My Personal Wellness Score Experience
As a fitness enthusiast with a nutrition degree, I usually consider myself ‘healthy,’ feeling fit, confident, and mentally well. I choose nutrient, dense, local, seasonal and organic foods, go to the gym at least four times a week and train vigorously. I walk everywhere in New York City and I often try out different diet and fitness trends.
However, recently, I’ve been feeling physically and mentally off track. I haven’t been sleeping and eating well. I’ve been tired and stressed all the time. I couldn’t find the motivation and the time to exercise. I thought it was because of the bipolar New York weather, maybe the upcoming holiday season or just because I moved to a new apartment. I couldn’t figure out exactly why I was feeling this way.
So I happened to take the Fitnescity Wellness Score two days ago. I was asked to describe every single aspect of my lifestyle: sleep patterns, eating habits, alcohol and water consumption, exercise routine, work schedule, daily responsibilities and lifetime goals. I had to respond to an extensive list of questions about my wellness, and what started out as a cool test (that I frankly did just out of curiosity) ended up being eye-opening, to say the least. I think I can finally tell that I know why I got so off track.
In this post I’m going to share my personal experience with taking the Wellness Score. Most importantly, I’ll share the five things I’ve learned about myself that I should change.
So here’s how it works: The Wellness Score assesses your wellness by looking into eight categories: history, physical activity, sleep, stress, emotions, nutrition, water and alcohol consumption. Each category consists of three to ten questions, requiring you to think very carefully about your wellness because you are expected to give as many details as possible. Don’t expect to fill a three-day food log or make calculations with your weight and calorie intake. But, I recommend you to start thinking about things you had never thought about (I will give you a clue: What is health to you?). Are there any goals you set for yourself a while ago though never found the courage to achieve?
The questions in the Wellness Score aim to not only tell you more about your wellness, but also show you how to improve it.
The Wellness Score grades all of your answers using an algorithm. Your answers are scaled from 0 to 100, and each answer has a unique value that is used to calculate your overall score. The good thing is that you can’t cheat on the test because, unlike the other wellness tests or surveys, finding the perfect answer is not that easy. The Wellness Score will ask you a lot of open-ended questions along with YES/NO questions, opinion scale and multiple-choice questions. There are also a few other tricky and unpredictable aspects of the Wellness Score. For example some questions require you to answer multiple things. e.g. “What types of exercises do you do daily, with what intensity?” You cannot just say weight training and go on to the next question. You should include the intensity level if you wish to receive full points. Besides these, you are expected to fill in every open-ended question even if they are not applicable to you. The Wellness Score will not let you move forward to the next category if you leave blank spaces.
Once you’re done, you will get to see your score for not only each category (history, physical activity, sleep, stress, emotions, nutrition, water and alcohol consumption), but also each question. You will also see that the Wellness Score gives you feedback on why you got what you got from answering a specific question. In my report, although I thought I was incorporating a lot of nutritious foods in my diet, my overall nutrition score was 57 because I got 0 points from four questions in the nutrition category! Now, when I think about it, it makes so much sense. I knew that I wasn’t cooking that much at home, but I never actually counted the days I eat outside either― six days and twice a day... It doesn’t matter if I get a salad or a harvest bowl with a lot of fibrous ingredient, these are all still restaurant foods, and I can never know truly about the ingredients― where they come from, if they are pesticide free, or how they are cooked.
However, I also thought that the Wellness Score had some shortcomings because it doesn’t take into account the fact that you might be on a special diet, or preparing for a marathon, or just that you might have some truly unique sleep patterns. In my case, for instance, I eat two meals per day and feel pretty fine and energetic. The Wellness Score mostly follows the USDA dietary guidelines for Americans 2015-2020. Since these guidelines state that I should be eating at least three meals per day, my nutrition score was badly affected.
Similarly, if someone has a rare genetic mutation that lets them function perfectly fine with just about four hours of sleep, the Wellness Score will assume that their sleep patterns are not healthy, and they might score badly on sleep.
When I received my Wellness Score, I was very surprised. Like I said, I consider myself to be a ‘healthy’ individual so I wasn’t expecting my score to be this low. However, it turns out that although my medical history, my physical fitness, my food and sleep patterns were fine, there were a lot of other “hidden” factors that were actually having a crucial impact on my wellness. This includes the people I live with, my financial responsibilities, my work hours, among many other things. The Wellness Score made me realize that I was constantly stressed about these external factors and that in return, this was causing me to get easily off track. Regarding my diet, I surely need to start cooking more at home. I can’t deny the fact that I was literally eating outside all the time. Most importantly, I also realized that it’s not just what I eat that improves my overall well-being, but it’s also about the when, where, how and with whom I eat. Those are all equally important. Furthermore, I will start exercising eight hours per week instead of six, since I’m sitting most of the day in the office. I don’t have stairs at the office, but I will try to walk more. I should also decrease my alcohol consumption by two glasses per setting if I want to maintain my weight and reduce my health risks. Finally, I’m going to stop saying “I need coffee” first thing in the morning, looking back at my Wellness Score; maybe that’s why I’m always waking up earlier than I expect. I will limit caffeinated drinks to a maximum of two cups per day. At least I will try!
Overall, I thought the Wellness Score report was pretty easy to understand. When your results are ready, you receive an email from the Fitnescity team providing you with an access to your digital Wellness Profile along with a password that’s created only for you. Your overall score stands at the center of your Wellness Score circle and around it you can see your scores for each category. The categories that you score in well are shown in green, and as your score goes down, the colors turn into orange and then red. Right next to your Wellness Score circle, there are also buttons giving you direct access to the all eight categories and their individual questions. Here, you are given the chance to understand why you got a certain score and how you can make more informed decisions on that specific aspect of your wellness.
Although I might not follow every single recommendation from my Wellness Score results, I’m convinced that this exercise has helped me see what I was doing wrong in terms of nutrition, alcohol and caffeine consumption. Most importantly, the Wellness Score has also opened my eyes on some aspects of my life that were causing a lot of stress, and therefore having a toll my emotional well-being. We always think of wellness as exercise and diet, and we obsess about our food intake and our training, but it’s actually much more than that. At the end of the day, all of the eight categories (history, physical activity, sleep, stress, emotions, nutrition, water and alcohol consumption) are related. Even if your training and your diet are impeccable, you might still not see the results you want to see if you’re overly stressed or sleep poorly.
What do you think? Would you take the Wellness Score?