In 2016, the Healthy Saint Paul Well-being program initiated some changes. The changes were made to allow employees to take ownership of their health – no more required physical activities or seminars. Instead, this year’s program includes the opportunity for employees to choose a goal that is specific to their needs and receive help in reaching that goal with guidance from a health coach.
We admit that at first the new program was met by some employees with skepticism. Laura Eckert was one of these employees. Laura has been a City employee for 38 years. She works as an Executive Assistant II in PED.
When Laura first read about the health coaching component, her first thought was “Ugh – coaching?” She had been content with participating in the 10,000 steps challenge each year. It was easy since she likes being active anyway. She has been taking advantage of the Yoga classes offered during the lunch hour at City Hall since they began 25 years ago. During the good weather months, she will mix up her Yoga routine by substituting a brisk walk outside. Her eating habits are healthy and biometrics are in a good range. She was at first puzzled as to what health coaching could do for her.
Occasionally, though, Laura suffers from back pain. She decided to talk to a coach about ways to manage this. From the first conversation with her coach, she felt a good rapport. The coach was friendly and helpful. The coach referred her to the website, “Fitness Blender”. There, Laura found exercises to help stretch and strengthen her back. The coach asked her about the shoes she wore and stressed the importance of replacing them – even when they were still looking good on the outside as it is the hidden support on the inside of the shoe that breaks down and can then cause back or leg problems. Laura would check in with the coach each week and report back to her what seemed to help. Other suggestions were made, including a reminder of the importance of good posture in relieving back pain. Laura now finds herself much more aware of how she sits, stands and even sleeps.
Laura found working with the coach to be so beneficial that she continued on beyond the required three sessions. She found the expertise of the coach instrumental in helping her increase her awareness of what can contribute to her back pain and steps she can take to lessen it.
Laura Eckert, left with Sue Wegwerth, Human Resources.