The County’s largest employer is striving to be one of the healthiest workplaces as well, becoming the first healthcare organization in the state of Maine to incorporate the TOPS philosophy into its employee wellness program.
TOPS, or Take Off Pounds Sensibly, is a non-profit organization with a mission to help its members achieve sensible weight loss and to maintain a healthy lifestyle. TAMC is now one of several “at work chapters” of the TOPS program in Maine.
“Life seems to be going at a rapid pace and employees may not have the time to attend a TOPS chapter that is not affiliated with their workplace,” explained TOPS Field Representative Rick Danforth. “By having a TOPS chapter in its workplace, TAMC allows employees easy access to the support needed to achieve a sensible weight loss.”
The TOPS program, which began at TAMC this past year, involves regularly scheduled meetings where members participate in confidential weigh-ins, updates from individuals, information dissemination, weight loss tips, advice and sharing news stories.
Each member develops his or her own weight loss program, almost always in consultation with a healthcare professional. Together they establish goals and often a timeline. Danforth says most of the time allotted in a meeting centers on group discussions.
“Topics for discussion, which are available from our website, www.tops.org, or from our magazine, TOPS News, range from sound nutrition to sensible exercise. The weigh-in provides the necessary accountability and the program helps members discover various methods to help them with their weight loss. They can share their success and difficulties with real people like themselves,” said Danforth.
“TOPS has created and offers a great support system, which is there to help members change habits, become more active and cope with everyday stress,” he added.
“Obesity is one of the country’s biggest health challenges, and TAMC employees showed an interest in improving those numbers within their organization.”
TAMC’s TOPS Leader and Manager of LiveSafe/Communications Center Judy Hennessey, said the hospital is committed to helping the employees meet their own health goals.
“On our last TAMC Health Risk Assessment, 77 percent of respondents expressed an interest in losing weight. As a health care organization, we feel it’s important to offer those employees an avenue to assist them with their weight loss goals,” said Hennessey.
TOPS is a proven effective, weight loss support program. Research published in Obesity shows that TOPS members experience measurable and lasting results comparable to those of more expensive, commercial programs.
“The statistics are really quite startling. In the United States, one in three adults is obese. If current trends continue, it’s estimated that more than 50 percent of the U.S. adult population could be obese by 2030,” said TOPS Wellness Manager Maggie Thorison. “I think many people struggle with weight loss because they’re looking for a short-term solution or a ‘quick fix’ for a long-term problem. When members join the TOPS program they learn that it’s not about dieting, it’s about building a healthy lifestyle.”
“The key objective of TOPS at TAMC is to provide the support it needs to help employees achieve sensible weight loss as they strive toward a healthy lifestyle,” said Danforth. “As employees attend the meetings at work and begin to have success, this will have a ripple effect among other employees as the support network continues to develop beyond the set meeting time. A healthy workforce is a productive workforce and will have a positive effect on reducing health care costs.”
TOPS is a low cost program that can be tailored to fit any workplace. If someone is interested in the program, then they can access information at www.tops.org, or contact Maggie Thorison at TOPS Club Inc. by emailing email@example.com or by calling 414-482-4620 ext. 23. Rick Danforth is also available for information at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 207-215-6106.
Danforth said, “It is very simple to start a TOPS chapter in the workplace. All you need is one or two organizational meetings to explain the benefits to your staff. Once you send in your completed application and members sign up, you are on your way. TOPS Club will send all your starting materials. Also, field representatives are available in each state to answer any questions you may have and support your efforts.”
As for TOPS at TAMC, the number of participants is expected to grow early in the New Year.
“The big ‘New Year’s Resolution’ push is on again,” she said. “We expect to see more interest as fellow TAMC team members look to be more healthy and lose weight in 2014.”
Any TAMC employee interested in participating in the program can contact Hennessey via email at email@example.com, or by phone at (207) 768-4259.