those that get sucked into work and forget to move.

As a part of my series about “5 Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Dramatically Improve One’s Wellbeing”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Amanda Joplin. Amanda Joplin is a certified athletic trainer, public speaker, workplace wellness expert and the owner of Everyday Wellness. She started Everyday Wellness as way to teach people how to mix practical health & wellness with a productive workday. Amanda believes it is possible to build a happy & healthy life while being successful at work and loves to work with both individuals & companies.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the story about how you first got involved in fitness and wellness?

There wasn’t really an “ah-ha!” moment of me deciding to get into fitness and wellness, but there were some vital times that contributed to me deciding to pursue a career in this domain. It all started out by pursuing an undergraduate degree in sports medicine. I chose this field when I was 16 because I wanted to be involved in athletics and enjoyed the medical aspect (having sat on the sidelines injured more than a few times). After college, I started working in the traditional realm of sports medicine: on the sidelines of football, soccer, and basketball games. As much as I enjoyed the atmosphere and what I did, I was not a huge fan of working till 10pm everyday night and never having days off.

After putting in a few years of grunt work, I was offered a position running an “industrial athlete” program at a local aircraft manufacturing plant. This was a new program, just in the trial run, where I would focus on factory workers as if they were the starting lineup of my football team. Three days a week, spanned over three different shifts, I was on the manufacturing floor working closely with employees. My job was to come up with more ergonomically friendly positions, assess their posture, advise on tools or procedures that may lighten their physical load, and teach them how to move their bodies to both prevent and recover from the aches and pains of the physical workload. The goal of the program was simply to lower their workman’s compensation (L&I) claim costs. In the first year, we lowered their L&I claims by 90%.

When I left this position, I thought I was done with sports medicine, in both the traditional and nontraditional fields. I needed a break; I had to decide if a career in health and wellness was worth the mental and physical toll it was taking on my body. As much as I loved the industrial realm, I was so focused on taking care of other people’s needs that I was not taking care of my own. I wasn’t sleeping (shift work starts at 4am!), I was eating whatever I could scarf down in five minutes between shifts, I never saw my husband, and I cried a lot.

So, I took some time to figure myself out. I took a solid year of focusing on my own health and wellness while working as a business manager for a physical therapy company. I realized two things while trying to figure out what health and wellness looked like to me:

  • It’s a confusing world out there when it comes to wellness! There is never ending contradictory information online with some nearly impossible-to-meet standards.
  • Wow, desk jobs are tough. My shoulders, neck, and back have never hurt this much in my life.

So, what did I do? I created Everyday Wellness, a business focused on the health of the industrial athlete (from the manufacturing floor to the desk worker) that is a safe space for everyone; regardless of age, sex, gender, occupation, nationality, or responsibilities.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

While employed at the aircraft manufacturing plant, I often helped out with similar projects at other businesses. I found myself on one factory floor at 4am where 85% of the employees didn’t speak fluent English. Most spoke Vietnamese, some spoke Mandarin, but only a few could have a conversation in English — much less tell me about their workspace or their aches and pains. It took a lot of sign language, Google translate, and pure trial and error to find and solve their problems! But it was a great lesson in the power of nonverbal communication.

Can you share a story with us about the most humorous mistake you made when you were first starting? What lesson or take-away did you learn from that?

I don’t know if this is the most humorous mistake I’ve made, but it was a great lesson! At the aircraft manufacturing plant I had a patient load of about 75% male. However, the human resources staff were all women. They decided that a few yoga classes on campus were necessary, so every Friday I hosted two yoga classes.

Mistake number one? Thinking that these classes would be popular among the men. Mistake number two? Not advising the few men that showed up to wear gym shorts. I had a few regulars who were good sports and were just happy to get away from the assembly line for a few minutes. I always asked them to invite their friends and their department, but for the first two months, it was just a handful of us.

One day, while in the middle of a nice, deep warrior two pose, I asked why no one else would come to class. One of the men muttered, “Oh, well…you see…umm…the thing is…”, then I heard the loudest rip of fabric. Another man collapsed and turned bright red. “The thing is Amanda, I just straight up ripped my pants from back to front in the crotch and this would never happen if we played football instead of doing yoga!”

We had a great laugh over this and, from then on, rotated the class to be a mix of football and frisbee with an occasional yoga class. My attendance grew tremendously and I realized that nothing was wrong with my yoga class, I just wasn’t listening to my audience.

