The Surroundup


  • by Gillian Stovel Rivers, MA, CFP®, CEA
  • October 28, 2021


“Tell me about your food hygiene.”

That’s what my new CrossFit coach asked me this summer. He was putting me through a smart and thorough interview about all aspects of my life, before devising new training plans and determining how he was going to push me, motivate me, and get me outside of my comfort zone to create stronger and bigger comfort zones.

Here was my carefully considered response:


He went on to kindly explain that by “food hygiene,” he is referring to how many times you chew your food before you swallow it.  Because – and this maxim of his has really stuck with me – “you are not what you eat.  You are what you absorb.”

Since that epiphany, I have been applying the concept of hygiene more broadly, far beyond hygiene’s traditional definition, being “Conditions or practices conducive to maintaining health and preventing disease, especially through cleanliness.” And into a lot of areas in which I wanted to absorb the highest possible value and experience the greatest possible results (a riff on our Manifesto Element #5: What we do equals what we get).

And I am encouraging you, in this month’s Surroundup, to consider broadening your understanding of health and disease, to include the lifestyle factors that can actually contribute to your overall wellbeing, or “wealthbeing.”

And why should you consider doing this? To have an even more fruitful relationship with us, your advisors. To have an even greater wealth journey. To have an even greater life.

It starts small and gets big in a hurry. It really is a superpower. I moved quickly from counting my chews, to noticing my posture. “Posture hygiene,” I thought to myself. If I want my gut and my back and my circulation to work optimally, how much effort would it take to correct my posture for a few days until it becomes – and here’s the kicker – what feels good?

Because noticing your food hygiene, your posture hygiene, heck, even being diligent about brushing your teeth after every meal, these are all Atomic Habit changes that you cannot help but take into other parts of your life and make you feel good. All of the seemingly little life things, like how you keep your kitchen, how you manage your bank account and bills, how you pay yourself first by putting savings away every month no matter how small, how you do something as earth-shattering as learning to say “no.” All of them accumulate to direct the way our lives go.

Hygiene habit your way to wealthbeing

So here are the constituent parts of my hygiene theory right now:

  • It’s intentional. It’s not something one can be passive about.
  • It might not feel natural at first, but it starts to feel much better because you do it.
  • It’s related to something that is personally definitive of wellbeing (aka wealthbeing) for you, and
  • This positive feedback loop very quickly means it doesn’t feel like discipline, or deprivation, or even self-control. Instead, it just feels like good old-fashioned self-care.

Including, of course, financial self-care. Wealth hygiene! When I think about the clients we have met with so far this season, especially the ones we have worked with for a long time, I realize they have several key wealth hygiene habits in common. I like to think of them as jumping off points into wealthbeing wins.  Some of them include:

  • They not only show up to their meetings, but they prepare for them. They send us items in advance that they want to cover or get our opinion on. In short, they are engaged.
  • They participate in our webinars and events, taking advantage of access to world-class money managers and financial strategy experts, because they know that knowledge is power.
  • They have become a thousand percent conversant in the reporting tools we use to monitor and reflect the state of their wealth and their habits. They know how to read an investment statement, and they know how to read their NaviPlan reports, which show how the future is looking. This is because they seek to absorb clear, concise information about their financial truth.
  • They not only seek advice, they accept it. They respect and delegate to our wide array of expertise.
  • They work in partnership with us. No one – not us, not you – can maximize wealth by themselves.  These clients want the best possible outcomes, and the best comes by reaching for resources. These clients know that help, helps. As we say in Element #7 of our Manifesto, we like to win – and we like it even more when you win.

Hygiene is a timely topic for all of us, because as we have now started to meet with clients in person again – socially distanced, with masks as desired, fully vaccinated and in safe open locations – we can’t help but talk about everyone’s unique way of starting to go out into the world again. What is their “hygiene” standard for being in public? Or are they still not doing so? Sure, it’s a heck of a lot of fun to go to a ballgame, or a screening of a movie, but if what you’re going to absorb doesn’t feel good, you don’t do it. That’s hygiene.

Depending on your starting point, hygiene theory is either going to feel completely new, or it’s going to feel like a homecoming. The key is to ask yourself: where do I want to absorb the highest possible value and experience the greatest possible results?  And then tell us, so we can help – or rather, work in partnership with – you.

By Gillian Stovel Rivers, MA, CFP®, CEA
Senior Wealth Advisor & Branch Owner