Thursday, April 25, 2013

Reading, MA Weight Loss Boot Camp Success!

Great article here on some recent success I had in Reading, MA with their town employees:

Reading Employees Succeed with Weight Loss Boot Camp

         Pat Iapicca, a police officer with the Reading department for 30 years and married father of three, has lost a total of 35 pounds since he began participating in MIIA’s wellness programs five years ago. In 2008 he also completed Heart Matters, an 11-week multi-disciplinary program designed to promote cardiovascular health, and in 2010 he participated in New Directions in Weight Loss, which included components focusing on nutrition, weight loss, and relaxation through hypno-therapy.
“I love the common sense approach of all of these programs and the combination of nutrition with exercise in particular,” Iapicca said. “There is very little pressure, the approach makes sense and works out very well. Participating in something every year or so helps reinforce what works and keeps me on the straight and narrow.” Although his weight had inched up a few pounds over the last year, Iapicca noted that the recent Boot Camp helped him get back on track and down to his ideal weight.
During the Monday afternoon meetings, local participants learned to integrate both nutrition and exercise recommendations into their lifestyle to promote weight loss, improve cardiovascular fitness and increase strength. Program leaders, Sandy Sarni, a registered dietitian and MIIA’s Nutrition Specialist, and Paul Connolly, a certified exercise trainer, led the sessions – which focused on a variety of topics including goal setting, food tracking, portion control, smart snacking, and the relationship between activity level and weight loss. Participants spent half the time each week learning diet and nutrition tips, and the other half doing cardio and stretching exercises. Iapicca noted that Connolly was “really great” with showing group members how to get their heart rates up quickly and achieve the most exercise benefits in a short period of time and with suggesting ways to incorporate exercise into a busy lifestyle. “Sandy taught us proper eating habits and Paul taught us that it doesn’t have to be a three-hour workout every day,” he said. “Just incorporate walking, keep moving and keep track – it makes sense and works well.”
Reading Town Manager Peter Hechenbleikner said he is happy the town can offer opportunities such as MIIA’s boot camp to municipal employees. “Research tells us that weight control through diet and exercise are a key to being healthy, and common sense tells us that healthy employees are a key to health insurance cost containment and improved productivity,” he said. “Programs such as this boot camp help establish and maintain healthy habits among our employees to the benefit of the employees and the Town. Pat Iapicca and the other participants deserve a lot of credit for participating and carrying through on this program.”
Reading Boot Camp participants weighed in at the beginning of the program, halfway through, and again at the end. They each received a training notebook with curriculum materials, background information and resources, and were encouraged (but not required) to track food intake and exercise either manually or using a smart phone app. Each week, group members motivated each other and discussed ideas for making healthy food choices and getting on track with exercise in everyday life – such as tips for dining out and staying active despite foul weather. Post-program survey results revealed that 70% of the participants lost weight, improved the quality of their diets, and are more physically active after completing Boot Camp.
According to Sarni, the program always ends on a positive note. “Participants appreciate the support of the group and are typically sad to see it end, but are also energized to continue incorporating the changes they’ve made into their everyday lives,” she said. “When they see how we put healthy eating and exercise together, they really come to value the process, see how it works and realize they can do this. We like to instill a positive energy and enthusiasm they can carry forward.”
For his part, Iapicca plans to continue tracking meals and exercise after completing Boot Camp, and he looks forward to getting outdoors for more walks as the weather improves and to participating in a recreational volleyball league this spring. He was the only police officer to complete the Boot Camp in Reading this time, but notes it would be fun to complete a local fitness challenge sometime against the fire department.
Reading is the third municipality to complete the Weight Loss Boot Camp program, which MIIA launched last September, with two other districts currently in progress. MIIA offers the Boot Camp and other innovative “Well Aware” programs at the work site free of charge to employees and at no cost to participating towns as a membership benefit. With this program, Reading continues with its commitment to helping employees and family members adopt and maintain healthy behaviors through convenient, unique and engaging wellness programs. Over the long-term, creating new habits and making such changes can improve employees’ health and quality of life as well as lead to bottom line savings on the districts’ health insurance costs.

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