Donuts and Wellness

Last Saturday I ran a local race that involved running four miles and eating a box of donuts at the halfway point. Yep, it’s about a fun as it sounds. I picked up a few ideas that touch on wellness and thought they would be worth sharing.

The banana was right

One of the runners in the crowd was wearing a banana costume. On the back was written, “Today I see how the other 1/3 of Alabamians live.” That was a fairly obvious reference to Alabama’s 30+% obesity rate, and it really hit me hard to put it in those terms. Yes, I’ve heard the statistics, and yes, I think it’s crazy that 1/3 of people who live here are overweight.

For some reason, though, the idea that some people make these poor eating choices every day didn’t occur to me until the banana guy came around. More than anything else, it really just gave me a little more perspective on the demographic that wellness programs at work should be focusing on. Thanks, banana man.

Runners who eat vs. eaters who run

One of the issues I’ve seen with wellness initiatives (such as paying for gym fees or providing nutritious snacks) is that it affects those who are predisposed to healthy activity and eating. If you offer to pay for me to go to a gym, I’ll take you up on it because I’m already relatively athletic. However, offering to pay the gym membership for one of our software engineers would get you laughed out of the building. And if you brought them some fruit or veggie snacks, they’d ask for fries and a Coke.

It was interesting because one of the guys on my team for the Donut Run was a self-proclaimed “eater who runs.” He might be stimulated to get up and participate in an activity when there is a handful of donuts waiting for him, but he’s not going to get out there and work out on his own without some sort of incentive. For the record, I’m a “runner who eats.” :-)

The Pounders

A few months back we started a running team at work. The Pinnacle Pounders go out every Tuesday afternoon and run together. There is a great sense of camaraderie, and it’s just a great way to de-stress after a long day. Again, the only people who show up are those who are already runners! We are working to get some of our staff out there to walk our little course, but so far we’ve been unsuccessful. I’m hoping the people who see us enjoying ourselves and having more energy during the day will consider joining us, but only time will tell.

So, any other thoughts on wellness (or donuts)? Have you had an experience with a wellness program? What was it like?

5 thoughts on “Donuts and Wellness

  1. Jay Kuhns

    Good post Ben. You’re discovering the same thing I did when I’ve pushed various wellness strategies over the years. The healthy and motivated people take advantage of the benefits, everyone else ignores them. Quite candidly, most of the “other” group doesn’t get motivated until they have a personal health scare. It’s sad to frame it that way, but I’ve seen it happen so many times it just seems to be reality. Good luck with your efforts, and keep us posted!

  2. Karen E. Lund

    Believe it or not, I lost 40 pounds because of a box of donuts.

    At work a few years back we spent one lunch break talking about how most of us in the department were overweight and didn’t exercise enough. Then Friday morning somebody brought in donuts. The incongruousness of it struck me, if no one else. I ate a couple of donuts, but announced “The diet starts on Tuesday.” (It was a three-day weekend.)

    I kind of pigged out over that long weekend, but when Tuesday rolled around I really did begin to change my eating habits, and I started exercising more regularly. 16 months later I had lost 40 pounds and reduced my BMI from 31 to 25.

    By your definition I’m an eater who exercises. I don’t like running, but a brisk 6-mile walk now and then is great, and a little tai chi or time with hand weights isn’t too much effort. The way I figure it, exercising regularly is the price I pay for enjoying a hearty meal now and then. I’m also fortunate to love food–almost all food–even a really good salad or a vegetable bean soup on a chilly day.

  3. Sayward

    We have had success with Weight Watchers at Work and holding Zumbda classes in our break room. What has been difficult it getting men involved. We have a small office of 65 and offer healthier snacks and drinks in the vending machines. I don’t think that any of these things have contrbuted to lower health premiums, but our folks do consider them a benefit.

  4. Steven

    Once I am in a health program I realized the discipline and effort I am lacking when I wasn’t in one. The motivation and things I need to do that I am not used to makes a program very effective for me. A health program is just what I needed to give me the discipline I was lacking.

  5. Pingback: Our accidental wellness program | upstartHR

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