Your Fittest Year Starts Here!

Are you in an exercise slump? It happens, but are you going to sit there and let yourself join the ranks of the formerly fit? Unlike other vacations, exercise breaks generally last longer than you’d like – and the mementos they come with are ones you’d rather not hang on to. Two missed workouts snowball into two months of missed workouts, and suddenly you can’t button your jeans or do a pushup to save your life. In fact, research shows that body fat, weight, and waist size can rise – and fitness levels can dip – after just a five-week hiatus.

The new year is the perfect time to make your comeback. Regardless of what has been keeping you on the sidelines – a hectic schedule, an injury, a new baby, etc. – there is a solution. It’s not just physical roadblocks: there are also psychological and logistical challenges as well. Whether you’re looking to lose pounds, eat healthier or simple stick to a regular workout schedule, reaching your diet and fitness goals can be daunting. That’s where the Fitness and Wellness Division comes in – with Health Coaching services, kick-butt exercise programming and knowledgeable staff to help you hit whatever target you’re aiming for.

Join us for 2022 in 2022!

The New Year is upon us and perhaps you are already thinking about a New Year Resolution or two to master in 2022. Before deciding on your plans, we invite you to join the Fitness & Wellness Division in tackling exercise/physical activity consistency with our year-long quest of achieving 2022 minutes of exercise/physical activity each quarter in 2022.

The challenge starts by breaking down the year into quarters or 13-week blocks. Each quarter the primary goal is to achieve 2022 minutes of exercise or physical activity. This may seem like a daunting task, however, when broken down 2022 minutes equals 155.5 minutes per week or 2 hours and 36 minutes per week. Broken down further, 2022 minutes per 13 weeks can be achieved by engaging in exercise/physical activity for…

  • 23 minutes per day
  • 31 minutes 5 days a week
  • 39 minutes 4 days a week
  • 52 minutes 3 days a week

Increasing physical activity by going for a walk, taking on an at-home exercise video, or attending a fitness class all work! This does not have to be strenuous exercise. 

In addition to the 2022 minutes of physical activity each quarter (13 weeks), you can decide to tackle your secondary goal. You decide, and then let Fitness & Wellness know. It’s that simple.

  • Quarter 1 (January – March): Lose 13! Thirteen pounds, or 13 inches, or a combination of the two.
  • Quarter 2 (April – June): Complete 13 miles per week in steps taken and distance covered. Don’t panic – this is based on a 2,000 steps per mile formula. So, a total of 26,000 steps per week equals 3,714 steps per day or less than 2 miles per day. 
  • Quarter 3 (July -September) Participate in 13 group exercise classes at the Training Center with Fitness & Wellness, or at home, or at your local gym.
  • Quarter 4 (October – December) Improve your nutrition and try 13 new recipes! Fitness & Wellness will post a wide variety of recipes for participants to try, or you can find recipes that meet your unique nutritional goals.

And to assist you in keeping track of all that you are doing, Fitness & Wellness will supply you with an Excel spreadsheet so you can enter your exercise/physical activity minutes and secondary goal progress. To sign-up for 2022 in 2022, send an email to mailto:[email protected].

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The Real Way to Treat Yourself

We all have times when we fall into a self-neglect rut, but lately it seems almost epidemic. The American Psychological Association reports that more Americans believe the level of stress in their live is increasing, but only a marginal few think they can handle it well. In looking at the relationship between stress and being overweight, professionals have zeroed in on a key hormone called cortisol. You’ve probably heard of it – and that it’s gotten a bit of a bad rap. But in and of itself, cortisol isn’t a bad thing – our bodies use it to maintain blood pressure, and it plays a role in the way we metabolize both fats and carbohydrates for energy.

Part of the problem is that we seem to have forgotten how to pamper ourselves in healthy ways. We now translate “be good to yourself – you deserve it” into splurge on foods that aren’t good for us at all. Often, it’s because food is an easy solution – it’s fast and provides instant gratification. It’s no wonder that researchers have found a persistent connection between poor self-care, low self-esteem, and binge eating.

