Healthy Directions

Success Story of Bill Sharpe, Arnie DeJoode, and other Participants in the Group Weight-Loss Program at the Product Engineering Center

With the successful wrap up of their second series of group weight-loss meetings on January 23, the Product Engineering Center (PEC) in Waterloo, Iowa, is a lighter place.

PEC Occupational Health Nurse Shelly Arntson has been keeping track since the first session started in July with 15 people. The latest group of 27 started September 26, and at present, the two groups combined have lost more than 466 pounds. "They're just an awesome group," notes Shelly. "I see big improvements, not only physically, but emotionally, too. They're smiling and walking with more of a spring in their steps."

One of those changed people is Bill Sharpe, a first-time participant in any weight-loss program. "I understand it [losing weight] is fraught with peril. You have to train yourself to a new way of thinking," comments Bill, who adds that co-workers kept him focused on the goal. "It's been encouraging having feedback from people you work with every day. They don't let you stray."

After taking on additional technical support responsibilities last June, Bill felt it "was time to head problems off at the pass." The program gave him the tools to fight what he feels is a conspiracy to get people to eat and keep eating. "You have to make smart decisions and ultimately change your habits," says Bill. "It's like what Mark Twain said about bad habits - you have to coax 'em down the stairs, out onto the porch and then give 'em the boot." Bill is now halfway toward his goal of losing 60 pounds.

Arnie DeJoode was no stranger to the weight-loss battle when he joined the first session. So when the group weight-loss meetings became available at work, he figured, "I had one more attempt. If I don't make it this time, it probably won't happen."

The engineer with the Engine Technology Performance Analysis group quickly analyzed that after-work snacking was a major weakness. "Those [were] calories I needed to control. The only way for me to control it is to write it down. When you realize what it cost you, you look at it differently the next time around," he says.

And after six months on the program, he's lost more than 30 pounds - a steady approach that's right in line with his target of losing one to two pounds per week. "You don't want the body to think it's starving itself. All that does is make it worse," adds Arnie.

Though the end of his goal is probably a year away, he remains optimistic. "The program works if you honestly stay with it," he says, adding, "The nice thing about at-work meetings is that there's a whole bunch of people fighting the same thing."

PEC Occupational Nurse Shelly Arntson agrees, "This group really connected with each other - giving each other recipes, pats on the back and positive feedback. I've seen a positive influence spread out over the whole facility," she notes, adding that two other groups have started up at other John Deere plants in Waterloo.

"People need to know this really does work. It's not just national. It's people you know," she adds.

For details about the group weight-loss program at Waterloo PEC, contact Shelly Arntson via Microsoft Outlook. New members may join anytime.