January 5, 2023

How to Reset Your Health This New Year

Show Notes

On this episode, Chuck Gaidica is joined by Marissa Jarrett, onsite well-being coordinator for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. Together, they discuss ways we can reset our health in the New Year.

In this episode of A Healthier Michigan Podcast, we explore:

  • What is a health reset and why we should consider doing one
  • Ways we can reset our health that is outside the usual diet and exercise approach
  • How healthy habits can impact our overall health
  • What we can do to be successful with our goals in the New Year

Transcript

Chuck Gaidica:
New year, new goals, new me. You’re not alone. If you’re aiming to improve in one way or more this year. This is A Healthier Michigan Podcast, episode 122. And coming up we discuss ways that you may want to consider resetting your health this new year when setting goals. Welcome to A Healthier Michigan Podcast. It’s a podcast dedicated to navigating how we can improve our health and wellbeing through small, healthy habits we can start implementing right now. I’m your host, Chuck Gaidica, and every other week we’ll sit down with a certified expert. We discuss topics that cover nutrition, fitness, and a lot more. And on this episode, we’re going deep into how to reset our health for the new year. With us today is wellbeing coordinator for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Marissa Jarrett. Good to have you back.

Marissa Jarrett:
Thanks for having me, Chuck. It’s always a pleasure to be here.

Chuck Gaidica:
And I love that you’re here for this episode, especially, because of your background. I mean, I know it’s extensive in fitness and personal training and body building and CrossFit, but you’ve done wellness coaching and you also love to encourage people toward a healthier lifestyle. And that also means helping us all develop better behaviors, especially as we go into this new year where a lot of us want to reset, right?

Marissa Jarrett:
Absolutely. Yeah. It’s an opportunity to have a fresh start to refocus our goals, come up with a new vision for ourselves, and then hopefully we can implement that and be successful.

Chuck Gaidica:
So it seems like whenever a new year comes around, we get to resolutions. This is a lifelong thing. We all say we’re going to do something new or different or improve in one way or another. And for most of us, we get focused on doing right things, eating right, dieting, or changing lifestyle, exercising. According to a poll that comes out of Statista, exercising is the number one thing that ranks at the top of the list for New Year’s resolutions. Does that correspond to your personal experience?

Marissa Jarrett:
Oh, sure. In all of the years that I was at the gym, January was the busiest month of the year. I mean, we would just be flooded with people coming in. February, maybe a little bit busy, but not as much as January. And then March and April you saw less and less. And I think people get this… They get their heart set on doing something, they get pumped up and they get so enamored, I guess, with reaching a goal. But then they don’t really sit down and figure out how they’re going to get there. It’s just like, I’m going to lose weight or I’m going to go to the gym. But they don’t make a plan that fits and aligns with their lifestyle, their values, and what they really want to get.
And I think when we’re talking about a health reset, like I said, it’s an opportunity to start over. Think about when your computer or your phone doesn’t work, it locks up. What’s the first thing that you do? If you call tech support, they’re going to ask you, “Did you unplug it? Did you turn it off? Turn it on?” So that’s how I kind of to approach a health reset, is coming down to this baseline where you know where you’re at and then taking some time to figure out what you want and just start over. So part of it begins with self-care, taking a break, because a lot of times we get overworked, overstressed, and you’re not going to make good choices, good habits that way.

Chuck Gaidica:
And you’re saying really interesting stuff that I think a lot of us would think about. And yet there are also these external factors. For instance, this episode is hitting the first week in January. So if I said I’m going to start jogging again three miles a day, maybe I could do it as a personal goal, but it snows, sidewalks or roads get icy. So there are also these external inputs that can derail us from our plan. It’s not just us, although oftentimes in my case it is me.