When you’re neglecting yourself, certain foods (rich ice cream and gooey mac ‘n cheese come to mind) may seem nurturing. But that feeling quickly fades and is replaced with empty feelings like unhappiness and regret. The same can be said for how we view physical activity. Instead of treating yourself to a stress busting workout, or a walk in the great outdoors after a long day, we now plop ourselves down on the couch to watch hours of TV to distract the mind and body. And in the end, we have only gained a very temporary release of tension and stress.

A Secret to Staying Motivated

Making healthy connections can pay off in significant health benefits. People who reach out to others for help are more likely to achieve their goals The Fitness and Wellness Division provides Health Coaching services to assist employees improving their fitness, nutrition, and well-being. Staff health coaches work with groups and one-on-one, virtually, to establish health-related goals and provide resources and creative tips to achieve success. The goal is to equip you with the knowledge and skills needed to begin and maintain a healthy lifestyle-path.

Here is what your co-workers have said about their Health Coaching experiences:

“This group has helped us focus on healthier habits, redefined relationships with food, and set reasonable goals for getting healthy.”

“I learned a lot about eating healthy and fueling your body without dieting.” 

“I enjoyed discussing healthier nutrition habits and choices with other colleagues and our health coach in this work group. We learned useful tips and resources to help us stary mindful of healthy eating.” 

“Working with our coach alongside friends pushes me to stay committed and keep the big health picture in mind. “


“I am a permanent remote worker and needed help in getting started again with my daily work routine. The Stress and Management/Finding Balance 10-week Health Coach session really helped get that process going. It really broke down how a habit works and how that habit was going to benefit me. The individual meeting with the Health Coach, broke down even more how I could improve the habit and the group meetings kept reminding me that it wasn’t just me going through the journey of improving our Mental Health. I really appreciated the Fitness and Wellness group putting these Health sessions together. Definitely going to take advantage of another one.”

The next block of Health Coaching is scheduled to begin the week of January 12th. To learn more about this service, visit the Fitness and Wellness SharePoint site Health Coaching page

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To-do List Tips with Virginia Extension Office

Looking back on the holidays, adding family meals, present shopping, and events to your busy schedule may have been overwhelming. Adding those tasks on top of your regular to-do list were fun but daunting. Maybe in the new year, you are focusing on being less stressed while still being productive. Recently, Sarah Pratt, an Extension Agent with the Virginia Cooperative Extension Office discussed her tips for Tackling Your to-do List to Mitigate Stress as part of the Balancing Life Webinar series.


Before getting into the individual steps, she says it is important to first acknowledge that everyone is in a different place and space in life. We are all busy with different responsibilities and what overwhelms each of us is not going to look the same for everyone. Try not to compare your task list or your responsibilities to someone else. That will only add more stress. Also, she notes that her tips are geared toward managing the to-do list and alleviating the stress that you already have. This is not a how-to guide on being more productive but rather how to manage your tasks at hand. 


Step 1: Brain Dump

Take a few minutes and write down every task that comes to mind. These are not long-term goals or events in a few months but rather things that need to be completed or worked on in the next week or so.


Step 2: What is Good Enough?

Look at your list and see which items can be checked off even if they are not done perfectly. We tend to strive for perfection which can lead to being overwhelmed. Take a look at tasks that just need to get done. 


For example, if grocery shopping is on your to-do list: you need to do it and not eat out every night, but you can’t do it until you make your meal plan for the week. Once you make the meal plan then you must do a pantry inventory to see what you need to buy. Now you have added 2 more tasks to your list. Instead, go to the store and buy the staples. Buy food you enjoy that can be frozen and/or stored if you already have it. Don’t overcomplicate it. If the laundry is on your to-do list, is it enough to just have clean and sorted clothes? Do you need to fold and put away every single item?


Conversely, make sure items that need to be done perfectly get the quality attention that they deserve. If you are sending out holiday photos and want good quality photos, don’t rush and take them yourself. Plan them out and hire a professional. 


Step 3: What Is Your Timeline?

Do any of your tasks have specific deadlines? Write those out so you know exactly when they are due. Do any of the tasks take less than five minutes? Put a star or an arrow by those tasks so you know if you need that endorphin rush of feeling like you’ve completed something, you have those tasks to check off easily.


Step 4: Would You expect The Same From a Loved One?

