Help Us Promote Your Health/Wellness Event

Ever see an advertisement, flyer, or hear of an event you wanted to go to but missed the date?

Enliven Wellness Works seeks to remedy the problem by being the one online source for all TampaBay area Health and Wellness Events.

Whether a paddle boarding demonstration, half-marathon, or an expo, we will list your event on our web Event Page.

Thus, the Enliven Wellness Works Event Page will be the online spot for planning all your future outings.

But, we need your help!  If you know of an event, or are promoting an event yourself, please send us a link or information, so we may help disseminate to the public.

Our new website is set to launch this quarter, and we would love to assist with promoting events occurring March 1 or later.  Please submit to:

Juicing Workshop at First Unity Campus on November 17

By Joran Slane Oppelt

Why is everyone talking about juicing and why should you care?

Enliven Wellness Works is proud to be a sponsor of this upcoming workshop alongside Integral Church. The workshop will be led by our good friend Kelly Lessem (Squeeze Juiceworks, Kelly’s Yoga and Massage Garage).

Join us on Saturday, November 17 from Noon – 2 p.m. for a discussion on home juicing, cleansing, and what the heck it all means. See a live demonstration of real, raw food being juiced and taste the delicious results. A Q&A session will follow with some socializing, snacks and refreshments.

Register here / RSVP here on Facebook.

Juicing 101 [Workshop]
Saturday, November 17
Noon – 2 p.m.
First Unity Campus – Friendship Hall
460 46th Avenue North, St. Petersburg, FL 33703; (727) 527-2222
$10 in advance; $15 suggested love offering at the door

TESTIFY: Read Joran’s transformative daily journal from his five-day juice cleanse.

About Joran Slane Oppelt – Marketing Director, Father, Husband, Musician, Reverend, Maintenance Man – Not necessarily in that order.

Give the Gift of Wellness

By: Jennifer Oppelt

This holiday season, skip the novelty sweaters and hot cocoa gift sets and give something that inspires health and well being. And while your at it, you can help support your community by purchasing your gifts from local businesses and practitioners. Below are a some of my favorite wellness related businesses and practices where you can pick up your gifts for the holidays. Want to save on gas and reduce stress? Give them a call and have them mail you a gift certificate.

Thank You Mama – Part Massage and Acupuncture clinic, part yoga and movement studio and part baby and mother care boutique. Thank You Mama specializes in women’s health but they can take care of the whole family! If you have any new or expectant mothers in your life, some goodies from Thank You Mama should definitely be on your shopping list. The boutique features organic and natural products including baby clothing, toys, Bum Genius cloth diapers, personal care items and so much more! Want to give the ultimate pampering treat? Try the 2-hour Maya Abdominal Massage. Thank You Mama massage therapist, Jen Poll, is one of the only practitioners of The Arvigo Techniques of Maya Abdominal Therapy practicing within Pinellas and Hillsborough counties. All of the licensed massage therapists at Thank You Mama are amazing. You just can’t go wrong here! Find them at: 1511 4th St N., St. Petersburg, FL 33704 (727) 289-7250

Balance & Bliss Ayurvedic Lifestyle Center at the Lotus Pond – What is Ayurveda, you ask? Ayurveda is a system that honors your individual nature and helps you return to balance by focusing on lifestyle changes and personal care. Ayurvedic Practitioner, Denise O’Dunn offers a variety of services and products, including consultations, massage, traditional Ayurvedic body work, personalized teas, oils and more. Here is a list of packages and gift ideas. Not sure what to pick? Give Denise a call at (727) 417-4006 and she will help you decide. My personal favorite services are Ayurvedic Massage and Shirodhara. I promise you, a couple hours at Balance & Bliss is enough to unravel your nerves and send you into a blissful state. Find them at: 6201 Lynn Road, Tampa, Florida 33625 (727) 417-4006

Mindful Meals – Got a loved one on your list who is too busy to cook healthy, nourishing meals? Give them a Mindful Meals gift certificate and Chef, Emily Golden will personally deliver a fresh, ready to heat meal to their door. All of her meals are made with 100% natural ingredients and she uses local and organic ingredients whenever possible. She features a new menu each week filled with delicious meal, sides and snack options and online ordering to make it super convenient! Find them at:

YMCA – So far as gyms go, I love the YMCA. First, I love the community vibe. Second, there are so many great activities for my kids and as members we get major savings on dance and swim lessons. Third, there are no contracts. All memberships are month to month. This makes it perfect for gift giving. Consider giving a 1-3 months paid membership to get your  loved one on their way to physical fitness. There are many locations throughout Pinellas and Hillsborough County.