Can you share with our readers a bit about why you are an authority in the fitness and wellness field? In your opinion, what is your unique contribution to the world of wellness?

As mentioned before, I have a degree in sports medicine and Certified Athletic Trainer. Athletic Trainers (ATs) are healthcare professionals. We are educated and skilled in injury prevention, emergency care, clinical evaluation and diagnosis, therapeutic intervention and rehabilitation of injuries and medical conditions. We are highly qualified, multi-skilled professionals that fall under the allied health professions category.

In layman’s terms, I like to say we are the people in khakis that run out when someone goes down the field and they cut to commercial break. But we do so much more than that! To become a certified athletic trainer, a person must graduate with bachelors or master’s degree from an accredited professional athletic training education program and pass a comprehensive test administered by the Board of Certification (BOC). Once certified, he or she must meet ongoing continuing education requirements (50 hours of learning every two years) in order to remain certified.

What’s so special about being a ‘certified’ athletic trainer? In some states, anyone can call themselves an athletic trainer. Many people believe their personal trainers are athletic trainers. Some ‘health coaches’ may even refer to themselves as an athletic trainer. Anyone can call themselves a health coach. You can even go online and become a “certified health coach” for $70 and an afternoon of watching videos. Or you could join a Beachbody team, sell some shakes, and call yourself a health coach then. I see so many fit, attractive women on social media selling diets & workouts (and being successful at it!) while calling themselves ‘health coaches’. Their only qualifications? They used to be ‘overweight’ or ‘unhealthy’ and they cured themselves so therefore they are happy to take your money.

But a Certified Athletic Trainer is something completely different. This is not to diss any health coaches out there who may be reading this,. but I have a degree in this field and years of experience beyond selling a program online. I’ve been trained and mentored along the way. I continue to take classes every year to better my knowledge. And I think that makes me a little bit better at what I do than the average Instagram “health coach”.

As an educated medical professional, I know that one size doesn’t fit all. I also know that we are humans and that, sometimes, we aren’t perfect. With my focus on workplace wellness, I aim to help busy professionals accomplish their goals without feeling overwhelmed by the crazy world of health and wellness.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Well, I’m pretty sure that I was hired to work at the manufacturing plant out of pure necessity. I really only took the position because I felt like it was the polite thing to do (I was only a few years out of school, so I didn’t really have a strong voice yet!). Turns out, it was the perfect move.

I’m thankful I had that opportunity to leave the traditional field and try out a new career path. Although we often didn’t see eye to eye on certain things, if I hadn’t been pushed into that position, I never would have discovered the world of corporate wellness and found my passion for it.

Today, I’m thankful for my husband who comes to my workshops to be my cheerleader, offers to listen to my pitches and proofread my articles, and sometimes even takes my advice! I’m also thankful to all those people who have reached out at some point to say “Hey, I appreciate what you do.” It’s the small things that keep me going.

Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. We all know that it’s important to eat more vegetables, eat less sugar, exercise more, and get better sleep etc. But while we know it intellectually, it’s often difficult to put it into practice and make it a part of our daily habits. In your opinion what are the 3 main blockages that prevent us from taking the information that we all know, and integrating it into our lives?

Time: It would be great if we could have 30 hours a day to get everything done, but so far science hasn’t come up with a way to prolong our days. So, we are stuck with 24 hours. And boy, do those 24 hours fill up fast! Between work, family, and family, we often put our own health and wellness on the back burner. For instance, we all know that we are supposed to floss our teeth every night, but how many of us actually do that? It’s not hard, it only takes a minute or two, but most nights I’m collapsing into bed saying “I’ll floss tomorrow!”. One year later, I’m at the dentist and they are saying I have inflamed gums and I’m at risk of gum disease. Why didn’t I ever floss? I just didn’t “have time”. It’s the same with many aspects of health and wellness.

Conflicting information: This is the biggest one. What is “more vegetables?”. How much sugar is “too much”? Does that include natural sugars? What kind of exercise counts? Should I be vegan or paleo? Should I be a weightlifter or do yoga? Should I sleep eight hours or in two hour bursts? It’s hard to create goals when you don’t even know what health and wellness is.

