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Living Well Initiatives at Lakeland Regional Help Employees Reach Personal Health Goals

Thursday, May 17 2012

(From left to right) Angela Fessia and Chastity Jackson -- Lakeland Regional employees who have taken advantage of the hospital's new personal health-focused initiatives.

While the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index ranked Lakeland and Winter Haven among its 10 most obese areas in the United States, Lakeland Regional’s employees are fighting that statistic as they embrace the hospital’s abundance of personal health-focused initiatives.

“Living Well: Lakeland Regional’s Culture of Health” is promoted within as employees are invited to take advantage of monthly classes focusing on nutrition, hypertension, diabetes, smoking cessation, vaccinations and more. It also includes an on-going exercise series and health screenings. These initiatives, plus many more, help support the hospital’s strategic effort to make the health and wellness of their workforce a priority. Since the Living Well initiatives began last fall, many Lakeland Regional employees, including Angela Fessia and Chastity Jackson, are saying their lives have changed for the better.

Angela Fessia

On January 23, Angela Fessia, document design coordinator in Lakeland Regional’s Strategic Performance and Quality Department, decided she was ready to change her life for the better. Angela had just turned 50 the week before and knew she had to start making healthier choices if she was going to live the long and happy life she wanted — for herself, her children and family.

“I was in the morbidly obese category of my BMI, had high blood pressure and was on medication. I feared diabetes was just around the corner if I continued to live life blindly,” said Angela.

That was three months ago. Since, Angela has taken advantage of Lakeland Regional’s Living Well offerings, participating in its many educational classes and even taking up Zumba – a high-energy cardiovascular work-out routine – several times a week. She also walked 271,000 steps for the “Increase your Steps” contest and participated in the “Walk to the Moon” challenge. As a result of these programs and her hard work, Angela recently celebrated losing 25 pounds and was able to reduce her blood pressure medicine.

“All of this stemmed from the start of the Living Well Program.  It has literally been a lifesaver for me, and I appreciate it more than I can express,” said Angela.

Chastity Jackson

Chastity Jackson, a financial counselor at Lakeland Regional’s Outpatient Rehabilitation Services, says her wake up call came last October when she was feeling low on energy.

“I had gained a lot of weight and I was dealing with high blood pressure,” said Chastity. “That’s when I began exercising and eating right. I started walking during my lunch breaks and I fell in love with Zumba.”

Chastity said the day she received an email saying Lakeland Regional would be offering Zumba as one of the Living Well initiatives, she couldn’t contain her excitement.

“I liked the fact that it was payroll deducted and at a reduced rate compared to other classes in the area. Plus, it was a Gold’s Gym instructor, which really excited me.”

As a result of Chastity’s positive changes, she has lost 35 pounds and says she feels better than ever.

“I even went to the doctor recently and she was very impressed with my weight loss. The medication I am taking for hypertension was reduced by half and my doctor says if I continue on this path, she will continue to reduce it.”

In addition to feeling great, Chastity likes the other side effect of her new health regime — looking great.

“Recently, a patient, who I have not seen in over a year, came up to me to say he almost didn’t recognize me. That made me feel so great inside,” said Chastity.

Chastity says she is looking forward to taking advantage of the other programs offered through Living Well initiative and says she wants to encourage others to do the same.

“You have to make the decision to change. You have to motivate yourself,” she said. “Take advantage of the Living Well series because it is a great, great program.”

Hear Angela and Chastity’s real-life stories here.

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