Here are a few more ideas:

Health Coaching – A certified health coach can help you define your wellness goals and create a plan for making them happen. Health coaches can help you with nutrition, physical fitness, stress management and more. Enliven has several great health coaches that do in-person and phone coaching sessions. Contact me for a recommendation.

Health Food Store Gift Cards – In St. Pete we’ve got Rollin’ Oats and Earth Origins (they also have a store in Palm Harbor). In Clearwater there is Natures Food Patch and in Tampa there is also a Rollin Oats and of course, Whole Foods. There are many others as well. A gift card is always appreciated in  large or small denominations. I know I always love it when I get a Rollin’ Oats gift card. Even a $15 card is great for picking up a quick meal and smoothie.

Yoga – Peace and quiet. Yoga class may be one of the last places where you can find this anymore. All yoga studios offer single classes and packages and they would be happy to sell you a gift card! Some popular studios in the area are Lotus Pond and Lotus Room, Yogani, Yoga 4 AllYoga Moves, Living Room Yoga, St. Petersburg Yoga and if your looking for a Bikram or hot yoga, Perfect Circle Yoga and Fitness is a great studio.

Massage – Who doesn’t love a good massage? You pretty much just can’t go wrong with this gift! You can get massage gift certificates at Thank You Mama and Balance& Bliss as I mentioned earlier. Plus there are tons of great licensed massage therapists in the area. Need a referral? Enliven has many great therapists that practice in Tampa Bay. Contact me for a recommendation.

After all this talk about massage and healthy food delivery you might be thinking, “Hey, what about me?” Find a casual way to get this blog post in front of your loved one…or maybe not so casual. My husband always appreciates the suggestions at gift giving time! Happy Holidays everyone, wishing you a season filled with health and happiness!


Jennifer Oppelt is the President and Founder of Enliven Wellness Works, a company specializing in workplace wellness and health coaching based in St. Petersburg/Tampa Bay FL. She is a licensed massage therapist in the state of FL and is currently enrolled in the Institute for Integrative Nutrition’s Health Coach program. She is happily married and a mother to two children, Alchemy 7 and Ashton 1. Jennifer loves spending time with family, cooking real food, fitness and is an advocate of sustainable living.

Should We Start a Biggest Loser Contest at Work?

photo by Alan Cleaver

It happens each day, all across America, an inspiration for an at-work biggest loser contest is born.

Scenario 1: A group of employees is standing around the break room picking at left over birthday cake when one person says, “I really need to lose some weight.”

“Yeah…me too,” chimes in another.

“Hey, why don’t we start a biggest loser contest,” suggests one enthusiastic employee. “It will be fun!”

Scenario 2:
It’s the company wellness meeting and a committee is brainstorming on ways to reduce health care claims and improve the health of their work force.

“Let’s do a biggest loser competition, the person who loses the most weight can win a pile of cash, we can have fun prizes for others that reach their goals, we can do a big kick off event at the health fair to get everyone excited. What do you think,” asks the wellness committee member who probably already works out 5 days a week and clearly does not need to lose a single pound.

So, biggest loser competitions – great idea or big fail waiting to happen? It depends on how you approach it. We all need a little motivation and a lot of support to reach our goals. Internal motivation (where you don’t need anything else but your own will power), while the very best kind, can be hard to come by. Internal motivation mostly takes place when you hit a wall and realize that you must change, or else. Usually, a life-shattering event encourages this, like serious news about your health or the health of a loved one. This can be enough to shake up even the most dedicated couch potato and make them want to change their lifestyle forever. For the average person, making major life changes without some initial external motivation can be a daunting task. This is why contests, such as a biggest loser contest are so appealing. You get the powerful motivators of competitive spirit and cash or prizes to set a fire under you. Also, you usually get some nice structure and accountability measures. Like, weekly weigh-ins, rules to follow, tracking sheets to fill out, etc. In the end though, these external motivators are short-lived and you will have to rely on your own internal motivation to make a permanent change.

