A pineapple-costumed motivational speaker with a knack for not taking herself too seriously shared tips for a healthier life at the Crow Wing Energized Workplace Wellness Conference.

“We love Halloween, but this is about imagining -- imagine, ‘What if?’” said Annie Meehan, an award-winning author and certified coach. “I’d like to invite you to embrace the silliness of life, but also to be serious about being fit.”

The third annual conference at the county land services building encouraged and highlighted workplace health and wellness activities in the county Wednesday morning, Oct. 30.

“Do you know what I want to do every single morning? I want to eat three chocolate cream-filled Bismarcks and drink a vanilla latte. Who wants to join me?” Meehan asked the audience. “That’s what I want to do … but you don’t do what you want to do. You do what’s good for you.”

Approaches to workplace health and wellness include: vending machines with healthier offerings; healthy choice options at meetings; physical activity such as strategic breaks and activity options; breastfeeding rooms and storage; and tobacco-free campuses.

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Annie Meehan uses humor Wednesday, Oct. 30, as the keynote speaker at the third annual Crow Wing Energized Workplace Wellness Conference at the Crow Wing County Land Services Building in Brainerd by dressing up for Halloween as a pineapple. Frank Lee / Brainerd Dispatch
Annie Meehan uses humor Wednesday, Oct. 30, as the keynote speaker at the third annual Crow Wing Energized Workplace Wellness Conference at the Crow Wing County Land Services Building in Brainerd by dressing up for Halloween as a pineapple. Frank Lee / Brainerd Dispatch

Workplace wellness

The annual return on investment for work site wellness programs is $3 to $6 saved for every dollar spent after about two to five years, according to the Minnesota Department of Health.

“Some of the outcomes include employee satisfaction, increased productivity, decrease in absenteeism, an impact on overall health care costs, and then, of course, to be more competitive as a healthy workplace environment,” said Kara Griffin of Crow Wing Energized.

Crow Wing Energized invited the community to the free event Wednesday. Work sessions focused on generating positive behavior changes to impact health and wellness in the county. Almost 100 attended the four-and-half hour conference in Brainerd.

Todd Froemming, co-owner and vice president of Syvantis Technologies Inc. in Baxter, talked about creating culture at the work site. Brainerd School District nurse Aimee Jambor followed with a presentation about mental health. Daryl Doucette, vice president of human resources at Mid-Minnesota Federal Credit Union, discussed the health benefits of drinking water.

“When you value you, you do things differently. … Do you see how that works? Do you see that it really is about caring about ourselves and valuing ourselves?” said Meehan, a wife and mother of three from Burnsville.

Crow Wing Energized has conducted two community health surveys of adults in Crow Wing County. The second of those surveys was distributed in the fall of 2017, with over 1,000 people responding.

Adults in the county believe they are healthy, but a majority have poor eating and exercise habits, according to the latest Crow Wing County Community Health Survey.

“It is selfish not to take care of yourself. … I have to do things, so that I can be as healthy as possible, so that I can serve others,” Meehan told attendees. “Please don’t tell yourself it’s selfish to make time to care for you.”

According to the latest survey, depression and anxiety are more common than diabetes. In the county, 28.2% of adults were impacted by mental illness, which was the impetus of last year’s Make It OK community campaign to reduce the stigma around mental illness.

“My heart is literally breaking over the young people that are saying, ‘Yeah, but I’m a loser,’” Meehan said about mental health.

Suicide is the eighth leading cause of death in Minnesota and 10th nationally, according to the Minnesota Department of Health.

“I lost my brother and my nephew both to suicide. My father drank himself to death. The silence and the stigma are even larger, unfortunately, for many men with mental health. Talk it out. Ask for help. Raise your hand,” Meehan told the attendees.

The Make It OK campaign reduces the stigma of mental illness by talking about what can be done to change misconceptions about mental illnesses. The campaign is designed to encourage people to talk more openly about mental illnesses and ask for help.

“Nobody takes their life because they want to die. People take their life because they don’t want to live anymore. They don’t know how,” Meehan said. “The one thing I hope you take away if you’re struggling in any of these areas is that you can ask -- and there is -- help.”

Keynote speaker Annie Meehan shares humorous anecdotes Wednesday, Oct. 30, while costumed as a pineapple the day before Halloween at the third annual Crow Wing Energized Workplace Wellness Conference at the Crow Wing County Land Services Building in Brainerd. Frank Lee / Brainerd Dispatch
Keynote speaker Annie Meehan shares humorous anecdotes Wednesday, Oct. 30, while costumed as a pineapple the day before Halloween at the third annual Crow Wing Energized Workplace Wellness Conference at the Crow Wing County Land Services Building in Brainerd. Frank Lee / Brainerd Dispatch

Crow Wing Energized

The community health survey found 65.7% of adults were not eating the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables and 64.1% were not meeting physical activity recommendations.

“Physical health comes when we address other areas of health that we sometimes ignore. … My passion is really to help you get emotionally and mentally healthy, and often the side effect of that is we get physically healthy,” Meehan said.

Crow Wing Energized’s guiding principles include collaboration with schools, work sites and health care providers, and prioritizing evidence-based efforts around the “greatest community good” that can be achieved through available resources.

“In the 12 years of owning a gym and seeing thousands of clients, I never once helped anyone lose weight. … I helped them change their mindset and helped them change their habits, and the side effect was weight loss,” Meehan said.

Crow Wing Energized is led and funded by the county, Essentia Health and the Statewide Health Improvement Partnership. Along with focusing on workplace wellness, Crow Wing Energized’s other goal groups include healthy choices, mental fitness and community connections.

“We wanted to have somebody that was inspirational and fun but also talking about comprehensive wellness … physical health, mental health, spiritual health,” Crow Wing Energized specialist Kalsey Stults said about Meehan’s selection as the keynote speaker.

“She’s inspiring, she’s energetic, she’s really positive. … She’s incredible. She’s really good,” Trudi Storbakken, a middle school counselor, said about Meehan during a conference break.

For more information about Crow Wing Energized, visit www.crowwingenergized.org.

Annie Meehan’s five keys to wellness (CANES)

  • Commitment – Consistency over time leads to change.

  • Accountability – Recognize the importance of a partner.

  • Nutrition – Develop a “WWH plan” -- what, when and how much.

  • Exercise – Moving today keeps a person moving tomorrow.

  • Supplementation, stress and sleep – They impact a person’s health.

Source: www.anniemeehan.com