One Step at a Time - Aaron Harlow's Health Journey

Written by

Dawson Eifert

Marketing Assistant

Published 3/13/2024

At Anvil, we believe our people are our greatest asset. Because of this, our organization takes great pride in taking care of its’ employees and their families.  

Like many organizations, the most straightforward way we accomplish this is through our benefits; Anvil employees are provided extensive offerings of assistance, ranging from comprehensive health care to professional development opportunities. Beyond these immediate resources, however, Anvil also places a strong emphasis on encouraging employees to practice a healthy lifestyle outside of the office. 

Trail-running clubs, golf tournaments, and softball games – as Anvil employees, we truly appreciate spending time with one another outdoors and getting active. To commemorate this, and to encourage further opportunities for healthier living, Anvil has recently formed a Wellness Committee. 

“Our purpose is to recommend wellness activities and programs that encourage employees’ personal and professional productivity, physical and mental well-being, and to foster a worksite culture that supports employees’ desires to make healthy lifestyle choices,” Kelvin Simonson, the Committee Chair, says. 

One of the Wellness Committee’s first initiatives is organizing a cookbook of Anvil employee’s favorite healthy recipes.  

The idea of the project was in part inspired by the weight loss of Aaron Harlow, a direct employee of one of the Wellness Committee’s members – Patrick Glicker. 

“Healthy eating was the primary change that enabled Aaron’s weight loss,” Patrick explains. “In turn, this developed into a new passion for cooking.” 

 

Aaron Harlow on his wedding day.

 

The Help Desk Administrator – whose professional responsibilities include handling service calls, responding to service tickets, and managing the hardware of our computers – joined our organization nearly twelve months ago. Outside of the office, you may find him catching a movie with his wife. 

Across the last several years, Aaron has lost over one hundred pounds of weight. According to Aaron, an unexplored curiosity in healthy food is what ultimately forced this shift in behavior. 

“Healthy food was not something I had a lot of experience with growing up,” Aaron says. “I figured if it tasted like garbage, I could always go back to frozen pizza. Not to knock frozen pizza – it definitely has its’ place – but it didn’t take long for me to notice the effects of healthy eating.” 

As Aaron noticed changes in his weight, he found it easier to make other healthy choices, like quitting smoking, cutting out soda, and exercising regularly. 

“It was all sort of like a snowball effect,” Aaron says. 

Approaching one healthy lifestyle change at a time would come to be essential to the success of Aaron’s entire journey. 

“It doesn’t have to happen all at once and really, I don’t think it should for lasting change to take effect,” Aaron explains. “Making iterative steps towards a positive change as opposed to a big, sweeping change makes it easier to incorporate into your life – once you make one healthy change, you can make another, and then another. This is the easiest way to develop and maintain positive lifestyle changes.” 

 

One of the healthy dishes Aaron grew to enjoy making for himself is Shakshuka.

 

In Aaron’s mind, achieving a healthier lifestyle should not be viewed as a negative that we must endure, rather a positive that we may experience. 

“A sweeping change feels like a self-imposed punishment more often than not,” Aaron says. 

Despite this sentiment, the Help Desk Administrator acknowledges it can be genuinely difficult to take the first step towards a healthier lifestyle. 

“I think that healthy living can sometimes seem like this sort of monolithic ideal that isn’t attainable,” Aaron says. “A Wellness Committee is actually an excellent way to provide the resource that shows being healthy isn’t all that difficult in the first place. Sometimes you need help with the first steps, and having the support provided by the Wellness Committee can be just the thing that a person needs to begin making positive changes in their life.”

Serving as somewhat of an inspiration for the Wellness Committee’s cookbook, along with his newfound love for healthy eating, Aaron has two recipes to recommend to his fellow Anvil employees. 

“One of my favorite breakfasts is called Shakshuka,” Aaron says. “It is a primarily Israeli and Egyptian dish that incorporates a spicy tomato sauce with peppers and onions that you crack an egg into and then bake. Traditionally you serve the dish with bread, but it can also be had with whole grains like Kamut wheat or millet.” 

Beyond this filling recommendation for breakfast, Aaron also has you covered for dinner. 

“One of my other new favorite dishes is a ‘Three Sisters’ taco,” Aaron says. “Three Sisters is a regenerative farming cultivation technique used pervasively by indigenous peoples in the central Americas and the southern parts of the United States that consisted of growing corn, beans, and squash in hillocks. It also makes a mean taco – I make my own tortillas using masa flour, then to those I add a base of mashed butternut squash topped with sweet corn, black beans, homemade chunky salsa, cilantro, and queso fresco. I could eat those all day long.” 

 

For his ‘Three Sister Tacos,’ Aaron makes his own tortillas using masa, a mix-of corn and flour.

 

Thank you, Aaron, for sharing your story and recipes with us. Your perseverance, discipline, and hard work is inspiring, and a testament to the importance of healthy living.  

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