MLT Vacations in Minot recently held a "Biggest Loser" challenge, inspired by the TV series of the same name, to keep employees healthy and to help motivate others.
For each pound of weight lost by participants during the eight-week event, MLT Vacations donated a pound of food to the Domestic Violence Crisis Center.
Participants in the challenge lost a total of 475 pounds, and gained a healthier lifestyle in the process.
Katina Tengesdal/MDN - - MLT employees who participated in the “Biggest Loser Challenge” work out with an exercise video in an exercise room on site. Pictured, foreground, from left, are Jolene White and Heidi Price, and background from left are Laurel Barnard and Gayle Balster.
Katina Tengesdal/MDN - - MLT employees who participated in the “Biggest Loser Challenge” spoke about how it has benefited their overall wellness. Pictured from left are Gayle Balster, Heidi Price, Jolene White and Laurel Barnard.
"During the challenge, we handed out information to employees to do the Weight Watchers program at work, we set up an exercise room for them to use exercise videos and we set up a Zumba class," said Laurel Barnard, benefit coordinator for MLT Vacations.
"We also had a lot of good ideas from employees, too," she added. "They gave helpful information and directed each other to helpful websites for diet planning."
The suggestions from employees included everything from placing weights at the fax machine so they could work out while waiting for faxes, to tips for basic exercises they could do at their desk.
"We help each other out with suggestions, because not everything works for everybody," Gayle Balster, operations services supervisor, said.
Throughout the challenge, employees weighed in each week and had a final weigh-in. Followup weigh-ins will occur in June and September, to encourage employees to stick with their newly adopted healthy habits.
"The program was a big motivator for me, and it was all about making smarter choices," said Heidi Price, group pricing representative. "I had done Weight Watchers at work before, but I always seem to put on a few pounds in the winter and it gets harder to lose. Having the challenge was a big motivator."
"It was the extra boost that I needed," said Jolene White, specialty sales agent. "I really enjoy having friends here at work to exercise with. Since I'm a competitive person, it was a big motivator for me."
For some, the challenge proved to be a good start on the road to weight loss.
"I love food, I love to eat, and I knew that I needed to do something to get on track and lose weight," Balster said. "For me, this program is a start. One of my favorite things to do has been going to the exercise room and walking to the video. When you get up from your desk and you have that activity break, it really boosts your brain power so you can have more energy to get things done."
In all, 82 employees participated in the challenge, and half who participated lost 5 pounds or more. Participants have noticed the difference their healthy habits have made.
"I'm making healthier choices and checking food labels. I've also ramped up my activity with some walking and doing some videos at home," Price said.
"I've focused on my snacking," Balster said. "I have cut down on my chip snacking and started eating carrots and string cheese instead."
The "Biggest Loser" challenge isn't the only wellness program MLT Vacations has undertaken. They also have a wellness plan in place for the year, beginning with a Shape Up Challenge and moving into an outdoor walking challenge over the summer months.
"It's been an ongoing thing, especially in the last two years," Barnard said. "We want employees to be healthy and happy, and their physical wellness is a part of that."
"We're getting healthier as a company, too, in offering better options," she added. "In the past, we'd have donuts at meetings. Now we'll have 100 calorie snacks or fruit trays.
"The company as a whole is looking for ways to offer healthier options to employees," she said.