Top 3 ways to ensure “fall back” doesn’t hold you back

Daylight Saving TimeAn extra hour of sleep. To many it’s as elusive and coveted as the Holy Grail, and on Sunday, November 2, it will be there, within our grasp. As Daylight Saving Time ends, we will turn back the clock, snuggle into our cozy beds, and peacefully enjoy our extra Zzzs.

Not so fast, Rip Van Winkle. While 60 little minutes of sleep may not seem like much, it’s just enough to throw you – and especially your children – right off your beloved schedules. Here’s how to hold fast.

1. Don’t sleep in
Go to bed and wake up at your normal times. Your body wants to wake with the sun, and fighting it with the covers over your head will only lengthen your adjustment period.

2. Savor the sun
Earlier sunrise means more time for you to enjoy it. Help adjust your biological clock, or circadian rhythm, by getting outside in the sunshine for 20 to 30 minutes in the a.m. and reminding your cells that, yes, it really is morning.

3. Don’t forget breakfast
A potentially sleepier morning only intensifies your need to enjoy a nutritional kick-start. Opt for something that combines whole grains, healthy fats, and lean protein for the best boost of energy.

Sticking with a normal sleep and wake schedule once the switch is made is also essential. It may take a few days, but soon your new morning with be as natural as the sunrise outside your window.

DreamIt Demo Day #DreamItHealth – Bringing Health Care Innovation to Philadelphia

DreamIt Health

Divya Dhar, CEO & Co-Founder Seratis Health – DreamIt Health Class of 2013.

Today is DreamIt Health Philadelphia 2014 Demo Day, a big day for the Philadelphia health care innovation community!

Over the past four months, nine exciting startup companies recruited from across the country have been working full time right here in Philadelphia. They bring experience, passion, and energy to nine different ideas that they hope to turn into successful companies. Today, with mentorship from Independence Blue Cross (Independence) and Penn Medicine, they “graduate,” pitching their products and business models to a room of over 300 investors, industry leaders, and potential customers. I am very excited to see how the companies have progressed since starting the Dream It Health Philadelphia 2014 program in July.

The DreamIt Partnership
It’s an honor to be involved in this program. DreamIt Health Philadelphia is the first-ever health accelerator located in Philadelphia, and the first in the nation to be sponsored by a city’s leading health system and a region’s largest health insurance provider. This is the second year Independence has sponsored this accelerator with Penn Medicine and DreamIt Ventures. It’s a great way to bring new health innovators to the region and help realize our vision of Philadelphia as a magnet nationally for health care innovation.

Many of my colleagues at Independence Blue Cross work closely with DreamIt companies, providing meaningful real-world feedback about the complexities of the health care industry to entrepreneurs as they develop their product offerings. We also make connections and offer access to resources that would, otherwise, take these teams years to duplicate. But the learning isn’t just a one-way proposition. Working with these energetic, passionate, and creative entrepreneurs provides a whole new perspective to Independence employees; their ideas energize and inspire us as we work to re-imagine health and health care for our members.

DreamIt Class of 2013
One of our biggest successes from last year’s DreamIt class is that the majority of companies who came to the region for the program have stayed and grown right here in Philadelphia, adding to our thriving health tech innovation community. Here are a few shining examples from the class of 2013:

  • Biomeme transforms your smartphone to a real-time DNA lab.
  • Seratis brings doctors and nurses out of the pager era by allowing healthcare providers to coordinate, track, and analyze care across the team.
  • Fitly combines personalized healthy meal planning with easy recipes, fresh ingredients, and free home delivery into a dynamic mobile-web app.

I can’t wait to see what’s next for the 2014 class of companies. For real-time updates, follow along on Twitter #DreamItHealth or check out the DreamIt website for video clips of the pitches in the upcoming days.

Let us know which company you think has the best new idea!