Marissa Jarrett:
Sure. You make a good point. You have to figure out ways to overcome those obstacles. You can’t just say, “Oh, it’s snowing, I guess I’m not going to be able to go for a run.” There’s something else you can do. You could go to the gym, maybe you have a treadmill downstairs, or you have another form of equipment that you could use to get in your physical activity minutes.
Over the years we pick up bad habits. During the year, we pick up bad habits. We might start off… If you think back to the last year, what were your resolutions that you made last year? Did you stick with them? Were you part of that… 80% of people drop off in February with the resolutions. Did you fall into that category?
So maybe what you do is you get a piece of paper and you do a little profit and loss on your health habits. Think about everything that you did well last year and write it down. And then write down everything that didn’t go according to plan or things that you hoped to have done but didn’t. And then from there you can focus on some new things that you want to do. Maybe you didn’t get to the gym as often as you wanted, or maybe you didn’t succeed at one goal. Figure out why. Did you not have enough time? Was there a life event that happened? Did you get married? Did you get divorced? Did you have a child? Did you change jobs or move? Those things can become an obstacle and keep you from reaching your goal. But if you have a plan laid out to say, “If this happens, I can do this instead.” So maybe you can’t go outside and go for your run, but you might be able to go downstairs and jump rope for 20 or 30 minutes or ride an exercise bike or walk up and down stairs and through rooms in your house.

Chuck Gaidica:
Well, it seems that what you’re saying too is not only just having plan A and plan B, because it could include a new sports club membership, which could also mean that you’ve still got the bike in the basement and some days you want to get outside and work out. But based on all of the above that you’ve discussed, it’s probably good to write your plan with a pencil because pencils have erasers, because you are going to have to make adaptable changes. If you’re really going to follow through, I love what you’re saying, is write this out because you can visualize it and see it. And you could also erase something and say, “You know what? Lifting weights was a thing I thought I liked, but I’d rather ride my bike.”

Marissa Jarrett:
Exactly. It might not work. And if you want to back up a little bit, if you want to make resolutions, you want to make goals. Start by going to your doctor. Go to your doctor, establish relationship, find out where you are right now so you know what kind of changes you need to make. And maybe it’s going to be taking blood work, maybe it’s going to be discussing your lifestyle habits. And if it’s not a doctor, maybe it’s a registered dietit ian or maybe it’s a personal trainer, maybe it’s a life coach, but you need to know where you are in order to move forward. So I always like to start there. It’s always a good idea to get that done first part of the year, maybe even get your hearing and your vision and your dental checkups all done. Because if you can’t hear, if you can’t see, if things aren’t working properly within you, you’re not going to be happy and you’re not going to be able to reach any goal that you set for yourself.
So when you think of resetting your health, you want to look at everything, not just your exercise, not just your nutrition. I mean, it’s hard to talk about health without talking about exercise and nutrition, but if things are not in balance with your body, and I think that’s really where the health reset comes in, bringing ourselves back into balance. Start with your doctor, start with making a profit and loss or doing a health audit and figure out where you came from, where you are, where you’re going, and then you can start setting your goals.
There are so many different ways that we can work on resetting our health. And how do you know if you need a health reset? Well, are you tired? Do you not have any energy? Do you have intestinal issues? Our gut health is very important and it affects a lot of our wellbeing. So maybe it’s the things that you’re eating, try eating whole foods, but you need to figure out what it is first. Maybe you’re not sleeping well, so maybe you need to develop a sleep hygiene routine. Maybe it’s getting up early, going to bed sooner, taking a look at what’s in your room when you’re sleeping. Because if we’re not sleeping well, that can affect our mood. That can set us up for not having the energy that we need during the day to do the things that we like. Working out, eating right, taking care of ourselves, taking care of our families.

Chuck Gaidica:
It’s funny you say the light in your sleeping habits. I haven’t been called out on this yet, but we have an alarm system, a national company where the device… We moved it to our bedroom. Well, when you set the alarm for the night, it glows blue. So I take a T-shirt off and I throw it there. I just throw it around and I’m waiting for my wife to ask me, “Why do you keep throwing your clothes in the corner? I pick them up every morning.” I’m hiding the light. I just don’t want to see the light because I know for me, going completely dark is a benefit to my sleep habit. So it’s just a reinforcement to just one of the things you’re saying. But that is a way to reset your life, even with a small healthy habit. They don’t all have to be these big deal goals. They can be small things which give you a little win to get you to the next line.

