The Importance of Sleep – Productivity Series | Innovative Office Solutions

A crucial component of stellar productivity is proper sleeping habits.  In this second installment of our Productivity Series – we focus on Sleep.   

Sleep is one of the most important, yet under appreciated, keys to productivity.  By not focusing on this essential part of our daily lives – we are only doing further damage to our productivity – and health – as a whole.

According to the CDC, 35 percent of Americans report regularly getting less than the recommended amount 7-8 hours of sleep per night.  Arianna Huffington, of The Huffington Post, preaches the importance of sleep herself.  By not getting proper sleep, not only are you damaging your body for the long and short term, but your output at work as well.

Harvard suggests that “sleep deprivation was a significant factor in the 1979 nuclear accident at Three Mile Island, as well as the 1986 nuclear meltdown at Chernobyl.”

Accidents due to sleep deprivation can also be attributed to events on a less disastrous level.  According to the Institutes of Medicine, “over one million injuries and between 50,000 and 100,000 deaths each year result from preventable medical errors, and many of these may be the result of insufficient sleep.  Doctors, especially newly graduated interns, are often expected to work continuous shifts of 24 to 36 hours with little or no opportunity for sleep.”  A decrease in productivity due to sleep-related issues not only effects an employee’s workload output, but can also cost companies thousands – even millions.

According to a study published in 2010, within the data taken from participants, $54 million roughly $1,967 per employee within this study could be expect to be lost annually.  Estimated costs linked to productivity decreases ranged from $1,293 to $3,296

Like any employee or business owner you are now most likely thinking, “I wonder how much money we’re losing due to sleep deprivation?”  Unfortunately, we don’t have an answer for you.

However, we do have a few ideas on how to encourage proper sleeping habits throughout your office – ultimately leading to increased productivity.

Increased Workplace Flexibility

  • Allowing more flexible start and end times may help contribute to positive lifestyle behaviors.  Their are many benefits to a more flexible work schedule other than increased sleeping patterns and productivity,  but those two are essential reasons to start incorporating a more flexible work schedule.

Workplace Education Programs

  • Educate employees on the importance of proper sleeping habits, and how they can improve life both at home – and at the office.  Make it clear that occasional sleep loss and fatigue are expected, but teach employees on how to safely and effectively function while “running on empty”.  Topics such as regular exercise, proper nutrition, and manageable workloads could all be covered in depth as they are a few important elements when looking to improve sleeping habits.

 

Getting more sleep is often times easier said than done.  However,  as long as you’re more conscious of how important proper sleeping habits are, the more likely you are to change your current habits.  There are plenty of reasons to get into a better sleep routine – saving your employer thousands, increasing workplace safety, and keeping your sanity – that it is up to you to put the proper actions in place.

 

 

 

Race Into the New Year with Help From Innovative Office Solutions | Innovative Office Solutions

Not only do organized races encourage a healthy lifestyle, but also increase awareness for countless different movements and organizations.  5K’s and other organized races seem to last year round.  If you’re planning an organized run – whether a 5K or otherwise – for the near future, let Innovative Office Solutions help outfit you with all the branded merchandise you’ll need!


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Innovative Office Solutions is known for providing companies with high-quality products and services.  Did you know those products also include apparel and ear buds, to trail mix and first aid kits?  Being that Spring is right around the corner (we hope), 5K’s and other races are going to more and more popular.  Be sure you’ve got all the essentials at your next event!  Check out what we can provide.

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Runners

  • Apparel
    • This goes without saying.  Everyone loves a t-shirt or hat to commemorate their participation.  Leave your participants with unforgettable memories  – and merchandise!

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  • Towels
    • Nothing can be more irritating than beads of sweat running down your face or getting in your eye as you run.  Keep your participants comfortable with branded towels!
  • Lip balm
    • Wind can be brutal on runners skin – surprise your participants with some branded lip balm.
  • Water bottles
    • Water bottles and running go hand-in-hand.  Keep your participants hydrated.

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  • Ear buds
    • Some runners enjoy music while running.  Provide your participants with sweet ear buds so they can plug into their “running” playlist!

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  • Trail mix
    • Perfect for refueling after an arduous race.

For those folks who come out to support friends or family members during their race, the participants don’t only have all the fun.  Attendees can get in on the action, too!

