Show Notes: Episode 70 – Healthy Living
November 18, 2019
Find Joy in Authenticity
November 28, 2019

Click here for this episode’s show notes.

This transcript was created using an automated transcription service and may contain errors.

JoDee 0:11
Welcome to The JoyPowered® Workspace Podcast, where we talk about embracing humanity in the workspace. I’m JoDee Curtis, and with me is my co-host, Susan White, a national HR consultant. I’m the owner of Purple Ink, an HR consulting firm, and author of “JoyPowered®” and “The JoyPowered® Family.” Susan and I recently released our newest book, “The JoyPowered® Team,” with five other authors. In today’s episode, we’re going to talk about healthy living. Susan, I don’t know about you, but I feel I’m bombarded with information about what I should and shouldn’t be eating, how I should exercise, eat, and even sleep. Recently, I heard of some of the latest diet trends that seemed crazy to me. But having said that, I don’t feel really healthy right now, and I’m not following any of these ideas. I’m ready to hear some new ideas that might work for me.

Susan 1:11
Yes, I have to tell you, I think I’m perpetually feeling guilty about what I’m not eating or what I am eating or how much water I did drink or how much I haven’t drunk, right. So it, really it can be a worry. And I do think that employers who are trying so hard to make sure that they have engaged employees, and they really recognize the value of wellness in the workplace. I think that we as HR professionals and business leaders really want to pay attention and see what we can learn and bring into the workplace.

JoDee 1:37
Right. I agree. I’d like to introduce today’s subject matter expert, Erica Ballard. Erica is a healthy living expert and coach and CEO of The B Method, the first real food-focused corporate wellness program. Through her companies, she works with high performers to optimize their energy productivity and focus through food. Erica works with both individuals and companies to show them how to live healthy despite their busy schedules by outlining the foods and habits needed to fuel professional and personal goals. Erica is the host of the podcast “The Lies You’ve Been Fed.” Yeah, and has been featured in Women’s Health, Orangetheory Fitness, and Saks Fifth Avenue. Before starting her business, Erica worked in health care and public health for almost a decade. She has a Master’s from Tufts School of Medicine and her CHC through the Institute of Integrative Nutrition. After 10 years on the east coast, she now lives in her hometown of Indianapolis with her amazing husband Nick and their really cute dog Max. So Erica, tell us, why do you focus on food?

Erica 3:01
So when we think about how it’s – just I think in America, in general, we really focus on fitness and moving our body. And while that is so important, from a weight loss, or rather, but from a weight loss and a disease perspective, it’s 80% food, 20% movement. So it’s 80% food and 20% movement. We’ve got the script flipped, right? And so this is why I’m really making a huge push, because I really do believe Americans are doing their best right now with their movement, with their food, or with their movement. We’re moving more than ever, we understand that we need to walk, people are getting out the door, they’re burning calories, but things aren’t working out the way that they had hoped, and it’s because the quality of our food is not quite caught up with the actions we’re taking. And so I’m really focused on helping people understand the right foods for their body so that they can finally achieve the thing that they want, which is to feel good, to look good, and to wake up with energy.

JoDee 3:56
Yeah, I love it. I can tell you I’m a perfect example, that I work out, probably five days a week I do some sort of exercise, but I don’t eat good healthy food, and it’s not working for me.

Erica 4:12
You’re right. When I was in Peru, right, so I spent, I was blessed to spend 30 days in Peru, 28, actually, to be exact, 28 days, and my workout routine, like, all we did was walk, maybe I did a little bit of running, and I didn’t come back looking any different, really, than what I started with. And it was because for me, there was a lot of walking, but also then just eating really clean, healthy food. And that’s what happens, but I think we have this idea that health has to be hard. If it’s not difficult, and we don’t have to squeeze it into our day, it’s not possible. And I’m like, dude, you have to eat, so, like, let’s focus on the thing you have to do, and then we’ll worry about the other stuff. And I think that, that, you know, I think with people with really busy schedules that that’s a really smart move. So I’m really trying to push the food agenda because, again, it’s 80/20. 80% food, 20% movement.

