Teamwork Supports Healthy Habits at WCHS Regional Centers
AHA Partner in the Spotlight: Wake County Human Services
“The Losers”–one of two winning ERC teams among all four winners of the WE Choose 2 Lose Challenge.
It’s not often that strategic planning leads to a weight loss challenge, but that was indeed the impetus for a recent series of wellness efforts aimed at supporting employees at Wake County Human Services’ (WCHS) three regional centers. Working together as teams, 47 employees at the Eastern Regional Center in Zebulon, the Northern Center in Wake Forest and the Southern Regional Center in Fuquay-Varina recently lost a total of 239 pounds, along with inches and some unhealthy habits during the WE Choose 2 Lose Weight Loss Challenge. This was the third wellness initiative employees participated in since last fall.
Employees at the regional centers cannot easily join in activities at the WCHS Sunnybrook and Swinburne offices in Raleigh, according to Sonya Reid, program manager for WCHS Health Promotion Chronic Disease Prevention Section. “They were interested in wellness support in their own offices. Couple that desire with a love for competition among the regional centers, and the challenge was born,” Reid said.
The 4-month program kicked off Jan. 14 after employees signed up based on information from this flier. In addition to weight loss, the Health Promotion team also measured BMI, BFA and waist circumference. Teams were assessed at the start of the challenge for a baseline, mid-way and on the final day of the challenge. Each week, the Health Promotion team sent participants emails with tips and other support, like this Food Diary Log. Some teams asked for—and received—additional support from Health Promotion staff in planning healthy meals as well types of exercises to achieve different desired outcomes. Prizes were offered as an added incentive, but Reid said that being healthier was what drove most to participate.
“The Slim Silhouettes”–another Eastern Regional Center winning team.
AHA joins WCHS in congratulating four winning teams that had the highest percentage of weight loss: The Losers and The Slim Silhouettes from the Eastern Regional Center, the Sassy Dames from the Southern Regional Center and Gemini from the Northern Regional Center. (Reid said the two teams from the ERC were so close in the percentage of weight loss that two teams were recognized.) Each team won prizes generously donated by area businesses, including Massage Envy Spa North Hills and others. The ERC also has the honor of having the most participants, and Reid said they plan to continue their healthy habits and weight loss goals even without the incentive of prizes. Health Promotion staff will continue to visit the ERC for assessments and support.
The Results: What’s Gained Is More Than Pounds Lost
While the pounds and inches lost were certainly a cause for celebration, employees learned that the team approach was so valuable in helping them reach their goals. Last September employees had participated in a “Five a Day Challenge” to eat five servings of fruits and vegetables each day, and in October they participated in the “Pink Bag” Challenge when they were encouraged to bring their healthy lunches in pink bags in observance of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Both of those challenges were popular, but they were individual challenges, Reid said, and employees expressed interest in a team-supported challenge for the weight loss effort to help motivate each other. Next up for the regional centers employees: which center can assemble the largest Race for the Cure team for this annual event in June. Reid said they resume activities again in the fall after the June challenge.