The Three Stages of the Health and Wellness Journey

How to help members through their natural ups and downs

By Dr. Jonathan Rubens

Chief Medical Officer

ActiveHealth

 

Well-being isn’t a destination. It’s a journey with ups and downs. We’ve all experienced different peaks and valleys in our personal journey: feeling energized for a few months, hitting a lull and hopefully regaining momentum. It’s a natural pattern that impacts how most of us engage with our health.

Even if you’ve made managing your health part of the foundation of your life, you’ve probably experienced three core stages: Highly Motivated, Hit a Plateau, and Missing in Action. We know most members will experience all three stages and that each one represents a unique opportunity to improve their well-being. As such, we must watch for changes and adapt our approach to ensure their long-term success. By understanding these stages, particularly why they occur and what to do about it, we can help members accept the natural ups and downs.

Highly motivated members

This is an exhilarating stage – it’s when we’re feeling most eager and empowered about managing our health. Confidence levels may vary, but the energy level is high.

In this stage, we can best support members by helping them identify both short-term and long-term goals and then help design a plan to achieve them.  Goal setting is an important part of the journey whether you’re just starting out or setting the next target.  Success helps build confidence and momentum that members need to maintain lifelong healthy habits.

When you’re highly motivated, it’s easy to set a lofty goal. Instead, we encourage members to articulate their vision for their well-being. Then, we help them determine smaller, realistic, attainable goals that build toward the ultimate goal.  For these members, our chief roles are sounding board and cheerleader.

Accompanying them through short-term goals helps keep highly motivated members engaged over time and to build trust that will be critical if motivation and confidence begin to wane.

Members who’ve hit a plateau

We’ve all been there, especially when early gains start to level out. It’s frustrating to feel the momentum drain away. Members in this category have slowed down in their engagement activity and may have begun to level out in their progress: a combination that points to frustration without abandonment of the goal.

The first thing to convey is that hitting a plateau is perfectly normal. Sometimes a strategy that was successful at first just doesn’t work anymore – sticking doggedly to it is a recipe for aggravation. We need to pause and ask questions to understand what has changed. Then we can find ways to overcome obstacles or review new strategies.  To remotivate these members and get them back on track, it’s important to reconnect with their ‘why’ and adjust as necessary.

Our members always set the pace in their journey. We’re there to walk with them – offering reassurance, encouragement and support as needed. It may take time and patience for members to feel more engaged again, but we can help set them up for success.

Members who are missing in action

This is the stage most of us don’t want to talk about. It’s the time when, no matter how much we know about what we should be doing, we just aren’t doing it.  There’s usually a distinct lack of motivation and a heavy dose of inertia that can be hard to overcome.

There are dozens of reasons why someone might step away from their health goals. The key here is to try to find the root cause and understand whether we can overcome it, work around it or incorporate it into the plan. The important thing is to recognize and reinforce that lapses happen; we can start again.

Our team is equipped with motivational techniques and clinical support tools that can successfully re-engage and re-motivate members that feel they are slipping. It’s most important to encourage members in this stage not to give up. While they may feel like abandoning their goals, the right assistance and assurance can help them avoid a reset.

Navigating natural highs and lows

Each person’s health journey looks a little different – and that’s okay. We understand that nonlinear engagement is natural and predictable, and we’re available to meet members wherever they are.

The goal is to be able to identify these stages early and to adapt to ensure members can make health and wellness a lasting lifestyle, not a passing phase. We’re committed to helping members stay on track to achieving overall better health engagement and sustainable success.