Wellness in the Real World (Debut)

For those of us in the wellness “industry,” it’s easy to forget about the real world.  We read research articles, attend conferences, view powerpoints and watch videos on a wide range of topics, but in the process we often miss the proverbial forest for the trees. Wellness is made up of emotional swings. When an individual is truly making an effort to progress – to become a better version of herself by moving outside of her comfort zone, there is pain, disappointment, struggle, and (temporary) failure. Fortunately, there is also power, energy, encouragement, and the challenge of moving beyond the everyday “fine.”

As we’re knocking on the door to 2015, I’ll occasionally provide a little peek into the life of one guy’s journey through what appears in advance to be a potentially interesting year.  Who am I? I’m Brad Cooper – Just another guy, but a guy who has been fortunate as the CEO of US Corporate Wellness and the Co-Founder of the Catalyst Coaching Institute to spend most of my waking hours here in the wellness industry along with you. My story is unique to me, but it’s really not all that unique.  In many ways it likely mimics the story each of you – and your clients – is living.  That is exactly my goal in sharing it – to remind us all that behind the stoic, “everything’s great!” faces we present to the outside world, there is much more going on. The first time I started writing this initial entry, it included details about race times, interval sessions, etc. However, on retrospect, while that might be important/interesting to me, it wouldn’t serve the intended purpose. So instead, the focus here will be on what’s happening behind the scenes. Specific events or activities may be mentioned or referenced for the sake of context, but they are generally meaningless (except to me and maybe 5 readers) and thus will generally be left out in order for you to fill in the gaps with your story – or that of your clients.

Wellness means different things to different people (an important concept to remember in and of itself). For me, it encompasses the F5 (Faith, Friends/Family, Fuel/Fitness, Field of Play, Finances) that we’ve referenced in this blog in the past and certainly will again in the future.  Each and every one of these 5 areas involve emotional swings, circumstantial variabilities and the impact of other people. Bringing all of these variables together to form “goals” or track “progress” is one of those things that – again – sounds great on paper or in a powerpoint slide, but how exactly does it come together in the real world?  Well – that is usually a completely different story…

Fitness pursuits will be the centerpiece of my entries here, as they provide a greater degree of (at least partial) objectivity. However, you can be certain that all 4 of the other F5 areas will come to the forefront in the process of attempting to describe the journey throughout 2015.  It’s my hope that in peeling back the curtain in this one area, it will help you as a wellness coach to go one level deeper with your clients – beyond calorie counts, sleep journals and exercise logs to what’s really driving each of those in the first place.

With the above “ground rules” in place, please allow me to wrap up this debut entry with a brief history of the past few years to set the scene for what is to come in future posts…

  • I’m very fortunate in seemingly every way. From my wonderful bride of 22 years to 3 incredible kids, good health and a career that is far beyond even my wildest of dreams, I’m basically spoiled.
  • The above doesn’t mean I don’t struggle – regularly – with self-doubt, disappointment and discouragement. As a matter of fact, the presence of the above often makes me think – in the middle of the 3D’s (Doubt/Disappointment/Discouragement) – that there must really be something wrong with me if I can complain in the midst of so many overflowing blessings
  • I love endurance pursuits. They are a central part of “who” I am, not just “what” I do.  It’s not even so much the event itself but rather the pursuit of the event that makes me feel alive.  In looking back over years of racing and some decent results, only a very small (VERY small) number have turned out as hoped/planned. However, I realized years ago that it’s not actually the act of racing that makes me come alive but rather the pursuit of those events – and the bigger the pursuit, the better.
  • Injuries – in spite of my 25+ year background as a Physical Therapist/Athletic Trainer and Wellness Coach, I’ve had more than my share. The reason is as simple as it is consistent: I’m Icarus. The dreams grow larger with each successful workout and… well, you know. And, at the age of 48, the sun is growing hotter and the wax in my wings less resistant…
  • 2014 was an extremely discouraging year on this front due to the injuries.  With two incredible events (the Boston and NY Marathons) on the calendar, training seemed to be dialed in to the Nth degree. However, just weeks away from each of these two events, memorable training sessions triggered freak injuries that shut things down and turned the previous 12+ wks of committment into a black hole – literally overnight.
  • 2015 is set to be an all-time dream season, with 4 major events on the calendar.  Any two of them would set up a fun year – the combo of the four makes the phrase “dream season” an understatement, if anything.  However, even that comment is yet another reminder of how we’re all so different.  One person’s “dream” is another’s “whatever” and another’s “hell.” It’s that uniqueness that makes wellness coaching such an incredible adventure. The specifics of my “dream” may be unique to me, but the way in which it may or may not play itself out is a journey similar to all of us.

So welcome to the journey.  Thanks for coming along.

Brad Cooper

CEO – US Corporate Wellness, Inc.
Co-Founder – The Catalyst Coaching Institute


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