Biggest loser contest = powerful incentive to lose weight. Sounds good, right? So, what’s the downside? Well, while I admit to loving The Biggest Loser show, I also think the model is flawed in many ways. For one, the contestants are isolated from their real lives and everything that got them to where they are in the first place. Two, round the clock personal trainers and medical care make for a “too good to be true” situation that never occurs for the average person. Three, TV cameras in your face and a national broadcast are a pretty powerful motivator to keep you from just plain quitting in front of the entire world. This is not reality, this is television. I’ve seen the comeback episodes where certain contestants have gained back all or some of the weight. Even after this “ideal” scenario of having the best trainers money can buy and 100% focused time on just losing weight, lasting success comes down to one thing. Will you change your lifestyle or will you go on a diet and eventually return to your old ways? Check out the article, Does Reality TV go too Far? for more about how things work on the Biggest Loser show.

How does all of this translate over to biggest loser contests in the workplace? Usually, these at-work contests are good at getting people motivated and in the end, weight is inevitably lost. But, are the employees any healthier as a result? Will they keep off the weight once the contest is done? Unfortunately, a lot of the time the answer is no. But not always. It depends on how the contest is set up and run. Here are some reasons why these contests can fail.

  • People don’t make true lifestyle changes – Instead of  learning how to deal with emotional eating, manage stress, incorporate the right amount of physical activity and learn balanced eating habits, people will often go to extreme measures to lose weight in these contests. Some people will starve themselves, over exercise, use diet pills or adopt other short-term harmful behaviors. Once the contest is over, participants will not maintain these behaviors, and the weight (with related health problems) will ultimately return.
  • Unrealistic goals – According to the National Institutes of Health a safe and effective rate of weight loss is 1-2 pounds per week. To win the contests, people sometimes resort to the unhealthy measures described above to lose more weight. Rapid weight loss can cause the loss of lean muscle tissue which can slow down metabolic rates. According to the NIH, weight regain after quick weight loss is often rapid and participants may have a harder time losing weight again in the future.
  • People are externally motivated – I spoke about this in the first paragraph. A nice prize is a great incentive but once the excitement has worn off what will keep the participant on track? People need to learn why they want to lose weight and keep it off, for themselves.
  • Underlying factors are ignored – Participants who have dealt with a lifetime of battling with their weight are often battling other issues. Depression, diabetes, hypothyroidism, and others need to be taken into account when starting a weight loss program. If you don’t offer help for people to address these issues, you could be doing more harm than good by baiting them with a biggest loser contest.

Despite these arguments, do you still want to have a biggest loser contest at work? Below are some tips on how you can incorporate a contest and keep your employees health as the #1 priority.

1. Healthy Lifestyle Education – Don’t even think about starting a weight loss contest without offering educational classes at the workplace on how to eat healthy, exercise correctly, manage stress, deal with emotional eating and more. Without the proper tools and education, it is not likely that your employees will improve their health for the long-term. Set them up for success from the start.

2. Focus on Fitness – Start a walking group, a “take the stairs” campaign or even better, launch some on-site group fitness classes for employees to take during lunch or after work. Exercise is an important part of any weight loss program. Offering ways for employees to get some stress reducing, calorie burning movement in at work sends a powerful message about your commitment to their health.

3. Professional Monitoring  – For confidentiality and safety have an outside vendor provide a qualified health professional (or team of health professionals) to come on-site to do the assessments, weigh-ins and some one-on-one coaching with the participants. If you can kick off the event with a full health screening, that would be ideal. This way, participants who are in high risk categories can be referred to their doctor before beginning the program.

4. Team Work and Support – The last thing that you want in the workplace is for the competition to get out of hand and create drama and tension among the employees. Keep it fun and light. Create smaller teams within departments that will support each other towards their goals. Just try to avoid an “each man for himself” mentality.

5. Go Long – Making the contest long instead of short will help avoid the mad rush to lose too much too quick. A six month or even a year-long contest with benchmarks and goals along the way will be more effective for creating lifestyle change than say, an 8 week contest.

6. Re-assess – Make it clear from the start that at some point after the contest officially ends, there will be more assessments maybe 3, 6 and 12 months down the road. Set up a separate incentive and/or recognition program for those employees who kept the weight off or continued to lose.

7. Don’t Let the Scale Rule – The scale can be a fickle measure of success. While it can be extremely motivating to see those numbers go down it is completely normal for our weight to fluctuate daily by about two pounds. The dreaded plateau is also very common and frustrating, especially when it happens just before the contest ends. And, if you are exercising and doing strength training (highly recommended) you may see less weight lost on the scale that you might hope for. When pounds lost is the only way to win your contest, you are shutting out a whole group of worthy contestants who are doing exactly what they should be doing. This can be extremely discouraging. Try tracking body fat percentage and/or inches lost in addition to tracking weight to make sure that you are giving proper recognition where it is due.

