Don’t let your desk job kill you: Stretch to stay healthy

If you’re reading this while sitting behind your desk at work, there’s a good chance some not-so-great things are happening to your body right at this moment.

You + 85% of America’s workforce.

Desk work is a necessary evil for millions of Americans, but sitting doesn’t have to kill you — though experts say doing it for 8 hours a day most certainly can. Increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist and abnormal cholesterol levels, not to mention the strains you put on your neck, shoulder and back muscles, are all byproducts of working for a living behind a desk.

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At work on the Fourth of July? Move the party from the backyard to the break room

The Fourth of July is on a Wednesday this year and for you, that may mean being stuck at work. Wahh, wahh. Not everyone gets to celebrate our nation’s independence with a day off (24% of employees across the nation, in fact, do not) — especially when it falls right in the middle of the work week.

But that’s OK. Think positive! You can still celebrate. Move the party from the backyard to the break room (or the parking lot) and spread some cheer for your fellow employees so their morale stays high and they know you care about the things that matter to them.

Here are four ways to light up the workplace with Independence Day cheer:

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6 must-adds to a teacher’s summer break

The countdown is on, teacher friends. That last-day-of-school mark on your wall calendar gets closer and closer with each crossed out day. We know you love your job (and that you’re darn good at it), so we will not be judging when you do a little happy dance after all your kids walk out the door for summer break.

via GIPHY

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Strategies for achieving work-life balance that’s best for you

With the constant presence of technology in our lives — smartphones, computers and tablets that deliver notifications at any time of the day — it’s easy to remain attached to your job well beyond closing time.

And it can happen with the best of intentions. At first, you decide to respond to just one e-mail. Shouldn’t take too long, right? But then that e-mail turns into an hour of responding to e-mail. Then you get lost in a spreadsheet a coworker, who’s also burning the midnight oil, has questions about. Before you know it, your family has long been asleep and you’ve allowed yourself to be virtually on-call 24 hours a day.

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Introducing a new world to students: Meet School Lunch Hero Allison Sobieck

Make sure to order shirts to celebrate School Lunch Heroes by April 12! School Lunch Hero Day (May 4) showcases the difference school nutrition professionals make for every child who comes through the cafeteria. It’s a great time to say thank you to those hard-working professionals who provide food education and experiences in your school.

When she left her hometown of Somerset, Kentucky, in 1998 to get her degree, School Lunch Hero Allison Sobieck always thought she would have a job offering five-star dining experiences.

After earning an associate’s in culinary arts and a bachelor’s in business with an emphasis on hospitality management from Sullivan University, Allison and her husband, Chuck, returned to Somerset to bring everything they learned to their community. They started construction on the Doolin House Inn bed and breakfast in 2003 and launched 2Chefs Catering, plating beautiful meals and introducing new food culture to downtown Somerset. (Photo above by KSD: Chuck and Allison Sobieck in their kitchen at the Doolin House Inn in Somerset, where they also operated 2Chefs Catering.)

But everything changed as their family grew, and Allison and Chuck made a decision when they learned they were having their third child to disband their catering business and sell the inn. When one of Allison’s former employees started managing the lunchroom at Somerset Christian School (where the Sobiecks’ children attend) and needed someone to assist, Allison jumped right in — and has not regretted the move.

Though the audience is different (SCS prepares meals for 150-200 students per day), the food experience she works to create for students is still five-star — and the reward much greater.

“I love, love, love my job,” Allison said. “Every day I feel as if I am doing the most worthwhile cooking job I could possibly be doing.”

We asked Allison to share her appreciation for food education and some of her experiences as a School Lunch Hero:

Q: Why did you choose this career path? What about culinary arts is special or rewarding to you?

A: I chose culinary arts because I have a great love of food, and honestly, a not-so-great love of sitting in a classroom. I loved running around a restaurant, but I always had a lazy bone when it came to studying. I was always a creative, artsy kid. Food opens the doors of the world and culture to a person. If you have an adventurous palate, you can travel the world without leaving home. Working with students is so rewarding. I get nearly giddy when I see a child try a new food and like it. It’s stunning to me how little “real” food kids have eaten!

Q: How long have you been working in the SCS cafeteria? How did you get started there? Describe your position and responsibilities (for example, if you’re involved in creating menus, management, etc.).

I started working in the SCS kitchen in October 2016. Our children have gone to school there since preschool, so I have always been around. When I became pregnant with our third child and disbanded the Doolin House/2Chefs crew, one of my former employees (and SCS graduate) went on to run the kitchen at SCS. When her assistant quit, I jumped in to the position and the rest is history. She’s like a younger sister to me. She’s self taught and quite young, but very talented. And she does the hard part, which is staying under budget! For the day-to-day, we do what needs done at the time (there is more of an “order of operations” in our kitchen than there are specific duties). And though I am simply an employee (not management), I definitely help make the menus. That’s the fun part!

