Monday, March 14, 2011

Trying to Breath New Life Into LOST

Lifework Stategies recently completed the midpoint screenings in our 12 week weight loss program. We currently have 50 individuals participating and 42 completed the midpoint assessment. Participants lost a total of 95 pounds -- an average of 2.26 pounds per person or 1.27% of their body weight. Last year, the average weight loss at the 6 week point of our program was 4 pounds per participants. 

There is a fairly large degree of variability between the teams. Our leading team has lost 3.22% of their body weight and that's with only 4 of their 8 team members weighing in. The team currently at the bottom of the pack actually gained 4.6 pounds over the first 6 weeks with 7 of their 8 team members weighing in.

At the midpoint screenings, we also asked participants a few questions to get a sense of whether or not they had received the information we wanted them to have and were doing the things they pledged to do at the start of the program. Here's what we learned.

Q1. Have you contacted a wellness coach to create a personalized action plan? 14% Yes - 86% No
Q2. Have you maintained a daily food diary? 51% Yes - 49% No
Q3. Do you feel you are on track to meet your goal? 25% Yes - 75% No
Q4. Do you know how many calories you should eat daily? 83% Yes - 17% No

We also asked what changes they had made and what suggestions they had for how we could support them in reaching their goal. For the most part, people said they know what they need to do, but they just weren't motivated.

I met with the team leaders to discuss all this and develop some strategies that might help. We came up with the following.
  • Recognize the team that wins each week. I'd been notifying the winning team leaders by email and posting an announcement on our intranet and wellness Facebook page. Now I'm also putting a gold star on the team's chart where everyone reports their weight loss each week.
  • They suggested we have people show us their food diaries. So, we asked people to stop by and show them to us one Friday to earn a small prize. We gave everyone that came buy a tulip and a daffodil. About 10 participants showed us their food diaries.
  • The team leaders said people didn't know what to expect from the wellness coaching, so we had Lifework Strategies explain the process again at an educational session scheduled the following week on Portion Control, Triggers, and Food You Just Can't Live Without. We provided a flier with the handout again. I just put up a blog post about it too. 
  • At the educational program I just mentioned, the presenter, Cindy Mann, went through the steps to calculate how many calories you should eat daily again. Lifework Strategies had also done this for folks at the intake and midpoint screenings. 
  • Team leaders suggested that we encourage the use of the exercise room. I offered to pay for an hour with any of our trainers for any team that requested it. One team has decided to accept the offer to date.
  • Provide prizes. I asked each team to decide on a prize that the team members will receive if they win (not to exceed $50 per person in value.) They are going to let me know what they choose. The winning team will receive the prize they chose at the end of the program.
There are a few things I wish we would have done differently with this program. (1) We should have kept the name Biggest Loser. One participant said, "ASHA should bring back the Biggest Loser simply because most people watch it on TV and get motivated." (2) We should have planned at least two team challenges like we held last year. Some participants complained about them, but it was fun for most folks and a good team building experience. (3) We should have had people report their weight instead of changes in their weight. This proved too confusing and some people said they lost motivation right from the start because of it. (4) I should have planned to meet regularly with the team leaders, so that they could share what they are doing with each other and create a little healthy competition between the groups. I also think people would love it if they could meet one-on-one with a nutritionist on-site, but it was too costly for us to offer. 

A friend shared an interesting incentive they are using in a Biggest Loser program in her workplace. Each participant weighs in each week and pays $2.00. One dollar is set aside for the grand prize for the person with the greatest percentage weight loss at the end of the program. The other dollar goes to the weekly winner. She was highly motivated by it. I wonder how that would work for us. Thoughts?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Janet - another thought is that offering a weight-loss based program so often (annually) is too much for staff...the more it is offered, the less desirable it becomes. I think staff may be tired of the weight loss programs, and you may need to consider it an every-other-year program, or it will dwindle down to low participation. Now may be a good time to focus on other areas of wellness - not just diet and exercise, but financial and emotional and (I know we hate this term) mental health/self-help. Just a thought - enjoy reading the blog posts! Nice work. Kelly V