Susan 5:07
Well, that’s good to know. So from a business perspective, Erica, what do you see as the connection between health and high performance?

Erica 5:16
So, I, here’s what I truly believe. I believe that when people feel good, they do good, right? Like, inherently, we know that when you walk in and you’re on fire, and you’re like, “I got today,” like you do, you have to, like you, you have today, you, everything’s wonderful. And so that is what we can get through health. We can have more days of that, because I think there’s like this, this inconsistency. Most people – before I got really healthy, I had like one or two good days, and I couldn’t tell you why. Right? I couldn’t tell you why. And I’m saying, like, let’s get 5, 6, 7 days like that, because at the end of the day, like, you want people to feel good, and for me, like, nerding out a little bit on the gut, right, is it really helps with the, it really helps with the gut. Because what happens is the brain and gut are connected, and so if you want people to feel really good, to have clear-headedness, to have mental capacity, you got to fix the second gut to get the first, or second brain to get the first ring, right? Because they’re connected with one another. So I’m really big on health and high performance. Because at the root of it, if you feel good, you do good. We inherently know that, and I want to lessen the inconsistency, because high performers, what they are, is they’re consistent. And health keeps you consistent.

JoDee 6:31
Yeah. Tell us, maybe even a little bit more specifically, what you mean about your brain and your gut are connected.

Erica 6:40
So there’s this axis that runs in between your brain and your gut, and, like, the same 20, 30 neurons that sit in your brain also sit in your gut, which tells me that they have to be connected. Not only that, like, if you’ve ever seen a kid, so if you are, if you’re anyone, right, like, kids like licking walls and putting things in their mouth, and you’re like, “Why are you doing that? Stop! That’s your foot!”, and, like… Right? So weird, but it’s not when you think about it. Your, your mouth is pretty much the only way you can take in outside information, right? It’s really the only connection you have with the outside world, so it’s very clear that the brain and the gut have to be connected in that way. And so, for me, when I think about how do we think best, how do we move best, how do we feel best? It’s really the gut, because about 80 to 90% of our immunity sits in our gut. 70% of our serotonin sits in our gut, like, there are just so many things going on here. And because it’s, because it’s connected to the brain, it’s very clear that when this, when your stomach feels good, when your gut feels good, your brain feels good. Like we all know, like, if you’ve ever had a stomach ache, or sorry, I may be the first podcast guests to say, like, “diarrhea” on your podcast.

JoDee 7:50
I think you are!

Erica 7:52
Yes! Okay, great. I don’t wanna brag.

Susan 7:55

Thank you. But, like, when you have, like, I talk to so many people and this, like, everyone wants to talk in private. And we have the diarrhea, and, like, we get small and, like, we can’t really think, and we feel bad. Like, you can’t do work when that’s happening, and when that happens, often it’s tied to our gut, so performance is really hurt when our gut isn’t right. Yeah.

Wow. So what are some steps people can take to clean their gut? Is this going to get gross, Erica? Let me know. Spoiler alert, is this gonna get gross?

Erica 8:29
I’m just like, oh my god, I said “diarrhea.” And I continue to say it. I have to stop! So, no, it’s actually way better. Like, yeah, there’s no, like, what is it, a coffee enema is the current big thing? No coffee enemas, please. So when you think about fixing or healing your gut, first step is just a cleaner diet. So your food is really going to dictate more. So, what’s happening here, like, I love a probiotic as much as the next person. Probably more. I’ve read many – I’m literally going to a conference on probiotics in September. So maybe I love probiotics more than the next person.

JoDee 9:06
More than me.

