Cassi Johnson

Cassi has worked for the City for one year with the Office of Financial Services (OFS) as a Senior Innovation Consultant. In her job, she supports leaders and teams in the City on projects that catalyze innovation, redefine City services and/or improve performance.

While in college, Cassie worked on a farm doing manual labor tasks. It was there that she suffered a serious back injury which resulted in acute back pain. She was treated with chiropractic and physical therapy for many years while battling chronic pain. It had been a challenge ever since that injury to determine what activities should be avoided that might cause a flare up.

For the past four years, however, she found help by using a different modality of treatment with the Institute for Athletic Medicine (IAM). The first difference she noted with IAM was all the diagnostics they did to really zero in on what treatment plan would be best for her rather than a generalized program for anyone. The No. 1 priority for IAM is to get the individual back to exercising which ultimately will help with fewer flare ups. Surprisingly to her, she found out that Yoga and Pilates were not something she should do which was a disappointment to her as she had always enjoyed that. What she found did work for her, however, was regular walking, running and lifting weights. She began working with a personal trainer who helped her get over her fear of lifting weights and will help her modify movements as needed. While it may sound counterintuitive to lift heavy weights, fewer repetitions are done which puts less stress on her joints than lighter weights and high repetitions. She stresses that this is what works for her and not necessarily others with back pain.

Cassie has two young children now and it is important to be active with them. She doesn’t lose time off work because of her injury. By sticking with her exercise program of weight lifting, walking/running, and staying aware of her movements, she has been able to reduce the likelihood of painful flare-ups. Even though she has gained strength she knows she still needs to be careful about performing certain movements. She recommends that others suffering from chronic back pain find a trusted professional with whom to work to personalize a program specific to their injury.

Eat This, Not That This Holiday Season

As you head out to your annual holiday parties, don’t be worried about how you’ll avoid the tables laden with sugary sweets, processed carbs and drinks galore. We’ve got a practical list of eat this … not that, for the holiday season. Some things may surprise you!

Pickle meat roll up vs cocktail weiners.
This won’t be too much of a hardship, because pickle meat roll ups are delicious! Plus, they are a perfectly balanced snack wrapped up in one. You’ve got your protein in the form of deli meat, fat in the form of the cream cheese and carb in the form of a pickle. This perfect combo will allow you to snack throughout the party and know you’re doing your blood sugar (and subsequently your mood, waistline and control over cravings) a huge favor. On the flipside, the all too common cocktail wieners are loaded with processed meat and then doused in sugary sauce, which will only serve to produce cravings for more sugar, more carbs and more processed food.

Full-fat eggnog vs. sugar-free and/or fat-free.
Classic, full-fat nog is a healthier choice because it contains good fat from cream that helps to stabilize blood sugar and gives the body a sense of fullness. The fat-free, sugar-free eggnog is full of chemicals and additives designed to taste like real nog without the calories. Low-fat nog sacrifices nutrition for calories making you believe it is a healthier version.
Olives and nuts vs. chips and dip. Did you know that just as if you grabbed a handful of cookies, a handful of chips also turns into sugar in your body? Believe it or not, just four chips turn into a teaspoon of sugar in your body. A teaspoon! Not to mention, who has just four chips once they start mindlessly snacking, as so often happens. On top of the sugar, chips are fried in bad fats that cause our brains to not work well and result in inflammation throughout the body that make a holiday party better.

A better alternative is a diverse mix of olives and a homemade batch of our Crispy Nuts. They are guaranteed to be a crowd favorite and you can deck out the nuts in whatever sweet or savory spices you think sounds good. Plus you’ll know you have a healthy fat to choose from, as both olives and nuts are a great source of fat, which helps keeps you satisfied and less likely to keep mindlessly eating.

Butter vs. margarine. While indulging in baking should be done in moderation (one or two of Grandma’s famous cookies would be fine, but not a couple cookies at every party you attend!) or not at all, we’d highly recommend choosing a baked good made with real butter versus processed margarine.
Real butter is a rich source of vitamin A and trace minerals, such as selenium and conjugated linoleic acid, which support immune function we all need during the holidays. Many times, margarine contains trans fats in the form of hydrogenated or partially-hydrogenated oils that lower our immune function and create inflammation in our bodies. Plus, can we all agree butter just tastes better?!

