Healthy Lifestyles – February 2022

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February 2022

The choice to eat plants over animals is becoming a more and more mainstream idea. The movement away from meat can be done for many reasons: ecological concerns, animal welfare concerns, as well as health concerns. Meat today, especially red meat – pork, beef, etc. – contains saturated fats and cholesterol, which, in large amounts, can be extremely harmful to our heart health.1 It is recommended that one should limit meat consumption high in saturated fats, which can raise cholesterol. Lean poultry and fish, however, contain healthy, unsaturated fats, causing less harm to the health of the heart. But note that’s only for unprocessed, lean cuts of meat. Processed meats such as sandwich meats, bacon, and sausage also contain many preservatives and are chalked full of sodium, which can increase blood pressure.

Plants improve your brain health, boost your immune system, reduce inflammation, are full of fiber, and can help reduce your risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and cancer among many other diseases.2 It can seem like a lot of animal products to limit. You don’t need to completely disregard them; in many cases, simply reducing the meat items, especially red meats, can vastly improve your heart health.

Since a plant-based diet doesn’t need to be only plants, instead try getting a steak with veggies on the side or order a salad with grilled chicken. Instead of doing bacon and eggs, try fruit and eggs. But be wary because plant-based doesn’t necessarily mean healthy. French fries, cereals, non-whole-grain breads, and white rice can be high in added salt, and sugars and contain simple carbs that, taken in larger quantities, can be detrimental to your heart health. In fact, Harvard did a study comparing the effectiveness of different plant-based diets and determined that an unhealthful plant-based diet was far worse for your heart health than a healthful diet while reducing meat and dairy.3 So, be mindful of the nutrition facts in the foods you buy, specifically look at salts and sugars, and limit saturated fats and simple carbs. Changing your diet seems like a lot, but you’d be surprised how quickly knowing turns into action turns into habit.


  1. American Heart Association (2021). How does Plant-Forward (Plant-Based) Eating Benefit your Health? AHA.
  2. Alexander, Heather (2019). 5 Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet. MD Anderson Cancer Center.
  3. Harvard Health Publishing (2021). The Right Plant-Based Diet for you. Harvard.

Check out these online resources and smartphone apps!

Check out the app Fooducate, an app that can make following a heart healthy diet easier. Visit the American Heart Association or the Heart Foundation today to get more tips on healthy eating, staying active, and overall interesting facts about the heart!

Physical Health

February is American Heart Month! Did you know that people who have close relationships at home, work, or in their community tend to be healthier and live longer? One reason, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), is that we’re more successful at meeting our health goals when we work on them with others. NHLBI launched the #OurHearts movement to inspire us to protect and strengthen our hearts with the support of others. 

Here are some facts, how-to tips, and resources to inspire you to join with others, even if you can’t be physically together, to improve your heart health.  

Why Connecting is Good for Your Heart

Feeling connected with others and having positive, close relationships benefit our overall health, including our blood pressure and weight. Having people in our lives who will motivate and care for us helps, as do feelings of closeness and companionship.

Follow these lifestyle tips to protect your heart. It will be easier and more successful if you work on them with others, including by texting or phone calls if needed:

  •         Be more physically active. 
  •         Maintain a healthy weight.
  •         Eat a nutritious diet.
  •         Quit smoking.
  •         Reduce stress.
  •         Get 7-8 hours of quality sleep.
  •         Track your heart health stats. 

You don’t have to make big changes all at once. Small steps will get you where you want to go. Here are some ways to get started.

Move more

Invite family, friends, colleagues, or members of your community to join you in your efforts to be more physically active

  •         Ask a colleague to walk “with you” on a regular basis, put the date on both your calendars, and text or call to make sure you both get out for a walk.
  •         Get a friend or family member to sign up for the same online exercise class, such as a dance class. Make it a regular date!
  •         Grab your kids, put on music, and do jumping jacks, skip rope, or dance in your living room or yard. 

How much is enough? Aim for at least 2½ hours of physical activity each week—that’s just 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week. In addition, do muscle strengthening exercises 2 days a week. Can’t carve out a lot of time in your day? Don’t chuck your goal, chunk it! Try 10 or 15 minutes a few times a day. NHLBI’s Move More fact sheet has ideas to get and keep you moving.

Aim for a healthy weight

Find someone in your friend group, at work, or in your family who also wants to reach or maintain a healthy weight. (If you’re overweight, even a small weight loss of 5–10 percent helps your health.) Check in with them regularly to stay motivated. Agree to do healthy activities, like walking or cooking a healthy meal, at the same time, even if you can’t be together. Share low-calorie, low-sodium recipes. Read more about a healthy weight.

