I have heard so many wonderful success stories from agencies that participated in the six-week WellMASS Weight Loss Challenge, but I was fortunate enough to witness the success of the Department of Children and Families’ Lawrence Area/Northern Regional Office firsthand. Wellness Champion Nancy Ayapan contacted me shortly before the start of the Challenge, and I visited her office to discuss it with employees. I returned to deliver a Lunch ‘n Learn during Week 2 of the Challenge and was impressed by the dedication participants showed for losing weight. When I came to deliver another Lunch ‘n Learn during Week 4, my feelings changed from being impressed to being downright shocked by how much weight participants had already lost. I could see a noticeable difference in the way participants looked and felt – this was a worksite that was really excelling at safely losing weight.
I was invited back to DCF last week to help employees celebrate the end of the six-week WellMASS Challenge with a “Biggest Loser” recognition ceremony and healthy potluck lunch. I was again blown away, not only by the delicious food participants prepared (I am a sucker for healthy potlucks), but by how much additional weight they had lost. Overall, 21 DCF Lawrence Area/Northern Regional Office employees lost a total of 100 pounds, with several employees losing over 5% of their initial body weight. One of their “biggest losers,” Pam Kelly was impressed by the changes she saw in herself:
“I lost pounds and inches and reduced my BMI. Clothes fit again!”
The Challenge participants looked happy and healthy and, in a testament to their dedication to weight loss, were already talking about their next weight loss challenge, which begins this week. Nancy, for one, is excited to continue on her weight loss journey:“Even though we completed the six-week challenge, as an office we are ready to begin another challenge on our own. My goal is to weigh 170 lbs. Right now I have 30 lbs. more to lose, but I am very confident that I can do it thanks to the WellMASS weight loss challenge that we just completed and everything we learned from it.. I will continue to put into practice every day the tools that were given to us through the weight loss challenge. In addition, I feel that I can always log on to the WellMASS website and get informed on the things I can do to maintain my weight, and if need be, contact Program Manager Ashley Rasmussen, who was a tremendous support.
The DCF Lawrence Area/Northern Regional Office employees are living proof that safe and effective weight loss can be achieved in just six weeks, and that the healthy diet and exercise habits of successful “losers” can be maintained for far longer than that.