Put down the device before bed. Blue-rays from our devices affect our melatonin and disrupt our circadian rhythm. This affects our sleep quality, which affects our health and productivity in countless ways. Spend the last hour (minimum 30 minutes) before bed without staring at a device. It gives your brain time to rest from stimuli and wind down. Read a book or magazine, do a meditation, or talk with your family.
As a part of my series about the women in wellness, I had the pleasure of interviewing Marcey Rader.
Marcey Rader is a productivity and health speaker, author, and coach. She is the founder of Work Well. Play More! Her latest book is Work Well. Play More! Productive, Clutter-Free, Healthy Living — One Step at a Time. You can learn more about her at www.marceyrader.com
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” better. Can you share your “backstory” with us?
I have two degrees and multiple certifications in exercise, nutrition, and wellness, but spent the first part of my adult life in the clinical research industry. Seven years ago, I started Work Well. Play More! after experiencing severe corporate burnout that led me to want to help individuals climb the ladder or build their business, without sacrificing their health.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career? What were the main lessons or takeaways from that story?
Six months after I started a health coaching business, and right before turning 40, I was diagnosed with three autoimmune diseases. I had been in menopause since the age of 36 and had broken myself down through extreme travel, exercise, and work. I had spent my 20s and 30s thinking I was superwoman and not paying attention to all the signs that I was breaking down until it was too late.
I thought no one would want to hire me because people would expect perfection. I couldn’t have been more wrong. It’s opened me up to people who wish to share their stories as well and gave me empathy and compassion for people who have illnesses. It also started my journey to overcoming perfectionism and recognizing what can be good enough. Now I consider those diagnoses a gift.
Can you share a story about the biggest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
My focus isn’t on looking good in a bikini or getting ripped. My focus is on productive and healthy behaviors at work and at home. In the first year, to make money, I used my personal training and nutrition certifications and trained people. This was confusing to prospects and referral partners, and they thought I was only a fitness trainer. It took a long time to re-train people that I cared more about their overall health, longevity, and the boundaries they set with email, tasks, and time. It didn’t matter to me if they ate enough protein or got 10k steps that day.
The lesson I learned was that no matter how hard it is when the money is tight, keep your eye on the end game. It’s sometimes hard to go back and fix it, and it’s often a distraction.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
Oh my goodness, it’s so hard to pick just one, but I will choose my friend Summer Busto, who I dedicated my first book to. She was a personal training client at first. She later became a productivity coaching client. She saw what I was trying to do and helped me get into the company she was working for. She referred me to clients, and those clients have gone on to refer me to other people, and now I’m working in those companies. A lot of my success is owed to Summer for seeing my potential and recognizing what I could become. We’ve both grown, and now she has her own human resources consulting company. When I look back at my first meeting with her boss, I’m embarrassed and would love to have a do-over!
Ok perfect. Now let’s jump to our main focus. When it comes to health and wellness, how is the work you are doing helping to make a bigger impact in the world?
I want people to know that it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. There isn’t a line that once you cross it, you’re healthy or not. Health is a continuum rather than a finish line. It also encompasses more than nutrition, exercise, sleep, and managing negative stress. Health is boundaries with your time, connection with people instead of devices, and allowing yourself white space to think and dream without continually filling it with noise or stimuli.
Can you share your top five “lifestyle tweaks” that you believe will help support people’s journey towards better wellbeing? Please give an example or story for each.
Top Five Lifestyle Tweaks
1) Movement Opportunities. Many people don’t like to exercise. They think they have to go to a gym, get sweaty, change clothes, have the equipment, and spend a minimum amount of time for it to count. Wrong! People who have higher levels of NEAT — Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis — are sometimes just as healthy as people who do a 1-hour workout every day. Find a trigger, something you do every day, and create a behavior before, during, or after that trigger. That is your Movement Opportunity.