Take a look at your list and how many items are on versus the time you have to complete it. Is it reasonable? If someone you care about had this same to-do list and time constraints, how would you feel? If you think it is too much for them, consider cutting yourself some slack too and see what items can wait a little bit longer.


Once you have finished your to-do list, some people may feel guilty like there is something else they should be doing. If you are that kind of person, try adding self-care tasks to the list or some form of reward. Allow yourself to take a nap or watch a movie. Maybe share your accomplishments with friends or colleagues as a way to pat yourself on the back. Be proud that you completed the list, but more importantly, do not guilt yourself if you do not finish it. Try again tomorrow.


Sarah goes on to discuss how we can get so consumed in the day-to-day and perfection that we allow ourselves to get overwhelmed. We forget about long-term goals and things that bring us joy. She relates this to habits versus motivation. Our brains are resistant to change; we are creatures of habit. However, motivation can be fleeting so we create habits to make up for the times we lack motivation. Creating simple, reasonable to-lists daily can help us create new habits. For the long-term goals, Sarah recommends adding the simplest task to your daily list that will help you achieve your objective. It is important to pick a long-term goal that is solely for yourself, too. This can be in addition to goals for your family, career, etc., but pick something specifically and personally for you. Then, pick a small enough task related to that goal, that can be completed every single day. For example, if your goal is to run a marathon, maybe your daily task is to put on your tennis shoes every single day. Most days, once you have your shoes on, you will probably want to go for a walk or a little jog. Some days you may put your shoes on and sit back down on the couch (which is ok). You are repeating a daily task to instill a new habit. You will often do more than the minimum but getting started is half the battle.


The Virginia Cooperative Extension Office hosts weekly webinars in the Balancing Life series. If you want to learn more or view the whole webinar recording visit their website.



Balancing Life: Tackling Your To-Do Lists to Mitigate Stress: Sarah Pratt shared some basic ideas that have fundamentally changed the way I deal with my tasking! Not only do we make the lists, but we prioritize it, see what takes 5 minutes or less and…..drum roll please….. determine what has to be done “excellently” and what can be done “good enough!”  From one who can be a bit “perfectionistic” at times, this is mind-blowing and freeing at the same time. Check out the tips on the recording, in the slide deck, and those shared by other in the chat!




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Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Waiver- A Way to Get Closer to Loan Forgiveness

Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) is a federal program that forgives student loan debt for borrowers who work for a government or a non-profit employer such as teachers, firefighters, nurses, members of the military, and other public service workers. As a Henrico County employee, it may include you.

In October 2021, the U.S. Department of Education announced temporary, transformational changes to get public service workers closer to loan forgiveness. These changes include:

  • For a limited time, you may receive credit for past periods of repayment on loans that would otherwise not qualify for PSLF.
  • If you have FFEL, Perkins, or other federal student loans, you’ll need to consolidate your loans into a Direct Consolidation Loan to qualify for PSLF both in general and under the waiver. Before consolidating, make sure to check to see if you work for a qualifying employer.
  • Past periods of repayment will now count regardless of whether you made a payment, made that payment on time, for the full amount due, on a qualifying repayment plan.
  • Periods of deferment or forbearance, and periods of default, continue to not qualify.

Therefore, if you did not previously qualify for the PSLF, you may not qualify with the new waiver guideline. You must work for your qualifying employer full time, which amounts to at least 30 hours per week. If you work part-time for two qualifying employers and your time averages at least 30 hours per week, you may still be eligible.  To receive these benefits, borrowers must submit a single application used to certify employment and evaluate a borrower for forgiveness by October 31, 2022.

Henrico County Department of Human Resources, encourages all present and future employees to utilize this benefit. If you are interested, please follow the link to complete the necessary form and our Human Resources Department/Administration Division, will verify and confirm Henrico County is a qualified employer.

More information is available from Federal Student Aid at The Department of Education will communicate directly with borrowers about these changes to PSLF; to help borrowers understand how they may benefit and any actions they may need to take. Borrowers should ensure they have accounts on and their contact information is updated.    

For more information, please use to get assistance.

Please use these resources to learn more about Repayment Plans.

Finally, we hope this information will assist in obtaining loan forgiveness during your tenure with Henrico County!



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