Wellness at Work: Monitoring caloric intake helps employee

By Alicia V. Adams

Four years ago, trying to conquer the struggles she’s had with her weight, Mary Ann Griffin hired a personal trainer and lost 10 pounds. But she stopped losing pounds and soon lost the desire to work hard and see no results.

Mary Ann Griffin
Mary Ann Griffin

“I needed to be accountable to something or someone,” said Ms. Griffin, a billing compliance analyst in the Department of Surgery. “And I needed to try to get back to the weight I was at before.”

After reading about the Worksite Weight Loss Program offered through the Department of Clinical Nutrition and the Employee Wellness Program, Ms. Griffin thought this might be the right program for her to get back on track.

Through the program, faculty and registered dietitians in Clinical Nutrition guide participants through a 10-week course designed to develop healthier eating habits, jump-start physical activity and provide motivational support.

 “The program especially helped me because I monitored what I ate based on the body composition analysis I received,” Ms. Griffin said. “That information was invaluable for me. I used those figures to maintain my caloric intake and increase my activity when needed.”

The opportunity to meet with Cara Dennert, a graduate student in Clinical Nutrition, opened Ms. Griffin’s eyes to the kinds of things she was eating on a daily basis. During a one-on-one counseling session, she learned how critical it is to not only count her calories, but also the fat, protein, sodium, sugar, carbohydrates, fiber and potassium.

“Kara was great,” Ms. Griffin said. “I know decreasing my sodium and increasing my potassium was critical to my weight loss.”

She found success monitoring what she ate using the smartphone app Daily Burn, walking everywhere she could on campus – including taking the stairs – and participating in her favorite hobby, West Coast Swing dancing. She lost more than 12 pounds during the program and an additional 7 pounds after completing the course. She enjoyed what she learned and the camaraderie of the program so much she joined a second session in fall 2011 to maintain her weight and lost nearly 3 more pounds.

Ms. Griffin feels that for the first time in her life she has her weight under control and plans to continue her participation in the Worksite Weight Loss class.

“This program really worked for me. I have a totally different thought process about my lifestyle, eating healthy and weight loss,” said Ms. Griffin. “You have to go into the program ready to make yourself a priority and work hard to make it a personal success. I have made lifestyle changes that will last a lifetime.”