Dark chocolate vs. holiday cookies. We suggest dark chocolate with 70-85 % cocoa. Dark chocolate is high in magnesium, copper, iron, and potassium. This holiday favorite is also loaded with antioxidants that help with anti-aging. Finally, dark chocolate has a low glycemic index, meaning it won’t cause large spikes in blood sugar levels that contribute to weight gain and overeating at the party … which cookies absolutely do. Additionally, holiday cookies are absolutely loaded with sugar, harmful fats and chemical food dyes.

Be empowered to make better choices this holiday and trust us, that as soon as you do, each healthy choice becomes easier and easier. Plus, when you bring a healthy food option you’ll know there is something healthy to choose from. And, though they might not be chatting about it, you are definitely not the only one trying to getting through the holidays without extra pounds and a sugar hangover!

By Jackie Cartier for Nutritional Weight and Wellness. https://www.weightandwellness.com/resources/articles-and-videos/eat-not-holiday-season/

CRISPY NUTS

Adapted from Nourishing Traditions, by Sally Fallon and Mary Enig, Ph.D.

Makes 4 cups

4 cups of any of the following types of nuts:
Walnut halves and pieces, preferably fresh shelled
Raw peanuts, preferably skinless
Pine nuts
Almonds, preferably skinless but almonds with skins will work
Raw macadamia nuts
2 tsp. salt
Filtered water

Directions:
Mix nuts with salt and water and leave in a warm place for at least 7 hours or overnight.
Drain in a colander and rinse with cool water. Spread on a stainless steel baking pan and place in a warm oven (no more than 150 degrees) for 12 to 24 hours, turning occasionally, until completely dry and crisp.

Store in the refrigerator, as the fats in nuts can go rancid quickly.

Healthy St. Paul Runs TCM

This year, for the first time, Healthy Saint Paul sponsored a team in the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon (TCM). The Corporate Team Challenge is designed to get employees of all ages and abilities moving.

By joining the City team, employees can enjoy extra perks and amenities on race day like use of a heated tent with a changing area at the finish line along with special food, massage, and door prizes. If you choose to pack a gym bag in advance with dry clothing, they will also make sure it is in the tent for you at the end of the race.
The creation of the City of Saint Paul team happened somewhat late in the game this year though we were able to sign up six team members. We know there are more City employees who ran this race and want to encourage you or other first time TCM runners to be part of this team in 2018. Regular, single registration rates apply but there is no cost to be part of the team. The City’s team came in 19 out of 29 using age-graded scoring – a good showing considering this our first year with few members. Recognition is also awarded to the top three teams with the greatest number of runners – we hope to have a shot at that award next year. Watch for more information on joining the City of Saint Paul TCM 2018 team in February when registration opens.

Team members included one who has run every TCM since its beginning to a first time marathoner. They came from various departments: Dave Gontarek, PED; John McCarthy, OFS; Amanda Feist, Library; Alice Messer, Parks; Bridget Morales, OFS; and Joe Ellickson, PW. Despite the differences in their marathon running experience, the team members’ personal experiences for this marathon were similar. First of all, they all said they had a great time, which was a primary goal. The TCM is known as the most beautiful marathon in the US, to which they all agreed. They all were so grateful and amazed at the support and encouragement the cheering crowd provided. Also, enjoying the benefit of the heated tent that is only available to corporate team members made a big difference. Joe compared that end of race experience to like being bumped up to first class on a long flight. Those on this year’s team who decide to run it next year will definitely join the City of Saint Paul team.

Below is more about each of the runners.

