Losing It with Gary
By Gary Boyd, MPH, FACHE
It seems that just about every journal related to hospitals and healthcare is writing about the benefits of a healthier staff,
including lowering costs of health plans
to employers. I saw a great article in the
Harvard Business Review that, like most
articles there, took me an hour to read
and decipher all of the graphs about the
benefits of a wellness program. And, really, it’s just the right thing to offer to individuals and their family members.
At my organization, we have embarked
on an initiative to improve the health of
our staff. We have created a Wellness
Committee, which I am part of, and have
implemented a few programs which staff
have taken advantage of. Some of the
things include establishing a small gym
with treadmills and other fitness equipment, organizing classes on nutrition,
purchasing a Wii Fit, etc. One of the most
impressive programs implemented was
organizing a “Biggest Loser” contest (
borrowed from the television show) where
participants lost a total of 160 pounds! I
like to point out that they lost the equivalent weight of an average staff member.
Recently, the Wellness Committee
held a “Know Your Numbers” clinic
in which participants could have their
blood drawn, vital signs checked, and
weight and Body Mass Index (BMI) measured. The clinic will be repeated over the
year and the goal is to give staff a baseline
of their “numbers” and give them the opportunity to work to improve them and
measure their progress over the course
of the year.
The Wellness Committee had done some research
on successful programs, and the ones that stood out had
I consider myself a healthy, active guy
so after the great success of the “Biggest
Loser” contest I decided to participate in
the “Know Your Numbers Clinic,” knowing I needed to lose a few pounds and I
was curious about my cholesterol. I had
just returned from a backpacking trip and
knew I was in my best shape of the summer, so it was a great time to participate.
I had my blood drawn and went to the
various stations to measure and document my numbers. My blood work came
back in a few days and my cholesterol, triglycerides, HDL, cholesterol/HDL ratio,
and LDL were all within normal limits.
Check! Pulse, blood pressure, and oxygen
saturations were all in great shape. Check
again! But when I got to my weight and
BMI, I was shocked to find out I am…
OBESE Not normal, not overweight, but
OBESE with a BMI of 32.0.
I couldn’t believe it. The last time I
had checked, my BMI was under 30. I
had noticed the collars on my shirts were
harder to button, but I just figured that
after dozens of times being laundered
they had shrunk and I needed new ones.
Pictures of me were a bit swollen, but
you know, the camera adds 10 pounds.
And I like jeans which have a “classic”
cut (guess I know why now).
After the reality of that number settled
in I decided to do something about it.
First, I set a short term goal of getting my
BMI down below 30 by New Year’s Day.
Doesn’t sound like much ( 32.0 to 29.9),
but for me that meant losing 18 pounds.
Second, I decided to go public with it.
The Wellness Committee had done some
research on successful programs, and the
ones that stood out had CEO participation. We’d been talking about things I
could get involved in, so when I discussed
going public with a weight loss program
they gave me the thumbs up. So we brainstormed a few titles for the program and
decided on “Losing It with Gary.” I wrote
an introduction similar to what you have
read so far in this column and sent out an
“all users” email.
In the first hour after it went out I
was a little nervous about the reaction.
I heard a few muffled comments in my
office to the effect of, “Wow, he put himself out there” and then a few emails of
encouragement rolled in. I decided to go
on rounds and many people commented
they read my email and wished me luck.
And a few others were inspired to join
me in my challenge.
So it’s only been a week, but I’m
happy I went public. I’ll be weighing in