When you think of the word wellness, what is the first thing that comes to mind? What you eat? Your activity level? Wellness, in a true sense, is so much more. It’s about becoming more aware and making choices that lead you toward a healthy life, and getting to a state of physical, mental and social well-being.
Elizabeth Downs, health and wellness advisor at General Insurance Services (GIS) strives to help clients achieve just that.
“Wellness - I think a lot of people define it as how many miles they ran yesterday, or how many push-ups they can do,” Downs said. “Really wellness, in a holistic manner, is geared around mental health - are you sleeping? What are your relationships at work like? What’s your financial health? What’s your nutritional health? It’s all of those things.”
As a health and wellness advisor, Downs holds a multi-faceted position. One side of the job is helping clients improve and achieve wellness goals. Another is helping individuals navigate their Medicare options. Downs carefully examines claims data and the results of internal focus groups conducted with employees to help her GIS clients reach optimal wellness within their businesses, and themselves as individuals. She’s looking at the whole picture of a business to ensure a comprehensive analysis.
“I go in and talk with employers, audit their culture, and see what it is they need,” Downs said. “We know that employers need to establish a healthy culture within their organization but they don’t always know how to do that. GIS brought me in to help our clients look over their data, talk with employees, and help create a plan that’s tailored to their company needs to establish a health and wellness culture within the organization.”
The La Porte County native graduated from New Prairie High School and earned a degree in marketing from then Tri-State University (now Trine University).
“Even though it may seem to have nothing to do with what I do now, it really does because it has helped me learn to get out there and talk with people and give presentations,” Downs said.
Downs’ previous experience in wellness program development is one reason so many clients see the value in her expertise. Before joining the GIS team, Downs spent nearly a decade developing and implementing evidence-based health initiatives for special populations at the La Porte County Family YMCA.
“During my time at the Y, I helped create wellness programs for cancer survivors and diabetes prevention, helping people change their lifestyle,” she said. “I’m not only a health and life agent but also a certified personal trainer with an orthopedic specialty. I’m a cancer exercise specialist, a certified ergonomic specialist, and a certified lifestyle coach, so over the years I have developed a lot of experience in some of these areas.”
Downs’ commitment to wellness throughout Northwest Indiana continues through her work with Healthy Communities of LaPorte County (HCLPC). For the last two years, she has been on the board of directors for the organization.
“My role with HCLPC really fits well into what I do with the community and GIS,” she said. “It’s a great organization.”
For more information on Downs, her services, and General Insurance Services, visit their website.