Dave Gontarek

Dave is by far the most experienced TCM runner, being 1 of only 22 runners who have run every TCM since its inception 36 years ago. Despite his extensive experience, he learns something new each time. This year he learned that even if no rain is forecast, he should bring a garbage bag to the starting line to use as a cover, just in case. As it turned out, it rained quite hard at the starting line and again at the end so he was soaked. He still had a fabulous time.
Dave admits he isn’t as driven to run as hard as he did in his earlier days. He is slower than when he was younger, but runs it for the enjoyment. His goal is just to run the whole race and not walk. He is okay with that. He likes to say that “without the back of the pack there can’t be a front of the pack.”
The benefit of the heated tent at the end of the race was great as he could warm up, change out of his wet clothes, and get food. He will be running next year’s marathon. Dave quoted a runner who said “In running, as in life, you can’t fail as long as you keep moving”. Anyone who intends to run it next year should spend some time talking with Dave about all he has learned over the years of running this beautiful marathon.

John Mccarthy

This was John’s fourth TCM and fifth marathon overall. John’s father was a marathon runner and got him into running at an early age. He lives along the course so most years participates in one of the sponsored events along with his wife. John really pushed it this year, and it turned out to be his best time yet, qualifying him for the Boston Marathon next year. While at the end he felt the consequences of pushing himself so hard, he learned from that and will not make the same mistakes next year. He thinks the TCM is the most well organized race he has done. He recognizes this happens as the result of a number of City employees from Police and Fire that work to keep it running smoothly and safely. The cheering crowd is also so motivating in helping to keep runners going.
As for being part of the Corporate team, he got to know a few people in the City he didn’t know before, and it was nice for the camaraderie. In the future, he sees joining the team as another way to network and connect with other City employees in a more social way.

Bridget Morales

This was Bridget’s second marathon and her best, despite the rain, wind and development of some foot issues during the race. She finds the crowd support so helpful. She saw several City workers and friends along the way who cheered her on. At the end, Bridget was most grateful for the warm tent as a place to comfortably sit down, warm up and get food and drinks like hot soup, sandwiches and Gatorade without having to walk much further. The changing tent and massage were also a big plus. Bridget advises anyone contemplating a marathon to start by finding and following one of the many training programs that are available online or join a running group. It is a lot of training to do but you will find that you can do so much more than you thought you could.

Amanda Feist

This year’s TCM was Amanda’s first marathon. She started running about 2 years ago after she bought a jogging stroller for her children. Before this year, she had only run a few 5Ks. Amanda knew other people who were going to be running the TCM this year so decided to sign up for it in April. She combined a couple training programs to keep her on track and help with her nutrition as well. Though she admits the weather was crummy, and she suffered an injury at Mile 15, she thought it was fun. Her training is what helped her power through her struggles to the end. Also, there was so much good energy from the crowd that helped keep her going. She is contemplating participating next year and sees the benefit of being part of the City team. She sees it as motivational as it provides a sense of running for something bigger than yourself. Training runs together would be great. It would also be nice to have time to get together with team members before the race. As a selling point also for running a marathon, she sees it as really good experience for anyone who has project management in their job responsibilities as you have to be committed to it. it is not something you can do on a whim.

Alice Messer

Alice’s first marathon was Grandma’s in 2004. That was before she had children so since then, she has been running one or two ½ marathons a year which involves less training time than a full marathon Alice takes advantage of her lunch break to run during the week, using Saturday mornings for her longer runs. She decided to run TCM this year after a friend asked her to join her. There were so many people out there cheering everyone on. While the weather was a bit cold at the end, she thought it was a great experience. She met her goals of having fun and not walking and beat her previous time. If she decides to do it again next year, she will definitely join the City team.

Joe Ellickson

Joe is an experienced marathon runner, having run six in the past along with other long distance races. By far, he thinks the TCM is the most beautiful of all. He reiterated what the other team members had said about the crowd being so encouraging along the way. For any runners out there contemplating a marathon, he highly recommends choosing this one. Joe was so thankful for getting to be part of the Saint Paul team which provided the use of the heated tent. It made so much difference to the end of this race experience compared to other races he has finished. He felt like he had been bumped up to first class on an airline seat. From entering the warm tent, he was greeted by the volunteers and given the opportunity to enter a drawing – in which he won a great prize. There was hot soup and coffee, sandwiches, and other treats. Because the heated tent is only provided to corporate team members, he didn’t have to wait long to get a massage and, best of all, no long lines at the toilets. He encourages any City employee who plans on running next year to become part of the City team.

