Most of us are aware of the continuing rise in the incidence of obesity in our society. On January 12, 2000, Jeff Anderson Regional Medical Center began a program to fight this epidemic. Their goal was to create healthy employees for the new millennium by giving pro-health information and providing motivational rewards and increased momentum through group participation. This program cannot be called a “weight loss” program, but is better described as an “improvement in lifestyle habits” program.
This program was divided into two parts. The first phase was a closely monitored program with the winners being given their rewards in May at a Healthy Employee Covered-Dish Supper. The second phase will provide rewards in December 2000 for employees whom either kept their weight off or continue to lose weight.
In January, 60 people met to begin the program. The employees came as either individuals or as a four-person team. During the initial meeting, employees were weighed, the rules of the program were reviewed and a short presentation regarding the magic of weight management was presented. Each employee received a booklet. This booklet contained menu ideas, suggestions for eating out, ideas for recipe modification, basic food guide, formula for calculating calorie level needed for weight loss, food record information, and simplified exchange system information.
A point system was used to determine the team or individual who created the healthiest style and who would receive monetary rewards from the hospital. Employees obtained points in the following ways:
• 10 points for attending monthly educational sessions.
• 1 point for every 100 calories burned, not to exceed 20 points per week.
• 5 points for setting goals at the beginning of each month and 5 more for goals being met.
• 1 point for every day that employees ate 5 or more servings of fruits and vegetables.
• 5 points for every week those employees kept a food/exercise diary.
• 2 points for every pound lost, not to exceed 16 points per month.
Monthly educational meetings were held. The first session consisted of a cooking demonstration using beans and promoting fiber as a line of defense against hunger. Other sessions were: creating an exercise plan for life, healthy ways to eat out, and how to prevent a lapse from turning into a relapse.
In May, the employees were weighed for the last time during the initial phase of the program. It was found that 40 employees had stayed with the program and had lost a total of 310 pounds and burned 430,000 calories (kcal) through exercise. Also in May, employees received their rewards from the personnel director of the hospital.
The team members all stuck with the program while only half of the individual members stayed with it for the duration. The team method seemed to be more effective because members would stick together for meals.
This program has proven to be quite effective and as many employees have stated, easy. They have all found that losing weight does not mean that you must starve yourself, but by making simple lifestyle changes, individuals can get control of this area of their lives. Behavior change takes time and effort, but by creating a healthy style, a healthy weight can be obtained.
While individuals and groups are participating in the Healthy Employee 2000 Program, they can expect to be rewarded in the following ways:
Getting caught participating in healthy activities results in certificates that are good for purchases from the hospital’s Health and Fitness Center and free meals from the cafeteria.
Individual and groups with the most points are rewarded at the Healthy Employee pot luck dinner.
Awards Available for May:
• 1st Individual & Group Members - $100.00 /person
• 2nd Individual & Group Members - $50.00 /person
• 3rd Individual & Group Members - 3 sessions with a personal trainer or 6 month Healthclub membership
The grand prizes will be given in December 2000. These prizes will be based on the individual or group that has been most successful at maintaining their weight loss.
• 1st Individual & Group Members - $200.00 / person
• 2nd Individual & Group Members - $100.00 / person
• 3rd Individual & Group Members - 6 sessions with personal trainer or 12 month free membership to Healthy Directions.
By Mary Gilmore, RD, LD, CDE, Weight Management Director, Jeff Anderson Regional Medical Center, Meridian, MS. Mary is working with Food & Health Communications to make handouts and a leader guide available so you can use this program for employee wellness or weight management classes. If you are interested call us toll-free at 800-462-2352.
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Judy’s passion for cooking began with helping her grandmother make raisin oatmeal for breakfast. From there she earned her first food service job at 15, was accepted to the world-famous Culinary Institute of America at 18 (where she graduated second in her class), and went on to the Fachschule Richemont in Switzerland where she focused on pastry arts and baking. After a decade in food service for Hyatt Hotels, Judy launched Food and Health Communications to focus on flavor and health. She graduated with Summa Cum Laude distinction from Johnson and Wales University with a BS in Culinary Art, holds a master’s degree in Food Business from the Culinary Institute of America, 2 art certificates from UC Berkeley Extension, and runs a food photography studio where her love is creating fun recipes.
Judy received The Culinary Institute of America’s Pro Chef II certification, the American Culinary Federation Bronze Medal, Gold Medal, and ACF Chef of the Year. Her enthusiasm for eating nutritiously and deliciously leads her to constantly innovate and use the latest in nutritional science and Dietary Guidelines to guide her creativity, from putting new twists on fajitas to adapting Italian brownies to include ingredients like toasted nuts and cooked honey. Judy’s publishing company, Food and Health Communications, is dedicated to her vision that everyone can make food that tastes as good as it is for you.