Then & Now: The Evolution of the Sports Bra

Have you ever thought about what life was like for active women before the invention of the sports bra? I, personally, took the thing for granted, until I saw ESPN’s mini-documentary on the subject earlier this year.

If you missed it, it’s worth 10 minutes of your time to watch: http://www.espn.com/espnw/video/16986423/

You’ll hear from three women – Lisa Lindahl, Hinda Miller and Polly Smith – about how they came up with the idea for the Jogbra. How before this invention, lots of women were simply didn’t participate in sports because it was either too uncomfortable or too embarrassing for them.

You’ll learn how the Jogbra came into popularity on the heels of Title IX, a piece of legislation widely considered to have had “a greater impact on American women’s sports than any other development in American history.” And how the sports bra just might be the next most important development for women in sports after that.

Pretty wild when you stop and think about it, right?!

The sports bra has been through quite an evolution since the Jogbra (just watch the ESPN video to the end to see what I mean). Nowadays, most women know the value of a good sports bra. And hopefully no girl is discouraged from athletic endeavors because she doesn’t have the right support.

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Today, a sports bra ad from Under Armor reminds the world that women are unstoppable. And it sure doesn’t hurt to feel comfortable and supported while you’re taking on the world. So kudos to the innovative ladies who invented the Jogbra. They saw a problem that was limiting women’s potential, and they invented a solution for us all. 40 years later, it’s nice to see how far we’ve come.

Awards for Women in the Capital Region

In the Capital Region, there are many opportunities for women to be recognized for their achievements in business, for their passionate advocacy, and for the leadership and resourcefulness.  Women are leading the way today.

Here are some of the awards that recognize women’s accomplishments.

Women of Excellence

The Women of Excellence Award is an annual event that the Women’s Business Council of the Capital Region Chamber. The selection committee is comprised of former award recipients.  There are six women chosen each year and they are honored for the following areas, Excellence in Business, Excellence in Business Development, Excellence in Management, Excellence in the Professions (for profit or non-profit sector), Distinguished Career and Emerging Professional.  The deadline to nominate a woman for one of these honored awards is usually January 31. Award recipients are recognized at a luncheon in June an participate in the Women of Excellence Unplugged event in September.  Sign up here.

Fuel Her Fire

Girls, Inc. will recognize their outstanding women at an evening reception on September 27 with their third annual Fuel Her Fire Awards Celebration.  The distinguished individuals are recognized because they are powerful role models and mentors for others.

Resourceful Women

The YWCA of the Greater Capital Region, Inc. nominates a resourceful woman or a girl on a mission who embodies the mission of YWCA-GCR by advancing the empowerment of women.  They have a luncheon on October 11th honoring this year’s winner whose community and professional pursuits support the YWCA-GCR’s goals.

Women Who Mean Business

The Albany Business Review honors five accomplished business owners.  The competition is in its ninth year and the women come from a number of different industries.  This year the five women chosen for doing outstanding work in leadership roles will be honored at a luncheon on October 7th.

The Albany Business Review also hosts a 40 under 40 awards program that turned 18 this year.  Both young men and women under the age of 40 are recognized for their unique talents in their industry.

Capital Region Women@Work

The Times Union Women@work member organization consistently supports and highlights women’s accomplishments and achievements throughout the year with feature articles in their bi-monthly magazine and at their monthly events.

Trailblazers Award

The Women’s Fund of the Capital Region is a component fund of the Community Foundation for the Greater Capital Region.  The CFGCR and the United Way of the Greater Capital Region honor outstanding women of achievement with their Trailblazers Award.  The proceeds from the spring luncheon are used to help struggling women achieve their goals of a college degree.

Women Making a Difference

Best Buddies of New York honors a female who balances work, family and community service and have made Best Buddies their mission.  Their event is on November 4.

Lastly, WERC (Capital District Women’s Employee Resource Center) is an organization that celebrates their inspirational graduates.  Their program helps women successfully find or improve their employment.  Their awards luncheon is on October 3.

Readers, if you know of other awards for women in the Capital Region please let us know!

 

 

Spring Cleaning for a Hectic Life

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It’s Spring already. Well, this year escalated quickly.

They say time moves faster the older we get, but maybe it’s just life that moves faster. We all get so busy with work, school, family and other commitments that days become a blur, we’re exhausted and left wondering; “How did this happen?”. Again.