12 Ways to Have a Healthy Holiday Season

Brighten the holidays by making your health and safety a priority. Take steps to keep you and your loved ones safe and healthy—and ready to enjoy the holidays.

  1. Wash hands often to help prevent the spread of germs. It’s flu season. Wash your hands with soap and clean running water for at least 20 seconds.
  2. Bundle up to stay dry and warm. Wear appropriate outdoor clothing: light, warm layers, gloves, hats, scarves, and waterproof boots.
  3. Manage stress. Give yourself a break if you feel stressed out, overwhelmed, and out of control. Some of the best ways to manage stress are to find support, connect socially, and get plenty of sleep.
  4. Don’t drink and drive or let others drink and drive. Whenever anyone drives drunk, they put everyone on the road in danger. Choose not to drink and drive and help others do the same.
  5. Be smoke-free. Avoid smoking and secondhand smoke. Smokers have greater health risks because of their tobacco use, but nonsmokers also are at risk when exposed to tobacco smoke.
  6. Fasten seat belts while driving or riding in a motor vehicle. Always buckle your children in the car using a child safety seat, booster seat, or seat belt according to their height, weight, and age. Buckle up every time, no matter how short the trip and encourage passengers to do the same.
  7. Get exams and screenings. Ask your health care provider what exams you need and when to get them. Update your personal and family history. Get insurance from the Health Insurance Marketplace if you are not insured.
  8. Get your vaccinations. Vaccinations help prevent diseases and save lives. Everyone 6 months and older should get a flu vaccine each year.
  9. Monitor children. Keep potentially dangerous toys, food, drinks, household items, and other objects out of children’s reach. Protect them from drowning, burns, falls, and other potential accidents.
  10. Practice fire safety. Most residential fires occur during the winter months, so don’t leave fireplaces, space heaters, food cooking on stoves, or candles unattended. Have an emergency plan and practice it regularly.
  11. Prepare food safely. Remember these simple steps: Wash hands and surfaces often, avoid cross-contamination, cook foods to proper temperatures and refrigerate foods promptly.
  12. Eat healthy, stay active. Eat fruits and vegetables which pack nutrients and help lower the risk for certain diseases. Limit your portion sizes and foods high in fat, salt, and sugar. Also, be active for at least 2½ hours a week and help kids and teens be active for at least 1 hour a day.
  13. Reprinted from the Center for Disease Control – Healthy Living

Healthy Saint Paul 2018!

We’re excited to bring you the 2018 Healthy Saint Paul Well-being Program now offered through Medica

By choosing from a variety of Health Activities, you can earn points towards the Healthy Saint Paul Well-being Program incentive AND My Health Rewards by Medica gift cards!

Well-being Program Highlights

How to earn points

Select from the following Health Activities to earn points.

HEALTH ACTIVITIES
POINTS
TIME TO COMPLETE
COMPASS™ Online health assessment 100 15-20 minutes
Biometric Screening(deadline 2/28/18) 100 15-20 minutes
Phone health coaching 100 Three phone calls
Omada Program 100 Varies 9+ weeks
NEXT STEP CONSULT™ 25 15 minutes
JOURNEYS™ 50/each 4-6 weeks
TRACK™ 1/day Up to 200 days
CARE SUPPORT™ 200 Varies

You can select any combination of the Health Activities above to earn your points.

You can select any combination of the Health Activities above to earn your points.

Short on time? Complete the online health assessment, biometric screening and phone coaching to earn 300 points and the $900 well-being program incentive.

Medica Reward gift cards

For even more motivation to get healthy and stay healthy, Medica will send you a $20 gift card for every 100 points you earn (up to 500 points and $100 in gift cards per year). Choose gift cards from a variety of retailers including Target, Amazon, Best Buy and more.

Program dates

The Well-being Program begins January 1, 2018 and runs through September 30, 2018. More details are available on www.healthy.stpaul.gov

Well-being Program eligibility

Employees who are insured with Medica through the City are eligible to participate.

Joe Beatty

Joe Beatty has worked for the City since May, 2013. He presently is a heavy vehicle mechanic for the Fire Department.

