Feb 26

Employee Spotlight – Charlie Hodson

FullSizeRenderFor our second Thankful Thursday Employee Spotlight of 2015, we are featuring Customer Service Representative Charlie Hodson. Here is what he had to say:

 

Why did you choose, and how long have you worked with CPH?

I graduated from college from Wittenberg University in the summer of 2012 and I came home to Chicago in search of my next journey.  I choose to begin working at CPH in July of 2012 because I wanted to learn from the best, my father, and President of CPH & Associates.

 

What is your role at CPH?

Like all of the employees at CPH & Associates, my first and most important role is as a customer service representative, answering phone calls and emails to our valued clients.  My other main objective is as a sale representative and underwriter for our group policies.

 

Why would customers need to interact with you?

Our main goal is to educate the insured individuals about our policies and their coverage as a customer service representative.  Another large aspect of my job is to help Group/Corporate policy holders understand their coverage and try to reduce their risk and exposures, while trying to keep their premiums as low as possible.

 

How would you describe the company culture?

CPH & Associates is an exceptional place to work, and I am extremely lucky to work here.  It has the feel of a small company where you really get to know your coworkers on a face-to-face level.  Which is rare in this day and age in a world of technology and emails.

 

What do you like most about working for CPH?

I love my interaction with my fellow employees and the hard-work that everyone puts forth every day.  I know if there is ever a conflict or issue, my fellow co-workers are always ready and willing to assist.  

 

Charlie, thank you for your dedication and hard work!

Feb 24

Diabetes Prevention During Black History Month

Diabetes, Black History Month, HealthFebruary is Black History Month, and a time when the American Diabetes Association is striving to raise awareness about Type 2 Diabetes among African Americans. Studies have shown that “13.2% of African Americans have been diagnosed with diabetes, compared to 7.6% of non-Hispanic whites.” Diabetes is a problem that should be taken seriously, and the right preventative techniques can help.

 

Eat a Proper Diet

The food you consume plays a major role in your likelihood of getting diabetes. One of the best things you can eat is grains rather than highly-processed foods. There is a large body of evidence that supports a correlation between foods like pasta, breads and cereal and a lower likelihood of suffering from diabetes.

While there’s still a bit of mystery as to the specifics behind this correlation, research has found that grains help maintain healthy blood sugar levels. It’s also recommended to get plenty of fiber via foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and whole grains. This also improves your blood sugar level and lowers your chances of heart disease.

Foods high in saturated fats such, especially foods that have been fried tend to be the worst for keeping a healthy heart and a healthy blood sugar level. Unfortunately, these also happen to be the most accessible food around, with fast-food restaurants virtually on every corner. Start with your work lunch habit — instead of your usual lunch spot, stretch your legs, explore the area — maybe you’ll be able to find a place you love that serves healthy food and get exercise in the process!

 

Exercise

Staying active and engaging in activities like running, weight training and various recreational activities are also vital for keeping diabetes at bay. Exercising on a consistent basis prevents weight gain, keeps your blood sugar at a healthy level and makes you feel good. This doesn’t need to be anything over the top, but striving to exercise for at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week can lower the odds of getting diabetes dramatically.

 

Drink Plenty of Water

Many people have developed an unhealthy love for soft drinks that are jam-packed with sugar. Consuming sugar-loaded drinks can adversely affect your health in many ways and will not do your blood sugar any favors. Consequently, you should try to replace soft drinks with water, and try to drink more water throughout the day.

By joining the American Diabetes Association in celebrating Black History Month and raising diabetes awareness, you can promote healthier living and hopefully reduce the number of diabetes cases.

Feb 19

Post-Valentine’s Day Blues? Be Your Own Favorite Valentine!

