The Well-Being Journal

Small Daily Actions Can Help You Reach Bigger Health Goals

Jennifer Rudloff

Reposted from the MeYouHealth.com/blog

Bigger isn’t always better. Particularly when it comes to the goals we make each New Year. Travel the world, lose weight, get out of debt -- these resolutions often set us up to fail, because they’re unrealistic, overwhelming and gigantic. They don’t have to be, though. Just as a journey starts with a single step, big goals are met through daily small actions.

It’s in the little actions and our daily intentions that we can achieve our aspirations. This year, we’re asking you to not make a resolution. Instead, choose a small action you can do every day, like pack your lunch (to save money or lose weight) or replace one bad-habit craving with a healthy snack or mini-meditation.

Little healthy actions like a packed lunch or snack swap can help each of us reach bigger goals, if we’re consistent. If it helps, keep track of your little daily actions and intentions on a calendar. Aim for 30, 100, or even 365 days of a small action that will help you achieve that bigger goal.

You don’t have to take our word for it. When we reached out a few blogger friends to let them know about our Anti-Resolution Revolution, they were happy to help spread the message that it’s the small things we do on a daily basis that matter to our success in reaching bigger goals.

Check out what healthy living bloggers Jan, Anne, Laura, Melissa, and Suzanne had to say about our opposition to making a New Year’s resolution:
Jan -- “Whatever your weight, health, or fitness goal is... I know you can achieve it this coming year if you believe in yourself and go for your goal by making small, sustainable changes and setting realistic milestones.”

Anne -- “I believe much more in the power of small daily actions, or intentions. I find that setting smaller daily or weekly goals vs. broad resolutions really helps with making healthy living a lifestyle change vs. a quick fix – or a huge overwhelming goal that is never reached.”

Laura -- “ Making small, daily changes will help achieve any s.m.a.r.t. [specific, measurable, attainable, realistic] goal. Take the steps to succeed and let the Anti-Resolutionists help you along the way.”

Melissa -- “I actually gave up on making resolutions several years ago because I realized that I rarely kept them because they weren’t specific enough and they had such a large scope that they become overwhelming. Having huge yet nebulous resolutions never seemed to serve me well. These days, I prefer setting smaller more short-term goals.”

Suzanne -- “Making small daily changes to your routine will be the difference between success and failure. Forget ‘changing your life’ or resolving to do things differently on a certain date. Simply begin by taking one small action every day.”

Small daily actions can give your well-being a great boost and break bigger goals into actionable, attainable mini-celebrations you’ll be more likely to stick with. For more ideas on small actions that can make an impact, check out our behind-the-scenes MeYou Health video, and be sure to sign up for Daily Challenge to get a boost of well-being delivered to you daily.

What positive results have you seen by taking small steps to reach a goal?

Topics: Healthy Living Well-Being Health Prevention Small Daily Actions MeYou Health Daily Challenge Anti-resolution Revolution

A Closer Look at Social Health Games with Trapper Markelz of MeYou Health: Part 2

Jennifer Rudloff

A Closer Look at Social Health Games with Trapper Markelz continued - click here for part 1)

Games can change the world.
With social being such an important piece of the puzzle, were also looking for ways to create a reason to be social. One of those very useful reasons to be social is through games.

The benefits of playing games are just recently being taken more serious, in part due to discussions and presentations from Jane McGonigal on how games can change the world.

Jane and others believe that games bring forth the best version of ourselves. It is a version that is cooperative, engaged, social, confident, and empowered. If games bring out our best behaviors - and behaviors spread across social networks - than in Jane’s world games make us “contagious vectors of awesome.” Meaning, we can truly have an impact on anything we want to accomplish in real life.

So we ask ourselves at MeYou Health... How can we take advantage of how games can help people achieve real results inside of a well-being product like Daily Challenge?

To be clear, using game concepts in Daily Challenge isn’t about making it into an actual game (where there is a winner and a loser); rather, it’s about utilizing the methods that game designers use to make participation, both individually and socially, as clear and effortless as possible.

