Weigh to go!

Employees throughout Diakon recently participated in a Highmark wellness initiative called Drop 10 in 10—a 10-week group weight-management program designed to help participants lose 10 percent of body weight or 10 pounds.

Participants learn and implement information about balanced nutrition, increased activity and significant lifestyle changes. Several Diakon departments, programs and communities also offered prizes to local staff members to increase participation. For example, 16 staff members at Luther Crest, a Diakon Senior Living Community in Allentown, Pa., participated; each week everyone was weighed and waist measurements were recorded. The first place prize for the largest weight loss was a gourmet fruit basket and bathroom scale!

“Over the past 10 weeks, we’ve learned and tried many different ways to balance and support a healthier diet and add regular exercise and more activity to our lifestyles. This Drop 10 in 10 program was not about following a perfect diet plan or exercise program, but is was about beginning where you were and moving toward goals that best worked for you,” says Doreen Zielinski, Luther Crest’s wellness coordinator.
At the end of the 10-week program, that group collectively had lost 102 lbs and 18 inches!

Brian Balliet came in first place by losing 22 pounds and five inches around his waist. Here is his story:

Brian Balliet

Last fall and this winter, I was the heaviest I had ever been in my life. It was not good for my health (physical or mental) to be as heavy as I was. I had lost a small amount of the weight prior to the contest, but the contest was the big push I needed to put my weight-loss efforts into high gear. Now that I have lost this weight, I am feeling great. My blood pressure and pulse rates are lower. I’m positive that when I go for my next physical and blood work that there will be great improvement in my cholesterol. I’m not done by any means. As of this writing, I still have 18 more pounds to go to achieve my personal goal.

It’s been great going for daily walks without becoming out of breath. Also, I do not have constant knee pain (now reduced to rare occasions, especially weather-dependent). And I’ve had to use a leather punch along the way to decrease my belt size!

Portion control has been something that I have tried really hard to be more aware of. We all know it, but it’s hard to stick with it sometimes. Losing weight just comes down to picking a program and staying with it.  It’s actually kind of simple—eat less, move more.

Susan Martinka came in second place by losing 10 pounds. She says:


I decided to participate in the Drop 10 in 10 program because my weight kept inching up and up, I was having foot/ankle issues, and my cholesterol was borderline high. After 10 weeks of participating in this weight-loss challenge, I lost 10 pounds and 12 inches. Participating in this weight-loss initiative with co-workers has been a real motivator and I actually continued to drop even after the program ended. I have now lost 15 pounds and I have a few more to go to reach my goal.

My life has definitely changed for the better since beginning this healthier lifestyle. I have more energy and my ankles are not sore at the end of the day. I can walk on an incline without being winded. My clothes fit better. My yearly physical lab work came back better than it has ever been. It’s much more fun to chase my grandson around the park now!

One thing I learned during the program was that it is important to schedule exercise every day.  I have to start as soon as I wake up, hitting the treadmill for 30 minutes and making it a daily routine. I also have increased this effort to include another 30 minutes in the evening when I get home from work.

I take the stairs and park farther away to get in more exercise. And I love my Fitbit tracking device I use to make sure I get in at least 10,000 steps a day. It really motivates you to make your goal for the day. As a result, I have added to my goal—now I am in the 15,000- to 16,000-steps-a-day range.

My vise was soft drinks and bread. I was drinking a lot of empty calories, so I switched to water and one diet soda per day. Portion control is also important. And I stayed away from bread and cheese. I always ate a pretty balanced diet, but when you get older your metabolism is just not the same and it takes a lot more exercise and smaller portions to see any loss on the scale.

My advice to others trying to shed some unnecessary pounds is—don’t give up! Doreen Zielinski was a real cheerleader to help keep me going even the weeks the scale did not move.

Chris Hallowell came in third place by losing nine pounds. He says:


I decided to participate in the Drop 10 in 10 program because every time I went to the doctor I was told I needed to lose some weight, and I was tired of being winded very quickly. It feels great to shed the extra weight and I want to lose another 10 pounds. I work around food all the time so some days it is very hard to eat healthy.

Since losing the first 10 pounds, I noticed that I do not get winded as fast as I used to. And my knees don’t hurt as much by the end of the day. I learned a few new things that have been helpful. Doreen showed me how to “plank” and it’s not as easy as you think. Also, I am not afraid of flying off the back of the treadmill either. I realized I don’t need to be afraid of workout equipment—it can be your friend.

If you are trying to lose weight, remember to treat yourself occasionally, but don’t just fall completely off the wagon. I found that an occasional treat kept me going the rest of the time. If you have a bad week, it’s okay; there is always next week. Set a goal for yourself. It came off quickly for me in the beginning, but got harder as the weeks went by. You have to keep plugging away to reach your goal.

Congratulations to Brian, Susan and Chris for their weight loss successes!


By Melissa Kindall
Social Media and Special Communications Project Manager
Corporate Communications & Public Relations

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