There’s something undeniably alluring about a new year. The future’s unwritten, and, often, you’re able to fill in the blanks. But with that blank slate of 2021 on the horizon, it can be daunting to consider what improvements you want to make and which goals you plan to set. This year, instead of having another crack at that tired diet plan or biting off way more than you can chew in other wellness areas, consider trying a new approach to health—emotional and physical.
Illustration by Em Handy
“I’d say self-alchemy is this idea that self-actualization isn’t someplace we arrive. It’s more this path we take to get there that becomes meaningful,” says Lauren Adsem, a therapist and founder of Self-Alchemist planners. “I’ve forever been amazed by women and the things that we do. And something I noticed is that it’s really difficult for us as women to put aside all the obligations we carry in order to focus on our own wellness and our own energy.”
Personal wellness and renewed energy are at the forefront of Adsem’s set of four planners, which combine the concept of a daily planner with that of wellness-oriented daily devotionals. “There is a foundational set of four. I always suggest people start with the primer because it gets the user into the groove of ways to prioritize tasks throughout the week,” says Adsem, who grew up in Plymouth.
Photo by Sarah Dovolos
Each planner is a 30-day process, broken down by months, weeks and day by day. “I was looking for a planner that broke down a little more than the standard ones,” Jess Knutson says. “Like most people, I set these big goals, and I tend to jump in 100 percent right away, and if it doesn’t work out, I give up.”
Self-Alchemist sidesteps this tendency by allowing users to parcel out those monolithic goals day by day. “My hope, when starting this, was that others could use this one tool to deliberately appoint their attention to certain parts of their day,” Adsem says. This careful single-tasking mindset also applies to the users, ensuring they’ve carved out time to take care of themselves in restorative ways.
“One of the big practices I promote in Self-Alchemist is using 15 minutes at the end of every day to close up the day and to plan ahead for tomorrow,” Adsem says. But 15 minutes isn’t always easy to come by, and she admits she, too, sometimes lapses in her practice. “Sometimes things get overwhelming, and I just gradually stop engaging in that ritual. And that’s when I start to notice my own self-care and wellness taking a backseat to everything else that’s going on.”
Although Adsem’s planners are geared toward women, that’s not to say there aren’t practices and habits that are universally beneficial for everyone.
Adsem cautions against the occasional, grand “treat yourself” moment in favor of finding the small things that bring you joy throughout the day. It may be a cup of tea or a half an hour of reading time. What’s important is that even in our busy lives, we make the time to do the small daily things we enjoy without feeling guilty.
E Squared Health
The prevailing mentality for some physical health programs is that the scale is sole arbiter and judge of either success or failure. But Chris and Lauren Schultheis, with over 40 years shared experience in the fitness field, want to dispel this misconception with their holistic approach to wellness, E Squared Health—the name reflecting the mission of educating and empowering clients.
“We believe weight is a symptom of health and not the be-all end-all,” says Lauren, who was previously a health coach with a major fitness club. This philosophy has driven the couple to develop a comprehensive health assessment for clients, which includes reviewing body composition, strength, history, and current health and lifestyle habits. In addition, free custom plans are offered to get clients started.
“I’ve always been super inspired when Lauren would come home from work, and she would share stories about her clients,” says Chris, who worked on the operations side of the same fitness club before the duo started its own wellness studio. “What really resonated with me was when she would share stories about how clients would make changes at home based on what they’d learned from Lauren,” he says.
The couple says that traditional programming is designed to achieve a weight loss goal, not to educate or empower people in their health. “So, when people are done with a traditional program, they typically see things go backwards,” Chris says.
Personalized solutions mean personalized assessments, which saw E Squared Health move from a virtual model to an in-person site. “One of the things we noticed, as we began to assess and work with people, was that they wanted more from us,” Chris says. “So we moved to our new space in Plymouth this past April, and we built out a space that includes a fitness studio, coaching suites, special assessment space and room to grow.”
This growth has also resulted in expansions in programming. E Squared Health also offers lab diagnostics and staffs a chief medical officer to oversee complex care management. “We’ve created something that gives people a team approach to care, looking at their whole health verses, to Lauren’s point, just looking at the scale,” Chris says.
“With my history of disordered eating, so much of my motivation and anxiety was tied to my weight on the scale, which I didn’t want to repeat this time around,” says Brittany Travis, client. “[Staff] happily embraced this request in favor of focusing on my positive gains in holistic health (increase in muscle mass, lowering of stress levels, etc.). Being able to reframe and redefine what ‘success’ means beyond a number on the scale in favor of my holistic health has been a major contributor to my sustained motivation and has kept me from relapsing into disordered eating for the first time in over 15 years.”
Although the new site launched during the pandemic, the center is open and operating with the utmost care to ensure clients’ safety. Assessment rooms are thoroughly cleaned between uses, and personalized coaching programs operate with between one and two clients at time.