Attendees

  • Bottled water
    • Don’t let attendees sit and cheer on their friends or family members without something to drink!
  • Umbrellas
    • For those rainy, snowy, or overly sunny days – umbrellas are perfect for those avid 5k fans
  • Can Koozies
    • Help keep attendee beverages cold with branded koozies – another great idea when looking to give attendees something by which to remember the event!

From celebratory and commemorative metals, to finish line ribbons –  we’ve got everything to make race organizers lives that much easier.

Organizers

  • Medals
    • Because winners loved to be recognized, and again – a great way for participants to remember the race

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 These products are all perfect for, but aren’t strictly limited to, 5k runs!  Most would also work for things like corporate golf outings – or simply having around the office.  Contact Innovative Office Solution’s Promotional Specialist Pearlee Coty at 612.386.8204 or  PCoty@innovativeos.com if you’re in the stages of planning a 5K, corporate outing, or simply need to spruce up the office space with more branded products!

The Importance of Nutrition – Productivity Series #1 | Innovative Office Solutions

With the Holiday season just around the corner, we’re moving into “comfort food season”.  We’ll be the first to tell you that we love our comfort food.  Sure, it always “hits the spot” and we’re full for what feels like days afterwards, but what are we doing to our bodies – and how can we avoid the dreaded “food coma” during precious family time?  Below are some nutritional tips talking about foods that help satisfy and keep you feeling “full” – all while helping keep you moving through the day.

In our first in a series of posts, we’re focusing on 3 key factors in increasing your productivity – things you might not always think about.  

First up is nutrition!

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) adequate nourishment can raise national productivity levels by 20 percent.  That’s quite the increase and, frankly, we could all use increased productivity in today’s busy world.  In a 2012 study, the journal Population Health Management stated that employees who eat unhealthily were 66 percent more likely to report a loss in productivity when compared to those who regularly ate grains, fruits and vegetables.  Thats every 2 out of 3 employees who feel less productive when not receiving adequate nutrition.

But what exactly is adequate nutrition?  Is it adhering specifically to the food pyramid?  The truth is – the answer is going to vary from person to person.  Hopefully, however, after reading this blog post – you’ll have a better idea of what will work for you.

(Dark) Chocolate Isn’t An Enemy – Thank Goodness

Nuts Can Help Keep You Sane

  • Chock-full of Vitamin E, nuts and seeds also help slow cognitive decline as you age.  Basically, nuts and seeds are an investment in your health.  The more you eat, the healthier you’ll be in the long run.

You Need Fat?!

  • Avocado’s, for example, can help reduce LOWER BAD CHOLESTEROL – ultimately decreasing your risk of cardiovascular disease.  Blood flow is increased as bad cholesterol and plaque build up are eliminated.  So go ahead, have another spoonful of guacamole.

(Grass-Fed) Butter is *GASP* GOOD for Your Heart?

  • Grass-fed butter is full of Vitamin K2  – is one of the most important nutrients in the diet for heart and bone health.
    • Vitamin K works modifies proteins, giving them the ability to bind calcium ions.  Calcium can “leach” our of bones, which can lead to osteoporosis and heart disease.  For this reason, it affects all sorts of functions related to calcium metabolism.

Antioxidants Keep You Healthy…And Productive

  • According to neuroscientist James A. Joseph, “dark-hued fruits and vegetables, especially blueberries, are just about the best foods you could consume for inoculating brain and body against the ravages of time.”  He goes on to state that blueberries can preserve cardiovascular health by acting as an anti-inflammatory agent, as well as promote brain integrity. “Oxidative stress and inflammation are the evil twins of brain aging,” Joseph insists.

Inflammation is Good — But Also Bad

Inflammation helps us heal, but out of control inflammation can have adverse effects.

  • Thought to play a role in obesity, heart disease and cancer, inflammatory foods are those high in sugar and saturated fat content. “They cause overactivity in the immune system, which can lead to joint pain, fatigue, and damage to the blood vessels,” says Scott Zashin, MD, clinical professor at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.

The bottom line?  Results may vary.  But the first step is taking the initiative to realize that, just maybe, your productivity levels – or lack of – could be due to your diet.  Hopefully our tips above – and the research provided – will help you realize that not all increased productivity is due to increased caffeine consumption.

