By Lisa Shrewsberry
Grab coffee. Maybe a doughnut. Paint the barn (face). Start the car. Drop off kids at school. Make it to office. Stay hungry till lunch. Lunch! Find takeout menus. Work, work, candy bar, energy drink, work. More takeout, more kids, home. Lather, rinse, carby snack, sleep, repeat.
Daily grind? Meet Shirley Adkins.
When Advanced Urology’s Dr. Faith Payne decided she liked her employees (hand-picked them, she calls it) enough to keep them, she
began looking at their daily lives beyond what they could do just for her and for business, desiring to keep them very well.
She called on Adkins, a civil engineer and certified Crossfit trainer, to partner with her to help make it fun and worthwhile to get the entire office into shape, brimming with energy and more enthusiastic about the average day than the average American.
What resulted was Adkins’ grassroots wellness program, offering up financial incentives to AU employees to lose weight, however safely and effectively they could on their own at first, then coaching them in a stepwise approach to reveal their inner athletes.
Six employees from within the small group chose to participate.
“I had to teach them not to focus on the scale,” says Adkins of initial obstacles to abdominals. “I wanted them to lose weight, but to be wowed by the results of eating better and exercising, which also means losing inches.”
The team together lost a total of 100 pounds from January to April and nearly 75 inches, the most exciting aspect to Adkins.
“Our receptionist lost 133/4 inches. Think of it: The diagonal of a television screen is 13 inches. That’s just incredible.”
Dr. Payne was a captain who literally went down with her ship — tossing 14 pounds and 10 inches overboard. At the final April weigh-in, it was LPN Jeff Cameron who was deemed the biggest winner for eradicating 151/2 inches and 35 pounds.
“My goal was to lose weight and get off of my blood pressure medications,” he revealed, indicating he was able to indeed cut his dosage following his success.
“I focused on portion control, I cut out sodas completely and started eating a lot of vegetables. I was up to four to six sodas a day.” Cameron admits it was easier getting motivated because “everybody in the office was doing it.”
Adkins, who had also gained weight from a busy move to Beckley from St. Albans, trimmed down by re-adhering to her faithful tenets of fitness. She said her secrets to staying in shape include the metabolic conditioning and weight training she gets as a Crossfit trainer and shopping the perimeter of the grocery store only (where the veggies, fruits, meats and whole grains are versus scads of processed foods).
She also recommends subscribing to the 80/20 Rule: Eat and do what you ought to 80 percent of the time, but give yourself a break with the other 20.
The next step to a totally fit office will be preparing the employees for weight training and exercise. Adkins plans on getting baseline fitness levels for each participant, then on hopefully obtaining permission for on-site after-work workouts (outside the Raleigh General Hospital Medical Complex) during the warmer months.
“Advanced Urology took on good health as our future direction. The goal is a lifetime of wellness. With Obamacare and changing mandates, what better way to address them than to be a forerunner?” she commented.
Access to health
Brittany Drake, coordinator of AccessHealth’s Wellness Program and NASM certified personal trainer, although she’s lost her rookie status, having been a coach and health mentor now to employees for nearly two years, is still the favorite employee in spite of being the most demanding.
The group’s latest endeavor, the “I Walked to Myrtle Beach” program encourages employees to get on their walking shoes and to log 740 miles (the distance of a round trip to Myrtle Beach and back) over the summer. Broken into teams, there are 120 total employees participating.
“This is our biggest program yet,” Drake explained, adding that the spoils of victory falling to the winning teams will include gift cards to Dick’s Sporting Goods for more gear, for more fitness. “The goal is to get up, get moving and have fun with your co-workers.”
Last year, the corporate version of The Biggest Loser was a major milestone for AccessHealth’s coordinated wellness efforts. Immediately
following, Drake began a “Maintain, Don’t Gain” program for getting through the holidays.
“I had quite a few employees tell me it was the first time ever they hadn’t gained during that stressful time of year.”
Employees who stayed within 2 pounds of their starting weight through Christmas and New Year’s were rewarded with modest incentives, but extensive health benefits.
Participation of AccessHealth’s employees has been impressive in number from the start, with close to half of a total 250 employees participating in one or more weight-loss and weight-maintenance programs.
Going beyond borders, Drake is now opening up to the public Brit’s Bootcamp, a summer fitness program held at several locations and offered at a discount to AccessHealth employees. Operating under the motto: “If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you,” the camp offers 13 workouts full of “fat-blasting, calorie-burning, strength-gaining fun,” running now through May 30.
“Our goal is to help our employees and our community to live happier and healthier.”
Drake, who is also the Quality Improvement coordinator for AccessHealth, commends her CEO Charles Hunt with being committed to wellness for the organization. “I have to give Mr. Hunt 120 percent of the credit for really caring about employees and their wellness. He is involved to the point of helping design the T-shirts. I could not have asked for better support.”
Her advice for employers looking to incorporate fitness as part of their fringe benefits is to do an evaluation after each challenge. “Ask employees, ‘What did you like the most about it? The least? How can we make it better?’ If you don’t have buy-in, it’s not going to be successful.”
Brit’s Tips for Corporate Wellness:
n Get senior management support
n Do an initial needs assessment: What do employees need? Weight loss? Is there a higher incidence of heart disease or other? Structure the wellness plan based on the answers to these questions and focusing on the most pressing needs.
n “It absolutely has to be fun and enjoyable!”
For complete Brit’s Bootcamp schedule and other AccessHealth Wellness Program information, visit AccessHealthWV Wellness Program on Facebook.