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Exciting things have been happening with our health and wellness initiatives since January of 2011. Weight Watchers at Work became available at Northwest for full-time employees. Robert Keefer, adjunct professor in the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences leads the program. This program currently has a total of 28 members including 11 lifetime members. (Lifetime membership occurs when someone achieves a weight goal that is within Weight Watchers healthy weight ranges determined by each participant and their physician.) Since the program began, employees in the group have lost a total of 2,525 pounds. The program runs on a monthly pass, so employees can sign up or choose to discontinue membership at any time. Northwest utilizes funds from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas City to offer employees a 25% subsidy, which makes the expense $29.95 per month. If a first-time member remains with the program for three months of consecutive membership, another 25% will be reimbursed to the employee in the form of Chamber Bucks.
Weight Watchers at Work provides several benefits for employees, from private weigh-ins and group support to the convenience and flexibility of meetings at work. This program strives to create a healthier workforce. The most important aspect of the program is the support members give to each other. These members work together and see each other often so they are able to provide advice, encouragement and even accountability. Kim Hullinger, certification officer in the College of Education and Human Services, expresses that, “The support from the group you work with is invaluable. Everyone supports each other throughout the week.”
Those who currently participate agree that the Weight Watchers program is not a diet, it’s a change of life. Keefer expands on this idea by stating, “The thing I like to say about Weight Watchers as a program is that it is good common sense made simple to manage. We eat plenty of food, but the right food and in the right quantities for our level of activity. And it’s easy to manage because it’s all boiled down to simple numbers. Doing it at work, in the group, provides education, support and fellowship.”
With the meetings currently held on Tuesdays over the lunch hour, members find it a convenient place to share recipe ideas. As a matter of fact, Tanya Riley, career services specialist in Career Services and Kris Guthrie, executive secretary in Enrollment Management, are currently working on a cookbook that will include stories and tips from the group. Riley goes on to comment, “The program works! I was able to drop the weight in a matter of months.”
Another success story comes from Becky Smith, executive secretary in Booth College of Business and Professional Studies. She states, “One of the benefits of Weight Watchers is being able to reduce medications. I used to take 4 insulin shots a day, and it has been steadily reducing while I’ve been losing weight. Now I don’t have to take it any more at all! In addition, my blood pressure and cholesterol medicine have all been reduced, and hopefully soon I won’t have to take those any more either. A side effect of this is that our insurance premiums can remain lower because our insurance company won’t have to pay as much for our prescriptions.”
Please join us in congratulating this group on the enormous success they have experienced since the program started. If you are a full-time employee and are interested in being a participant, please contact the Office of Human Resources at 660-562-1127.