Yolonda Owens is our February wellness spotlight award winner! Yolonda is the site lead at VCPA/Pleasanton and was nominated by her colleague, Jessica Mora.
“Yolonda is the epitome of health and wellness. She always eats healthy and encourages us all to do the same. She is part of a hiking group and has already completed half dome — twice! She constantly sets goals for herself and will not take no for an answer. She shows compassion, patience, and mindfulness everyday at work. She also knows how to stay calm in the face of chaos. I believe I can speak on behalf of myself and my co-workers when I say Yolonda is an excellent candidate.”
WELL@UHA asked Yolonda to share more about her motivation and how she promotes wellness among her team. Yolonda (far right) and are team are pictured above.
Q. Your nomination from Jessica mentioned your love of hiking and that you’ve hiked Half Dome twice. Tell us more about how you became interested in hiking.
A. I was going through a rough patch in my life, and about a year and half ago I decided to step outside of my comfort zone and join a local hiking group, I did not know anyone in this group, but I decided to give it a chance. It was the best thing I could have done. Hiking became my therapy it helped me find myself, and I’ve met some wonderful fellow hikers along the way. Hiking is more than just a work out – it’s a way to enjoy nature and clear your head. Hiking Half Dome was such an accomplishment 18 to 21 miles, 12 hour hike with an elevation over 8,800, and climbing cables to the finish. Yes, I did this twice in 2017. If you haven’t looked up Half Dome please do, you’ll see why it’s such an awesome accomplishment for hikers to complete.
Q. What’s your favorite trail you’ve hiked so far?
A. Alamere Falls is definitely one of my favorite hikes so far. A 9 mile coastal hike in Marin County. It’s such a beautiful hike, with an amazing waterfall.
Q. Your nomination also mentioned your dedication to healthy eating and continually setting goals for yourself. What strategies help you stick with your goals and healthy eating when times are busy?
A. Eating healthy was never that easy for me. When I think of my families’ strong medical history of diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol that’s all the motivation I need to eat healthy. I keep snacks in my lunch pack – carrots, yogurt, string cheese or fruit to name a few. I admit I have a cookie or candy bar when I’m really craving it. I’ve always believed that it’s important to eat snacks throughout the day to keep your metabolism going. These are some snacks that get me through the day when it’s busy. I’m always signed up from a Spartan Race or 5k race so I have to maintain a healthy weight, so of course this help me with my goals.
Q. You were also recognized for your ability to maintain calm and use mindfulness in your interactions. Is mindfulness a tool you use and if so, how do recommend people start to develop a mindfulness practice? What other techniques or tools help you maintain calm?
A. I’ve always had a calm demeanor about me and have always handled pressure and stress in a calm manner, not a trait I’ve had to work hard on. I’ve been blessed with this personality trait. However I have learned to incorporate mindfulness into how I handle stressful situations when I am overwhelmed. I listen to music at my desk throughout the day, take walks on my lunch breaks and enjoy a good laugh with the staff throughout the day. It’s important for everyone to find something they enjoy that they can incorporate into their work day. Mediation, quick walks on their break, read a good book. To just get away from your computer and phone for a few minutes while adding in some stretches is another example of a great way to help with mindfulness. Adding yoga to your workout schedule can help you through your week. Bikram yoga is my favorite.
Q. What is your favorite way to encourage wellness for your team at work?
A. When I see my team stressed I try to remind them to take some deep breaths and ask them to take a break when needed. Continuing to eat healthy throughout the day and try to get some physical activity into their schedule. These positive behaviors can help them have more energy throughout the day.
Q. What brings you joy?
A. My 4 children, when I’m able to hike and when I’m able to get away for quick vacations with close friends.
Q. What’s your wish for UHA in 2018?
A. For 2018 I’m wishing for UHA to continue to promote this great Health and Wellness program to all employees. I wish we could get more folks out on hikes and help introduce them to the beautiful Bay Area trails.
Thank you to Yolonda for sharing her story and to Jessica for recognizing her contributions to workplace wellness!