Employees Eating & Exercise Habits


Motivating employees to change their eating and exercise habits is one of the great challenges to achieving better workplace wellness. A successful wellness program saves businesses money in terms of long term health care costs and worker’s compensation claims, while improving productivity, absenteeism and presenteeism. The general workplace atmosphere improves as aggregate wellness improves. A workplace wellness program is considered successful insofar as the whole group of employees improves their diet, exercise and habit control. For a business, the rule of thumb is that as a group’s weight drops {often measured by Body Mass Index (BMI)} the group has a lower incidence of preventable diseases. The fewer preventable diseases a group has, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and many gastric disorders, the lower the long term health insurance costs. The benefits of a wellness program to an individual are not as evident using aggregate numbers; individuals respond better to anecdotes and stories of individual wellness success stories.

A year ago I ran across Drew Manning online. Drew is a fitness instructor and personal trainer in Utah. He has been the picture of fitness his whole life. His website features images of him showing off his ripped abs on his muscular 6’2” 193 pound frame. Being fit his whole life, he wanted to be able to better empathize with his clients by conducting a unique personal experiment he called “Fit2Fat2Fit”.

The experiment was planned to last one year. He would 1) start as a Fit person, 2) become Fat by not exercising and eating “junk food” for six months, 3) change his diet to “healthy foods” for a month, 4) continue to eat “healthy food” and add exercise to his daily regimen returning his body to Fit. The results would hopefully give him some insights into what it was like to be overweight, and experience the difficulties of regaining his healthy body after being overweight.

As part of the “Fit2Fat2Fit” experiment, Drew posted his data and progress online and sent me the results of his data to help relate his story. He weighed himself weekly, took body measurements, and made video and written blog entries about what he was eating, feelings he was feeling, and exercise on his website.

In June 2012 he will be revealing the full results of his journey with ABC as well as a new book chronicling the experience.

The results:
Drew is 6’2” tall, and started the experiment weighing 193 pounds. After six months of overeating, he tipped the scales at 265.2 pounds! Along the way he experienced increasing fatigue, shortness of breath, depression, and embarrassment about the look of his body. One month after modifying his diet only, he weighed 246 pounds- a loss of 19 pounds! After 3 months of diet and exercising, Drew weighed 217.7 pounds. In June Drew will reveal his final weight and his thoughts on the results of his experience

One of the most interesting results of the experiment is the effect of Drew’s weight on his cholesterol and CRP numbers. Any doctor will tell you about the direct relationship between cholesterol and a person’s weight; as a person’s weight drops so does the cholesterol level. As cholesterol levels drop so does the risk factor for a person to develop heart disease. Unfortunately, Drew did not measure his original cholesterol when he started the experiment, but when his weight rose from 257 to 265.2 pounds, his cholesterol rose from 142 to 147. After he altered his diet from “junk food” to “healthy food”, his total cholesterol dropped from 147 to 116!

            Date Total Cholester


CRP Weight
September 29 142 46 2.1 257
November 5 147 40 2.9 265.2
December 7 116 40 1.5 246

Measuring C reactive protein (CRP) is another blood test measurement that is gaining credence as an indicator for the level of risk for an individual to heart disease. CRP is a measurement of inflammation. Excess inflammation in conjunction with elevated cholesterol levels has been shown in some studies to be indicator that plaque could be building in coronary arteries, which can lead to damage in the heart muscle. Normal levels of CRP are under 1. Like cholesterol, Drew did not take a measurement of his CRP numbers when he started the experiment. However, it did rise from 2.1 to 2.8 when his weight went from 257 pounds 265.2 pounds. After his weight returned to 246 pounds his CRP numbers subsequently dropped significantly to 1.5!

While this experiment isn’t technically “scientific”, it does offer some good teachable lessons related to body weight, exercise and diet. Some critics of this study might feel that Drew didn’t spend a long time at his heavy weight to fully experience the struggles of an obese person trying to improve their wellness. His cholesterol numbers didn’t rise to levels one might expect for a similar person with his BMI, but I don’t think it was necessary for him to fully develop hypercholestemia in order to complete his experiment. Proponents of this study would point to the fact that in this test, one is looking at cholesterol levels for one person as they change due to alterations in just diet, exercise and weight!

Do not try this study at home. If you are healthy, continue on your path. Alterations to diet and exercise will help anyone lose weight and therefore lower their risk factors to heart disease and other preventable diseases. If you want to read about the full fit2fat2fit experience buy Drew Manning’s book when it comes out in June.

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