Valentine's Day, Love, PositivityWhen you think of Valentine’s Day, your first thought is probably giving love and affection to that special someone. While loving others is obviously important, it’s also important to love yourself. We often confuse “loving yourself” with negative connotations such as self-centeredness vainness or selfishness, but in fact, science-backed research has found that loving yourself via having a healthy self-esteem is integral to a happy and fulfilling life. Here are some specific reasons why you should make it a point to boost self-esteem and love yourself.

 

It Can Improve Your Mental Health

If you’re always down and beat yourself up for every little mistake, it can take a toll on your mental health. Years of self-negative reinforcement can ultimately lead to depression, anxiety and other mental illness. However, having self-compassion has the opposite effect and tends to make you much more optimistic about life. In turn, this lowers your odds of having depression or anxiety significantly.

 

It Can Improve Your Physical Health

When you feel good about yourself, it’s often a natural catalyst for getting off the couch and going out to exercise. You’re also more likely to ditch unhealthy habits like smoking and eating unhealthy comfort foods. Research has shown that loving your body and having plenty of self-esteem often leads to better health decisions!

 

You Can Make it Through Tough Times Easier

Everyone is going to face some type of adversity from time to time. If you’re a well-adjusted person with a healthy amount of self-esteem, it makes it much easier to persevere and keep going when things just can’t seem to go your way. On the other hand, being a “downer,” engaging in self-loathing and self-doubt tends to prolong problems because we tend to focus so much on the problem, we fail to focus on a solution. Basically, bouncing back from adversity has a lot to do with your self-compassion.

 

You’ll Reach a Deeper Level of Happiness

Studies also suggest that there is a correlation between self-acceptance and your overall happiness. When you’re kind to yourself, you’re likely to experience a higher level of satisfaction in life and attain a healthier, care-free  attitude towards insignificant problems. Without worrying about, and letting the “little things” bring you down, you can view life as something to be enjoyed instead of endured.

 

Like the old adage goes, loving another starts with loving oneself. So, if you are down, or just having a tough week, try these tips for loving yourself more, and witness the experience the effects!

Feb 17

Parent Leadership Month – How School Counselors Can Help Parents

Parenting, Counselor, ChildFebruary is National Parent Leadership Month and a time to recognize the importance that parents play in the lives of their children and community. It’s also the perfect time for parents to learn how they can be more of a positive influence in their children’s lives and help them become upstanding citizens. One way to improve parent leadership is to get input and support from school counselors, which can have the following benefits.

 

Provides Insight on Child Behavior

A child spends a large portion of their time at school, and it’s impossible for parents to fully understand their behaviors when they’re not at home. Because a school counselor is surrounding by the school environment, they can gain an in depth understanding of a child’s behavior and share it with the parents. If there is a pattern of problem behavior, parents can better address it with the knowledge they gain.

 

Improves Parent/Child Relationships

Sometimes a child lacks the ability to fully express their feelings to their parents, teachers and other adults. When this happens, it can put a strain on relationships, and the child may need some guidance to maintain effective communication. A school counselor specializes in getting through to kids and helping them develop the skills they need to thrive in life. If there is a specific problem between a child and their parents, a counselor can assess the situation and help resolve it. In turn, this can improve relationships considerably.

 

Learn Parenting Strategies

Being a parent can be difficult at times. And as the saying goes, there’s no manual for raising a child. Fortunately, a school counselor interacts with children on a constant basis and possesses a high level of knowledge about child behavior. They can use that knowledge to educate parents on how to better connect with their child and understand why they do what they do. This can be incredibly valuable and help parents steer their child down the right path. Parents will also be better equipped to handle bad behavior in the future; so minor problems don’t escalate to more serious ones.

Parent Leadership Month is the perfect time to get better educated on effective parenting. Reaching out to a school counselor can increase parent leadership and have a positive impact on both the parent and child.

Feb 12

It’s Love, Love, Love!