Erica 9:07
I, like, I love this stuff, but at the, but the reality is your diet, your lifestyle is going to dictate so much more about what’s happening in your gut than anything else. So I say to people, you know, let’s clean up the sugar, and let’s add real food. And that’s going to get your gut really clean. But this is a big, but like, don’t flip over the table, turn your whole life around to do it. Like, it’s baby steps, like, it’s baby steps. So maybe we’re not eating sugar till noon, you know, maybe we’re eating real food at lunch. Maybe we’re stopping carbs at three. Maybe we’re doing things like better processed carbs, like, maybe that’s what we’re doing. But like, again, going back to the beginning, I feel like so many of us are like, “I have to do all the things to get right.” It’s like, it took you a minute to get here. So to clean up your gut, real food. Which I define as food that our grandmas or great grandmas would have eaten, right? Something that do that the majority of the time and you will get a clean gut, and if you’re like, I can’t do it, my life’s too busy, okay, start with breakfast. Okay, start with lunch. Okay, start with a snack and that just builds, because habits build habits, right?

JoDee 10:20

Susan 10:21
Erica, what did you have for breakfast today?

Erica 10:23
So I, that – I fast sometimes, I actually fast probably about four or five times a week, it’s really good for my body. So I had a coffee with collagen and some MCT oil. That’s what I’m eating today. But I’ll have a smoothie for lunch.

Susan 10:38
And what will you have for dinner?

Erica 10:39
So, I’ll probably have tacos, I’ve been thinking about them for a while. The best – like, I love, I think, I eat meat, but I think it’s really important to have sustainable meat, really high quality and so I have this, like, wonderful pork, actually, it’s from a place in Indiana, it’s Second… They’re gonna kill me! Second Breakfast Farms. And so they have a delicious, delicious ground sausage. So I’m gonna probably do that with, like, cabbage slaw, some fresh tomatoes, you know, and go all in.

Susan 11:12
Sounds great! Thank you.

JoDee 11:13
So when you say you fast, is that, like, do you just fast? Is it – how long do you fast?

Erica 11:20
So it depends. So I’ll go six – often 16 hours, sometimes, like, probably once a week 24…closer to 20. And I’ll tell you why, is I like to have a good time, too, people. Like, I like to drink wine, like, I like to, like, indulge in sweets, right? Like, I am human. And so on Monday, I tend to go for, like, a longer fast to give my body time to detox. And then most mornings, I go about 14 to 16 hours, depending on my workout. And what I will say about fasting is it’s wonderful, except when you get started. If you’re not fat adaptive yet. So a lot of people want to go right into fasting, and then they hate their lives. Yeah, it’s because we’re running – they’re running off of glucose instead of running off of fat, and so when you run off of glucose, there’s a headache. It’s kind of awful. So I love – there are experts out there that would say go straight into fasting, keto, so hot right now. If you can and it feels good, cool. If you’re already skipping breakfast, all right, like, go ahead, you’re used to it. But if you’re newer to it, I always say like, wade in and change your diet first before you go do all the like, the big things, because, like, going back to great grandmas and grandmas, they ate three meals a day. You know, like three meals a day, obesity was at, you know, a low, we hadn’t really crept up in that. So it’s okay to eat breakfast. It’s okay to start there. Again, start where you’re at, because I’m just, just really big on that, because I think everyone wants to, like, flip everything around in order to make it work. And I’m like, three meals is fine. I eat eggs, I eat bacon. I eat, like, avocado toast with, like, lox. I’m happy.

Susan 13:01
Sounds delicious.

JoDee 13:02
It sure does. So let’s for just a minute, let’s talk about keto. That, to me, seems like such an unhealthy way to eat, but yet, I know it is very popular and lot of people are doing it Do you, do you think keto is a good idea? Maybe, maybe you could tell our listeners first, if they don’t know what that even means, what, what is the keto diet? And then what are your thoughts on it?