Tom Olenzak

Tom Olenzak is director of innovation and corporate development for Independence Blue Cross (IBX). Through the Independence Center for Health Care Innovation, which seeks to develop a culture of innovation within IBX, Olenzak is responsible for leading IBX’s efforts to identify external sources of innovation to support the company’s objects; and helping lead a dialog among institutions across the health care ecosystem to address some of the largest issues impacting the cost and quality of health care. Olenazak is also manager of the IBX Strategic Innovation Portfolio, which makes investments in venture capital funds and emerging health care information technology companies that support IBX’s strategic initiatives. Olenzak has twenty years of extensive entrepreneurial, venture capital, and senior management experience in the health care and information technology industries. He has held operating and investment positions at several health care and technology companies, including Safeguard Scientifics, First Consulting Group, and Integrated Systems Consulting Group. Olenzak is a graduate of Princeton University and lives in Malvern, Pennsylvania.

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What does Fearless mean to you?

We’re excited to introduce a new series of Fearless Is TV commercials, which build on the popularity of our recent Live Fearless ad campaign.

If you recognize elements of your own life when you watch them, there’s a simple reason — these new commercials feature ordinary people in everyday situations. What makes them resonate is that they capture the fearlessness it takes to live life to the fullest, like letting go of your inhibitions or running faster than you thought you could.

Just like our Live Fearless ads, they reinforce the message that, with an Independence Blue Cross health insurance plan, you have the freedom and security to live the life you want.

Coming soon: Fearless Is Facebook sweepstakes

If you had a chance to do something daring — something you may have only dreamed about doing — would you take it?

That’s the inspiration behind our Fearless Is Facebook sweepstakes. Stay tuned for more details and for a chance to enter to win one of several one-of-a-kind Fearless Is experiences.

Like our Facebook page to find out when the contest starts!


Mary Eileen O'Connor

I am a senior copywriter at IBX. For me, the key to personal health and wellness is having simple goals and sticking to them — whether it’s drinking more water, working in a few extra steps each day, or just making time to unplug once in a while. When I’m not busy wordsmithing, my favorite ways to unwind include enjoying local arts and culture, reading a good book, and watching TV cooking shows.

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Top 3 Festive Fall 5ks

Fall RunOctober is here, which means the air is crisp, the leaves are changing, and costumes are acceptable attire. It also just happens to be my favorite time of year to run a race. You can’t beat the low humidity and cool air that makes running outside a treat every time. What better way to usher in the Halloween season than by signing up for a festive run where costumes are strongly encouraged?

1. Rest in Peace 5K
It doesn’t get more Halloween-festive than a nighttime run through a cemetery. Break out your most creative costume and join the goblins and ghouls for the Rest in Peace 5k race at the historic Laurel Hill Cemetery on October 11 at 5 p.m. And, it’s no trick: runners will be treated to an after-party complete with food, free beer, and music that is sure to raise the dead.

2. Glow-in-the-Dark Color Run
This might not be a traditional costume race per se, but if there’s something cooler than running at night with glow-in-the-dark gear, I can’t think of what it is. And, Philly has the distinct honor of being the first city to ever host a nighttime, glow-in-the-dark color run. On October 18, runners will get glow-in-the-dark shirts and other gear and will be doused in glowing colors at each kilometer of this 5k race. Plus, the end of the race will feature a Finish Festival — complete with fireworks, dancing, music, and more colors. This race is sure to sell out, so register now.

3. The Skeleton Skurry
On October 25, head to Hatboro for The Skeleton Skurry — a great race for the entire family. Costume-clad kids can participate in the Mile Fitness Trail run with YMCA staff, while you tackle the USATF-certified 5k course in your best zombie costume, or you can run alongside your kids in the mile race. Prizes will be given out for various costume categories.

Not only are races like these fun, but they’re also great training for the Blue Cross Broad Street Run. Scheduling shorter races throughout the fall and winter will keep you in shape and more prepared for next year’s Blue Cross Broad Street Run on May 3, 2015.


Sarah B.

As a copywriter at IBX, I frequently write about health and wellness topics. I am passionate about reading, writing, and travel. Because I’ve never met a dessert I didn’t like, I am always trying to stay active — whether that’s running, spinning, hiking, yoga, Pilates, or Barre. I also try to balance out dessert with fresh, in-season veggies from my local farmer’s market, and I love trying out new recipes.