Eat heart-healthy

We tend to eat like our friends and family, so ask others close to you to join in your effort to eat healthier. Together, try NHLBI’s free Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) eating plan. Research shows that, compared to a typical American diet, it lowers high blood pressure and improves cholesterol levels. Find delicious recipes at NHLBI’s Heart-Healthy Eating web page.

Quit smoking 

To help you quit, ask others for support or join an online support group. Research shows that people are much more likely to quit if their spouse, friend, or sibling does. Social support online can help you quit. All states have quit lines with trained counselors—call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669). You’ll find many free resources to help you quit, such as apps, a motivational text service, and a chat line at and

If you need extra motivation to quit, consider those around you: Breathing other people’s smoke, called secondhand smoke, is dangerous. Many adult nonsmokers die of stroke, heart disease, and lung cancer caused by secondhand smoke. 

Manage stress 

Reducing stress helps your heart health. Set goals with a friend or family member to do a relaxing activity every day, like walking, yoga or meditation, or participate in an online stress-management program together. Physical activity also helps reduce stress. Talk to a qualified mental health provider or someone else you trust. 

Improve sleep  

Sleeping 7–8 hours a night helps to improve heart health. De-stressing will help you sleep, as does getting a 30-minute daily dose of sunlight. Take a walk instead of a late afternoon nap! Family members and friends: remind each other to turn off the screen and stick to a regular bedtime. Instead of looking at your phone or the TV before bed, relax by listening to music, reading, or taking a bath. 

Track your heart health stats, together 

Keeping a log of your blood pressure, weight goals, physical activity, and if you have diabetes, your blood sugars, will help you stay on a heart-healthy track. Ask your friends or family to join you in the effort. Check out NHLBI’s Healthy Blood Pressure for Healthy Hearts: Tracking Your Numbers worksheet. For more information, read NHLBI’s Healthy Hearts, Healthy Homes: Do You Know Your Cholesterol Levels?

Visit #OurHearts for inspiration on what others around the country are doing together for their heart health. Then join the #OurHearts movement and let NHLBI know what you’re doing to have a healthy heart. Tag #OurHearts to share how you and your family and friends are being heart healthy.


CALM’s Fitness Spotlight

The Daily Move

Introducing the Daily Move with Mel Mah – watch a short preview video hereHow often do you find yourself slouching at your desk? Or hunched over as you scroll through your phone? Maybe you’re doing it right now as you read this?! 

When did the simple act of moving your body become all about fitness?! Thanks to Melly Mah, you can leave the intensity of the gym behind and just love and enjoy your body as it is, right now.

Introducing the Daily Move — a short, daily movement series designed to help relax your body and uplift your mind. It’s not a workout, it’s mindful movement — built for everyone, anywhere.

Want more tips to protect your identity? Watch this video from the Federal Trade Commission!

Mental Health


Before becoming a parent, maybe you dreamed of swaddling your child in organic cotton, baking cupcakes together (it’d be messy, but adorably so) and teaching them the finer points of an assist or layup. The reality is probably a little messier—your kid insists on wearing the same mangy fleece for the third day in a row, knocks all the cupcake sprinkles to the floor and would rather play Fortnite than shoot hoops.

We get it—parenting can be difficult. Just know that you’re not alone. 57% of parents struggle to figure out the most effective way to discipline, with 42% saying they don’t want to yell or raise their voice as quickly as they do. 

Behaviorally Speaking, a free podcast on parenting brought to you by WHIL  

Episode 19 – Let’s Get it Done – to listen click here 

On this episode, Angela and Kristin discuss how to teach time management and prioritization skills to kids and teens. They walk parents through ideas such as the Time Detective (i.e., how much time you think it takes you to get ready for school vs. how much time it actually does), breaking large tasks into more manageable ones to prevent procrastination, and using those handy-dandy visual supports to support organization. They also infuse some variations of tips for different age ranges, including how to start teaching the first stages of time management to toddlers and how to promote independence for teens so they can make it to school on time!

Angela Nelson, MS, BCBA, and Kristin Bandi, MA, BCBA, are Board Certified Behavior Analysts with expertise on human behavior and child development. They spend their days working with parents and caregivers of children as well as children with learning, social, and behavioral challenges, or developmental disabilities. This podcast is brought to you by Whil, A Rethink Division. If you need support as a parent or caregiver of a child, we encourage you to ask your Human Resources team if it’s part of your employer-provided benefits. Whil, A Rethink Division reaches millions of lives globally through partnerships with top organizations and Fortune 1,000 companies.

For additional podcasts on parenting, click here

Carrier News & Views

Resource Spotlights

From Kaiser

Your Guide to Heart Health 

Your heart health matters to us. Through evidence-based treatments and comprehensive care and support, we help many members with heart disease live longer, healthier lives. And our approach to prevention helps others avoid heart disease altogether. At Kaiser Permanente, we work together to achieve healthier outcomes for our members. Learn about our specialty care. 