As a teenager, Joe was very overweight. He recalls a vacation to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area with high school friends during which he almost sunk the canoe. At that time, he was 100 lbs. heavier than he is now. After that, he decided to make a change. He began to exercise and control portion sizes.

When Joe first started working for the City, he had just come back from his second military deployment to the Middle East. It was the lightest he had ever been. His job overseas had him moving around a lot. Also, there weren’t distractions to his fitness routine or temptations to overeat.

It was a struggle when he first returned from that deployment to get back into “normal society”. Gradually though, he got back into an active exercise routine. He was living close to work so he decided to bike to work. He soon added biking to the gym every day. He enjoyed biking so much that even when he moved to where he presently lives in St. Louis Park, 12.5 miles away, he continued to bike to work. Joe isn’t just a fair weather biker either. He will bike to work every day throughout the winter unless the temp drops below 0 or there are glare ice conditions. He misses only a few days each winter because of weather. He is happiest when he is biking.

Joe is 45 years old now and much healthier than he was as a teenager. At one time he thought that being overweight was just the life that he had been dealt but he knows now it is all about choices. That doesn’t mean it is always easy for him though. He admits to not getting in the fruits and vegetables he knows he needs. Portion sizes can also be a challenge. He would like to lose 20 lbs. He recommends when snacking to avoid foods that come in a wrapper unless its one that Mother Nature provides.

Joe knows bicycling isn’t for everybody; it is what he enjoys. He believes you owe it to yourself though to find something to keep you active and to live the healthy life that you deserve.

photo: Joe pictured with girlfriend Hope

September is Suicide Awareness Month

Each year, about 36,000 people in the United States die by suicide. Most people who seriously consider suicide do not want to die. Rather, they see suicide as a solution to a problem and a way to end their pain. People who seriously consider suicide feel hopeless, helpless, and worthless. They may not seek help because they feel they cannot be helped. This usually is not the case. Many people with suicidal thoughts have medical conditions that can be successfully treated. People who have suicidal thoughts often have depression or substance abuse, and both of these conditions can be treated. It is important to seek help when suicidal thoughts occur because medical treatment usually is successful in diminishing these thoughts.

Most people who seriously consider or attempt suicide have one or more of the following risks:

  • A personal or family history of suicide attempts or completed suicide;
  • A personal or family history of severe anxiety, depression, or other mental health problem, such as bipolar disorder (manic-depressive illness) or schizophrenia;
  • An alcohol or drug problem (substance abuse problem), such as alcoholism;

The warning signs of suicide change with age:

  • Children and teens – preoccupation with death or suicide or a recent breakup of a relationship.
  • Adults -alcohol or substance abuse, recent job loss, or divorce.
  • Older adults – the recent death of a partner or diagnosis of a life-limiting illness.

Anytime someone talks about suicide or about wanting to die or disappear, even in a joking manner, the conversation must be taken seriously.

A suicide attempt—even if the attempt did not harm the person—also must be taken seriously. Don’t be afraid to talk to someone you think may be considering suicide. There is no proof that talking about suicide leads to suicidal thinking or suicide. Once you know the person’s thoughts on the subject, you may be able to help prevent a suicide.

People who are considering suicide often are undecided about choosing life or death. With compassionate help, they may choose to live.

Beverly Farraher

Beverly Farraher has been working for the Public Works Department as the Operations Manager since March 2016. Before coming to the City, Beverly worked the previous 27 years at MnDOT, particularly for 12 years in Metro District Maintenance Operations. During her tenure there, due to noticed trends in injuries that were preventable that front line field workers were experiencing and the awareness of other businesses’ success in accident reduction, she instituted a daily stretching program that had been developed and implemented by the St. Cloud District of MnDOT. In a short time, a drop in workplace injuries resulting in workers compensation claims was seen.

When Beverly began working at Public Works, it became clear that the work done by the field employees here was equally tough on people’s bodies. The Department cares about its employees and wanted to be able to send them home each day with their body in at least the same condition as when they came to work. Knowing the amount of time a stretching program would involve and weighing the pros and cons, a mandatory stretching program was instituted throughout Public Works. Each day, the stretching program begins promptly at the beginning of each division’s shift. Everybody (except those with documented medical limitations) must participate. Office workers are invited to join as well. It takes about 12 -14 minutes to complete all the stretches.