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Top 3 ways to make an on-the-run lunch healthy

Takeout SaladI usually brown bag it for lunch…it’s healthier, it’s quick, and it’s better on my budget. But when I forget to pack (or leave my lunch sitting on the counter), working in Center City means I have unlimited lunch options. Unfortunately, it also makes it hard to choose a healthy option when lobster mac ‘n cheese or a Philly cheesesteak is right around the corner. I’ve come up with a few tricks to make lunchtime choices that make me healthy and happy.

1. Go bowl-ing
Choose-your-own bowls and salads are a great way to customize your lunch and focus on healthy, delicious options. The secret is going light on noodles, rice, and the like, and focusing on protein and veggies. I like Agno Grill when I’m in the city. You get a choice of protein that includes flavorful basics like chicken and veggies, but you can also choose lamb meatballs, falafel, and salmon. Plus, you can fill it with a variety of roasted vegetable options and top it off with balsamic or lemon oregano to add light flavor. Chipotle is good option, too…and they’re everywhere.

2. Make it a liquid lunch
Some days call for a liquid lunch…but, I’m not talking about a Mad Men-style martini break. Smoothies offer endless options for a healthy, delicious lunchtime treat…for even the pickiest of palates. If you’re in the city, try Sook Hee’s Produce & Squeeze Juice Bar beneath the Comcast Center. Whether you want a fresh juice or smoothie – Sook Hee’s has it all from kale to beets to ginger root.). And, the best part is, you don’t have to worry about cleaning the juicer afterward! You can choose from plenty of fresh salads and sandwiches, homemade Korean food, and snacks to complement your drink of choice.

3. Wok at lunch
Sometimes you just need a little stir fry…and if you make the right choices, it’s a healthy bet. Be sure to focus on lean proteins and veggies, and don’t overdo it on the sauces. When I’m in the mood to stir it up, I head to Honeygrow. They stir it up fresh every time. Added bonus: They also have salad and smoothie options and for dessert…a honey bar!

What are your favorite healthy lunch places?

The inclusion of the above links does not imply endorsement.



I'm a copywriter at IBX and have worked here for the last 5 years. Now that I'm a new mom, it's even harder to find time to exercise and eat healthy. But I also have a darling little girl reminding me why I need to take care of myself. Follow my posts as I strive for balance when it comes to leading a happy, healthy life.

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Top 3 tips for picking your own produce

Apple pickingNothing could be a more healthy fall activity than picking (and eating!) your own fruit and vegetables — and now’s the perfect time to pack up your friends, kids, and neighbors and pick a freezerful of this season’s harvest.

1. What to pick?
From apples and pumpkins to kale and cauliflower, fall’s bounty is amazing. Here’s a sample of what you’ll find growing in our region of the country:

  • Lima beans
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Peppers
  • Pumpkins and squash
  • Assorted herbs
  • Apples
  • Pears
  • Grapes

2. How much to pick — a bushel or a peck?
Before you go and fill the back of your car with apples … or pumpkins … or beans (and your house with fruit flies), here’s a look at how much “food” your effort will yield:

  • 8 apples make 3 cups of applesauce or 1 apple pie.
  • 1 bushel of grapes makes 16 quarts of juice.
  • 2 quarts of grapes makes 1 quart of jelly.
  • 2.5 – 3 pounds of tomatoes make 1 quart canned.
  • A 5-pound pumpkin will yield 4 cups of mashed, cooked pulp (enough for about 2 pies).
  • A bushel is equal to approximately 8 (dry) gallons. There are 4 pecks in a bushel.

