Workplace Weight Loss Gains Benefits


Millions of people begin each New Year with great intentions to improve their health - in particular, lose weight. Great plan, right? Unfortunately, most of us go into it with either no specific goal in mind, or unrealistic expectations about what we’re up against. As a result, according to the International Journal of Obesity, as few as 2% of adults in our nation ever complete a full 90-day program and typically, only 8-12% of those who begin a fitness program of any length ever complete it.


If you identify with those statistics, I feel your pain! There are a multitude of valid reasons our latest-craze fitness DVD never makes it into the laptop or DVD player; our yoga class is paid for but not attended; or our workout buddy is at the gym at 6:00 AM, but we’re nowhere to be found. Bottom line, staying on track with any exercise regimen is a daunting task for most of us.


According to exercise experts, there are several measures we can take to ease the heaviness of this task. Setting specific weight loss goals, tracking our progress, and surrounding ourselves with a health buddy or a strong circle of health-conscious friends are just a few ways.


Those happen to be the very elements of Zappos’ recent 12-week fitness program that allowed me to toss my fitness-quitting excuses to the curb (at least for the time being) and enjoy some long overdue wellness successes. This 12-week weight-loss and muscle-building challenge, called the Summer Buns & Guns Challenge (Buns & Guns for short), proved a positive experience for many of my coworkers, as well—500 of us, to be exact!


Buns & Guns offered two levels of participation: moderate and advanced. Workout regimens and nutritional guidelines were offered according to one’s selected level. Such inclusiveness made it possible for every employee who wished to join, to do so at their own level, track their own progress and keep themselves accountable. A very well-designed plan, indeed!  


Kudos to the Buns & Guns creators, Joyce Hansen and Kelly Maher, for making sure the program was loosely structured to give employees flexibility in reaching their goals. The program also awarded great incentives such as small prizes for on-going challenges, along with the high-dollar gift certificates for grand prize winners and runners-up. No doubt, this helped to keep the fire lit for participants to the very end.

When asked what other factors helped the participants complete this program, since finishing seems to be most people’s biggest challenge, Joyce shared her own theory. “I would guess the completion rate was due to a combination of factors. Besides a big incentive on the line, a lot of people had support outside themselves—either with coworkers or someone in their circle of family and friends outside of work—to help them stay on track.”


Kelly noted another way the program saw success: the weekly weigh-ins. “We had a lot of people who lost momentum during the program but came to the weigh-ins not thinking anything changed, when in actuality they lost fat.” That got them energized again!


Out of the 500 employees who began, 216 of us crossed that Buns & Guns finish line—forty percent! What a stellar completion rate! The total fat lost among all participants was 962 pounds; total muscle gained was 185 pounds. Aside from a couple “Funzie Awards,” such as “most selfies taken in the gym,” and “biggest complainer,” we had male and female bronze and silver runners-up in addition to male and female grand prize winners. The winners for both the weight and muscle categories were selected based on the percentage change of their initial pounds of fat or muscle.


The female winner for building muscle increased her muscle mass by 9.4% (4.4 pounds of muscle). The male winner for building muscle increased his muscle mass by 9.5% (9.7 pounds of muscle). The female winner for weight loss shed 37.5% body fat, equaling 21.9 pounds. The male winner for weight loss, shed 48.4% body fat, equaling 40.6 pounds. Great job, everyone!


Any company could benefit by focusing on healthy alternatives for their staff. After all, employees are the most valuable assets to a company and healthy employees tend to be happier and more productive. They are present on the job and not at home sick. Wellness programs can range anywhere from just offering health information, to subsidized healthy lunches, fitness classes, a company gym, or a periodic challenge like the one we had fun with at Zappos.

Author: Terri Liggins

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