To make this happen there needs to be clear dynamics that let me, as a user, know what I am suppose to do -- and when I am suppose to do it. There needs to be clear mechanics that let me know where I am starting, how I am progressing, when I am moving forward, when I am moving backwards or falling behind, how I compare to others who just started participating, and how much I can achieve if I stick with it. There also has to be clear aesthetics and feedback that make me feel the celebration moments, the encouragement, the support, the competition and completion. If we do all of these things correctly than I, the user, never feel lost. Instead, I always feel in control, I am continually surprised and delighted, and the entire experience in which I chose to participate is fulfilling to me on many levels.

In Daily Challenge, we are bringing all of these things together. We suggest a small, realistic thing for you to do in a convenient daily email. Then when you complete the small action, we provide immediate positive feedback within a game context, where sharing and being social is explicitly expected. It is the stories of doing these actions that become memorable. It is remembering the conversation, the celebration and the support that makes you aware of the next time you have the opportunity to make that small choice again. All of these dynamics -- the mechanics, prompts, actions, conversations, and aesthetics -- work together in Daily Challenge to create an engaging, fulfilling experience that helps improve well-being.

Social + games make for the best experiences.
MeYou Health uses game mechanics because they make a product social in far more ways than is possible without them. If you believe social at all matters for engagement and that engagement is important to have effect, then games are the way you will get there. For example: When you accomplish something in Daily Challenge, both big and small, you are awarded a stamp that serves a celebratory artifact and points that propel you towards reaching higher levels, respectively.

By utilizing a blend of social networking science, connectedness research, behaviorial-driven design and gamification, Daily Challenge is one of the more unique health products out there today. Daily Challenge is a social well-being product with nothing less than the ambition to inspire lasting, lifelong change for millions of people. We are well on our way. Join us at dailychallenge.com.

Topics: Healthy Living Engagement Health MeYou Health Natural Movement Playing Games Daily Challenge Connected: The Surprising Power of Social Networks Behavior Change Games for Behavior Change Social Well-Being Health Games

A Closer Look at Social Health Games with Trapper Markelz of MeYou Health: Part 1

Jennifer Rudloff

Playing games like Tag growing up was fun because these backyard games were social. We got to hang out with other kids. What a blast it was being part of a relay team or kicking the ball around at recess. Back then, movement was part of play (we didn’t really think much about it), and chances are our parents didn’t have to force us to go outside to race our bikes with the neighborhood kids.

Then we entered school and college and work... and our movement decreased as we grew up and became quote-unquote adults in the real world. We had to shift from the idea of play to the idea of work. Despite responsibilities of being an adult, play is still very much at the center of enjoying life. Which explains why we find fun ways to connect with others, whether it’s huddled around a game of Risk with friends, shooting hoops with our son or daughter in the driveway, or virtually teaming up with fellow gamers in World of Warcraft.

We are all connected.
The social connections we have as adults are just as important, if not more so, than the ones we had as kids. The connections we had as kids helped shape us. The ones we have as adults help sustain us.

In recent coverage by USA Today and Gail Sheehy, social interaction plays a key role in our well-being and happiness. So much so that women who spent one to five hours a day socially interacting - be it via Facebook, face-to-face, or by phone - had the highest well-being versus those who did not make social connectedness a daily priority. The key takeaway from Gail’s article and the data presented from Healthways is that the more closely we are in contact with our social connections, the better our happiness and health is. Makes sense, doesn’t it?

By making time for social interactions, we can experience a boost in our well-being. And that can have a significant impact on the health and wellness of our social networks.

There’s strength in networks.
At MeYou Health, we created Daily Challenge to be a social product that helps improve well-being through daily small actions. The goal has always been to promote new and deeper connections, creating support networks that drive meaningful change in our lives. The stronger these connections, the richer the experience. The richer the experience, the higher the commitment level.

The idea behind Daily Challenge is simple: do one small action at a time, each and every day. As we have learned through the work of Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler (best represented in their book Connected), we are all connected... and so are our behaviors. It turns out these connections run deeper than we realize, allowing our behaviors, both good and bad, to become influenced by people we might hardly know or possibly not know at all. Crazy but powerful stuff.