Privilege: It takes money, time, and education to implement a lot of healthy habits. Some of us don’t have those things. I think this is a huge area that the most well-known health and wellness experts refuse to acknowledge.

Can you please share your “5 Non-Intuitive Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Dramatically Improve One’s Wellbeing”? (Please share a story or an example for each, and feel free to share ideas for mental, emotional and physical health.)

Get up from your desk & move: I’m not into fear mongering titles like “sitting is the new cancer!”, but sitting for extended periods of time really sucks for your body. It can cause stiff joints, fatigue, eye problems, high blood pressure, diabetes, and depression. It’s not just the eight hours a day we may sit at our desk, it’s the hour (or more) of commuting, the time spent watching tv, and the time spent sleeping. None of those is bad by themselves, but all of those combined with little-to-no movement can cause serious health problems down the line.

In a perfect world, moving for 5 minutes every hour at work would be fantastic. I have a Garmin watch that buzzes at me if I haven’t moved in an hour. It reminds to at least stand and stretch if I can’t get away from my desk. Simply setting an alarm can be beneficial to those that get sucked into work and forget to move.

It’s ok to slouch: Continuing with workplace wellness, there is no such thing as a perfect posture. It’s ok to slouch. In the words of my physical therapist, “slouching is not inherently bad. If you think about what slouching is, it’s really just thoracic flexion — which is a good move for your body! It’s just bad when you sustain that posture for long periods of time. The best posture is your next posture.” When you [hopefully] get up once an hour to move, readjust your posture — but don’t focus on holding “the perfect posture” for an hour.

Move in ways that make you feel good, not less guilty: It’s hard to read between the lines on the nonsense that is out in the health & wellness world today — but remember that all movement is good movement. If that’s walking, yay! If that’s doing crossfit, great! Maybe it’s just playing at the park with your kids — that counts too! Don’t let society tell you that you have to attend $30 HIIT workouts at Barry’s Bootcamp 3–5 times a week in order to be healthy. If you like busting your butt at those classes, more power to you though!

Not everyone likes salads and that’s ok: I hate salads. I feel like people judge me for this — but guess what? A kale salad isn’t the only way to be healthy. I’m not denying the importance of getting leafy greens and other veggies into your diet, but there are so many other ways to incorporate them. My favorite way? A matcha spinach smoothie (frozen bananas, spinach, matcha, plain protein powder, and almond milk) or roasted veggies tossed with olive oil and some herbs as a side to my dinner.

Green is the new black: Now forget about green veggies and simply think about the color green. Green is a cool color that symbolizes nature. People find the color green to be calming but exciting at the same time. Researchers have also found that green can improve reading ability and creativity — crazy, right? While white minimalistic tones are now trendy, try adding some green to your life and workspace by adding a green wall, a green picture, or even a green plant. My office is primarily white, but contains tons of green plants and it’s lovely. I specifically picked plants that were air purifying and easy to take care of, such as a Snake plant and a Philodendron plant.

As an expert, this might be obvious to you, but I think it would be instructive to articulate this for the public. Aside from weight loss, what are 3 benefits of daily exercise? Can you explain?

I’d say weight loss is near the bottom of the benefits pile. Yeah, it’s a great side effect, but you should be moving regardless of your weight goals! Daily exercise can be anything from walking to work to rocking out in spin class. Three amazing benefits are: increased energy, boosted creativity, and lowers stress levels.

Boosted creativity: Science has confirmed that moving does increase creative ability. In one study done by Stanford, researchers found that walking boosts creative output by 60 percent. Interestingly, walking indoors (on a treadmill facing a blank wall) or outdoors (in nature) produces the same result — but I prefer to walk outdoors whenever possible. Reportedly, Steve Jobs was a big fan of going for a walk when he ran into a problem he couldn’t figure out.

Lower stress levels: In Japan, there is a practice called forest bathing, or shinrin-yoku. Shinrin-yoku means bathing in the forest atmosphere, or taking in the forest through our senses. A study done for Environmental Health & Preventive Medicinein 2010shows that forest environments promote lower concentrations of cortisol, lower pulse rate, lower blood pressure, greater parasympathetic nerve activity, and lower sympathetic nerve activity than do city environments. Think about how you feel walking on a city street versus a park — there is just something calming about trees and nature.

