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Interview With a Happy Quitter

By Emily Westlund, Program Coordinator

Tracy, an employee at Apple Ford Lincoln - Apple Valley, was recently interviewed after completing our 5-week tobacco cessation program, Kick It Together. Here, she shares her success. Congratulations Tracy!

HealthSource Solutions: How many years had you smoked? How many times had you tried to quit previously?

Tracy: I smoked for 20 years and had never attempted to quit before.

HSS: How did the class work for you?

Tracy: Peer support. Knowing others are in the same situation as me and sharing ideas and do's and don'ts. Having a peer to confide in. Giving and receiving support/cheering for each other. Counselor support with multiple ideas and resources on how to successfully quit and quit for good. Having a professional to talk to about addiction fears and how to overcome them.

HSS: What was the most helpful suggestion from the counselor?

Tracy: Do it for yourself. Take it one day at a time.

HSS: Have you had any setbacks?

Tracy: None at all. I used a prescription tobacco cessation medication for the first 70 days - loved the product and highly recommend it!

HSS: How long have you been smoke-free?

Tracy: It has been almost 4 months! My quit date was 6/24/2013. 

HSS: Is there anything that will help you stay quit?

Tracy: Self determination. I quit. There is no going back.

Photo credit: Matt Trostle, October 17, 2011.

3 Things You Need to Know About the E-Cigarette

By Emily Westlund, Program Coordinator

E-cigarettes are suddenly a hot topic, even though they were actually first introduced to the U.S. market in 2006. If you read the comments section of articles on the topic, you’ll hear the angry cries of ex-smokers who were able to quit smoking thanks to the e-cigarette, and how dare anyone question the awesomeness of this product?! E-cigarettes still require inhaling a substance into the lungs, so we wanted to research it further.  It may very well be true that the e-cigarette can and will continue to help people quit tobacco, and that is great. Here’s what is not so great:

  1. There is no research to back up the safety of e-cigarettes, and they are currently not regulated. Manufacturers do not have to list all of the ingredients, so what you see on the label isn’t necessarily what you get.
  2. A study conducted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration found that e-cigarettes did have trace elements of hazardous compounds, including diethylene glycol, one of the main ingredients in antifreeze, as well as nitrosamine, a known carcinogen. Yes, there were far less contaminants found versus in a traditional cigarette…but this is still poison and again, it is unknown what the long-term effects could be.
  3. Because e-cigarettes aren’t yet regulated and are sold online, they can be sold to minors. They come in a variety of flavors that appeal to youth. This could serve as a gateway to other tobacco products.

The bottom line is we don’t know enough about e-cigarettes yet. If they turn out to be a safe product to use or even a tobacco cessation alternative – we will be right there celebrating with everyone else. Until then, we hope people will exercise caution and explore other quit smoking options that are proven to be safe. 

Photo credit: Xavierrap23, June 18, 2012


Conference Keynote Speakers: Sneak Peek

 By Emily Westlund, Program Coordinator

Our morning keynote at this year’s Midwest Health Promotion Conference is Dr. Brian Luke Seaward, a renowned and respected international expert in stress management, mind-body-spirit healing and health promotion. In this video, Dr. Seaward provides some insight on stress and the human spirit. Check it out!


Our afternoon keynote speaker is Chez Raginiak, international speaker, songwriter and award-winning author. Chez’s message of appreciation begins with his own journey of escaping his native communist Poland and coming to America. You can listen to some of his incredible history by watching this video:


We are looking forward to our conference – it’s just 4 weeks away! To see session descriptions and registration, click here. See you there!

A Beautiful Fall Morning for Wellness

By Dawn Boyle, Executive Vice President

This is the fourth year that the HealthSource Solutions team has volunteered at the 2.5 mile water station for the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon.  It has been a great time for our team to support and cheer on all those participants who engage in physical activity as a way of life. The top 5 reasons we love volunteering for this event:

  1. We love getting up early to prepare the water tables, drink coffee and listen to Alan Page play the tuba.
  2. We enjoy spending a little extra time with coworkers and their families as we prep the PowerAde for the race.  We’ve become pros at stacking the cups in 3 layers for the mad rush of runners that will come through!
  3. We get to shout and high five the efforts of our friends, clients and coworkers running the race!
  4. We witness first hand the creative bunch of runners wearing costumes and colorful gear. This year the star…… Chewbacca! 
  5. We get to be part of a great event that is hosted by a great company who believes in wellness! 

