Employees Shred Pounds in Weight Loss Competition

June 17, 2016 | Mary Faith Bell

Adventist Health embraces wellness for employees, believing a healthy workforce is essential to the mission of the organization — whole-person health of the mind, body and spirit. As an organization, Adventist Health is undertaking wellness initiatives to inspire and encourage employees and providers to care for their own health.

At Tillamook Regional Medical Center on the Oregon coast, the surgery department recently concluded a 12-week weight loss competition called Surgery Shred.

“After the holidays, people were grousing about weight gain,” says Kelley Downing, surgery director. “We talked about what we could do to lose weight as a team; people were interested in a ‘biggest loser’ competition.”

Nineteen contestants paid a $50 entry fee to create a pot of $950, winner take all. They measured success by the percentage of body weight lost. Contestants had weekly weigh-ins, and those who gained weight had to pay $1 per pound. That money was split between the second- and third-place winners.

The team experienced ups and downs over the 12-week period, but they persevered and finished strong, losing a combined total of 169 pounds.

Michel Cordova, 22, who works for environmental services in the surgery department, was the top Surgery Shred winner. She lost 8.96 percent of her body weight — 23 pounds. “$950 was a lot of motivation,” admits Cordova. When asked if she spent her winnings on something fun, she explained, “That money is for college.” Cordova wants to go to college to become a surgery scrub technician.

“I live at home with my parents,” Cordova says. “My mom helped me with the diet by cooking healthy foods for me. I gave my mom some of my winnings for helping me.”

Cordova increased her activity and decreased her calorie intake. “I drank more water and ate more fruit,” she says. “My mom stopped frying our food and started steaming everything instead. Now we’re all getting healthier.”

She began walking and jogging three times a week and even borrowed a friend’s dog to motivate her to get out. She also joined the YMCA and began burning calories playing Wii fitness games.

“I’m just going to keep doing the same things,” Cordova says of her plans to sustain her weight loss. “I have more energy. This was good for me. It changed me. I worked too hard to go back now.”

Laurie Sass, a registered nurse, came in second with a weight loss of 18 pounds — 8.55 percent of her body weight. Her colleague Mike Russell, clinical engineering director, came in third place with a weight loss of 15 pounds — 5.96 percent of his body weight.

Weight loss wasn’t the only benefit reported. Russell says that his blood pressure went down with the weight loss and change of diet, “to the point that I had to get off of my blood pressure medications," he says. "I feel great —  better than I have in years!”