To learn about prevention, common conditions, treatment and recovery, Click here

From Anthem

Controlling your Blood Pressure

High blood pressure, or hypertension, can affect anyone, but people older than 35 are more likely to have it. You would also be at a higher risk if you are: 

  • African American
  • Pregnant, postmenopausal, or on birth control pills
  • Diagnosed with diabetes
  • Overweight or obese 
  • A heavy drinker
  • A tobacco user 
  • Eating foods high in salt or sodium and low in potassium

High blood pressure can cause heart disease and stroke — leading causes of death for all Americans. High blood pressure is often called a silent killer because it has no obvious signs or symptoms. That is why it’s so important to check your blood pressure regularly at home, at the pharmacy, or at your doctor’s office. Talk to your doctor about your blood pressure and risk factors.

How high blood pressure affects your body 

Your blood pressure is the force of your blood pushing against the walls of your arteries as your heart pumps it through your body. Over time, if the force is too great, your arteries can harden. Less blood and oxygen pass through hardened arteries. Eventually, high blood pressure can damage your heart, brain, and other organs.

To learn about how to manage your blood pressure, continue reading here 

For additional health and wellness resources from your health insurance carrier, log in below


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Financial Wellbeing

Welcome to Principal, Covenant Care’s new financial wellbeing and 401K partner 

Free Webinar Series – Webinars are held the third Wednesday of every month.
Financial education in under 30 minutes

Your financial goals are unique and so is your path to get there. Our award-winning* webinar series is here to help along the way. In less than 30 minutes, you can learn more about a financial topic that matters to you.

Register for an upcoming webinar or catch up on your time with a library of replays.

This month’s Webinar

February 16, 2022 – Prepare for health care coverage in retirement

Health care costs are one of the largest expenses in retirement. Join us for the February webinar and learn how you can prepare. We’ll cover

  • How Medicare factors into your plans
  • Ways to pay for health care when you’re retired, and
  • Whether you should consider long term care insurance

Plus, we’ll also share health insurance options if you plan to retire before you’re eligible for Medicare.

Wednesday, February 16, 2022, 11 p.m. PST

Register for this webinar

Future webinar

March 16, 2022 – Women and wealth: Investing for each life stage

One way to help build your savings to feel more secure in retirement is to invest. Whether you’d like help getting started, you’re already investing but want to see if you’re on track to meet your goals, or you’re nearing retirement and want to make a smooth transition, join the March webinar and learn how investing may help you reach your financial goals.

11 p.m. PST

Register for this webinar

Winner of the 2020 IMEA Star Awards, Participant Webinars, Experiential Education category, large asset level.

Topics and dates are subject to change.

Insurance products and plan administrative services are provided through Principal Life Insurance Company, a member of the Principal Financial Group®, Des Moines, Iowa 50392.

PT436A-09 | © 2020 Principal Financial Services, Inc. | 12/2020 | 1435367-122020

Recipe of the Month

Paleo Tomato Bisque Soup

This creamy Tomato Basil Soup recipe is made with canned tomatoes, simple seasonings and clean ingredients to bring you a dairy free, gluten free, and sugar free version of this comforting staple. It will be tough to believe that clean eating can taste so delicious. Plus, it’s ready in just 30 minutes!


  • 2 tbsp ghee or olive oil
  • 1/2 onion {roughly chopped}
  • 5 cloves garlic {roughly chopped}
  • 2 28 oz cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup stock {veggie or chicken}
  • 1/2 cup non-dairy milk
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp dried parsley
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda {neutralizes acidity of tomatoes}
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • balsamic vinegar {optional}




  1. In a saucepan, add the olive oil over medium heat. Stir in the onion and cook for 3-4 minutes.
  2. Add the garlic and stir for another 2 minutes.
  3. Add the tomatoes (including juice) and turn the heat to medium-high. Break up the tomatoes and
  4. cook for a few minutes. Stir often; don’t let it burn.
  5. Add the stock, milk, paprika, parsley, basil, and oregano. Bring to a low boil; continue stirring.
  6. Using an immersion blender*, blend the soup to your desired consistency.
  7. Once blended, add the baking soda and stir to combine. Finish with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.

* If you don’t have an immersion blender, let the soup cool slightly and then carefully transfer the soup to a blender to blend. Leave the center cap on the lid off to allow the steam to release.


SERVES: 6 (1.5 C serving)

Calories – 200; Fat – 10; Carbohydrates – 17g; Fiber – 7g; Protein – 7g; Sugar – 7g

Recipe source: 

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Live your best life!

Karen Martin
Senior Director, Human Resources and Benefits
Covenant Care California, LLC