Everyone has had the experience of trying to do too much at once. While women haven’t cornered the market on over-achieving we do seem to be the gender who’ve turned it into an Olympic sport.

But as we begin our annual Spring cleaning rituals, purging our homes of the inevitable disarray that magically occurs when the thermostat drops, why not do the same for our lives?

It feels harder than organizing the family junk drawer, but we all have time-sucking life-clutter that we can afford to ditch.

Unfulfilling Relationships

Every human connection we have constitutes a relationship of some sort. Friends, family, acquaintances, co-workers and fellow volunteers all represent people to whom we’ve made commitments. But how many of them are meaningful? How many do we do we truly enjoy?

A Cornell study, found that out of 2,000 people surveyed, 66% stated that they had one or two people with whom they had discussed “important matters” in the last 6 months.  On average, participants had 2.03 confidantes. We need these friends. Friendships can actually keep us healthier. But at a certain point we need to step back and consider what’s real, and which ones are we hanging onto like an old pair of pants that we swear we’ll wear again someday.

The harsh truth is, some of our relationships may be bringing us down. Unhappy friends can decrease our happiness by 7%. That doesn’t mean we should  bail on the friends who are going through a tough time or the friends struggling with depression or other health issues. Support during hardship is a critical role of a friend. This is about those perpetually unhappy friends. The ones who are never satisfied and always have something to complain about.

We all know someone, an old friend or a coworker that we’ve been propping up. There’s a time where we have to stop taking responsibility for people that we like or want to like or used  to like. When it comes to relationships sometimes sucking it up is easy. It’s harder, but healthier, to be objective about real value added. When we release these relationships from our lives we free ourselves up to spend time on things we actually enjoy, or to put more time in into the relationships that really matter.

Reducing Obligations

Even with a few less friends in our lives, we may still have a calendar full of obligations. Show of hands, how many of us have said “yes” to doing something we knew we didn’t really have time for? It’s OK, put your hand down. It happens to all of us.  

“Can you bake cupcakes for the bake sale?”
“Can you squeeze in that report by Friday?”
“Can you work the 50/50 raffle this Weekend?

“Sure, I can do that”

We all agree to do things we don’t want to for various reasons. Feeling guilty for saying “no”. Feeling like we should be able to make time for what is being asked. Feeling like declining a request is somehow admitting failure or ineptitude. We all have triggers that lead us us to over-committing.

There are great reasons in life to say “yes”, like learning, love and adventure. We should say “yes” to the opportunities that come into our lives that will lead to enrichment and new experiences.

But should we say “yes” every time we’re asked for something?

No.

We have a right, even an obligation, to set personal limits and boundaries on our time and energies. You can’t possibly give your best to anything when you’re giving a little of yourself to everything. Especially when you’re giving none of it to yourself.

So look at your day, week, month and find something that you’re dreading. Something you could live without. Even if you can’t wriggle out of it this time, use that task as your “red flag” of sorts. What kind of commitment is it? Why is it stressing you out?

Identify those characteristics so you can spot the next one when it comes along. Amp up your positive self-talk, remind yourself you have nothing to prove and if necessary, practice saying a polite, “no’” in the mirror.  This spring, throw out a compulsive need to please along with the space heater that stopped working in January.

Shaking Bad Habits.

Believe it or not, saying “yes” too much is a bad habit. But there are others that are sapping our time. In fact anything we’ve gotten “used to” that is undercutting our efficiency is bad habit.

These take on all shapes and sizes and can affect our health and happiness. Things like not getting enough sleep, skipping exercise and convenience based diets that offer little nutritional value all constitute bad habits that can leave you run down.

We also tend to have an unhealthy attachment to our electronic devices that could use a little pruning. A Neilsen Study reported that US adults spend over 10 hours a day looking screens, between phones, computers, televisions and similar technology.

Think about that. That’s 41% of your day. If you deduct 8 hours for sleep that goes up to 62%. Then factor in that the average US commute time is 25.4 minutes. That means another one of our few, non-device dedicated, hours is spent looking through a windshield.

Even if you don’t believe you’re one of the worst offenders, think about that friend who couldn’t stop texting or checking their email during your last brunch? Side note, see unfulfilling relationships.

Just by consciously reducing your screen time by 15% it would put 90 minutes back in your day. What would you do with an extra hour and a half? Take a walk? Read? Catch up with a real friend? Make some healthy plan-ahead lunches? SLEEP!?

