Due to the nature of my job as WellMASS Program Manager, I spend most of my time as the facilitator of meetings, rather than being a member of the audience. Occasionally, I do end up sitting in on meetings and conferences, such as the DCF Safety and Wellness Day that took place earlier this month. My participation in this and other conferences made me think about how much work it takes to have a healthy day when that day is spent sitting inside listening to someone talk while you are munching away on an endless supply of food. Meetings, especially the all-day kind, can easily derail even the best-laid diet and exercise plans. However, I left the DCF conference feeling just as healthy – if not healthier – as I always do, thanks to some careful planning on both my part and that of the conference organizers.
Since the DCF conference lasted all day, and I had to leave home early to get there, I knew I would be hungry at least once before lunchtime. Conferences are never at a shortage of food, but the choices available are not always healthy, so I decided to bring my own snacks – ones that I knew would be healthy and actually keep me feeling satisfied until lunchtime. I packed dried apple slices and cashews, and noticed that I was not the only person who brought a supply of healthy snacks with them (I’m talking about you, Wellness Champion Nancy Ayapan). With my morning food taken care of, I next needed to worry about lunchtime, which can be a real pitfall at conferences. Oftentimes, healthy lunch choices are few and far between, and I never seem to be satisfied by them, so I usually end up turning to dessert. However, the DCF conference planning committee had all the bases covered by offering participants a sandwich and salad buffet, which allowed me (and everyone else) to create a healthy sandwich and filling salad that was heavy on vegetables and light on dressing. Since the buffet also included fruit salad to satisfy my sweet tooth, I had no need for dessert, and I felt satisfied for the rest of the afternoon.
Since we finished lunch with plenty of time before the afternoon sessions, Nancy and I decided to contribute to our recommended 30 minutes of exercise for the day by taking a walk around the parking lot. We ended up walking over a mile, and it felt great to get up, move around, and enjoy the fresh air. Going for a walk outside in between conference sessions not only contributes to physical wellness, it also can do wonders for mental wellness by allowing you to clear your mind and enjoy nature.
All-in-all, I had a very healthy day at the DCF Safety and Wellness Conference, and you can, too at any future meetings you attend. Just be sure to come prepared with healthy, filling snacks; choose the most nutritious options at lunchtime (try to include fruit, veggies, and whole grains); and get up and move around (preferably outside) any chance you get. If you’re organizing a meeting or conference, you can do your part, too, to make sure attendees have healthy options; I’ll outline strategies for doing so next week.