To study social networks and behavior change, MeYou Health is looking at both the social, mathematical and biological rules governing how social networks form (“connection”) and the biological and social implications of how they operate to influence feelings, thoughts, and behaviors (“contagion”).

With Daily Challenge, we can see for the first time how support networks are structured, along with what role high and low well-being play in their formation and influence. We are, in fact, building a one-of-a-kind map of well-being based on the information we have gathered since Daily Challenge’s launch in 2010. This information is leading to a whole set of controlled studies this year and clinically controlled studies next year to quantify the true effects of social mechanics on intervention engagement and improved well-being.

(Look for more in Part II)

Topics: Engagement Health MeYou Health Natural Movement Playing Games Daily Challenge Connected: The Surprising Power of Social Networks Behavior Change Games for Behavior Change Social Well-Being Health Games

Men’s Health Month

Jennifer Rudloff

Men: June is all about us (ladies, you’ll have your turn). We take the time to celebrate our fathers, showering them with gifts of love and appreciation. And all month is devoted to our health. Men’s Health Month is celebrated each June in an effort to increase awareness of preventable diseases. Many chronic illnesses affect whole generations of men. Nearly 1 out of every 2 adults is impacted by at least one chronic disease, most of which are preventable. This is not only costly to each citizen and the US economy, but it also robs us of years of quality life. Education and awareness are the first steps towards action; and Men’s Health Month provides a nice opportunity to educate, reflect, and start down a path of prevention. But don’t be mislead! To actually prevent these illnesses men must take personal responsibility to make the necessary behavior changes.

It’s important to know what we’re up against. The findings in the table below from the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index® show the prevalence of some of the most common chronic diseases among men:

Chronic Disease Percentage of Adult Men
High Blood Pressure 30.4%
High Cholesterol 27.5%
Depression 12.5%
Asthma 9.2%
Diabetes 10.9%
Cancer 6.5%
Heart Attack 5.5%

One action every man can easily take is to get regular checkups from a medical professional. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has reported that women are 100% more likely to visit the doctor for annual examinations and preventive services than men. Men’s Health Month implores all men to visit the doctor and seek medical advice and treatment. Men need to do this early and regularly to help combat the chronic diseases affecting our gender. The second step is to take some time to honestly assess your current behaviors. As a leader, it’s important that you lead by example. Start by asking yourself:

  • Do I smoke?
  • Do I exercise regularly?
  • What are my eating habits like? Am I eating enough fruits and vegetables?
  • Do I consume too much alcohol?
  • Do I drink enough water (8 cups of water a day is recommended)?

If you find yourself answering in the negative to any of these questions, it’s time to come up with a plan of action to make your life better. Smoking, lack of exercise, poor diet, and excessive consumption of alcohol are all directly related to the development of chronic diseases that affect men. Enlist the help of your loved ones – your parents, your partner, your children, your friends, and even your coworkers – to help keep you on track in taking the actions that will help you be more energetic today and healthier tomorrow. You are in charge of the direction of your life and Men’s Health Month is the perfect time to start making positive decisions that will redirect the course of your life.

Men’s Health Month has provided us with a great foundation from which we can begin to improve our well-being, adopt healthier habits throughout the year and encourage others to do the same. Here are few recommendations to help you and your people get started and stay on track:

  • Exercise is of key importance in the prevention of chronic diseases. Running or even walking is a great way to get active and stay active. Try organizing walking groups at lunch for your employees and track your progress with MeYou Health’s fun and interactive iPhone app, Monumental.
  • If you’re a smoker or have friends or co-workers who smoke, visit QuitNet.com for support and tips on how to help kick your smoking habit.
  • Check out Munch-5-a-day or EveryDRINK from MeYou Health. Also, sign up for the MeYou Health Daily Challenge that will send you simple daily health challenges in many areas of well-being. Challenge your people to do the same. You might strike up a little healthy competition in the process.

So for all of our readers – I want to know, how are you going to lead by example? What action are you going to take to change your lifestyle so that you can live a long, happy and healthy life? Leave your comments below. In the meantime I am off to the mountain bike trails. Perhaps I will see your there!

Topics: Healthy Living Well-Being Health Prevention MeYou Health Mens Health Wellness Medical Costs & Utilization