We could all benefit from fewer Top 10 lists, Facebook updates, Netflix shows… pick your poison.

It seems like being tuned in to all things, all the time, has become a social imperative. But a digital disconnect may be in order. Try saying “no” to being reachable at all times or being caught up on the latest TV show that everyone is talking about. Really, it’s all just more clutter that needs to go along with the chairs in the basement your great aunt gave you when you moved in five years ago.

person-looking-searching-cleanThere’s no time like Spring to unburden yourself of things you no longer need. With the reemergence of the sun and the color green we all find ourselves a little inspired to seek a “fresh start”. This year, make yours more about your life than your closets. Try throwing out your draining relationships, unpleasant obligations and bad habits. You don’t need them and nothing feels quite as good as getting rid of old junk. And OK, clean out your closets too.

 

“A woman baked cookies. She didn’t run marathons.”

No piece of modern health advice for both men and women is complete without the admonition to stay physically active. Experts now recommend 30 to 60 minutes of daily physical activity for optimal health. Images of women in exercise gear are everywhere, and entire clothing lines and stores are dedicated to women’s exercise fashion.

A look at women’s history shows that this is a fairly recent development.

When Roberta “Bobbi” Gibb requested a spot to run in the 1966 Boston Marathon, her application was denied with a terse letter. “Women aren’t allowed, and furthermore are not physiologically able,” the director of the race informed her.

Gibb ended up running the race as an unregistered entrant and finished the marathon in a time of 3:21:40. A historic picture shows her running in a swimsuit and shorts. She wore boys running shoes because no commercial women’s running gear was available.

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Getty Images: Roberta Gibb in the 1966 Boston Marathon

“People don’t really understand it now,” Gibb said in an interview in 2016. “It was so unbelievable that a woman could run the Boston marathon. A woman baked cookies. She didn’t run marathons.”

Following the introduction of Title IX in 1972, a larger portion of athletic budgets on college campuses was spent on female sports. The policy change would eventually lead to a 600% increase in the number of women playing college sports.

With spring just around the corner, many more runners are hitting the streets for their spring training. As women of all ages put on sports gear tailored for our bodies, special exercise bras, and properly fitting shoes, we have a lot to be thankful for. Not just for our health and strength, but also for those who took down barriers and dared to be different.

The Changing Face of the Workplace – Part One

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Me and my son, Tyler, volunteering at YWCA-GCR during the 2016 Victorian Stroll

If you missed the February 14, 2017 WBC program, The Evolution of Women in Business, then you missed a good one. Moderated by Alissa QuinnSenior Vice President, UBS Financial Services, The Quinn Wealth Management Group, the three panelists, Joanne KuglerSenior Executive, Global Operations and Integration, GE, Paula A. StoperaPresident and CEO, CAP COM Federal Credit Union, and Marcia WhiteFormer  President, Saratoga Performing Arts Center, Inc. each shared words of wisdom and advice from their many successes and illustrious careers. I left feeling empowered, bold, and ready to take on the world. Peppered throughout the conversation were statistics about working women in America. For me, one of the most thought-provoking topics that arose was the idea of job-hopping. It’s estimated that forty percent of America’s Baby Boomers will stay with their employer for more than 20 years, while ninety-one percent of Millennials expect to stay in a job for less than three years – meaning they would hold 15 – 20 jobs over the course of their working lives.

The workforce is changing – younger and older generations (I happen to fall right in the middle as a Gen X) are facing new challenges and demands. We are all being asked to do more with less; needing to be adaptable, technologically savvy, and driven. But, it’s not just the workforce that is changing; businesses and organizations need to change as well to keep up with this new reality and to meet the needs of their employees. Research continues to show that money is not the number one motivating factor for happiness in employees (especially Millennials); instead, people want to know they are making a difference and are looking for creativity and flexibility in their workplaces. Companies and organizations that understand this will be able to recruit top-rate talent and keep them. Those that are not changing with the times are suffering and shuttering their doors.

