New Year’s Resolutions: Do You Remember Them?
Every January you resolve to be more alert, more present, better. But life may have gotten in the way. More pressure at work, too little time to go to the gym and ongoing demands from family and friends can stress us out. You feel it and so do we.
That’s why we recently invited Angela Leigh, a health coach and Aaptiv’s senior director of fitness and talent, to our office to help us stay focused and keep the momentum going.
Leading mobile fitness app Aaptiv is part of Haven Life Plus, a suite of free or discounted services available to eligible Haven Term policyholders. Angela blew us away with her nutrition tips at last year̵7;s Haven Life Wellness Day, and we brought her back for guidance on how to make this year even better.
“Whatever our decisions, it’s not necessarily the end goal that we’re really chasing. It’s the process itself,” Angela says. “Imagine if it was about simply showing up and loving the process and the experience, and knowing that [the process] will always trump the outcome?”
Angela offered us more than words of encouragement. She gave us a framework for how to evaluate our health holistically.
She sees health as five spokes in a wheel, a holistic model for a balanced life. “If one spoke is off, you can see which ones are doing well and the others are not. It’s finding this balance where they all start to connect with each other.”
Here are Angela’s five spokes on the holistic health wheel and her tips for optimizing each one so you can find your balance and go as fast as you want:
The first spoke in the wheel is movement. Do you move your body day in and day out? If so, how much? And do you have specific goals and systems that keep you accountable?
Movement is about simple choices, says Angela. “What you do every day is literally a reflection of your priorities, and you just have to take a look at that,” she says.
In practice, this means taking the stairs over the lift. It gets up from your office chair regularly. It’s committing to an exercise routine that you can stick to throughout the year. It’s asking your friend or partner to train with you or checking in with you about your fitness goals, and setting goals that are appropriate for all ages and skill levels.
It uses the little bits of time you have during the day to, well, move.
Angela advises us to take a more thoughtful approach to food by trying to understand what happens to our bodies when we are hungry.
“You’ve probably heard eat small meals, six times a day, eat every hour, eat X amount of protein, blah, blah, blah. That’s what it sounds like to me, blah, blah, blah,” she says. “At the end of the day, [you should] eat when you’re hungry,” she says.
Intermittent fasting – basically not eating during certain hours of the day – is a tool she uses to understand her reactions to food and reevaluate her relationship with it.
“I personally don’t subscribe to a yes-no policy when it comes to food because I think it just starts to create some really uncomfortable experiences in our brain,” says Angela. “The idea of moderation is really smart. To me, the word is just balance, being able to balance your nutrition in your life.”
“As humans, we are designed to literally find our food and sleep,” says Angela.
That’s why it’s important to prioritize rest and renewal when trying to improve your overall well-being. If you struggle to do so, a major roadblock can be stress. “Stress leads to lack of sleep, and lack of sleep brings everything that’s really hard to come back from health-wise,” she says.
Determine what triggers your stress and develop strategies to avoid these triggers and manage the stress. “If you can identify who and what is stressing you out, you’ll be in a much better place with your health going forward,” she says.
As with movement, focus on using your time more effectively to develop and maintain meaningful relationships. For example, Angela says that on her way to Haven Life’s office, she could have called a friend. Instead, like many of us, she scrolled through social media, instead of relying on her social networks IRL. “I could have connected to the relationship part of the wheel and I didn’t,” she says.
She suggests keeping a log of your time for a week and seeing how much time you devote to relationships—and to the other four spokes of the wellness wheel—to get a sense of where you can improve.
“Playfulness is a spoke on the wheel that a lot of people might not talk about in the health world,” says Angela, but it’s important to do the things that make your life enjoyable. To put it another way: If you feel like you live to work, instead of working to live, you may need to make more time for play.
Angela advises you to ask yourself “what can you do, maybe not every day, but several times a week, that brings you joy, that gives you that really jovial, exuberant excitement and makes you feel alive.”
Put everything together
Angela’s insights into the five spokes of the wheel of health gave us a structure to evaluate our own habits to make our lives less difficult. But it left many of us asking: How do we get all five spokes to work together?
“I love this question,” she replied.
“You don’t do that all the time, and it’s just knowing that it’s not always going to be ideal. When this process comes together, it’s just finding an even mix and knowing a little give and a little go, a little give, a little go. I’m going to give a little when it comes to this, I’m going to go hard when it comes to this, but I’m going to have a really good health mindset about it all.”
About Tom Anderson
Tom Anderson is an award-winning financial journalist whose work has appeared in CNBC.com, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, Money, Eyeglass and Wire bound. He was a 2008-09 Knight-Bagehot Fellow in Economics and Business Journalism at Columbia University.
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