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It All Starts with a Plan

By Annie Ketcher, Account Manager

Recently I had the opportunity to lead a planning meeting with a new company we are working with. This client is a busy law firm located in downtown Minneapolis. They have done several wellness initiatives in the past, but haven’t quite made the shift to a more comprehensive wellness program.

At the wellness committee meeting it was clear that this group was ready to take their program to the next level. We reviewed the HealthSource Solutions program model which encourages a comprehensive program to include awareness messaging, behavior change programs, targeted programs, environment and culture changes, assessments, data collection and evaluation.

We discussed the benefits of having a brand for their wellness program (name and logo) as well as a mission statement. The wellness committee agreed that this would help formalize their program and they were ready to move forward with putting these items in place right away. It was decided that they would gather suggestions from employees on what to name the program and then have all employees vote on their favorite. This helps employees feel like they are a part of the process and gets them involved early on.

They also liked the idea of setting wellness goals that would help them evaluate their program at the end of the year. Their initial goals will be created based on data gathered from an employee interest survey and their past medical claims.

This initial planning is a fun and exciting time for a wellness committee and it definitely plays a big role in setting the tone for the company’s wellness program. I encourage committees I work with to take the extra time when first launching their wellness program to put these important infrastructure pieces in place. This will start them down the right path for a successful wellness program!

Midwest Health Promotion Conference Follow-Ups

Thank you to everyone who attended this year's conference! We had a record-breaking year with 460 attendees and exhibitors. Please see below for follow-up handouts and links:

  1. For notes from Chez Raginiak's keynote presentation, Operation Appreciation, click here.
  2. For a handout by Brian Luke Seaward, "Life at the Speed of Change," click here.
  3. For the presentation notes from, "Who's Got Your Back: Build a Support Network for Better Career Well-Being", click here.
  4. For suggested Lean In Circle Topics, click here.
  5. For results from the networking activity around where you volunteer your time, click here.
  6. For results from the networking activity around where/how your company supports volunteerism, click here.
  7. For results from the networking activity around where you would volunteer your time if you had unlimited resources, click here.
  8. If you are looking for credits/CEUs, you can email to request a copy of the certificate of completion. Participants are responsible for applying for approved credits within their certification/s.
  9. To take the post-conference evaluation, please click here. We appreciate your feedback!
  10. Take a break and practice along with the  Tai Chi video below, taken during the conference movement break.

Thank you again for being a part of our conference! We look forward to seeing you next year!

Tai Chi with Jean Jentz

6 Things You Need to Know About the Midwest Health Promotion Conference

The Midwest Health Promotion Conference is Thursday, November 7th! We’re looking forward to seeing everyone, sharing ideas, and re-energizing professionally. Here’s what you need to know ahead of time:

  1. Check-in and Breakfast: Check-in starts at 7:15 a.m. There will be directional signage throughout the RiverCentre to guide you. After you have checked in at the registration tables, enjoy some breakfast and networking with exhibitors!
  2. Parking: The parking ramp is located across the street from the St. Paul RiverCentre. The cost is $10 and you can pay by credit card, cash or check. For additional parking options, visit
  3. Spare Change: This year we will be collecting money from all participants who wish to donate. Everyone who contributes will be put into a drawing. The winner of the drawing gets to choose a local charity to receive the donations. Please be generous and remember to bring some money with you! You can also donate ahead of time by clicking here.
  4. Attire: We recommend business casual attire for the day. Bring a sweater too – climate control in large spaces can be tricky, and it is often cool in the ballroom!
  5. Tweet with us: We will be posting on Twitter throughout the day and encourage you to interact with us! You can send pictures, quotes, questions or feedback to our handle: @HealthSource_MN. The conference hash tag is #MidwestHealth. You can also check-in to the conference via our event page on Facebook.
  6. Cancellation/Substitution: You can substitute a registration at any time. The deadline for getting a refund due to cancellation was November 1, 2013.

If you have any questions about the day, please contact Emily Westlund at (763) 287-0742 or

See you on Thursday!

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