My client Michelle hated exercise, didn’t like to sweat and didn’t want to join a gym. I designed five 5-minute workouts she could do in a skirt, between clients, without getting sweaty. After two months, she sent me a text that said, “I think my butt’s getting higher, just from opportunities!”
Other examples are squats while you brush your teeth, counter push-ups while you’re coffee is brewing or walking or pacing while you talk on the phone.
2) Put down the device before bed. Blue-rays from our devices affect our melatonin and disrupt our circadian rhythm. This affects our sleep quality, which affects our health and productivity in countless ways. Spend the last hour (minimum 30 minutes) before bed without staring at a device. It gives your brain time to rest from stimuli and wind down. Read a book or magazine, do a meditation, or talk with your family.
3) Take regular breaks throughout the day. When we stare at a screen, we blink less, which causes eye fatigue. We also breathe more shallow, which can cause our upper bodies to get stiff. Take a break every 45–60 minutes (90-minutes max) and step away from the screen for a few minutes.
4) Cut out artificial sweeteners. If there is one nutrition recommendation I make, it’s to cut out artificial sweeteners. Studies have shown they don’t help you lose weight and are so intensely sweet your brain will continue to crave the sweet stuff. It’s better to have a little bit of the real thing rather than a lot of the fake stuff. I used to be a Diet Mountain Dew junkie and a ‘light’ or sugar-free addict. Now, if I taste it, I can’t believe I ever liked it. Gradually decrease a little at a time, and your sweet tooth will weaken as well.
5) Have designated device-free times. My husband and I have Phone-Free Friday nights. After 6:00pm our phone goes in a holder by the door. We also use it when we have friends over so that we are all focused on each other and not any ring, pings, or buzzes. Our phones are tools that we can use to connect, but it will never replace real connection. I would prefer to hold my husband’s hand than have it wrapped around my phone.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?
1) As a former ultra-racer in triathlon, running, mountain biking, and adventure racing, I wish someone had told me that it wasn’t healthy. All of that extreme stuff would cause my body to break down so I couldn’t fully repair it.
2) Everyone has a demon or vice that they have to control. Mine was sugar for the first 42 years of my life. Many people have food issues or even mild forms of disordered eating. We need to be conscientious and respectful of whatever meal plan they choose to be on.
3)Progress makes perfect. Doing a little bit every day adds up. Bite-size habits and behaviors over time can lead to massive results.
4) Not all trends work for everyone. The news and social media like to throw out sound bites where today coffee is good for you, but tomorrow it’s terrible. Eggs give you high cholesterol, then they’re a superfood. Intermittent fasting works for everyone or it works for no one. So much of this is bio-individual or poor information that doesn’t tell you that the study was only done on rodents or that it doesn’t work as well for women as it does for men.
5) Social media isn’t a requirement. Years ago, I felt pressured to host my business on every channel and post all the time, but it felt inauthentic, and I didn’t enjoy it. I actually thought it was a timesuck, and it made me unhappy. Studies have shown that usage doesn’t increase our wellbeing. I switched to LinkedIn only 18 months ago and never looked back. I may be able to grow my business even faster if I was on all the channels, but it’s more important that I feel good about what I’m doing. There’s nothing wrong with social media when used as a tool and used with intention. Still, so many people go to it out of boredom when other things could be more positively stimulating.
Sustainability, veganism, mental health and environmental changes are big topics at the moment. Which one of these causes is dearest to you, and why?
Due to the COVID pandemic, the state of the economy, and the social justice and human rights movements happening right now, I’m most concerned with mental health. Things I focus on with my clients are proper work boundaries at home so that it doesn’t bleed into their personal lives, making sure they are making real-life connections and taking news fasts or mental health breaks. We need to recognize mental health issues as illnesses the same way we acknowledge diabetes, autoimmune diseases, or even a hurt foot! We have to take care of ourselves and get the proper treatment, whatever that may be.
What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?
Thank you for these fantastic insights!
I hang out on LinkedIn and post videos on YouTube. Most of my writing occurs at www.marceyrader.com.