Marissa Jarrett:
Exactly, yeah. And then celebrate those wins. You want to celebrate them. When we celebrate our wins, we kind of get that dopamine hit. And then when we get that dopamine hit, it kind of starts this whole positive feedback loop because you did something, you gave yourself a little reward, you celebrated some way. And I’m not talking about reward like food item. Maybe it’s buying a new sweater or getting a new pair of tennis shoes or getting to spend time with somebody you haven’t seen in a while. And then you’re just more encouraged to do that habit over and over and over again. And when you eventually do that habit, you’re not thinking about it anymore. It just becomes part of your routine. It’s easier to build new habits after that.

Chuck Gaidica:
So if you’re going to start at the beginning, which is always a good place to start, you’re going to see your doctors, you’re going to make sure that creaky knee isn’t going to keep you off of the bicycle. Because if something can get fixed or you can find a hack or a way to get around it, or the doctor says, “Do these exercises to reinforce these muscles, that’ll help you,” that’ll get you going. And I’m encouraged by again, this idea of a plan because how many of us have plans for our financial life or how many of us have plans for, we want to remodel or we want to do a project in the house, and yet we don’t focus on me incorporated maybe as much as we should.

Marissa Jarrett:
You bring a good point, talking about the finances. Everything needs to be in balance. Our social relationships, the relationships that we have with our families, our friends, how we get involved in the community, our financial wellbeing, where we live, all of that affects our health in one way or the other. I think making your plan and then staying organized. We talked about clutter before and how when you have messy space, that wears on your wellbeing. And if you’re looking around, you could be overwhelmed by piles here, piles there, paperwork. You have that looming over you and you find that it’s almost mind numbing and you don’t want to do anything and you procrastinate and you put it away. So you want to make sure that you’re staying organized.
Maybe you’re going to start the year off by picking a new room in your home or a closet to clean once a week. Don’t try to do it all in one day because it becomes overwhelming. Again, try and keep small actionable steps in your plan. But yeah, you’re not going to just say, “I’m going to save for a house this year.” You need to make a plan. How are you going to do that? You need to know what money’s coming in. And then you need to take into consideration other expenses that you have, your food bill, your mortgage, gasoline to get to and from work or wherever. And then consider how much money you have left over and how much of that can you put away to save for your new house. And maybe that’s going to be more of a long-term goal, something five or six years out as opposed to something you’re going to do at the end of the year. Now, I suppose that could be different depending on your financial situation, but again, you need to think, “What can I do now?”
So when you’re making goals, it’s important to make small goals, medium goals, and long-term goals, and then have little strategies for meeting each of them. Our long-term goals need these small term strategies in order to get there. So maybe you’re going to save X amount of dollars each week and you’ll get there.

Chuck Gaidica:
And you’re talking about something we… A lot of us have heard that. An acronym either in business or even in personal life; SMART goals, S-M-A-R-T. And the A is achievable. If you’re going to be… I’d love to be an astronaut. I can’t achieve it. I can probably go buy the NASA T-shirt at Kohl’s, but I’m never going to be an astronaut. And so it’s a great goal, but it’s not really achievable. So to have these small, medium and long-term goals, there’s an achievability component, yet I want to stretch myself maybe and push a little bit. So it does give me a way to expand my horizons knowing that it’s still reality, it’s still something I could possibly do.

Marissa Jarrett:
Yeah, and that’s important. You want to make sure within your reach, it is doable, and that it’s something that you want to do. A lot of people say, “I’d really like to get a promotion at work.” But what if you don’t even enjoy what you’re doing? You know?

Chuck Gaidica:
Sure.

Marissa Jarrett:
Is that promotion going to help you if you don’t even enjoy your work? So make sure what you are working towards is in alignment with what you really want.

Chuck Gaidica:
What have you found in your experience coaching and otherwise, speaking to folks, relative to having a buddy system or a partner, some accountability? And apps do that. You can enter your food into a log. I mean, there’s a way to do it, but I’m talking more about that social component that you touched on because I think I’ve seen it in my household and outside of my household. When people get on a healthy bandwagon, they didn’t think they were going to become an influencer, but all of a sudden they’re now influencing their spouse, their kids, maybe a neighbor, they’re starting to jog together. You know what I mean? Have you noticed that in your practice that people actually can perform better if they’ve got somebody kind of running with them, if you will?

