"We're looking to lose 2005 pounds here by May 1, 2005," said Ashlea Waters, coordinator of Rex Wellness Works.
Waters, with the hospital's employee wellness program, said the workers have a lot going for them -- regular classes on exercise and nutrition, a free, on-site exercise facility and the knowledge that their co-workers will keep them committed.
"We've got 15 people, three different teams, that are really excited about doing this together," said Rex nurse Cheryl Fields.
Fields said now is the time to improve her health.
"Yes, I was just diagnosed with diabetes a year ago, and I think a lot of that has to do with this extra weight that I've put on the last few years," she said.
Hospital employees often work long shifts and odd hours. They attend to others health needs, even to the point of neglecting their own.
"We all struggle with the same things: eating when we're not really hungry, maybe being too busy to be as active as we should be and that kind of thing, so they struggle just like everyone else does," Waters said.
"We had to do a questionnaire to see how our health habits were and just doing the questionnaire, I realized I'm not making healthy choices," said Rex nurse Peggy Cooley.
The program is the best health choice Cooley could have made. She and her co-workers are not trying to shed a lot of pounds fast. They believe slow and steady is the healthy way.
"About 1 to 2 pounds a week is considered safe weight loss. Two pounds a week is pretty aggressive. To take off more of that, you may be more unlikely to keep it off in the long run," Waters said.
The Rex goal is to get 400 workers signed up to lose 2005 pounds in 12 weeks, which averages out to 5 pounds per employee.
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