8. Consider Other Points of View – Be prepared for some backlash after presenting a contest like this. You must understand that some people are extremely sensitive about their weight and may feel threatened by a weight loss contest. They may feel like you are targeting them specifically or that there is some type of prejudice in the workplace against being overweight. You can’t please everyone, that is for sure. But, if you make the message very clear that this contest is about health and lifestyle change, not just getting skinny, you will win over some of the reluctant employees who may need help the most. You can also create some fun prizes and incentives for those who make simply lifestyle changes, separate from the weight loss contest.

Final Words: Make your wellness vision for your employees clear though your wellness mission statement, wellness campaigns and promotional events. Work on changing the wellness culture of your workplace. This means that wellness becomes an important and integral part of the lives of each and every employee as supported by the company vision. For more insight on utilizing incentives to maximize participation, check out this publication from WELCOA.

If you decide that a biggest loser contest is right for your employees, please keep it fun, positive and focused on health and lifestyle change. And most importantly, make sure that it is safe, filled with education and monitored by qualified health professionals.

Jennifer Oppelt is the President and Founder of Enliven Wellness Works, a company specializing in workplace wellness and health coaching based in St. Petersburg/Tampa Bay FL. She is a licensed massage therapist in the state of FL and is currently enrolled in the Institute for Integrative Nutrition’s Health Coach program. She is happily married and a mother to two children, Alchemy 7 and Ashton 1. Jennifer loves spending time with family, cooking real food, fitness and is an advocate of sustainable living.

For more information on how Enliven Wellness can help with your employee wellness, please email Jennifer at: 

World Heart Day – September 26, 2010

World Heart Federation © Jason Joyce

Each year, more than 17 million people die from cardiovascular disease, mainly heart disease and stroke, making it the world’s leading cause of death. This year marks the 10 year anniversary of celebrating World Heart Day. In 2000, the World Heart Federation, a non-governmental organization based in Geneva, Switzerland, created the annual World Heart Day campaign to increase public awareness about the threat of heart disease and stroke.

The theme of the 2010 World Heart Day is ” Workplace Wellness: Take Responsibility for Your Own Heart Health”.  There are simple ways to foster and promote healthy lifestyles in general and around the workplace. Engaging in healthy behaviors helps to control certain risk factors such as high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, and prevent heart disease and stroke.

Enliven Wellness Works is dedicated to keeping employees “heart healthy” with our workplace wellness services. We offer nutrition, smoking cessation and stress management classes, fitness classes, massage therapy and more. Allow us to help you start a wellness initiative at your workplace in honor of World Heart Day this year. For more information contact:

10 Simple Steps to be “Heart Healthy”

Source: World Heart Federation

1. Healthy food intake – Eat at least 5 servings of fruit and vegetables a day and avoid saturated fat. Beware of processed foods, which often contain high levels of salt.

2. Get active & take heart – Even 30 minutes of activity can help to prevent heart attacks and strokes and your work will benefit too.

3. Say no to tobacco – Your risk of coronary heart disease will be halved within a year and will return to a normal level over time.

4. Maintain a healthy weight – Weight loss, especially together with lower ed salt intake, leads to lower blood pressure. High blood pressure is the number one risk factor for stroke and a major factor for approximately half of all heart disease and stroke.

5. Know your numbers – Visit a health-care professional who can measure your blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose levels, together with waist-to-hip ratio and body mass index (bmi). Once you know your overall risk,you can develop a specific plan of action to improve your heart health.

6. Limit your alcohol intake – Restrict the amount of alcoholic drinks that you consume. Excessive alcohol intake can cause your blood pressure to rise and your weight to increase.


7. Insist on a smoke-free environment. Demand a tobacco ban – ensure your workplace is 100% smoke-free. Support the adoption of smoking – cessation services encourage your employer to provide help to those wanting to quit tobacco

8. Bring exercise to the workplace – Include physical activity in your working schedule – cycle to work if this is possible, take the stairs, exercise or go for a walk during your lunch breaks, and encourage others to do so too

9. Choose healthy food options- Ask for healthy food at your work canteen, or find nearby cafes or restaurants that serve healthy meals

10. Encourage stress-free moments -While stress has not been shown to be a direct risk fact or for heart disease and stroke, it is related to smoking, excessive drinking and unhealthy eating, which are risk factors for heart disease.


  • Take time for lunch away from your workplace to get some fresh air
  • Have regular breaks during the day – try stretching or exercising for 5 minutes twice a day