Love, Serotonin, Romance, Valentines DayFalling in love is perhaps one of the most exhilarating experiences we can feel as humans. Feeling that type of connection triggers feelings of euphoria and creates a feeling that can be likened to a drug-induced high. But when you get down to it, falling in love serves a much deeper, biological purpose. It makes people want to stay together, form families and raise children, which inevitably ensures the survival and thriving of our species. At the risk of bursting the romantic Valentine’s Day bubble, we wanted to know what happens chemically in our bodies when we are in love. Research has found that there is a legitimate chemical reaction in our bodies when we fall in love. Here is what happens:

 

Higher Dopamine Levels

Dopamine is a chemical in the brain that is responsible for pleasure and pain. When dopamine levels spike, it creates a euphoric feeling and gives the body an overall sense of well-being. Higher dopamine levels are also brought about by taking opioid drugs such as morphine and hydrocodone. When humans get used to this effect, it can be incredibly addictive, which leads to withdrawals if dopamine levels return to normal base levels. This goes to show how powerful the rush can be when two people fall in love and how painful it can be when a relationship ends.

 

Increased Adrenaline

When you start falling for someone, it can be incredibly exciting and even scary at times. That is because there is often a boost of adrenaline when you see or think about someone you’re highly attracted to. This is why it’s common to have sweaty palms and rapid heart beats, especially when a relationship is just starting to thrive, often referred to as the “Honeymoon Phase.”

 

Serotonin Levels Drop

In some instances, serotonin may levels fall to the point that a person develops symptoms that are similar to someone with obsessive-compulsive disorder. This can sometimes lead to feelings of anxiety and nervousness. For those who cannot control this feeling, or are not used to having it, it can also make a person obsess about their loved one. Rarer still, it can become unhealthy to the point where a person’s obsession over an object of their love can turn destructive and dangerous to both people.

These strong chemical reactions shows just how powerful love really is and what it does to the human body.

Feb 10

How Kissing Burns Calories

Valentines, Kissing, CaloriesKissing someone special is arguably one of the best feelings in the world. The troubles of the world fade away, and you’re in a temporary state of bliss. Besides feeling great, there are also a host of health benefits associated with kissing. Some of which include a boosted immune system, decreased pain and lower stress.

On top of this, kissing has been known to burn calories. And although it won’t equal that of running or full on exercise, it’s definitely advantageous. Here’s how it happens, and how to maximize the calories you burn.

 

Metabolism Booster

According to Dr. Sharon Stills, a naturopathic physician, kissing burns somewhere around two to three calories per minute, versus an average of approximately one calorie per minute while a person is at rest. So if choosing between kissing and doing nothing at all, kissing doubles, if not triples, your metabolic rate. In the long run, it can help you lose at least a little weight. While this is nowhere near the same as rigorous exercise, it’s safe to say that for most, it is a lot more pleasant than pumping iron or sweating on an exercise machine.

 

Maximizing the Calories You Burn

If you really want to take advantage of this kissing and calorie-burning phenomenon, there are a few ways to increase the number of burnt calories. For starters, a surprise, stand-up kiss is better than sitting down on the couch and moving in for a smooch. Planting a surprise kiss briefly increases heart rate both participants due to the rush and surprise, speeding up blood flow, and boosting metabolism. Meanwhile, standing up also makes you use your muscles more, burning more calories while the smooching is going on.

Because consuming oxygen plays an integral role in burning calories, getting to the point of heavy breathing also helps you burn more. Regardless of whether it is a quick peck on the lips or a long, passionate kiss, remember to breathe deeply, and slowly. Increasing the oxygen exchange will help you burn calories, lower your heart rate, and make the process more enjoyable by lowering your stress brain waves. Also, being in a warmer environment means that you’ll burn more calories, so, turn up the heat… pun intended!

For this Valentine’s Day, you can kill two birds with one stone by kissing. Not only can you enjoy some passionate on this romantic holiday, but you can also burn some calories at the same time!