Simple Office Changes Help Increase Hygiene | Innovative Office Solutions

It’s that time of year again – flu season.  It may seem like whatever you do to prevent the flu, you somehow always get sick.  But – could it be – that you’re not being germ-conscious in the right places?

This blog post is timely not only for flu season approaching – but due to recent epidemics spreading across the globe.  The more familiar you are with cleanliness best practices, the more well informed you’ll be when it comes to germs.  The more conscious you are when it comes to these issues – the healthier you and your family will be during the entire year.

One product we’d especially like to showcase here – one we have in our office, in fact – is the SmartStock® Utensil Dispenser.

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With one pull of the red lever, a utensil of your choice is dispensed – doing away with multiple hands rummaging through a box of plasticware.  A device like this – especially used in an office setting – may greatly reduce the amount of germs spread at the workplace, and keep folks healthier for longer periods of time.

Further Benefits and Features Include:

  • Each dispenser holds up to 120 utensil pieces
  • Promotes good hygiene – the enclosed design helps protect from contaminants
  • Reduced Consumption – One-at-a-time dispensing reduces cutlery usage on average by 29% and up to 49% vs. open bins.*
  • Speeds up restocking – just load the refill, insert, rip, pull, and your done in seconds
  • Frees up valuable counter space – sized just right to keep things looking neat and organized

For more information on this – and other hygienic products – visit our Innovative Office Solutions website or contact Customer Care 952.808.9900 for more info!

*Independent research commissioned by Georgia-Pacific

And just how dirty are everyday devices and surfaces?

http://www.foxbusiness.com/on-air/willis-report/videos#p/157870/v/3825980639001

 

Creative Ways to Stay Healthy In Your Workplace!

Don’t let the fear of getting sweaty keep you from staying active in your workplace! Innovative Office Solutions has a fantastic wellness committee that focuses on the health and well-being of their employees. The committee is continuously brainstorming creative ways to stay healthy in the office. It is extremely important to take care of yourself, and can often be forgotten during the busy workday. What does your company engage in to stay active and healthy in the workplace?

 

Here are some innovative ideas that may spark the interest of your company!

  • Turn your conference room into a Yoga Studio
    • Conference rooms aren’t just for meetings; utilize the space – move the tables and chairs to open the room for engaging activities.
    • Every Monday, Innovative employees take 30 minutes out of their day to focus on themselves and get a nice stretch/muscle burn before heading back to their busy workday. Clear the mind = More productive workday

 

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  • Workout In The Park
    • If you have an open area near your office, what better way to get fresh air while simultaneously working out with               co-workers?
    • During the warmer months, Innovative utilizes an open area across the street to stay active!

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  • Office Energizers
    • When two 0’clock rolls around it’s about the time for a 3rd…4th….5th cup of coffee; why not replace it with 15 minutes  of physical activity you can do…even in your business suit!
    • Every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon, Innovative provides their employees with a trainer from Ultimate Wellness to lead a 15 minute office energizer. Exercises range from core focus, flexibility (ROM) and balance to strength and cardio.

 

  • Company challenges
    • Even if workouts may not be for everyone, come up with fun rewarding company challenges that can bring out the fun competitive edge in everyone.
    • Innovative participated in a “Walk to Vegas Wellness Challenge” in which 81 employees teamed up and tracked their steps weekly. The goal – As a team, walk from Burnsville, MN to Las Vegas, NV in 12 weeks. Each team had to walk 15,039 miles for the privilege of partying #Vegasstyle. Amazingly, the company as a whole walked 36,667.882 miles! If you were wondering, that is all the way around the WORLD!
    •  A tracking board was developed to see the progress of each team. Employees encouraged one another, and benefited greatly!

                            “Just by walking and being more conscious of my daily steps, I lost 10 pounds!” – Innovative Employee 

 

VVegas rewards

  • Healthy Lunch Bunch
    • Join in with co-workers and take turns bringing in fun healthy recipes to share.

The ideas don’t stop here! Continue to follow us on Facebook and Twitter to learn how Innovative Office Solutions can make your workplace more productive!