We will continue to offer our time to support this race every year as it has become a tradition for the HealthSource team!

Tobacco Cessation: Know Your Resources!

 By Carolyn Peterson, Worksite Services Manager

We have all heard (or experienced) that quitting tobacco is hard. According to the CDC, 68.8% report that they want to quit completely, and millions have attempted to quit. That's a lot of people out there who want to quit tobacco!

The good news is quitting can significantly reduce the risk of suffering from smoking-related diseases. Tobacco/nicotine dependence is a chronic condition that often requires repeated quit attempts, but effective treatments and helpful resources exist. Smokers can and do quit smoking. In fact, today there are more former smokers than current smokers. Below are ways that tobacco users have been successful in quitting.

The majority of cigarette smokers quit without using evidence-based cessation treatments. However, the following treatments are proven effective for tobacco users who want help to quit:

  • Working with your health care provider
  • Counseling: individual, group, telephone counseling and/or online smoking cessation programs
  • Behavioral cessation therapies: training in problem solving or stress management 
  • Cessation medications found to be effective for treating tobacco dependence include the following:
    • Nicotine replacement products
    • Over-the-counter: nicotine patch, gum, lozenge
  • Prescription: nicotine inhaler, nasal spray
  • Prescription non-nicotine medications: Zyban® and Chantix®

The combination of medication and counseling is more effective for smoking cessation than either medication or counseling alone.

Let's make sure employees today know there are resources available through health insurance plans and worksite health promotion programs. Everybody wins!

Photo credit: "Freedom" by Josef Grunig, October 20, 2007.


Worksite Tobacco Cessation: 10 Keys to Success

By Emily Westlund and Karin Junge

In 2012 we worked in partnership with ClearWay Minnesota to write case studies on successful tobacco policies in the workplace. The focus was on Minnesota-based companies that went campus tobacco-free in conjunction with offering tobacco cessation classes, which were managed by HealthSource Solutions. 

Truth Hardware, a window manufacturer based in Owatonna, MN, was one of the companies highlighted in the case studies. From 2011 – 2012 we provided a total of 4 tobacco cessation programs at their worksite. With a high prevalence of tobacco users – estimated at 40% compared to Minnesota’s current adult rate of 16.1% - the company wanted to have options available to their employees after going campus tobacco-free in May 2010.

The classes were a great success with 39 total people signed up. Program participants felt that they were provided the information and support they needed. They were enthusiastic and ready to quit! Below are the top 10 strategies that they recommend to make your worksite tobacco cessation efforts successful:

  1. Upper management support
  2. Provide some comp. time to attend the classes
  3. Reduce health care premiums for non-tobacco users
  4. Present the tobacco cessation program as a way to lead a healthy lifestyle versus a way to save company dollars 
  5. Have the wellness committee sponsor the tobacco cessation program rather than HR or management
  6. Select a credible spokesperson (past/present smoker) to promote/recruit for the program
  7. Provide ongoing support groups for tobacco cessation program participants
  8. Offer a comprehensive employee wellness program
  9. Establish a wellness committee driven by employees rather than by HR
  10. Make wellness program visible as much as possible

Photo credit Eddie Welker, July 20, 2009.

4 Questions with a Health Coaching Participant

1. What were your expectations of the health coaching program?

The reason I registered for the Activate Health Coaching program was to seek accurate information regarding daily protein requirements; I am not a vegetarian, but I do not particularly enjoy eating meat.  I enjoy fruits, vegetables, and most carbohydrates but recognize the need for protein. There is so much information available that it is overwhelming to sort through to get a simple answer to how much protein, given my height and weight, I need in a day, and how much protein is in the food that I eat. The Activate coach was phenomenal, providing me with the daily recommendation, together with non-meat protein alternatives.  She also recommended utilization of a user friendly website for ease in determining daily protein intake, which I enjoy for calorie counting, daily exercise logging, and more!  The calorie counting was a bonus and very easy--and an eye opener for a professional snacker like me!

