If you have noticed a lot of slender, energetic employees working away at town hall, or at the police department or at the fire department in recent days, you are right in suspecting something is going on in these public buildings.
It’s the melting away of unneeded pounds, 463 of them so far. Added energy is likely coming from a schedule that includes regular exercise.
Both accomplishments are the result of the town’s first eight-week-long Wellness program in which close to 50 of the town’s 168 employees took part. (Seventy-two signed up; 48 made it through.) The program was named “The Biggest Loser.”
All participants were given materials and instructions on eating healthily and exercising. One day a week they were invited to the community center for a healthy lunch and more lessons in good nutrition. A walking club was formed. Walkers were provided with pedometers to measure their distance. Local gyms were encouraged to give participants a break on membership. Some of the workers joined gyms and some of those included their families.
Competition was encouraged too, both among individuals and in teams. Winners at the end of eight weeks got certificates and recognition, and undoubtedly a lot of satisfaction.
Behind all this healthy living stimulus was Human Resources Director Dan Gray who began work for the town in September of last year equipped with several years experience in carrying out similar programs at the Bob Barker Company. Behind Gray was Town Manager Jon Barlow, a big believer in healthy living. He runs regularly and has participated in marathons, according to Gray.
Both men believe that encouragement of healthy life styles leads to a generally healthier work force and fewer sick days taken. Over a period of time, such improvements can also lead to better health insurance rates.
Some competitive fun was injected into the program. A contest was held to select a logo. Anthony DiMarzio of the parks and recreation department won with a drawing of a stick figure dancing. Teams were formed to work toward the most pounds lost and highest percentage of body weight lost.
Gray is pleased with the results of the first “Biggest Loser” program, although he points out that the goal is not so much about losing weight as about developing good overall healthy living habits. He expects to hold another similar session soon. And he will check in with the first class again about Christmas time to see how the new habits are holding up.
Meanwhile, his next project will be entitled “Tobacco Cessation.” He will not focus entirely on smoking since he has learned that quite a few people are turning away from cigarettes but taking up other tobacco-related habits.
Winners in weight loss
Individual winners in the most pounds lost category were: David Taylor (police), first place; Larry Smith (police chief) second place; Bob Adams (police) third place.
Most percentage lost: Dana Johnson (fire dept.) first place; Larry Smith (police)) second place; Anthony DiMarzio (Parks) third place.
Individual winners in most percentage lost: Dana Johnson (fire); Larry Smith (police) second place; Anthony DiMarzio (Parks and Rec) third place.
Most pounds lost and percentage lost (these teams won both categories):
First place—Jeff Dunn, Bob Adams, Scottie Hinton, Larry Smith (police); Second place—David Taylor, Anthony Hodges, Andrew Freeman, Cassi Cioch (police); third place—Caleb Mangum, Tony Smith, Anthony DiMarzio (Parks and Recreation ).