MHLbWe can all use a little help with wellness
By Bob Kane

Okay, full disclosure here. I'm the director of our Wellness & Fitness Centers and I've always tried to practice what I preach. Toward that end, and because of my natural inclination, I have remained physically active over the years and my exercise regimen includes cycling and weight training on a regular basis.

When I learned that Riverside Health System was offering a Wellness Coaching program – in partnership with Health Advocate – to employees and dependents covered by Riverside's group health plans, I was intrigued.

Bob KaneI figured that I was doing just fine on my own when it came to exercise, but if there is one area in my life where I could use some help it would be managing stress. I also figured that if Riverside had gone to the expense and effort of providing this resource as a way of helping employees take charge of their health, I might as well take advantage of it.

So I took the first step and logged on to Health Advocate, clicked on "Wellness" and then clicked on "Get Started with a Wellness Coach." Easy enough. You can choose to communicate by phone or through email and I opted for the latter.

Within two days I received an email letting me know that I had a message from my new Wellness Coach. This was the beginning of what has been a helpful ongoing conversation. My Coach, whose name is Michele, introduced herself in the message and provided some background on her own relationship to health and wellness. She let me know that she was pleased to have the opportunity to help and explained that she saw her primary responsibility as offering encouragement, information and support.

She also let me know that she looks at coaching as a collaborative effort with me leading the way as far as controlling the intensity and pace of my approach to stated objectives.

With that understanding it was my turn to communicate and I told Michele about my daily and weekly routine and the areas where I thought there was room for improvement. As part of that discussion I also mentioned my desire to reduce the level of stress in my life. At that point we were off and running. No pun intended since as I mentioned, my exercises of choice are cycling and weight training.

From that point on we've had back and forth conversations where we've discussed my progress and she's provided encouragement as well as some very useful articles on stress reducing techniques as well as nutritional information on reducing my sodium intake.

Through all of our email conversations, my Coach has been responsive and consistent with her efforts to both motivate and educate me on a personal level regarding the areas where I've determined I can use some assistance. While the good information and the encouragement have been helpful, I've also found that I'm more compliant and feel more accountable when I'm directly communicating what I'm doing to improve my health.

Initially I think I was mainly curious and wanted to see how the program worked. Since then I feel that it's become a valuable part of my overall approach to wellness and I would encourage anyone else to try it. Even if you've been working at staying fit for years there's always something more you can learn. And if you haven't been working at it yet, gaining free access to a Wellness Coach and the reliable information and support that goes with it is a great place to begin.