Marissa Jarrett:
Absolutely. It comes down to hanging out with like-minded people. Finding those people that have your best interests at heart, that support you, that share similar interests. So once you know what it is that you want to do and you’ve written it down and you’ve made a plan, you want to find that accountability partner. And it doesn’t matter what it is. I mean, it could be in any area of your life, maybe like you mentioned finances. Maybe it’s somebody who has the same kind of financial goals, or maybe you’re going to work with somebody who has experience in finance that can help you. But when you have somebody who can share and rally along with you and support you, it’s so much easier.
If for some reason your goal is to get to the gym or to run a marathon, finding that person who shares that same goal, and then you know you’re going to meet with them every morning at seven o’clock, you’re not going to let that person down. That person’s not going to want to let you down. So you’re going to be more likely to say, “Hey, I’ve got this appointment with this person.” So you want to find that accountability person, you want to find somebody to share that with. And I’ve seen it happen in families and even in my personal experience, maybe there’s somebody that you’re like, “You need to get healthy, you need to do this,” but they have to want to do it. And then once they see the progress you are making, and if it’s something that they really want, then they’re going to be more likely to do it. But they have to want to do it. You can’t make anybody do anything.
So again, I kind of go back to be careful with goals that you set for yourself and make sure they’re what you want. Because if you’re just going to go through the motions for somebody else, you’re not going to be successful. So it needs to be something intrinsic within you. You’ve got to want it. You’ve got to find something that burns inside of you, that motivates you to get that done. But it’s definitely easier to do I think when you’ve got somebody that you can talk to. And again, maybe that’s your doctor if you’re trying to improve things that are going on with you, blood work and things like that. Or maybe it’s a life coach if you’re trying to advance in your career, or a personal trainer if you’re trying to lose weight or train for a specific event.

Chuck Gaidica:
I’ve mentioned this in the past and I don’t know that you and I have talked about this, it’s a little thing. But back, I don’t know, couple years ago I started tracking my food with one of the apps. And I remember my wife and I were out at a restaurant and we’re driving home and she said, “Do you really have to do that? I mean, it just seems…” And this is a woman who could eat six cinnabuns and she loses two pounds tomorrow. I mean it drives me bananas. And so I said, “Yeah, I think I’m going to do it.” Well, a couple months later she started doing it and she said, “I came around to this idea and actually I’ve lost a pound or two pounds or something.” I thought, now that was not something I forced. And actually, it was kind of started off as a reverse conversation like, “Well, why are you doing this? It’s kind of crazy that you would use your time to do it.”
I think so many of us have that possibility of being a role model without using words. Don’t try to talk that person into something. The person is trying to lose weight, has probably heard it a whole lot in their life. So to your point about this idea that you can practice what you preach and then maybe influence somebody else, I’ve seen it actually happen and it’s delightful because that’s actually a win then to me.

Marissa Jarrett:
Yes, it is.

Chuck Gaidica:
I kind of think, “Oh, not only am I not a moron, but I’m actually influencing somebody else.”

Marissa Jarrett:
Right. Absolutely. But, yeah, find what works. Another way to stay accountable, like you mentioned, the apps. Sometimes apps will do that because I know for me, I like to get my little blue dot every day on my Peloton app. If I go seven days and then it’s like, “Oh my gosh, it’s seven o’clock at night, I didn’t get my blue dot.” So it’s going to be something different for everybody. Maybe you have a calendar and maybe you put a red dot on it when you didn’t meet something. So nobody’s going to want to see a calendar full of red dots because they didn’t meet whatever their goal was. I like to get involved in challenges. So if there’s something that I’m going to do, I might post it on social media or I might text a group of friends and then we check in with each other.
It’s like, “Okay, I did my 50 pushups.” And then I wait for them. And I’m very competitive sometimes, so I always had to make sure that was what I did first thing in the morning because I wanted to be the first person to send that text message that I finished my goals. And so maybe getting involved with a group of people, joining a group online, having that accountability partner, somebody that you can check in with to say, “Hey, I did this.” And it doesn’t have to be exercise related.
Last year I said I wanted to read a new book every single month. So I joined a book of the month club. Now it wasn’t a book club where you met with people and discussed it. It was just basically in December I got an email sent to me and here were three different books I could choose from. And then I picked the book I wanted. It was delivered to me in January and I read it. And by February I was already like, “When am I getting my email? When am I getting my email to pick my next book?” And couple months, I was so excited, I ordered more than one book to read. It’s sometimes easier to do in the summer, but I think I read 17 or 18 books last year, one or two a month for sure. And that was just something that I wanted to do.
And reading is really good. There’s a lot of research out there that says reading fiction can help with our empathy, can help strengthen our social connections. It’s good for our brain. So that’s another way when you’re talking about resetting your health. Think of some other things that you can do. Learn a new instrument, learn a new skill, keep yourself relevant because you never know when you might need to rely on that skill. If you’re a woman, maybe consider self-defense. There’s all kinds of things that you can do that are important when you think about your overall health. It can’t just be one thing. It can’t just be focusing on our physical. It can’t just be our emotional. We really need to be balanced full circle.