The feedback on the program has been mostly positive. Employees are reporting feeling better. Since the program starts promptly at the exact beginning of the shift, it also encourages employees to be ready to go for announcements and assignments at that time. Before or after that, a lot of chatting goes on among the employees too while doing their stretching, and there is a sense of community building as a side benefit. Some employees also voluntarily stretch again after lunch. As the program has been rolling out over time, there will be an opportunity to review trends in workers compensation injuries but Bev notes that it is not possible to measure events or injuries that do not occur. The investment of time into employees’ wellbeing is the right thing to do and a wise long-term investment.

Eric Whalen

Eric has worked for the City as a Library Associate for the past five years. His job mostly entails after school programming for youths and adults of all ages. He works in the homework center program at the Rondo branch. He also coordinates the volunteers and academic support for the library.

Despite working for the City for five years, Eric had never participated in the well-being program. This year he decided to take advantage of it.
Participating in the Omada program to fulfill the coaching requirement of the well-being program appealed to him. While he admits he is not at his ideal weight, he wasn’t overly concerned about losing a lot of weight but rather getting more physically fit and eating healthier.

After signing up for Omada, he received their “fancy scale” which automatically sends his weight to his coach each time he weighs. His phone has a step tracker that he turned on to make reporting his activity easy too.

Because he was also interested in improving his strength, he joined the Jimmy Lee Rec Center, taking advantage of the $30 yearly membership fee for City employees to any rec center in the City.

The Omada program requires tracking what you eat as well, which Eric admits he is not that fond of doing. However, he feels it is valuable to do as it is so easy to not really look at what you are eating. His coach provides positive feedback that helps keep him going. The weekly lessons provide tips that are helpful in selecting better choices at the grocery store. He chooses turkey bacon now over regular bacon, for example. Eric was never a “fruit person” but now has eaten more fruit this year than he thinks in his whole life – and he likes it!

Eric has completed the nine lessons he needs to count towards the well-being program but will keep going through the rest of the program. He said he would probably do it again next year if offered – though his goal will be to not qualify for it!

IMMUNIZATION PROTECTS ALL OF US: Don’t Wait. Vaccinate!

In the United States, vaccines have greatly reduced infectious diseases that once routinely killed or harmed many infants, children, and adults. However, the viruses and bacteria that cause vaccine-preventable disease still exist and can be passed on to people who are not protected by vaccines. Every year, thousands of Americans still suffer serious health problems, are hospitalized, and even die from diseases that could be prevented by vaccines.

Measles in Minnesota

This year in Minnesota, 78 people came down with measles, but thousands were exposed, including hundreds who were not vaccinated or did not have natural immunity from a previous measles infection. The Health Department identified 8,880 people who were potentially exposed to known cases in day care centers, health care settings, schools and other community settings. Public health officials contacted many of them or checked their vaccination status using the state’s immunization registry. That work identified 596 at-risk people, and they were asked to voluntarily limit their activities to avoid exposing others.
Because measles no longer occurs naturally in the United States, officials believe this outbreak started with someone traveling from abroad. Measles is prevalent in many African countries, China and Europe, which has seen a resurgence in infections. However, the exact source has not been identified.

Here’s why you shouldn’t wait:

  • Many vaccine-preventable diseases are still common in the U.S.
  • Those that are not common here are still found in other parts of the world, and can still be a threat.
  • Some of these diseases are very contagious.
  • Any of these diseases could be serious – even for healthy people.
  • Certain people may be at higher risk for getting some diseases or having more serious illness if they were to get sick, like young children, older adults, and those with health conditions.

Every year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other medical experts update vaccine recommendations based on the latest research and evidence-based science on vaccine safety, effectiveness, and patterns of vaccine-preventable diseases.

You have the power to protect yourself and the ones you love. Talk to your healthcare professional about which vaccines are right for you and your family.
To learn more about vaccines and take a quick quiz to find out which vaccines you may need, visit: www.cdc.gov/vaccines/adults