Erica 13:32
Okay, so first, prefacing with I’m not a doctor, and then, you know, I will say I’m not a keto expert. But here’s what I know about, and I know enough to be dangerous depending on who you ask. So essentially, what keto is, is it is a really high fat diet, and its purpose is to get you into nutritional ketosis so that you end up burning fat regularly. And so what it looks like is the kind of, like, the Atkins diet from back in the day, right? Except that it’s higher fat than higher protein. And from a health perspective, it depends on what your goals are and what you need to accomplish. So that’s the thing, I firmly believe we’re an N of one, so you know your body best, right? But the thing about diets and food and things in our bodies is that we change with the seasons. So while keto might work for a while, it may not work forever, like, it’ll get you to the weight loss, right? Like, we see it happen all the time. But then when you get to the place you want to be, you gotta switch gears, because you now are living in a different body. So if you continue to do keto, and you’ve switched so much of your life and so much your body chemistry, and then you don’t add back in carbs, let’s say that’s what you need, or fruit, like, or some of these vegetables and you’re not really in a good space. So I think that it can be healthy depending on who you are, what you want to get accomplished, because fat isn’t bad. Fat won’t make you bad. Like, I won’t go on a soapbox tangent about it. But we, we, anyone over the age of 30 grew up with like the SnackWell’s and doing low fat, and that did not treat us well, because it just increased the amount of sugar in your diet. There’s a lot of like, like, fat is, like, the AHA has literally pulled fat from, or fat guidelines, saturated fat they’ve kept, and that’s a whole different conversation, but they even pulled them quietly, very quietly, because of so many reasons. But fat is – the moral is fat isn’t bad. It’s just, what is the right amount for your diet and making sure that it’s really high quality, because that’s where we get into problems, is we eat low quality food, and then we get low quality results, right? And so, is keto bad? Maybe. Is keto right for you? Maybe. Test and recognize when you change what this looks like, then the other stuff has to change. So I don’t know if that was a total answer to your question, but I did my best.

JoDee 16:09
Well, I just hear people talking about eating bacon and butter, which sounds really good to me, but doesn’t seem to make any sense to me. So.

Erica 16:19
What I will say is that there was this whole like, if you really, like, to start to nerd out, there’s a great book, it’s called “The Big Fat Surprise.” And it shows how we got into a place where we decided as a nation, that, that fat is bad. It was never bad. It, as long as it was quality, wasn’t bad. We actually got in a really bad place when we started eating like margarine and low fats and trans fats and things like that. And so the hard part for people is when you pull sugar or when you pull carbohydrates, you’ve got to substitute it with something, and it tends to be fat. stays pretty similar for most people. And so it’s, like, finding that balance. I mean, that all being said, I don’t eat a 70% diet, like 70% of my calories from fat doesn’t work for me, like, it’s cherry season, I’m eating a bunch of cherries, I’m eating a bunch of peaches. That’s what works for my body. But I think people have to really do the work themselves to figure out what works for them. And when they do keto, the last comment is, like, do real keto. None of this cream cheese B.S., like none of this, like, pulling bacon, random bacon from the store. If you’re going to do it, like, high quality, really clean food, because that’s what’s going to get you to where you want to be potentially.

JoDee 17:32
Nice. So you’ve mentioned a few things, but if someone listening wants to start optimizing their health and energy, where should they start?

Erica 17:43
So I think it’s unique for everyone. And here’s what I would ask listeners to ask themselves, and we can play the game here, is I would, I would say what is one thing you know you could do to improve your health? Do you guys know?

JoDee 17:58
My answer would be not go to Dairy Queen.

Susan 18:01
Oh, yeah, I was gonna say exercise more, but I’m thinking it’s eat better now after listening to you.

Erica 18:07
And mine’s drink water. And so, I think what’s really important here is we all had a different answer. And that’s why I ask listeners, what’s the one thing that you know you could do and then want to do, and then go do that for two or three weeks and see what happens. Because if I tell you what to do, I don’t know your life. But you do. And so if you’re able to make that change and trust yourself to do that, the likelihood that you continue to do that is so much higher. So I would say instead of prescribing, saying, take a minute, ask yourself that, get real clear, make a quick plan, and then move forward.