Plants and Productivity | Innovative Office Solutions

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Thinking about “sprucing” (pun intended) up the office? Recent studies have shown that if you have plants around the office – you are benefitting in more ways that one. Every office needs something colorful: whether it be different colored walls, unique carpeting, modern-looking desks, or fun desk trinkets – these things break up the sometimes monotonous workplace environment. An often overlooked and underutilized office accessory, however, are plants – which may be the most beneficial of all.

Studies Conducted

Recent studies have shown that plants can aid in concentration, help increase productivity and boost staff wellbeing by 47 percent. Also shown was that in offices where staff are allowed to make design decisions, creativity and productivity increased by 45 per cent and 38 per cent respectively. These numbers come from a study – conducted by the University of Exeter – in which employee output was measured and compared across different types of business space. Nearly 350 visitors to the 2013 Chelsea Flower Show were asked to measure their creativity, happiness, and productivity in four differently designed work environments in a series of 90 experiments. The findings, according to the researchers, “demonstrate that plants are not unnecessary elements of business environments and add weight to other studies, which indicate plants increase psychological comfort and business performance.”

Beneficial Outside of the Office

As you may have guessed, having plants around the office is just one of the many benefits they provide. Further benefits of including plants in your everyday life include:

  • The Classroom: According to the Royal College of Agriculture, plants may increase learning potential for students.
  • In Hospitals: Compared to hospital rooms with little-to-no plants, patients with plants in their rooms experience less pain, anxiety and fatigue, take less pain medication, have lower blood pressure and heart rates, and are more pleased with their recovery rooms.
  • In the Home: Rooms with plants contain 50-60 per cent fewer airborne molds and bacteria than rooms with no plants. Plants filter and clean the air, reducing chemicals linked to colds, breathing problems and even cancer, according to the Stennis Space Centre.
  • Our Overall Health: According to NASA, houseplants can remove up to 87 per cent of air toxins within 24 hours, and can lead to reduced fatigue, coughs, sore throats and other cold-related illnesses by more than 30 per cent.

How Else Do Plants Help?

If you haven’t rushed out to the nearest greenhouse to buy yourself a desk plant yet, there are plenty more research studies that show how else being around plants can benefit you throughout your daily life.

  • Increased Concentration and Memory: Tasks – located near or around nature – are performed better and with greater accuracy, ultimately generating a better result.  Adding to that, being within or near nature can improve memory performance and attention span by 20 per cent.
  • Increased Smiles: Office flowers and plants increase a persons mood and reduces the likelihood stress-related depression.
  • Improved Relationships:  Research shows that those who spend extended periods of time around plants tend to have better relationships with others.  The exposure to nature and wildlife increases people’s compassion for each other and for the environment in which they live.

Read about these – and more – benefits at the Texas A&M University website.

Do you keep a large crop of plants in your office?  If so – why?  If not – why?  Based on these research findings, are you headed to your nearest florist over your lunch break?

Benefits of Sit-Stand Workstations | Innovative Office Solutions

Originally thought of as eccentric, standing while working was a tactic once used by well-known thinkers.  However, as the trend begins to catch on more and more in the workplace, research has found the benefits of standing throughout your workday can help fight obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and even forms of cancer. 

At first you may think to yourself, “I couldn’t stand for 8 hours – that sounds incredibly tiring,” or “I have back issues, I need to sit.”  If you’ve had similar thoughts, you’re in the majority as standing at work all day is often seen as a form of unintended punishment.  However, research suggests that standing – or being more active – while at work can help improve muscle and back aches from which you may suffer, as well as create an all-around healthier “you”.

You May Be Doing It Wrong

Now, the more active employees may choose to exercise over their lunch hour or soon after work, but research has shown that these activities don’t help counteract the toll eight hours of sitting can take on your body.  According to Smithsonian, instead of strenuous exercise over the lunch hour or immediately after your workday, learn to incorporate standing, pacing and other forms of activity into your normal day—and standing at your desk for part of it is the easiest way of doing so.  This isn’t to say stop exercising during off-hours, you just may not be doing your body as much good as you think.  Not only does standing more often help you become more active and help promote proper blood flow for longer periods of time, it can also increase focus.