Feb 05

Loving Yourself – The Health Benefits of Hugs

Hugs, Valentines Day, HealthWith Valentine’s Day just around the corner, it’s a fitting time to talk about human affection. Besides feeling good and comforting, hugging has also been proven to offer a variety of health benefits. In fact, it was recently National Hug Day on January 21. Here are some of the key benefits of hugging:

 

Lower Blood Pressure

There was a research study conducted by the School of Medicine at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill that found a direct link between hugging and reduced blood pressure. In this study, it was discovered that hugger participants had less than half of the systolic reading than non-huggers. This is tangible proof that hugging has a calming effect and can have a positive long-term impact on your health.

 

Stronger Immune System

The gentle pressure of a hug on the sternum has been found to stimulate the thymus gland, which is responsible for regulating the production of white blood cells. This is important because it’s white blood cells that protect the body from disease and infection. Consequently, there is a correlation between hugging and a strong immune system, which can be advantageous during the cold winter months when most peoples’ immune systems take a beating.

 

Feelings of Well Being

According to Happiness Weekly, “a full-body hug stimulates your nervous system while decreasing feelings of loneliness, combating fear, increasing self-esteem, defusing tension, and showing appreciation.” In turn, this contributes to positive feelings and can potentially ward off depression and other negative mental feelings. This is partly due to the fact that a hormone called oxytocin is released when there is direct touch between two humans or even between a human and pet. This makes people feel more connected, less lonely and improves mental health.

 

Relieves Pain and Tension

By hugging on a consistent basis, it has a soothing effect and relaxes the muscles. When this happens, there is less tension throughout the body and increased circulation to the soft tissues. For people who suffer from pain or tense muscles, hugging can relieve these symptoms considerably.

The health benefits of hugging are numerous and backed up by scientific studies. So this goes to show that you should hug someone every time you get a chance.

Feb 03

How Much Sleep Is Healthy, After All?

Health, Sleep, REMWhen we were young, going to bed was a chore that we fought against as much as we could. After all, all the coolest television programming seemed to be happening right as the call for bedtime sounded… it was so unfair! Days that we got to stay up late were something to brag about, and tell all our friends.

As adults, we seem to have the opposite problem: not enough sleep. It seems that with all the work, family and life obligations, every day we struggle to get enough hours in bed, even without counting an occasional need to relax and have fun. Now, in our adult lives, getting a good amount of sleep is something to brag about instead of staying up late.

“I went to sleep at 9 PM last night,” we brag about it to our coworkers. They shake their heads in appreciation and amazement:

“How did you manage to turn in so early? Wow, so lucky,” they exclaim, going on to discuss and try to remember the last time they got “8 hours.”

Eight hours of sleep seemed to have been the go-to standard for a long time – get 8 hours, and you should be good to go, they said. A recent study by the National Sleep Foundation revealed new information on our sleeping habits, and came out with updated sleep hours that suggest that for most of us, even 8 hours may not be enough.

Good news for teenagers who love to sleep in – the National Sleep Foundation suggests 8 to 10 hours of sleep for healthy development among ages 14 to 17, and up to 11 hours of sleep a night for kids 6 to 13.

For a healthy adults ages 18 – 64, 7 to 9 hours of sleep is an ideal amount of shut-eye for a proper rest. The deviation comes from a natural physiological and preferential differences among people – some feel fully rested after 7 hours while others need all 9. Less than 7 hours is typically considered unhealthy, while more than 9 can get you sleep-saturated in order to prepare for a period of no sleep, or high stress.

Older adults ages 65+ are recommended 7 to 8 hours of sleep, surprisingly less than the main age group of adults.

Regardless of what age group you belong to, be sure to get enough hours of sleep every night… 9 hours of sleep a night may seem difficult for someone with a full schedule, but consider the benefits of being sharper, healthier and happier… for that, you can spare an hour or so a day.

Jan 29

Is Earth Really That Healthy For Us?

Earth, Health, ExplorationEarlier in January, astronomers discovered a star system with at least five Earth-sized planets. The discovery rekindled the conversation about the existence of habitable, Earth-like worlds outside our solar system, and possibly, life.

