Losing Weight a Team Effort for Win by Losing Winners

Julie Bitely

| 4 min read

“As Bo Schembechler said, it is about ‘The Team. The Team. The Team,’” exclaimed Karen Williams, laboratory manager at Internal Medicine of Northern Michigan and captain of a recent winning workplace weight loss challenge. In the legendary Michigan football coach’s speech, he went on to say that “… if we think that way, all of us, everything that you do, you take into consideration what effect does it have on my Team?” Sage advice on the gridiron and for triumphant teams who participated in the latest Win by Losing weight loss competition. The nine-week challenge is offered to Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Blue Care Network group customers’ employees at worksites around the state every fall and spring. Winners of the fall 2017 competition were:
  • The Toyo Seat team (courtesy photo) Toyo Seat: 10 and under participating employees
  • Internal Medicine of Northern Michigan: 11-29 participating employees
  • Client Financial Services of Michigan: 30-59 participating employees
  • Washtenaw County: 60+ participating employees
Here’s what winning team members had to say:

Internal Medicine of Northern Michigan

“There is nothing better than a little healthy competition to motivate team members, but there is something about not wanting to let your team down,” Williams said. “There was this commitment to the team that would always drive (people) to want to do their best.” Over the nine-week competition, the 12 team members lost a total of 94.7 pounds. The group has participated in the past and always finds fun and unique ways to motivate one another. Williams said this time around, the focus was on sugar intake, with goals to keep daily consumption under 24 grams for women and 36 grams for men.
The Internal Medicine of Northern Michigan team (courtesy photo) A “Sugar Smackdown” invited team members to take part in a weekly round of “Sugar Smackdown Blackjack,” with the goal to get to 24 instead of the traditional 21. “An unexpected result to counting sugar was how many participants started reading labels who never really did before,” Williams said. “This lead to shocking revelations about the amounts of added sugar in popular ‘healthy’ foods. For example, our biggest loser Bobby added dried cranberries to her oatmeal every day thinking she was making a healthy choice. When she read the label, she was not only shocked at the 29 grams of sugar, but she felt duped. Dried cranberries are touted as a healthy snack. We were all surprised to learn that the second ingredient listed on the label is sugar. Who knew?”

Client Financial Services of Michigan

As first-time participants, the 33 competitors from Client Financial Services of Michigan lost a total of 445 pounds – that’s almost 14 pounds per person! Human resources assistant LaTasha Corbin said team accountability and a competitive nature helped keep everyone on track. “I think one of the reasons that made our team so successful is the fact that we had accountability partners. You knew someone was always watching, literally,” Corbin said. “I think that helped us be more mindful in making better food choices.”
The Client Financial Services team (courtesy photo) The team’s weekly weight loss and ranking against similarly sized companies was posted for everyone to see, which further compelled the team member to do their best. “That motivated us to push harder so we could reach number one, and we did,” Corbin said. Besides the weight loss, increased team camaraderie was a benefit because of the shared goal. “Having someone with similar goals helps keep you committed and focused. (Employees) would pair up and go work out or go on lunch walks together,” Corbin said. “It allowed us to do something new and fun.”

Washtenaw County

Not letting down the team was also an important factor for 112 Washtenaw County participants, who collectively lost 513 pounds. Human resources specialist Sarah Erskine said a spread-out workforce meant individuals had to hold themselves accountable and some even ended up recruiting family members, who also benefited from the focus on healthy habits. “Everyone was really dedicated to their own personal weight loss and the team as a whole,” she said. “No one wanted to let their teammates down.” Weekly emails contained tips, articles, recipes and encouraging quotes to help give participants new ideas and inspiration. Erskine solicited success stories to share with everyone and encouraged the team to get just as excited about the small daily victories they were experiencing on their own. A weigh-in happened weekly and Erskine said that also motivated individuals to stay on track as they didn’t want to let others down. “Everyone wanted to do better for the team,” she explained. Registration for the next round of Win by Losing begins Feb. 19, 2018, and the competition starts Feb. 26. Visit bcbsm.com/yourhealth to register. If you have any questions about getting started, email WinbyLosing@bcbsm.com. Program coordinator Lisa Ensign can also be contacted at 313-448-1066. If you enjoyed this post, you might also like:
Photo credit: Melissa Johnson
MI Blues Perspectives is sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, a nonprofit, independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association