Dear Annie: My employer is conducting a weight-loss incentive program for the month of April. Whoever loses the most weight gets a $250 gift card.
I know that obesity is an epidemic in this country. I know losing weight can reduce one's likelihood of having many chronic health issues. I think it's great that my employer cares about employee wellness (even if the bosses are partially motivated by insurance rates). However, I'm already a healthy weight, and I'd be underweight if I lost more than a few pounds. I don't think it's fair for me to be excluded from this team-building challenge (and, let's be honest, a potential $250). Do I have any recourse here? — Weighing My Options
Dear Weighing: Wellness isn't only about weight. The number on the scale is merely one measure of health, and it by no means provides a complete picture. Your employer would be wise to recognize this. Approach human resources or whoever is managing the competition about introducing other markers of well-being, such as blood pressure, into this healthy competition. If modifications can't be made at this time, contribute ideas for next year's challenge and try to be grateful for the fact that a healthy weight has come easily to you.
Dear Annie: Like "Choking, Not Joking," I have asthma and a strong reaction to scents. After years of dealing with aromatherapy infusers, Glade PlugIns and strongly scented hand sanitizers, I went to the bosses and had them banned in my public school. I could only imagine all the students with asthma who also had problems. Inhalers didn't really help, and in my search for answers, with many different doctors, I discovered I also have vocal cord dysfunction.
With VCD, when my vocal cords are triggered by scents, cold air, smoke, exercise or stress, they become paralyzed and prevent the opening to my airway from opening. That is why inhalers don't work for me. Speech therapy, however, has helped, and I feel much better. The learned strategies have let me deal with the attacks that happen.
I would also suggest that "Choking, Not Joking" hang a sign in her service department that respectfully requests that care be taken with strong scents. That way, the next time these customers come, they might take care not to have overwhelming scents. At the very least, it would help educate them. — Choking Is No Joke
Dear Choking Is No Joke: Indeed it's not. I heard from numerous people with whom "Choking, Not Joking's" letter resonated. I'm printing your letter because it will no doubt encourage some folks to lay off the perfume spritzer and because you include tips that may well help a lot of others struggling in this overly scented world. Thank you for writing.
Dear Annie: "Choking, Not Joking" should get himself or herself an air purifier for the office that could sit right next to his or her desk. There are space-saver models. A good air purifier is about $100, and they really do work. I work with a smoker (no, she doesn't smoke in the office, but the smoke lingers on her clothes), and I'm allergic to cigarette smoke. I just turn on my quiet air purifier and breathe easier. — Reader in Texas
Dear Reader: Thanks for this additional tip for a healthier work environment. Now if only we could get folks to stop smoking ...
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