Women's History Month: Tatum Souza
By: Tatum Souza
Women's History Month, is meant to honor women’s contributions to society and for that reason I want to share my own personal contribution to society by explaining my career path, how it has evolved over the years and most importantly how it has given me a platform to help other people live happier, healthier more fulfilled lives -Tatum Souza
Athletes are encouraged to prioritize their health and overall wellness. As an athlete becomes more successful at their sport, generally more support and pressure is put on them to make their body a “well oiled machine.” This machine does not run solely on the athlete’s physical fitness. What some may not know is, college, semi-professional and professional athletes are often provided with nutrition, sleep, recovery and mental coaching to supplement their training. Why? Because the exact right combination of these things can make an athlete perform to his/her highest potential.
How do I know? And what does this have to do with Corporate America?
I recently finished training for the 2016 Olympic Trials and running in the European Circuit as a Track & Field athlete. By the end of my career, due to the immense commitment from my coaches, training staff and my own personal investment in myself, I was very in touch with what I needed to do on a day-to-day basis to remain happy and healthy, which directly affected how well I performed in my sport. I knew what foods I needed to eat, and what weight I needed to be to perform to the best of my ability (fun fact: you can’t be too skinny or too big). I knew how much sleep caused me to be groggy and/or wouldn’t allow me to adequately recover. I was also a student at the same time as being an athlete, both in graduate school and undergrad, all my calculations and evaluations were not strictly to help me perform physically better but also study and/or prepare for a class presentation. Additionally, I found sports psychology and recovery to be unsuspectingly important in my training routine.
My career was different than most of my peers, and I found myself curious as to what their lives and routines looked like. Many of my friends NEVER exercised because they didn’t have the time and/or energy after a work day, and many of them picked up bad habits they never had before (drinking, smoking and/or not sleeping). My friends were becoming entirely different people, because they were hustling day in and day out to make the most money possible, and were not able to take care of themselves. I began to think “is this work outside of athletics?”
It was moving back to the Bay Area that enlightened and excited me that overall ‘wellness’ can be part of the corporate world as well.
It is no longer commonly believed that willingness to sacrifice one’s personal health and happiness for the betterment of their company, proves their commitment to their employer. Actually, it has become abundantly clear that employees who live well-rounded lives that include; proper nutrition, fitness regimens, recovery, sleep schedules and mental counseling (much like professional athletes), outperform and outlast their workaholic counterpoints.
However, living and promoting a holistic lifestyle is easier said than done.
When coaches promote and encourage their athletes to take care of themselves, it makes it easier for them to begin testing and finding their perfect formula to attain wellness and subsequently success. Yes, wellness is often the key to success. As obvious as it may seem, if employers encourage and provide support in their employees journey to find their ‘perfect formula’ they will likely be more willing to implement lifestyle changes that increase overall wellness and professional success. It is important to reiterate that, there is no one size fits all lifestyle. Having access to the right information and resources allows a person to begin navigating their wellness journey, but it is a trial and error process and therefore requires commitment from both the employer and employee.
Commitment includes, getting to the bottom of what your employee demographic needs, then consistently and strategically supporting them to incorporate certain wellness offerings into their everyday lives.
Unfortunately there are issues that can arise when trying to find the biggest need of your demographic. For example, decent sleep is arguably one of the most beneficial and low cost ways to boost employee wellness and productivity. However, when speaking to a wellness program manager at a top accounting firm in New York it became clear, employees are less than willing to report on their sleep habits. This is because they fear it can affect their annual review, or their work will be more closely monitored and/or they will be seen as less committed to their company than their ‘sound sleeping’ coworkers. Sleep expert Michael Breus is amazed at how many health conscious people do not make their sleep schedule a priority.
Fortunately there is help, and I feel lucky to be working for a company that allows me to utilize my years of education and experience of holistic living, to better the lives of people all over the United States.
Companies such as FitPros can help employers evaluate and collect information from an employee demographic anonymously, then address and educate based on the information gathered.
Overall wellness is not a new idea, and though it is an investment, wellness education and support is forever improving and companies that commit to their employees health and happiness will reap the benefits, and minimize the chance of losing them to competitors and or to chronic illnesses.