3. Where to pick?
There are many pick-your-own farms to choose from in our area, but why not choose to go organic? (It’s like winning the pickers’ trifecta: local, seasonal, and organic!) Check out these farms:

  • Taylor River Side Farm
    5 Taylors Lane, Cinnaminson, NJ
    Just 25 minutes outside of Philadelphia on the banks of the Delaware is the Taylor family’s, 200+-year-old, beautiful, earth-friendly, sustainable, organic farm. Either pick-your-own or shop at their market and experience the Garden State at its absolute best.
  • Indian Orchards
    24 Copes Lane, Media, PA
    Called the best kept secret in Delaware County, family-owned Indian Orchards offers already-picked or pick-your-own sustainably or organically grown fruits and vegetables.
  • Find a farm near you
    Find local pick-your-own farms and fruit and vegetable festivals. Search by State and region and find helpful picking tips and resources for preserving your produce.
    • avatar


      The problem with being a copywriter who writes about health and wellness is that I struggle daily with what I know I should do and what I want to do. Some days I practice what I preach — or as they say around here “Walk the Talk” — some days I don’t. Regardless, I love what I do, where I work, and the IBX members I write for.

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Top 3 ways your dog can get you moving

Dog in CanoeOff the couch, Fido! It’s time to get out and get some exercise. Your dog might just be the best fitness partner that you don’t have to beg to go for a walk. So ditch the dog park and try these 3 alternate dog-friendly activities. You’ll be doing your dog—and your waistline—a favor.

1. Explore a dog-friendly hiking trail
Philadelphia has a multitude of hiking trails that welcome dogs and other pets. What better way to get some exercise and enjoy the great outdoors than with your furry friend? Plus, many of these hiking spots allow your dog to roam leash-free (check individual listings).

2. Try some “doga”
Yes, dog yoga — or “doga” — is a real thing. What’s more, experts say there are real physical benefits for you and your dog. Go ahead and try some yoga poses with your dog. You may be surprised to find out that you and your dog are calmer, more relaxed, and less likely to bark at your neighbor!

3. Navigate the Brandywine River with your dog in tow
Any dog owner knows how much joy their dog gets out of getting some wind on their face, and a canoe or kayak is the perfect way to give your four-legged friend that treat. At the Northbrook Canoe Company, you can bring your well-behaved pooch along as you meander down the Brandywine River in a canoe or kayak. You’re guaranteed to have a tail-wagging kind of day.

Bonus: After spending the day out and about, take a break at one of the many pet-friendly restaurants in Philadelphia!


Sarah B.

As a copywriter at IBX, I frequently write about health and wellness topics. I am passionate about reading, writing, and travel. Because I’ve never met a dessert I didn’t like, I am always trying to stay active — whether that’s running, spinning, hiking, yoga, Pilates, or Barre. I also try to balance out dessert with fresh, in-season veggies from my local farmer’s market, and I love trying out new recipes.

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Top 3 back-to-school tips for parents

Back to SchoolSaying “so long” to summer isn’t easy, especially if you have kids in school. With class back in session, it can take a few weeks to readjust to routines that you’ve let slip over the summer. Try these 3 ideas to ease into the fall:

1. An apple for teach; an App for you
Busy parents will appreciate these back-to-school apps. Juggling schedules? The myHomework Student Planner and Sunrise apps have calendars that sync to other platforms to help organize multiple schedules. Need an electronic tutor? Duolingo and ToDo Math make learning languages and arithmetic all about fun and games.

2. Fall in love with fitness
Don’t wait until New Year’s resolutions to get back in the gym. Fall is the perfect time to get re-energized about getting in shape. And it goes without saying that regular physical activity helps you reduce stress and boost your immune system, which is especially important with cold and flu season around the corner.

3. Stay classy
You’re never too old to go back to school! Beginning in September, many local communities offer adult personal and professional enrichment courses in the evenings. Try a healthy cooking class or learn a new language. Studies show that being a lifelong learner can help us stay mentally sharp as we age.


Mary Eileen O'Connor

I am a senior copywriter at IBX. For me, the key to personal health and wellness is having simple goals and sticking to them — whether it’s drinking more water, working in a few extra steps each day, or just making time to unplug once in a while. When I’m not busy wordsmithing, my favorite ways to unwind include enjoying local arts and culture, reading a good book, and watching TV cooking shows.