JoDee 18:43
Love it. Can I change my answer to more water? So I don’t have to not go to Dairy Queen.

Susan 18:51
Oreo blizzard here I come! So Erica, remind our listeners, how can they get in touch with you?

Erica 19:00
So I am hanging out a lot on Instagram and on LinkedIn. So Instagram is @ericaballardhealth, on Instagram it’s just Erica Ballard. And then if you want to check out more what I’m doing, particularly in the corporate space, it’s And so that’s the program I’m working with sales teams and corporations to really help bring real food, real health to people.

JoDee 19:24
Awesome. Awesome. Well, thank you so much for joining us today. It’s really been delightful and inspiring to me to eat cleaner.

Susan 19:34
Yes, thank you.

JoDee 19:35

Erica 19:35
Thank you.

JoDee 19:36
Thanks so much.

Susan 19:38
So JoDee, our listener question today, “We have an employee who’s on family medical leave, and he will be exhausting his 12 weeks soon. What should we do when he prepares to return to work?”

JoDee 19:50
Well, first off, I’m going to assume that he’s not in California, because they have all kinds of different laws in California about this, and maybe a few other states as well, but, but so that could require a different answer. But generally, if you don’t already, we recommend you have a well-written policy regarding leaves of absence and return to work policies, including a requirement for them to provide updates on their return to work status. Many employers do require a return to work certification to confirm that the physician has released them to return back to work. Employers may also request the certification to ensure they are complying with doctor ordered work restrictions, might be how much they can lift, or might even be that they need to come back part-time or work shorter days to determine if the employee needs a reasonable accommodation to perform his or her duties. Of course, keeping in touch with them and communicating with them about their own status is also important. The employer must notify the employee when FMLA is ending, and this creates an opportunity to talk about those next steps and might lead to a discussion about their expected work status. An employer could delay their return to work until the employee submits the required certification.

In our in the news segment today, in a spring article of Inc. Magazine, they shared how top places to work were prioritizing mental health benefits. We’ve talked about this on the podcast before, about the importance of mental health and many of the initiatives that have sprung up just in the past couple of years really, but based on a review of this Best Places to Work list, today’s top employers are embracing a broad definition of wellness and viewing stress as a health concern rather than just a cost of doing business. They’re organizing group sessions with social workers, subsidizing therapy bills, and granting workers no strings attached stipends to use on massages, life coaches, vacations, and even essential oils.

Me too.

They’re also recognizing that emotional health plays a significant role in chronic health conditions as well, and mental illness and burnout have major implications for businesses. The World Health Organization, for instance, estimates that depression and anxiety disorders account for around $1 trillion in global productivity losses per year. Yeah, so some of the highlights of this article on things these best places to work were doing is number one, give your team flexibility on how to spend their wellness dollars. Number two, get the employees’ buy-in on the program or whatever benefit you’re offering, make it easier for them to get help. Bring in professionals in-house, bring them to your workplace so employees maybe aren’t taking so long to leave during the day for appointments. And number five, track your progress to measure the success of your program.

Susan 23:25
I think it’s really an important topic, and I hope people do take advantage of these ideas.

JoDee 23:29
Yeah, I do too.

Thank you for listening today. Please tune in next time. If you have missed any of our podcasts, you can catch all episodes for free on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts by searching on the word “JoyPowered.” If you like our podcast, be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss any upcoming episodes. And we’d love for you to rate and review us on Apple Podcasts. It helps people find our show. If you have questions on any HR topic, you can leave us a voicemail at 317-688-1613 or email us at We are also on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter @joypowered. We welcome listener questions and comments.

Emily Miller
Emily Miller
Emily works behind the scenes at JoyPowered, helping to edit and publish the books, producing the podcast, and running the website and social media.

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