I have wanted to write an update every day since my last entry, which was well over a month ago. So much has happened, and I will get into that.
But I first wanted to share some great news. My company has an annual Health Fair, where employees can come and get health screenings, talk with dietitians, eat healthy food, and learn some fun dances. It’s a really great time. Another special feature of the Fair is that they have an Essay Contest, where employees can discuss how the Wellness Program has impacted their lives. I decided that I would put my hat in the ring and write about my experiences.
So guess what, my essay won 1st Place! With that I won $125, a free gym membership and a free fitness class at PGW. There were 10 other entries and I never imagined that I would win the top prize. I’m so grateful!
So for your “viewing pleasure”, here is my essay:
When people ask you about your company and what it has to offer, most people talk about compensation, medical benefits, the work environment. I talk about its wellness program. At Philadelphia Gas Works, we have “Lifestyle Improvements for Employees,” or L.i.f.e., and being a part of it has been an incredible experience.
L.i.f.e. has truly evolved in such a short time and has been impactful in improving the health of so many employees. I am proud to be one of them. L.i.f.e. has changed the culture of PGW – from the main offices, to the Plants, and even on the streets. Union and non-union people are participating together. Every day I hear people talking about one program or another, from FarmShare to Zumba, and the positive energy encourages others to make changes in their lives.
My initial attitude towards wellness was that as long as I work out, I can eat whatever I want and be fine. I’m young, I’m active…that should be enough, right? Wrong! I have a family history of hypertension and diabetes. Not to mention, metabolism slows eventually! But when L.i.f.e. began to take over PGW, I focused on the physical fitness aspect of wellness. I participated in the ALA Fight for Air Stair Climb, participated in PGW’s Running Club, signed up for seasonal Walking Challenges, joined Boot Camp, and was eager to sign up for the MiniGym. I felt myself getting stronger and more confident. I made new fitness friends as we planked in Boot Camp or ran many miles on Kelly Drive. I spread the word to get others involved throughout the entire company. And then I got injured.
How can I run when I cannot walk? I felt that I lost my livelihood when I had a sudden foot injury earlier this year. No more 10K race. No more Stair Climb. I was absolutely heartbroken because of all of the goals I set for myself. I felt disengaged from L.i.f.e. because I could not participate to my full capacity in the activities I loved. Over several months, my motivation fell, and while I did physical therapy, I didn’t push myself and ended up gaining up to 10 unhealthy pounds.
Fortunately, I turned a corner when I learned about L.i.f.e.’s new onsite Nutrition Counseling program! I’ve always wanted to learn about nutrition, so having dietitians readily accessible to educate and guide me has been invaluable. My dietitian is awesome and has helped me “think twice” before I eat. It wasn’t easy to make the changes (bye, French fries!), but I’m happy to say that in my first month of following the nutrition plan and logging my diet, I lost 6 pounds and feel great! I always share what I learn with family and friends.
As I continue to recover from my injuries, I reflect and realize how grateful I am for the L.i.f.e. program. There are always new things to learn and fun challenges to participate in. It has truly improved my life!