Increased Focus

A 2013 study conducted by the Draugiem Group – a Latvian company – decided to put these “increased focus” rumors to the test.  According to ReadWrite, Compared to a period of time when a person was not using the standing desk, it was found that standing at a desk led to up to 10% more productivity.  This increase of productivity could be chalked up to a sense of urgency, according to ReadWrite.  “While standing, you feel a sense of urgency which causes you to be focused on the completion of tasks. This works ideally when you’re working with tasks where you know what the outcome should be, and it’s just a matter of completing it.”

Davis Siksnans, project manager at the Draugiem Group, relays that “I constantly had my to-do list opened and I’d try to get through them all ASAP. The only differences being that while sitting, I spent more time on Facebook and Spotify, which shows us that sitting lets our minds wander more.” 

These workplace benefits are great, and should be proof enough to consider incorporating sit-stand workstations into your office.  The long-term benefits, however, seem to far outweigh the immediate perks seen at work.

Decreasing Your Obesity Risk

It’s no surprise that America has one of the highest – if not the highest – obesity rate in the entire world.  Factors such as diet and lack of exercise are surely to blame, with sedentary work environments being an equal contributor to the obesity epidemic.

MSN.com states that – using data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics – in 1960, “nearly half the jobs in the private sector required at least moderate physical activity, but in 2010, less than 20 percent demanded this much physical work.  Advances in manufacturing and agriculture explain the drop in human energy needed at work.”

“The key to reducing the risk of obesity,” according to Smithsonian, “is consistent, moderate levels of movement throughout the day.”  With increased advances throughout different work environments daily tasks are easier and less physical exertion is required to complete certain tasks.  Motivation to stand and be active throughout the day is also increasingly up to the worker.

Reducing Cancer Risk

A 2011 article from the L.A. Times states, “Nearly 100,000 cases of cancer could be prevented in the U.S. each year if we all spent less time sitting in our cars, at our desks and on our couches.”  Quoted in the article is Neville Owen, who at the time was head of behavioral epidemiology at the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute in Australia.  Owen went on to state, “Sitting time is emerging as a strong candidate for being a cancer risk factor in its own right.  It seems highly likely that the longer you sit, the higher your risk. The phenomenon isn’t dependent on body weight or how much exercise people do.”

At the 2011 annual meeting of the American Institute for Cancer Research, Owen presented data showing that adults are sedentary for 9.3 hours of the day, which amounted to 60% of their time spent awake. Another 6.5 hours (or 35% of awake time) were spent in “light activity,” such as walking to one’s car. What can be done to decrease cancer risk due to sitting?  You guessed it – be more active at the office.  If a sit-stand workspace is out of the question, walk over to a co-workers desk instead of sending an e-mail, go to the water cooler more often than necessary (this will also keep you more hydrated), or simply stand up and walk around more frequently than you do currently.  The more you move, the better you’ll feel in the short and long-term.

According to Christine Friedenreich, an epidemiologist at Alberta Health Services Cancer Care in Canada, breast and colon cancer appear to be the cancers most influenced by physical activity.  The less physical activity or exertion, the higher your risk of developing these cancers.  This is due to higher levels of inflammation caused by staying seated for extended periods of time.  The higher levels of inflammation, the greater increased risk of developing cancer.

When Can I Start?

As excited as you may be to start experiencing the benefits of standing more at work, experts suggest workers ease into this new posture.  Let your body become used to the strain.  As foreign as it may be to many office dwellers, it is equally foreign to your body.  Also – move around, shift weight from side to side, stand on one leg, whatever you need to do to stay comfortably standing for extended periods of time. At first, split time between standing and sitting, because actually standing all day can lead to back, knee or foot problems. By using a desk that can be raised, as well as using a tall chair that you can pull up to your desk when you do need to sit, you’ll be able to rest your legs when you feel the need, and stand when you feel like standing.  

Becoming A More Health Conscious Workplace

We at Innovative Office Solutions have embraced the idea of a healthy workplace – and encourage employees to be as active as they can, both at work and outside of the office.  One of our designers, Melissa, has embraced the idea of a sit-stand workstation.  “I enjoy being able to stand whenever I need a change of pace or feel a little restless.  My legs feel better after I stand for about an hour.  It definitely helps to be able to stand for a bit in the afternoon when I feel a slump.  It’s an instant energy boost to be able to stand, in turn keeping me more attentive.”

Melissa_Sit-Stand

Melissa uses Trendway Base that comes equipped with a Dual Stage base and control pad with a digital readout which can store up to four pre-set heights.  Pre-set heights work well in an area with multiple users, who can all have their comfortable standing height saved.

