Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Following Your Heart May Be the Best Insurance.

My coworker, 2News anchor Mary Nickles - gosh, I love that woman - asked me to fill in for her for an emcee gig tonight. I had every reason to say no: I've gotten maybe 10 hours of sleep in three days; I've had more meetings than ever this week; a big presentation tomorrow; plus filling in on Fresh Living (watch the video) and writing a big story...yeah, my body's saying probably not.

Emceeing the Altius "Reach for the Peaks" event.
"It's a good cause," Mary persuaded, "celebrating people who have 'stepped a million or more' steps."

Altius, the big insurance company, teamed up with a new fitness-only social media platform, CafeWell, to inspire people to log and share their daily walking steps with other competitors. The event, "Reach for the Peaks," was an awards show celebrating the folks who walked 1-4 million steps. 

Alright. It's kinda up my alley - healthy and inspirational and all. I accept.
Literally running out of work to catch a lunch meeting at Grand America (which I definitely didn't hate), I visit for a bit then rush home to get a nap in before the event. My eyes are bloodshot; I swear I'm seeing things; and I'm foggy as London in Fall. I finally quiet my rushing mind enough to catch an hour of shut-eye (I had this weird dream I was at Bradley Cooper and Reese Witherspoon's house...he was complaining Reese didn't like to watch his favorite show, "The Doctors"...Adam Lavine was sitting on the floor watching TV and when I started telling him about yoga, he busted into some gnarly (albeit very limp and whimsical) headstands...wth!), and thank goodness I set my alarm!

Gussied up, I head to my old stomping ground, Salt Lake Community College. My media skills were shaped there - my first TV gig was a school event. My professors were amazing. My dear instructor Nina Edgmand is in fact, still one of my biggest cheerleaders. I have the fondest memories of that place, like staying up till 4 a.m. after work and school to edit stories and page-design the bi-weekly paper with the editors. It's funny; though SLCC Comm. Dept. has me on their website as a "success story" for my career after school, I felt so fortunate while working for free writing and editing at the college newspaper. And, come to think of it, I LOVED being cheap labor with my friends at Training Table restaurant. Hey, happiness at work comes from all kinds of sources.

Anyway, I start mingling at this event, and make a point to visit with the individual attendees. One couple drove three hours from Beaver, UT, just to be recognized. The Quornburg's from Beaver. She is a cancer survivor (like Mary Nickles) trying to keep her and her husband healthy with this walking program. Another lady, older but beaming with vitality, rambled off the smoothie recipe she stuffs in her VitaMix, which is chock full of raw protein, flax seeds, liquid vitamins, kale, etc.

"You're plugged in, man!" I exclaim, impressed. People are catching on to this health thing, I think.

Another couple said that, before they started competing in the stepping challenge, they'd watch TV every night after work. Now, they walk. Every night. That's, like, exactly the opposite. Talk about a lifestyle change! All from trying to bank one step after one, single step on their pedometers. My eyes and ears are opening even wider.

At the podium, I congratulate everyone, announce awards, introduce the CEOs, etc. But at the end there, I get a little off-script.

"I am so inspired by you," I gush. "You've CHOSEN health. You are improving yourself, and I'm sure you've noticed it affecting your attitude, your interactions with your family, your performance at work. By doing good to yourself, you're doing good to the entire community. That is worthy of congratulations!"


"Sorry," I whisper to the event coordinator as I step off the podium. "I'm kind of a hippie."

"That's okay," she smiled. "I am, too, over this kind of stuff."

At the beginning of the event, I had taken a seat at a table with a lone woman, Shauna Brown. I open her up a little bit, asking about her fitness routine (that was my icebreaker...fave fitness routine...that gets everyone talking. I even used Chris' line that fitness styles are like religion, you have to find the one - or combo - that speaks to your soul. Everyone liked that). "Home fitness," she says meekly. "I have a stationary bike. And the stepping."

"I like seeing older people just keep moving," Altius CEO Todd Tretton says to me. He and I were introduced at the beginning, and he chose to sit right next to me for dinner (which was all healthy! Too bad I filled up on celery and peanut butter beforehand). Todd was easy going - maybe even a little quiet - as my small talk lead to motorcycles (he has three vintage motocross bikes, and used to race enduro - or "desert" as we call it in Utah - just like I used to), yoga and Yoga For People (he didn't like yoga; kept judging himself based upon others around him...telling), and why he teamed up with CafeWell for this challenge.

"It gives employers (his customers) something to motivate their employees with to get well," he says.

"Is insurance moving more towards promoting wellness in general?" I ask, admittedly ignorant in the realm of insurance.

After some thought, "Yeah, you know, we are," he concludes faintly.

"Well, that's good because I'm sick of paying the premiums for other people's UN-wellness," Shauna grumps.

"That's a good point," Todd non-confrontationally agrees.

I remember at Bikram, one gal told me she afforded her membership by picking a less-inclusive insurance, rationing that "prevention" was the best plan.

"That's a good point," I had non-confrontaionally told her. At the time, I was still forming my opinion.  Now, I feel that's 100 percent true, and have the lowest health plan to prove it.

As I say goodbye to each and every person at the event, I am grateful that I - after some debate - eventually listened to my heart and took the gig. Because, though I was tired and likely packed a little too much into this day, I'm incredibly proud of what I've experienced today, and obviously inspired enough to be blowing off sleep again to write this.


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