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Me and my two children, Riley (L) and Tyler (R), at YWCA-GCR Annual Resident Holiday Party

I learned this first-hand almost four years ago, when I began working at YWCA of the Greater Capital Region, Inc. My son was just barely two-months old when I received a job offer to become their new Director of Development and Marketing. I was eight-months pregnant when my position at a small, private school in the area was eliminated. I was undecided about returning to work as I was a typical nervous new mother and couldn’t imagine leaving him so soon. Every daycare I visited felt wrong and I wasn’t sure what I was going to do. Would I be like the forty-three percent of women leaving their careers (at least temporarily) when they realize that their old jobs do not allow them the flexibility to create true work-life-balance?

After receiving an offer from YWCA-GCR at the interview, I asked for some time to consider it, when the former Executive Director said to me offhandedly as I was leaving,

“You can bring your baby with you.”

“I can bring my what, where?” I stuttered.

“Here, you can bring your baby here. Your predecessor did so. In fact her office is still set-up. Check it out,” she said.

And I did. When I walked into the office, I saw a pack ‘n play, baby swing, high chair, and about a million toys. I called up my predecessor and off-the-record asked her about bringing the baby into work. The first question I asked her, which is by far-and-away the question I get asked the most was,

“So, can you actually get anything done with your baby there?”

She laughed and then assured me that she never had any trouble getting her work done. After asking her a million questions and stealing a precious hour out of her Saturday morning, I called YWCA-GCR back and accepted the position – and it was by and far the best decision I have ever made for myself personally or professionally. It turns out you really can get a lot done with an infant at work. I have learned to prioritize in a way that I never had before, and procrastination is no longer a word in my vocabulary. I now know how to delegate, and have finally learned that done is better than perfect, and sometimes good enough is good enough. Plus when it comes to fundraising, bringing a baby to a meeting is a sure-fire way to get a yes, just ask some of our sponsors. My son is now three-and-a-half and is happy in full-time preschool and my infant daughter has taken over his position in my office.

YWCA-GCR gets it, especially as a nonprofit. They cannot afford to pay huge salaries, but they more than make up for it with flexibility and some of the most progressive family-friendly policies around. They are consistently able to attract top talent, and are asked to let people know when they have an opening – which happens very rarely as staff is so happy, there is extremely low turnover. Besides happiness, their policies allow their staff to be more productive as well. This week is winter break for most of the local schools. I am sure that many offices in the area are partially empty because their employees had to take the week off from work or are frazzled and stressed after cobbling together last-minute childcare. In contrast, my office is full, not just with workers, but with children playing in the computer lab and concocting elaborate games of hide and seek throughout the building. While I know that bringing children into the office is not an option for all workplaces, I think many more could make this option a reality if they were willing to let go of the notion of the old traditional workplace and worker.

Be sure to check out part two on starting your own business and working from home of this three part series which will be posted soon. And stay tuned for part three on the skills students need to learn today to succeed in the nontraditional workplaces of the future.

 

The Healthy Workplace

Are women concerned about factors affecting their health in the workplace? If the turnout to the Women’s Business Council event featuring author Leigh Stringer is any indication, the answer is a resounding YES!

In case you missed Leigh’s dynamic talk or couldn’t get into the sold-out event, WBCVoice followed up with her to ask more questions. Leigh also reminded us that she shares current advice at www.leighstringer.com.

          

WBCVoice: During your talk you shared with us that women are far more likely to experience stress. What are some of the factors contributing to stress in the workplace?

LS: There are so many factors that impact stress at work… the list is long!  Stress might be triggered by having a bad commute, having a disagreement with a colleague or boss, dealing with a personnel issue, crazy deadlines, a fear of being fired, addressing a life-threatening situation (if you are a firefighter, in the military, etc.), taking on too much responsibility or working long hours.  Interestingly, one of the biggest stressors is when we don’t have “control” over the outcomes of our work.  When we are not able to control how, when or where our work gets done, it not only makes our work more stressful, but also, it increases heart disease and reduces productivity.  Often, sadly, women are more likely than men to be in jobs with less “control,” which is one of many reasons we are twice as likely to suffer more from anxiety and depression.  Here is a little more information on the research related to “control” at work.

WBCVoice: For those of us working in small teams or in a self-employed capacity, what are some of the easiest steps you would recommend for better work-life balance and improved health? 

