|Found on Piccsy|
We held a weight loss program in 2011 for people that had more than 30 pounds to loose. We partnered with LWS and they carefully interviewed and selected the participants. They assessed a number of things -- the support candidates had at home, health conditions that might be improved by weight loss, readiness to change, and what worked and didn't in past attempts at weight loss. 32 staff members expressed an interest in the program and 12 people were selected to participate. We had so much interest, we actually expanded the program from 10 to 12 participants to accommodate more people.
The program was highly individualized and designed around lots of one-on-one counseling with a nutritionist. We also provided other resources -- books, Fitbits, and group meetings to support participants.
At first, we were encouraged by participant's enthusiasm and some initial weight loss. (As a group, they'd lost 17 pounds in the first two weeks.) Then, I started to hear reports from LWS that sounded something like this, "I know no one lost weight this week, but they are eating more fruits and vegetables." I worried the participants would get discouraged if they didn't lose weight and sought feedback. What I heard from folks was that they didn't have enough time to shop, cook, or exercise.
Between September 20, 2011 and January 3, 2012, the 12 participants lost a total of 28.5 pounds. That was less than one percent of their starting weight. 5 of the 12 participants actually gained weight during the program.
We wrapped up the program after 12 weeks, but offered some additional counseling to three individuals that seemed to be having some success. During the next 12 weeks or so, they seemed to get derailed too. I know how difficult weight loss is, but the results of this program were dismal. This was the biggest investment we had made in helping people lose weight and we were wholly unsuccessful.
I can only speculate about the reasons, but my best guess is that the participants weren't in the preparation or action stage of change. I work with a lot of very intelligent people. They know if they are overweight and they know what kind of answers we're looking for when they're asked questions about the stage of change they're in. I don't think anyone intentionally duped us; I just think they were overly optimistic about what they could accomplish given what they were willing to invest. Since then, I learned about the commitment continuum and I've wondered if we would have fared any better if we would have tried to assess applicants level of commitment e.g., what were they willing to commit to doing to achieve their goals.
So, there you have it -- our biggest wellness program failure to date.