Chuck Gaidica:
That’s good. And you started off our conversation somewhere toward the top also talking about self-care. And there is a bit of a ribbon that runs through a lot of what you’re saying of offering ourselves some grace to know we may fail. And just because we fail today doesn’t mean tomorrow isn’t a brand-new day with a new morning and a new chance to do the 50 pushups. So just because we fail or we stumble or there’s a blizzard, doesn’t mean we can’t begin again. So don’t let that be something that just falls off the map, huh?

Marissa Jarrett:
Absolutely. I talk about that all the time. Give yourself grace. We’re human. We’re going to make mistakes. But that doesn’t mean you give up. That doesn’t mean you failed. You just didn’t meet something that day and that’s okay. You start right back up again. Even if you said, “I’m going to give up eating cookies,” and something happened and you ate something, you don’t just let your whole day be over. You just say, “Okay, I made this mistake.” And you just continue to eat better the rest of the day. So you want to be able to give yourself that grace.
In the beginning I was saying too that along the way we kind of pick up bad habits during the year. We might start it off with good intentions, but we’ll pick up bad habits and we can recognize that when we do this little profit and loss statement I talked about doing in the beginning. And with that, you have to figure out are you overstressed and why? So maybe you’re running, maybe you’re running all the time, you’re doing all of this stuff and you don’t have any energy left to do those things that are important for you. You don’t have any energy to enjoy your children, to enjoy your spouse, to enjoy your hobbies. Maybe you have absolutely no energy, you find yourself just sitting on the couch all the time. Why? Are you not nourished? Are you overworked and undernourished? Not calorically, but probably nutritionally, but you need to find out what your body needs in order to reset it.
So if you’re constantly on the go, on the go, on the go, then self-care is going to be so important. You’re going to need to take some time to let your body recuperate so that you can start over again. Try bring things in balance, figure out are you not getting enough sleep? Are you drinking enough water? I think I was reading 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated. So make sure you’re getting enough water because that helps your mood, it helps your focus. We’re made up mostly of water. We need it to function. And when we’re dehydrated, we’re not going to make good choices. We’re not going to be focused. And that’s going to affect our day and it’s going to affect the things that we want to do.
Make sure you’re spending time outside. It’s really important to be out in the fresh air, 20 to 30 minutes. That can boost your mood, that can make you feel better. So there’s all these different components, Chuck, that we need to think about in terms of our health. So you might even go back to that piece of paper and with everything that you’re doing well and things that you would like to improve on. Maybe even go through and say, “How am I supporting myself emotionally? How am I supporting myself physically, mentally, nutritionally?” And making sure that you’re doing something not large, but something little each day or at least a few times a week for each of those areas to make sure that you’re not forgetting something else. Because if something’s missing, you’re not going to be running on full cylinders.

Chuck Gaidica:
And then also being a judge of your time when you have time to do this. I know in our family’s life, we’ve got two sons and two daughter-in-laws that just had babies within a few weeks of each other toward the end of the year. So what a blessing. And the one family has got two girls already and just brought another new one home. Talk about busy. Two dogs, cats, kids and it’s like, “Oh my gosh.” I mean, I remember having a lot of kids, but somehow you forget how you made it all work. How did we really all get on a plane and go to Disney? So I look at that and I think you’ve got to be a bit strategic from a planning standpoint. Well, when would I fit in writing my Peloton or whatever it is that makes your life work?