In order to make a planet habitable for us, or life similar to us, the planet has to be situated in the “goldilocks zone,” a distance away from its star that is far enough away not to boil away water, and close enough not to freeze it solid. Over the last few years, scientists have found over 20 extrasolar planets that fit that description.

That got us thinking… is home planet really our ideal environment, or could there be planets out there that are even better or healthier for us, humans, to live on?

Location

Earth is, of course, located in the goldilocks zone, but it is actually pretty close to the inner edge, scraping by on the edge of uninhabitability. An ideal planet for us would be situated in the middle of the goldilocks zone.

Temperature

Since Earth is on the inner edge of the goldilocks zone, the side facing the sun it is constantly baked in radiation. Our atmosphere does a lot to offset the temperature differences, but realistically, Earth’s temperatures differences are pretty extreme. Even though we are highly-adaptable species who can live in tropical heat as well as frozen tundra, only a fraction of Earth is comfortable for us to live in. Imagine a planet with warm, 70s temperatures all around the globe, with only mild variations in seasons… it may be possible on a planet with a weaker sun, and more in the middle of the goldilocks zone. Also, a planet without big landmasses like our continents would be less likely to develop desert regions.

Weather

The aforementioned theoretical planet without extreme temperature differences would also not have the extreme weather we get here on Earth. A planet without hurricanes, tornadoes or severe thunderstorms would be much more ideal for us.

UV Rays

Most of us can’t spend a full day outside in the sun without getting burned here, on Earth. A weaker sun, and/or being away from the inner edge of the goldilocks zone would solve that problem for us

Natural Resources

Our current periodic table is incomplete. There are many heavy elements that are yet to be discovered, or have not been observed in nature because we are limited by what we can mine or discover here on Earth. Imagine a planet with a wide array of new elements for us to discover, and what it will do for our science, medicine and overall well-being as a species!

Although a more ideal planet than Earth is theoretically possible, currently, there is no way to know for sure. It would take 200,000 years for us to get to the closest of those potentially habitable worlds with current propulsion technologies, so for the near future, Earth is the ideal, and only place for us.

Jan 27

How to Eat Right and Maintain Proper Nutrition on a Budget

bell-pepper-569070_1280Getting the right nutrition is extremely important for not only feeling good physically and mentally, but for preventing disease and illness. The problem is that some of the cheapest foods (e.g. fast food and processed food) has the least nutritional value. And on the other hand, healthier foods like organic, non-GMO, all-natural tend to be more expensive. Fortunately, you can still eat right and get proper nutrition on a budget by following these guidelines.

 

Do Your Own Cooking

One of the quickest ways to overspend is by constantly eating out or buying prepackaged meals that you heat up in the microwave or oven. This can quickly rack up your food costs and often lacks nutritional value. The solution is to buy whole foods and cook them yourself. Although it may require a bit more time, it’s often more satisfying and you can eat better without exorbitant costs.

 

Purchase Frozen Fruits and Veggies

If you’re not sure how long it will take you to eat perishable foods like fruits and veggies, it’s smart to buy them frozen. Rather than only having a few days before they go bad, you can easily have several weeks or even months. On top of this, frozen fruits and veggies should be rich in nutrients if they were frozen right, and you can often find them at discount prices.

 

Shop for Local Foods That Are In Season

Buying foods that are locally grown and farmed saves money because sellers don’t have to cover the cost of long distance transportation. When it comes to fruits and veggies, try to stick with the ones that are in season in your area and you can save money while boosting your health. An added benefit of local foods is that they’re practically guaranteed to be fresh and you’re putting money back into your community.

 

Join a Co-op

If you are feeling a bit Marxist lately, a final option involves joining a local co-op where members contribute to food production and distribution or volunteer in exchange for reduced costs on food. If you’ve got some extra time and want to have access to healthy food at an affordable cost, then this is something to look into. Just search for co-ops in your area and see what is out there.

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