LS: Here are a few of my favorite tips:

  1. Nurture “biophilia.” We have a strong desire to be in and among nature. It’s only natural – for most of human history we spent all of our time outdoors.  This preference, often referred to biophilia, was introduced and popularized by E.O. Wilson, who suggests that there is an instinctive bond between human beings and other living systems. To take advantage of the nature-lover in all of us:
  • Add natural elements into the workplace by putting small plants or a water feature on your desk or nearby.  These elements are soothing psychologically and reduce stress.
  • Move your desk or any workspaces occupied by people next to a window if possible.  More natural light will decrease eye strain, improve well-being and if you sit close enough to a window, it can help reset your circadian rhythm and sleep cycle.
  • Use features in the workplace that mimic nature, such as pictures of trees and water, building elements that mimic shells or leaves, furniture with organic rather than geometric shapes, and wood with a visible wood grain.  These features, referred to as “natural analogues” can have the same biophilic impact as the real thing.
  1. Make getting healthy a team sport. Social influence, also known as peer pressure, has a positive impact on exercise behavior and our attitudes towards exercise. There are many ways to tap into this at work. For example:
  • Create competitions between teams or different office locations to encourage more walking, biking or participating in team sports over the course of a work week.
  • Consider creating a community garden (if you have the real estate available). Studies show that people are more likely to eat more healthy foods if they have a hand in growing their food as a community, even more so than if they grow it on their own!
  1. Create healthy “nudges” to take the stairs.  Taking the stairs is good for cholesterol levels, for burning calories, and for increasing collaboration at work. Unfortunately, in many buildings, the elevator is front and center and stairways are often hidden, dark, locked or generally scary places to hang out.  To encourage more stair use, try the following:
  • Paint the stairwell a lighter color so that it appears brighter and less foreboding.
  • Add artwork to give it a personal touch and add visual interest.
  • Pipe in pleasant music.  Some buildings are actually taking music out of elevators and putting them in the stairs to make the stair experience more desirable.
  • Want a really simple trick to nudge stair use?  Studies show that just by putting up signs that explain the health benefits of taking the stairs (such as a sign in the elevator lobby that shows how many calories you can burn), stair usage increases by 54 percent!
  1. Stay home when you are sick.  When people come into the workplace sick, they are very likely spreading their diseases to colleagues, which reduces organizational productivity.  As tempting as it is for you to “power through” and minimize sick days, the overall health risk is not worth it.  Researchers from the University of Arizona in Tucson placed a tracer virus on commonly touched objects such as a doorknob or tabletop in workplaces.  At multiple time intervals, the researchers sampled a range of surfaces including light switches, countertops, sink tap handles, and push buttons. They found that between 40 and 60 percent of the surfaces were contaminated within two to four hours.  This may be a reason to adopt a “work from home” policy, if you are looking for one. Beyond that, everyone should frequently wash their hands.

WBCVoice: You briefly mentioned your new organization, GW4W. Can you share what the objectives of the organization are, and how members of the Women’s Business Council in the New York Capital Region can contribute?

LS: The mission of Global Women for Wellbeing:

  • Funding quality research focused on women’s health and wellbeing issues
  • Sharing success stories/lessons learned from women around the globe
  • Providing cross-disciplinary mentoring by seasoned leadership
  • Inspiring each other and the next generation of women to step into leadership roles in their businesses and their communities

How you can get involved:

  • Join GW4W and become a member today!
  • Share the GW4W  website with your friends, family and colleagues
  • Stay connected, be informed and inspired by following and liking GW4W on Facebook
  • Become a corporate sponsor. If you are a business owner or you think your company has a focus on women’s issues and would be interested in becoming a corporate sponsor, please let us know

NOTE: Global Women for Wellbeing is a non-profit organization incorporated in the State of NY and a selected member of the Center for Social Innovation in NYC.  Your membership fee and/or donation is tax deductible.

Center for Active Design Excellence Recognizes Capital Roots’ Urban Grow Center

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Capital Roots, the 40-year-old regional non-profit dedicated to nourishing healthy communities through fresh food and green space, continues to draw attention to Troy’s renaissance. The Urban Grow Center, Capital Roots’ innovative office and food hub, recently won an international design award that recognizes the impact of architecture and public spaces on community health. Capital Roots joined companies like Google and projects from as far away as China to be recognized by the Center for Active Design. The Urban Grow Center received a 2016 Excellence Award for design that encouraged biking and walking, an onsite produce market and its support of neighborhood development.

Read more about this prestigious  award, the architect, and the builder:

 http://www.capitalroots.org/news/press-releases/

http://www.capitalroots.org/news/in-the-news/

#Troy Renaissance #Complete Streets