Marissa Jarrett:
See, for me, it’s first thing in the morning. So maybe look at your sleep schedule. Maybe it’s a matter of getting up 15 minutes, 20 minutes, 30 minutes earlier in the morning so that you have time to get your workout in, to meditate, to journal, to plan your day, and then maybe try to go to bed 15, 20, 30 minutes sooner at night. And if you have trouble falling asleep, keep a pad of paper next to your bed and kind of do a brain dump. Plan out your day for tomorrow. List things that you’re grateful for, things that went well, or develop a routine at night to help you fall asleep, whether it’s yoga, hot shower, meditation, listening to some soothing music. I tell people too sometimes, when you get up in the morning, don’t look at your phone for the first hour. And before you go to bed at night, put your phone away for that last hour so that you can use that time more constructively.

Chuck Gaidica:
Yeah, that’s a resolution all by itself, getting off the digital stuff. So as we wrap it up, oh my gosh, I’d have to go back and listen to our whole episode again just to get all the stuff gleaned, all the good stuff out of here. But give us some takeaways that you think we really should focus on as we move into 2023.

Marissa Jarrett:
I think, again, make a list of everything that you did really well in the last year. Make a list of everything that you didn’t quite do as well as you wanted to. You still want to consider doing all the things that you do well. Focus on those, but you want to try and make small steps to do the things that you didn’t get to complete last year. My husband and I like to start the year off on a three-day fast. And I’m going to say this. I don’t fast for weight loss. Going back to our earlier conversation on gut health, I do it to reset my body, to clean it out. And sometimes, and I’ve even done this too, I’ve gone in and I had a chronic done, just a good internal clean-out. And then I make sure that I’m going to just start eating my clean foods again, my whole foods, being responsible with what I put into my body.
Taking that information that you get from your doctor, work with them, develop that relationship. Make those small attainable goals. Make sure that you’re checking in with them with your pencil. If something didn’t go well, figure out a way to get there to incorporate it into your day. Find that accountability partner. Give yourself that grace. Find time to meditate. Meditation is amazing. It’s a great way to calm yourself down. If you don’t have time to meditate for 20 minutes, meditate for five minutes, or just take a couple deep breaths throughout the day. Pause, enjoy nature, making sure that you’re doing something for all the components of our wellbeing. Taking time out to read and offer gratitude, getting in your physical activity minutes, and even considering what you do for physical activity. If you’re a runner and that’s all you do, maybe take a break and try doing some stretching. Changing how we approach our workout habits can impact our health. If you’re always on the go doing high-impact aerobics, maybe consider some strength training.
There’s all different ways that we can look at improving ourselves in the new year, but make sure that what you choose to do are things that you’re going to enjoy doing. Because if your goals are so lofty, no wonder so many people fail come February meeting their goals because they’ve set them way up here and that’s okay.

Chuck Gaidica:
Yeah, I want to be an astronaut. I’m just saying. I’m going to keep that on my list.

Marissa Jarrett:
Yeah, there’s things you need to do in the process before you get to become that astronaut, right?

Chuck Gaidica:
I know.

Marissa Jarrett:
So work on this, and then you can work on this. And then before you know it, I’ll be waving to you through my telescope up on-

Chuck Gaidica:
I’ll be in the sky.

Marissa Jarrett:
… the moon. That’s right.

Chuck Gaidica:
I’ll wave to you. Marissa, it’s good to have you with us. Good to see you and happy and healthy New Year to you and your family.

Marissa Jarrett:
You too, Chuck. Thanks and have a great day.

Chuck Gaidica:
All right, you too. That’s Marissa Jarrett. She’s a wellbeing coordinator for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. We’re glad she was with us. We’re glad that you’ve been with us. Thanks for listening to this A Healthier Michigan Podcast. It’s brought to you by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. If you like the show, you want to know more, you can check us out online at ahealthiermichigan.org/podcast. You can leave us reviews or ratings on Apple Podcasts or Spotify. You can also follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter. You can get new episodes, old episodes on your smartphone or tablets so you can take them with you when you’re exercising. That’s a great way to burn some time and listen to some healthy advice as well. Be sure to subscribe to us by the way, on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or your favorite podcast app. I’m Chuck Gaidica. Be well.