ActiveU: One man’s healthy goal becomes whole team’s mission

February 10, 2016  //  FOUND IN: Our Employees,

Pictured from left to right: Casey Jentzen (Nurse Aide), Shannon Watson (Nurse Aide), Christina Phillips (RN), and Kevin Lankford (Nurse Aide).

Already down 100 pounds in the past year, Nurse's Aide Casey Jentzen is on the path to a healthier lifestyle. And with the help of U-M's ActiveU programs his mission to slim down and shape up is spreading to many of his colleagues on 5C, where coworkers share healthy recipes, offer encouragement and have started working out together and tracking their progress with ActiveU.

“We’re encouraged on our floor to work out and be healthy,” Casey said. “It’s a great program where we can earn nominal prizes for participating.  It fosters a sense of camaraderie, promotes a healthier lifestyle – it’s contagious!”

Casey has lost 100 pounds since joining UMHS in 2013, he said. “Working in the transplant unit was a bit of a wakeup call for me.  It was clear that some of our patients were not taking care of themselves and that their issues were somewhat preventable.  I was heading down the same path.  I love to cook.  My mom catered when I was growing up so I am used to cooking for 20 people when I should be cooking for two.  Old habits die hard!  I decided to take control.”

Casey started his journey by making small changes, for example cutting out soda, making a commitment to drinking several glasses of water each day, and taking the stairs instead of the elevator.  “As a nurse, I average about 15,000 steps a day. We’re constantly moving and that’s a great part of the job.  From the second floor where the main entrance is located to the 5th floor where I work, it’s 100 stairs each way and I do it every day.” 

It wasn't long before his efforts were noticed by coworkers and his enthusiasm spread through the unit.

“When I started eating better and working out, my colleagues noticed that I was losing weight and it made me feel good.  They provided a lot of encouragement and positive reinforcement, which motivated me to stay on this path.” 

Casey’s advice to others looking to make a change?  “Try to do at least one healthy thing each day.  UMHS offers incredible programs to help employees start and sustain healthy lifestyles. I learned that diets are designed to fail; it insinuates there is a start and end point.  Healthy living is a lifestyle,” he said, “And bonus – our healthy behavior is rewarded!  It’s nice to have support from our leadership.” 

Learn more about U-M’s ActiveU program.

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