Words from a Workplace Wellness Slacker: Don’t Count Us Out

Thursday, June 1st, 2006
This post was written by Melanie Matthews

We’re midway through a workplace wellness challenge here, and I have a confession to make. While I’ve worn my pedometer in the hopes of achieving 10,000 steps a day and retooled my family’s eating habits to aim for five daily servings of fruits and vegetables, I haven’t once recorded my progress at our wellness web site. (This is the only requirement of the program.)

And what’s more, I do not have a valid reason for this behavior, other than procrastination. I attended the program kickoff meeting, read the promotional materials, noted my login and password in my Palm and jotted down my first week’s efforts on the tracking sheet. I shared pedometer successes and mishaps with my workplace wellness buddies. But somehow, that first weekly login deadline came and went without an entry from me.

The reason I’m coming clean is to give wellness program coordinators some hope. Even though my unreported efforts can’t count toward the program’s success, and my non-documentation renders me ineligible for the prizes my employer has generously donated, the program has made a huge impact on my life.

Before I strapped on that pedometer, I considered myself an active person. I am a team player. I am competitive. I am educated. Heck, I write about this wellness stuff daily! But I naively assumed that the program goal of 10,000 daily steps was aimed at an overweight couch potato and therefore easily attainable during my average day. However, barely a week into the program I discovered that on days when I didn’t schedule a run or a trip to the gym, I was lucky to log 3,000 steps. So I have tried to schedule 30 to 60 minutes of added daily activity to meet this requirement. Because of this, the family dog is treated to an extra-long evening walk. (Note to self: adjust walking route to avoid the Dairy Queen.)

As my colleague commented in an earlier post, I also discovered that when not brown-bagging it for work and school, my family’s daily fruit and vegetable consumption slipped precariously. So come the weekend, we’re making more of an effort in this area. And slowly but surely, these adjustments are becoming habits.

Emphasizing healthy choices over weight loss, our wellness initiative has all the ingredients for success: participation from top management on down, fun and simple goals, web-based tools and tracking, incentives for participation. While encouraging healthy competition, it fosters a sense of office camaraderie.

I just didn’t get around to logging in.

So wellness program coordinators, take heart. I got the message. I’ve made some changes. Even though there’s no evidence of it in our program database, my lifestyle and my family are the healthier for it, and hopefully our healthcare costs (and yours) will reflect this. Maybe there are some healthier slackers in your population, too.

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