Some vendors with a more ergonomic focus include Workrite, ESI, Humanscale, Mayline, and Conset.  These manufactures offer a large variety of sizes and configurations, with some  offering many other ergonomic products like monitor arms and keyboard trays that pair well with the sit-stand bases, creating a more ergonomic posture.

Visit our website to learn how we can outfit your office with sit-stand workstations, and how you and your office workers can begin to experience the positive benefits associated with increased movement throughout the day.

Five Healthy Potluck Options for the Holiday Season | Innovative Office Solutions

Keeping the Holidays Healthy

Try your hand at any one of these healthy recipes this holiday season and you’ll be the hit of the party!  Your family, your friends and your waistline will thank you!  Be sure to show off your recipe at your next office potluck – and encourage others to take the same healthy approach.  Innovative Office Solutions is implementing a “Maintain Don’t Gain” program this holiday season, and these recipes are ideal for helping you avoid too many calories during this festive time.

The holidays can be a difficult time to monitor and keep in check eating habits.  Most people have parties to attend and time off work – which can mean free reign while they’re OOTO.  But for those that would like to avoid the consequence of overeating during the holidays, below are some healthy options to share at your next holiday gathering.

Avacado Deviled Eggs with Bacon

  • Deviled eggs are always a holiday favorite.  However, most times they are chock full of bad cholesterol and fats.  Side note:  There are both good and bad fats – which is always good to keep in mind over the holidays.  This recipe, however, does away with the mayo-y filling that is normally included in traditional deviled egg recipes – and replaces it with Avocado – an extremely delicious and healthy fat option!  With Avocado, Bacon, and Eggs – how could you go wrong?  If you’re worried about the health benefits of Bacon – look no further – as Bacon is full of healthy nutrients, contrary to popular belief.

Edamame Avocado Dip

  • Keeping with the healthy fat theme, this Edamame Avocado dip is sure to be a hit at any holiday party.  Edamame – which is high in fiber, protein, and low in carbs – has the same fiber content as 4 slices of whole wheat bread, as much protein as it does carbs, and 10% of your recommended daily content of both Vitamins A and C.  Besides containing multiple nutrients, Edamame (think Soy Beans if you can’t get the pronunciation right) has multiple health benefits as well.  Mixed with the superfood Avocado – think of this dip as a healthy favor to party guests.

French Chopped Salad

  • I know what you’re thinking:  “Ugh, a boring Salad?!”  And yes, a salad – though not a BORING salad.  This delicious take on the traditional chopped salad will have your family and friends prodding you left and right, dying to know where you got the recipe.  All of the ingredients combine to create a fantastic family-friendly side to any holiday feast.  One sneaky nutritional ingredient – Tarragon – is full of extremely powerful nutrients, again perfect for the holiday season.  Laboratory studies have shown tarragon to help prevent clot formation in blood vessels – protecting you from heart attacks and strokes.  Also rich in Vitamin-C, Vitamin-A, and B-complex vitamins, it can help increase metabolism as well.

Chicken Salad with Roasted Bell Peppers and Toasted Almonds

  • Put away the ham and turkey this holiday season.  Ham can be a fatty meat, however delicious it may be.  And turkey puts everyone to sleep!  Mix it up a little bit and try this spanish-themed chicken salad recipe.  Chicken does also include tryptophan – the sleep-inducing amino acid found in turkey – but in smaller doses.  It does, however, include high amounts of serotonin, which is a known mood-booster helping defeat holiday stress and anxiety, giving you an extra Merry holiday season.

“Crazy Good” Barbecued Pulled Pork

  • Again, taking a less-traditional approach to holiday meals, is this “crazy good” recipe.  As you can see, it is fairly easy to make – and incredibly healthy for you and your guests (or just you).  Do whatever you wish with the finished product: pork sliders, pork and vegetables & pork.  Pork is a fairly company-pleasing, and versatile dish, so you can’t really go wrong here.  It will be easy for you – and delicious for friends and family!

The recipes above are perfect for any office potluck or holiday party.   Hopefully they will help you with a more health-conscious approach to your holiday feasts, and you’ll continue on the path of Maintaining, not Gaining in 2014.