Clara Gloeckler, a licensed practical nurse at the FirstHealth Family Care Center-Raeford, has lost more than 50 pounds as a participant in FirstHealth’s Employee Health Improvement Program. Gloeckler works out at the Center for Health & Fitness-Raeford every weekday morning, and then walks across the lobby to her job at the Family Care Center.
RAEFORD – Clara Gloeckler’s workplace smock is a lot looser these days, especially around the neck and in the sleeves. But the licensed practical nurse at the FirstHealth Family Care Center-Raeford isn’t quite ready to invest in a new wardrobe.
Give her another 25 pounds or so.
That would be in addition to the 50-plus she’s lost already.
Gloeckler started working out at the FirstHealth Center for Health & Fitness-Raeford –just across the lobby from her job in the Family Care Center – last fall. When she began to lose weight, a co-worker suggested that she enroll in FirstHealth’s Employee Health Improvement Program (EHIP). By meeting her six-month EHIP goals, she recently collected enough money from the program’s financial incentive component to cover the cost of her fitness center membership.
“I knew I had it in me,” Gloeckler says. “You feel like you can accomplish anything.”
FirstHealth of the Carolinas offers the EHIP program as a benefit to its employees – regular and casual part-time as well as full time – in an effort to encourage healthy lifestyles that contribute to a healthier workforce and a more productive work environment.
“EHIP is one of the most visible ways FirstHealth supports employees who are committed to improving their health status or, in some cases, maintaining their good health status,” says Dan Biediger, vice president of Human Resources. “Since FirstHealth implemented the EHIP benefit in 2004, more than $1.4 million has been paid out to more than 1,500 employees participating in the program. Some employees who enrolled in the first years of the program have received as many as 10 checks or more over the past seven years.”
The convenience of the Center for Health & Fitness-Raeford helped Gloeckler get started on her personal weight-loss plan. The anticipated financial rewards of the EHIP program – as much as $480 a year – just increased her motivation and contributed to her success.
Gloeckler had started to gain weight after she left the Army following a 22-year hitch that took her from her native Baltimore to the sands of the Middle East and the snow fields of Korea. By last fall, she had added 100 pounds to her greatest military weight and had begun to deal with many of the aches, pains and ailments that excess pounds can cause.
Since she decided to do something about her weight, exercise has become a regular part of her five-day work week.
“Every morning, I get here (to the fitness center) at 6, work out and get to work by 7:30,” she says.
Jeff Moody II, a performance enhancement specialist at the FirstHealth Center for Health & Fitness-Pinehurst, is Gloeckler’s EHIP contact. When he met with her for the first time, on Dec. 13 of last year, she weighed 274.5 pounds – already about 10 pounds lighter than when she started working out on her own.
“She comes from a military background, so all she needed was some type of structure and a jump start,” Moody says. “I gave her examples of how to balance out strength-training and cardiovascular exercise, and the ball was in her court.”
Six months later, when Gloeckler saw Moody for her first EHIP follow-up, she had lost 38.7 pounds and shed 12 inches. The weight has continued to come off, and Gloeckler was down to 233 pounds by early July. Her EHIP goal had been to lose 20 pounds in six months. She hit it in half that time.
According to Moody, motivation is “one of the most important factors” in a weight-loss program. Gloeckler has plenty of that and more, he points out.
“We have a lot (of people) who come motivated,” Moody says. “What separates Clara is having the self-will and determination whenever adversities come along. That usually hinders others.”
Gloeckler’s weekly five-day workout drill begins with 15 minutes on a stationary bike and continues with a half-hour of cardiovascular movement – dancing, running, whatever it takes to get and keep her heart rate up. She concludes the hour-long routine with 15 minutes on the treadmill before heading off to assist Robert Townsend, D.O., with his practice at the Family Care Center.
So far, diet has not been a consideration in Gloeckler’s weight-loss plan. “I pretty much eat what I want to eat,” she says. “I still do popcorn and Twizzlers at the movies.”
She has, however, participated in every lifestyle-enhancement program – including HokeFit and Biggest Winner – that FirstHealth has sponsored in the Hoke County community.
“Anything they offer, sign me up,” she says. “It keeps me accountable and headed in the right way.”
Gloeckler, who has a 19-year-old son, hopes eventually to reach 170 pounds. She also wants to improve her Body Mass Index and increase her flexibility and strength. She is already wearing clothes she hadn’t been able to get into for several years and is proud of the fact that she’s back into the summer dresses she enjoys so much. Her ultimate wardrobe goal dates back to her time in the military, though.
“I’m dying to get back into my PT (physical training) uniform and see what it looks like,” she says. “I’m dragging out clothes I haven’t worn in a long time, and they fit.”
Although the Employee Health Improvement Program (EHIP) is for FirstHealth employees only, specially trained exercise specialists are also available to help anyone in the community work toward personal fitness goals. For more information, contact the FirstHealth Center for Health & Fitness in your community.