Interview with HAWA Nutritionist, Valerie Jobb


This month, we spoke with HAWA Nutritionist, Valerie Jobb, about her own nutrition routines and motivations, as well as sustainable changes people can make to improve their heart health through diet.

Q. How do you make time for your health?

A. Making time is probably one of the hardest parts of health, but it can be easy! I prioritize my health by treating it like an appointment and pre-scheduling my workouts on my calendar and planning my meals ahead of time. Dedicating one day a week, usually a Sunday, to prepping meals to get me through Wednesday, takes just an hour or two, but saves a lot of time through the week.

Q. For someone who is healthy, what advice do you have for them to follow a heart healthy diet?

A. There is always room for improvement! Don’t be afraid of healthy fats like Omega-3, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. Fat used to get a bad rap, but it is necessary to fully absorb vitamins A, D, E and K. Also, including whole grains is an important part of a heart healthy diet, as the fiber binds to cholesterol in your bloodstream and helps remove it from your body. As long as the fat and carbohydrates are within your daily intake limit, you’ll be fine.

Q. What is your favorite motivational quote? Why?

A. “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”  - Hippocrates

This quote really makes you think about the healing benefits of food and the importance of a healthy, balanced diet.

Q. For some of our members living with one or more chronic health conditions, what are the top three things they can do to be heart smart and heart healthy?

A. First, always consult with a physician to be sure that it falls in line with their guidelines, depending on the condition and any medications. Second, exercise regularly, even if it’s a 15 minute walk and work your way up to increasing the duration or intensity. Third, eat a balanced diet of vegetables, lean protein (chicken, turkey, fish), fruits and whole grains. Limit saturated fat and refined grains like white bread, pastas and rices. And finally, find ways to de-stress that don’t involve food, such as reading a book, listening to music, exercising and more.

Q. What inspired you to get into nutrition?

A. I grew up in the restaurant business, so I was surrounded by food at a young age and was also a two sport athlete, but it all started in middle school. I would observe how kids ate at lunch time (usually pizza and soda) and how my volleyball teammates would perform at tournaments after snacking on sweets or high fat foods. Both instances resulted in poor performance. This made me begin studying nutrition and the effects different food has on the body. I also have to thank my parents, because they taught me balanced eating and treated sweets and fast food as “treats” from a young age.

Q. Do you have a favorite app to support your nutrition goals?

A. I have used My Fitness Pal and Fitbit’s app, and I know a number of my members have mentioned the Lose It app. Tracking your food intake, whether with a pen and paper or on an app, will help you create awareness around certain eating patterns or where you need to make improvements.

Q. What’s the best thing about being on team HAWA, and how can the HAWA team help support members with all their goals?

A. Team HAWA’s main goal and focus is the improvement of our members’ health, no matter the size of the goal. We are able to work together to achieve success with our members, because of the ability to meet with different providers to help tackle all angles of a goal.

Q. Tell us your recommended go-to heart healthy breakfast.

A. Oatmeal with blueberries and almonds! It provides whole grain, low sugar fruit full of antioxidants, and healthy fat and protein. If you don’t like oatmeal, I also really enjoy 2 egg whites scrambled with spinach and tomatoes and 1 slice of whole grain toast.

Q. What advice do you have for Human Resources leaders who want to create opportunities to support their employees with healthy nutrition at work?

A - Provide variety. Not every individual has weight to lose, but might want to increase their exercise or manage their diet better. Not every individual needs to begin exercising. Not every individual is comfortable diving into challenges with coworkers. Be flexible and provide a “confidential” type of program as well, which would allow those who may be shy, to privately complete an incentive.