Slimming down and staying fit WellWorks program steers people toward healthier habits Jan 5, 2009 ByJeanna Packard
After talking with her doctor, Eileen Theodore-Shusta realized her health was heading down an undesirable path and that it was time to turn the wheel.
While searching online, she found a map for achieving a healthy lifestyle change: an intensive, yearlong risk reduction program at Ohio University's WellWorks center that enrolls up to eight participants three times a year. During the program, members receive ongoing feedback and guidance from an interdisciplinary team of health coordinators, exercise physiologists, dieticians, health educators and yoga instructors.
"I don't like taking medication, so I thought this was a good alternative," said Theodore-Shusta, a Human Resources librarian.
Now a quarter of the way through the program, her blood pressure and cholesterol have improved, and she has maintained her weight through the holiday season.
The risk reduction program starts with a 100-day "kick-start" plan and ends with maintenance goals. Extensive physical assessments are completed during each of the program's four phases; individualized diet and exercise prescriptions then are updated.
Members have to commit to five hours of workouts, group meetings and individual meetings with a case manager.
So far, about 45 people have gone through the program since it started in 2006. And all have experienced improvements in the 100 days, ranging from weight loss to stress reduction, said Tom Murray, the HeartWorks director at WellWorks.
The fitness center, in conjunction with University Human Resources, designed the program for people with high-risk health issues. The goal is to improve employee health, which will lower health care costs and increase productivity, Murray said.
Employees and their spouses who are covered by Ohio University health insurance are eligible to participate.
Cost of the program is $300, but participants who successfully complete their wellness goals will earn the money back in $75 increments. A one-year membership to WellWorks is included.
Past participants praised the plan.
"I thought it was wonderful," said Maureen Weissenrieder, who joined with her husband in 2006. "We thought we can do it, and they had such an offering. I can't brag about it enough."
Together, the couple lost weight as well as lowered their cholesterol and blood pressure.
"We feel so much better," Weissenrieder said.
David Holben had a similar experience. A professor of nutrition in the College of Health and Human Services, he had never fully committed himself to putting what he knew into practice.
Holben wanted to lower his cholesterol as well as his weight. When he ended the program, he had improved the numbers on his blood work tests and he had lost 32 pounds, which meant he had to buy new clothes to fit his newly slim physique.
His pride point, however, was mastering a challenge he had attempted -- and failed at -- 30 years earlier in middle school gym class.
"I remember in 1975 being totally embarrassed because I couldn't do pull-ups in 7th grade," Holben said. "Now for the first time at age 45 I could do pull-ups."
If you're interested in learning more about WellWorks risk reduction plan, counselors will hold a program orientation at 5:15 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 6, in Grover Center room W123. Related Links WellWorks: http://www.ohio.edu/wellworks/ Published: Jan 5, 2009 12:26 PM
Keeping track of blood pressure is an important component of the risk reduction program. Here, WellWorks staffer Corey Devol performs a check on William Inman.
Translating intentions into actions
Who hasn't made a vow to get fit, stop smoking or banish other bad habits at the start of a new year, only to see those good intentions slip away as the demands of daily life take precedence?
To help you stay on track, Kim Valentour, director of Ohio University's WellWorks fitness center, offered these tips:
Assess areas in which change should occur
Pick one behavioral change to work on at a time, for example, to eat more vegetables
Write a SMART (Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Realistic, Time-balanced) goal
Make a plan
Involve friends, family and coworkers into your plan
Self-monitor: keep an exercise journal, food log, weigh yourself, etc.
When slip-ups happen -- and yes, they will most likely will -- get right back on track
Thorough preparation and planning are keys to success, Valentour said. Know when you are going to workout and schedule it. Healthy behaviors take time and dedication to adopt permanently.
Like Valentour, Ohio University employee and WellWorks member Eileen Theodore-Shusta realizes being healthy is a lifetime commitment. Since joining the center in September, she's lost weight as well as cut her cholesterol.
"I see these little old ladies walking into WellWorks excited to work out, and I think that's going to be me in 20 years."