Q: What is the most unique/memorable meal you’ve prepared for students/staff while you’ve been at SCS?

The SCS cafeteria offered this homemade meal during mission week: Chicken tikka masala, cucumber raita, naan and mango ice cream.

Being a Christian school, we have one school week per year dedicated to missions, both at home and around the world. We prepare international foods from places our missionaries live and serve. We have prepared meals from the Philippines, China, Africa, the Middle East, etc. The students get a lot of exposure to different foods. We recently prepared a “Taste of the USA” menu, where students were treated to Kentucky Hot Browns, Georgia Peach Pie — it was a huge hit! In two weeks we are preparing a food “tour” of Western Europe. We will serve Greek, French, Italian, German and Spanish cuisines. I’ll make my Italian grandmother’s homemade marinara for the chicken Parmesan.

Q: Why is food education important? What do you hope to teach students through your work in the cafeteria?

A: I think food is truly the cheapest way to educate yourself. Especially now, with our opportunity to locally purchase particular cuts of meat or exotic spices at our local grocery chain. I believe if you are a good eater and have learned social graces, no matter what your education level, you can sit with the Queen of England at dinner. It really opens the door to a whole new world. I hope that students will learn a couple of things from what we do: I hope they will learn to try a bite of something new and different, and I want them to know there is a big, delicious world outside of chicken nuggets and hot dogs!

Q: What’s the most challenging part about your job as a cafeteria team member? The most fun part?

A: The most challenging part is there are just two of us at any given time working. That keeps us hopping! And the most fun part is when we get to rock out awesome food and the kids get excited about eating it. We love it when they come in hungry and excited for what we’ve cooked.

Q: Tell us about an experience you’ve had at SCS that you’ll never forget.

A: We have loaded baked potato day every once in a while for the kids. They are giant potatoes, and we let the kids fill them with butter, cheddar, sour cream and real bacon. One of our little guys had never had a baked potato before. We talked him into trying it several times last year and by May, he was eating all the “guts” out and rolling up the skin and finishing it too! He was the cutest little guy! And it made my day to see a student enjoy something as simple as a potato.

Putting it off? How to overcome procrastination

“Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.”

This advice from founding father Ben Franklin seems pretty straightforward. Just do the work. Get it done. No problem, right?

Except for millions of people, procrastination IS a real problem in their daily lives. Research shows one in five people are chronic procrastinators — consistently putting off tasks in multiple areas of life, threatening their productivity and confidence.

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Create a positive customer experience in your lobby

Your brand is more than just your company’s logo. Your brand is what other people say about you when you aren’t in the room (thank you, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos).

Every interaction a customer has with your company needs to leave a good first impression, because if it doesn’t, the customer is likely to share their bad impression with others. In fact, one study showed 75% of customers interviewed indicated they would share a negative experience with their friends and colleagues.

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5 unique ideas for Teacher Appreciation Week

Heads up! Today, March 22, is the last day to order our Get Your Cray On shirts — perfect appreciation gifts for teachers! National Teacher Appreciation Week is May 7-11.

My mom is a teacher.

I feel proud to type that. Though she’s now retired, once a teacher, always a teacher — she carries that badge with honor, rushing to help or advocate for many causes to support the profession even though she no longer does the day-to-day work.

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Why we should encourage children to play outdoors

Hellooooo spring. We’ve missed you.

We may not be out of the cold weather woods just yet, but today, the first official day of spring, we have license to celebrate. We can start counting down to all the fun outdoor things — Spring Break, the last day of school, opening day of the local swimming pool, SUMMER. It’s just like the late actor Robin Williams said: “Spring is nature’s way of saying, ‘Let’s party!’”

Preach.

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Honoring our Florence Nightingales during National Nurses Week

She is a “ministering angel” without any exaggeration in these hospitals, and as her slender form glides quietly along each corridor, every poor fellow’s face softens with gratitude at the sight of her. When all the medical officers have retired for the night and silence and darkness have settled down upon those miles of prostrate sick, she may be observed alone, with a little lamp in her hand, making her solitary rounds.

— The Times, London

This ministering angel was Florence Nightingale, and the story told is of her tireless efforts to improve unsanitary conditions and reduce the death rate for the wounded during the Crimean War in the mid-1800s. National Nurses Week — May 6-12 — was inspired by her legacy and ends on her birthday (May 12, 1820), and recognizes the contributions that nurses and nursing make to the community.

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