Increased energy: Exercise will increase the blood flow to your muscles and brain, which therefore increased energy flow. If you are feeling tired at work, take a brisk walk — it will wake up your brain and your body! I often find that a nice quick walk or yoga flow will help me beat fatigue in the late afternoon better than espresso.

For someone who is looking to add exercise to their daily routine, which 3 exercises would you recommend that are absolutely critical?

I bet you can guess the main one! Yes, it’s walking. I frickin’ love walking and it’s so often overlooked as a great exercise. And you can add different exercises on to it as you please! I love to add some lunging and skipping on to it for some hip movement and cardio.

Walking near a park? Do some monkey bars or take a few minutes to plank it out on the grass. But don’t forget about mental wellness! Sometimes a simple, slow walk with some deep breaths and meditation is just what we need. Movement is absolutely critical, but there isn’t one “best” exercise everyone must do.

In my experience, many people begin an exercise regimen but stop because they get too sore afterwards. What ideas would you recommend to someone who plays sports or does heavy exercise to shorten the recovery time, and to prevent short term or long term injury?

Variety and rest! Although I don’t work with elite athletes anymore (my client base is more of the weekend warrior type), overuse injuries can plague many of us. Overuse injuries are common in the beginning of an exercise regimen or during heavy training seasons. When advising people, I like to remind them that switching up their routine here and there is good for their body and their mind (they won’t get bored!). By switching up their workout, they can also give their bodies a break. For instance, someone training for a 10k may feel they need to run everyday to reach peak performance, but that will often lead to injury and burnout. Instead, take a yoga class a few times a week and give those joints a rest. And take a complete rest day at least once a week!

There are so many different diets today. Can you share what kind of diet you follow? Which diet do you recommend to most of your clients?

I don’t follow a particular diet or encourage a certain diet to clients. Eating habits are so personal and what works for one person may not work for another. I encourage people to take the time to find out what makes them feel good, both physically and mentally. For concerned individuals, I refer to a registered dietitian because I’m a big fan of using registered healthcare professionals versus supporting whatever fad diet is popular at the moment.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story?

I wouldn’t say there is one particular book that made a significant impact on me, but I recently read Help Me! by Marianne Power. She took a year to follow the most popular self-help bestsellers to the letter to see if her life improved. It was a humorous read and made me think a lot about trendy self help and how balance is so important to our mental health. If you’re a self help junkie like me, check it out!

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

If I had the power, I’d start a movement to bring workplace wellness programs to all workplaces. The positives of having a good wellness program onsite are enormous! Workplace wellness programs improve employee health, productivity, retention, and moral while decreasing health risks, healthcare costs, and absenteeism.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?

People who really want to make a difference in the world usually do it, in one way or another. And I’ve noticed something about people who make a difference in the world: They hold the unshakable conviction that individuals are extremely important, that every life matters. They get excited over one smile. They are willing to feed one stomach, educate one mind, and treat one wound. They aren’t determined to revolutionize the world all at once; they’re satisfied with small changes. Over time, though, the small changes add up. Sometimes they even transform cities and nations, and yes, the world.” — Beth Clark

I used to have this quote painted on a canvas above my desk when I was in college. It reminds me that you don’t have to be making gigantic waves to be making a difference. If I can just help one person become pain free at work or be that source of inspiration to take a walk, that is enough for me. I often get a bit down on myself if it’s a slow period with new clients or if my Instagram analytics are not as I’d hope — but usually someone with miraculously pop up and say “Hey! I just want you to know that I’ve been walking every day at lunch lately and it’s really helped my creativity!” and all of a sudden I remember this quote and everything is ok.

I also really like this quote: “You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time” — John Lydgate. It’s ok if not everyone agrees with you all the time!

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them. 🙂

Professionally, I’d love to have coffee with Amy Hood, the CFO of Microsoft. She is a powerful leader in the corporate world of technology — a sector largely dominated by men. As someone who is currently trying to break into that world via workplace wellness, I would be so excited to chat with someone who has done it, and done it well.

On the personal side, I’d love to have a glass of rosé with Lisa Vanderpump. She is a successful, hardworking businesswomen who works hard and plays hard, all while staying classy and not letting anyone walk over her.

What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?

I’m on Instagram at: @everydaywellness_withamanda, on LinkedIn at: @ajoplin, or through my website www.everydaywellnesswithamanda.com. I hope to connect with you there!

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!

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