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Employees 'Maintain' Health, Weight Over Holidays

"Maintain Don't Gain" program offered weekly emails with tips

More than 500 employees signed up for the annual Maintain Don't Gain program, which offered participants weekly emails to help them stay healthy over the winter holiday season.

From Nov. 14 to Jan. 6, staff and faculty received encouraging messages with healthy recipes and tips and strategies for exercise, stress management and adopting or maintaining healthy behaviors. Program results show that 85 percent of participants maintained weight or lost more than two pounds between food-heavy holidays from Thanksgiving to New Year's.

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"We're very pleased to see that so many faculty and staff were able to achieve their health goals during one of the trickiest times of the year to maintain strong exercise and diet plans," said Liz Grabosky , fitness manager with LIVE FOR LIFE. "It's all about trying to offer unique ways to help employees stay accountable to themselves and stay focused on their goals."

A weekly email during Maintain Don't Gain helped Heather Rabalais achieve her goal of not adding any weight from November through January. Rabalais, an administrative assistant in the Department of Pathology, said she recently started paying more attention to her diet and exercise habits because of knee problems and Maintain Don't Gain helped.

"Motivation from the program definitely got me to stick to exercising, whereas before, I'd come up with every excuse in the book to avoid it," said Rabalais, who is considering joining LIVE FOR LIFE's Get Moving Challenge after her positive experience. "I also really liked being held accountable though weekly online weight check-ins."

A new aspect of this year's Maintain Don't Gain program featured an exercise recommendation in each weekly email. That was a favorite for Ethelle Fitch , who normally does weight training or rides a bike for exercise. She added new routines like the "plank," an exercise that works core muscles.

"There were stretches along the lines of yoga moves that I hadn't done before and it was helpful because I could try new exercises and have pictures and an explanation for how to do them," said Fitch, a financial analyst with Duke's Site Based Research Oncology department. "Usually you have to join some kind of class to do that."

In addition to exercise tips, emails also offered recipes. Favorites included roasted vegetables with pesto and spicy pork chops.

"I tend to eat healthy, but it was fun to try new recipes like Brussels sprouts roasted with nuts," Fitch said. "There were many beneficial aspects of the program. I really enjoyed it."

Maintain Don't Gain will return in November, but Duke community members can still sign up for a variety of LIVE FOR LIFE programs, including the Get Moving Challenge.