2. What was your experience as a participant of health coaching?

The Activate coach recommended reasonable deadlines for me to meet goals, scheduled follow-up calls, and was very encouraging and resourceful every time--it was a collaborative effort for my benefit.  It truly felt as though I had a personal coach to help me meet my goals, from start to finish. This was a very positive experience, and my coach consistently inquired whether there was anything else she could do to help me meet my goals, and whether there were any other questions or issues to address. There was not a negative word spoken, and my coach provided free, practical resources.

3. How would you explain the health coaching program to someone who wasn’t familiar with it?

The best description for the Activate Health Coaching program is a free phone-based resource that provides registrants with a wealth of positive encouragement, practical information, and resources. It is a program designed to help you meet your goals--from huge to minor health issues and lifestyle changes.

The coaches are there for you every step of the way, but it is up to you to be "ready" to participate.  Only you can make changes to your lifestyle.

The coaches work with you as their goal is for you to successfully achieve your goal.

4. What are other employees saying about the health coaching program?

Some are thinking about signing up for it after listening to my enthusiasm about the program and the website!


Photo credit: Highways Agency, February 22, 2010

Goal Setting For Success: 4 Easy Steps! A Health Coach's Perspective

By Julie Broberg, Program Coordinator

Each day many thoughts cross our minds including things we desire, wish for and want. However, most of these things remain just a thought. We rush about in our daily lives and pursuits and never really stop to evaluate and go beyond the day-to-day tasks.

Have you ever stopped to think about how important goal setting is? 

Goal Setting:  these are two simple words that pack a lot of meaning. Most of us know about goal setting, think about it, and yet rarely or never put it into practice. Goal setting is an integral part of our health coaching program. Successful behavior change comes from empowering the participant to select and then strategize around their personal wellness plan. We help our participants move beyond just thinking about their goals by taking their thoughts, dreams, and wishes and turning them into action steps. I’ve broken the steps down for you below.

1. Write out everything you wish for. This is not about perfection; it is about learning what you want and creating a plan to get you there.

2. Take each goal and break it down into the following:

a. Specific-This allows you to clearly visualize what it is that you want

b. Measurable-How can you track or measure the progress you are making?    

c. Attainable-You should be able to achieve your goal as long as you work hard at it

d. Realistic- Break down goals into smaller short-term goals and be realistic 

e. Time bound- Give yourself daily check-ins

3. Make your goal VISIBLE!  Type it up or use a post-it note and keep it in several places such as your bathroom mirror, your fridge or your computer. Goals should be read daily. Otherwise, it’s just like the saying goes: out of sight, out of mind.

4. Last but not least: accountability! Tell your friends, coworkers and family members. Ask for support and encouragement. Share your goals with people who can help you achieve them!

Now that you have the 4 easy steps…what are your goals for living a healthy lifestyle?

Original quote image:

Photo credit:


Remembering 9/11

By Ed Boyle, CEO

Today we come together and take time to remember the day that changed us forever. We pay tribute to all those lost in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Let us also not forget those that have made enormous sacrifices to preserving our way of life, and the first responders dedicated to protecting our communities.

We also take the opportunity to thank the many Americans who have served and are currently serving in our nation's military - many of whom enlisted as a response to the 9/11 attacks. 

For more information from the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, visit

The Value of Health Coaching


By Dawn Boyle, Executive Vice President/Partner

Workplace wellness is not a new concept, but making wellness part of your company culture can be a daunting task.  The concept that healthy employees make for healthier companies is becoming more and more mainstream and now is the time to jump on board.  There are small steps your company can take to promote and support employee wellness.  I recently read a great article in Inc. magazine addressing 8 ways to promote workplace wellness when resources are limited.  As it is said with individual behavior change, one small change at a time!  Number 8 on the article’s list is employee health coaching. Our health coaching is an employee-centered approach designed to help individuals improve and maintain their health.  While health coaching as a standard was previously offered to high-risk individuals identified in a health assessment, our program was developed for all employees.  From a one-call model to a 6-month program, we have the perfect fit for your demographics with no minimum requirements. So why not start your health promotion journey with health coaching? Your employees’ health and productivity will be the reward!  For other great ideas, check out the Inc. article at