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Top 3 ways to make your workday less like work

Office YogaNo matter how you’re planning to spend your extra time off this Labor Day weekend, make sure you can keep the good vibes going when you’re back at work on Tuesday. Here are 3 ways to make your workday less like work:

1. Stand up for yourself (literally!)
Lately, it’s been said that that sitting is the new smoking. Don’t believe it? Google it! Even if you’re physically active outside of work, you could still be leading a sedentary lifestyle if you spend all (or most) of your work day sitting. So, what’s a working person to do? Luckily, with a little ingenuity, it’s easy to break the sitting cycle. Check out these creative ways to add activity to your work day. Some you’ve probably heard before, but others (calf-raises while photocopying) may surprise you.

2. Increase productivity by slowing down
Whether you’re rushing between meetings or juggling 20 different tasks, your first impulse when you fall behind at work is probably to buckle down and plow through. No lunch for you, right? Not so fast! Contrary to what you may think, when you need to make up time on a busy day, you shouldn’t hurry up…you should slow down. According to a study in the journal Cognition, taking brief mental breaks during the day is good for you and your work. One idea: Nature rejuvenates…take a quick walk outside. Or, try one of these other tricks to recharge your brain.

3. Remember to stretch
Ever look up during the day and realize you’ve been working for hours? Your back hurts, your shoulders are slumped, and your afternoon caffeine buzz is gone. Scheduling time to stretch can make a real difference in your day. With these easy-to-master yoga poses, you can shake off that stiff neck without leaving your desk. Think of it like an important meeting and block a little bit of time every hour or so just for you. It’s a small thing, but your body will thank you!

Bonus: There are plenty of jobs where sitting too much isn’t a problem. However, even if you’re on your feet and active all day, it’s still a good idea to give yourself time to recharge your mind. These mindfulness exercises can help you refresh and refocus…and they only take a minute!



As the content manager at IBX, I have the good luck to work with a talented team of writers developing materials that promote health and wellness in our community. When I’m not puzzling over sticky grammar questions or running to catch my train, I spend my time hiking, shopping, and watching movies. Recently, I surprised myself — and everyone I know — by completing the Blue Cross Broad Street Run.

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Top 3 tips to make your fall garden grow

CarrotsSummer may be winding down, but there’s still time to plant a fall garden now and enjoy fresh vegetables as the seasons change while reaping the many health benefits of gardening, including lower blood pressure and improved mood. Use these top 3 tips to help make your garden grow:

1. Pick your plants wisely
Although it’s too late in the season to plant peppers and tomatoes, which are my personal favorites, there are plenty of vegetables that thrive in cooler temperatures, including beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, kale, leeks, and lettuce. Plant some arugula and spinach, and you’ll be tossing a salad in no time — these fast-growing greens pack a nutritional punch and can be ready to pick in about 30 days.

2. Get growing
Timing is everything, especially when you’re gardening. The Old Farmer’s Almanac A-to-Z growing guide can help you decide which vegetables are the best ones to grow now based on our region’s climate. Click on a vegetable, and learn how and when to plant it, care for it, and harvest it. As you nurture your garden, you can use it as an opportunity to practice mindfulness. It’s just one way that gardening can help you reduce tension and relieve stress.

3. Share your bounty
Use a seasonal produce guide to help you turn the “fruits” of your labor into healthy meals for family and friends. If you wind up with more carrots and kale than you can eat, consider donating your extra veggies to a program like Share the Harvest, sponsored by Philabundance. National non-profit AmpleHarvest also coordinates donations of fresh produce. Visit their website and enter your zip code to find a participating food pantry in your community.

Which cool-weather crops will you grow in your garden?


Mary Eileen O'Connor

I am a senior copywriter at IBX. For me, the key to personal health and wellness is having simple goals and sticking to them — whether it’s drinking more water, working in a few extra steps each day, or just making time to unplug once in a while. When I’m not busy wordsmithing, my favorite ways to unwind include enjoying local arts and culture, reading a good book, and watching TV cooking shows.

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