Drake’s Get Fit team aims to prevent the inevitable backslide

Ten professionals and 10 teams are competing in the 2014 Get Fit Challenge, a spinoff of IB’s popular Fittest Executive Challenge. Who will earn the healthiest marks? Follow along on Facebook and then find out at the In Business Expo & Conference on Oct. 22. This week, IB checks in with Melissa Ripp, marketing coordinator for Drake & Co. Staffing Specialists, which is competing in the team challenge. Ripp’s co-workers Lynette Peck, Kim Starr, and Ryan Tiffany round out the team.

Anyone who has tried to lose weight — whether it’s five pounds or 50 — has been through it. Yep, you guessed it — the inevitable backslide.

When our Drake & Co. team met with the other participants in the In Business Get Fit Challenge in mid-March, we were excited to get started. We walked out of the meeting at Meriter with our awesome lunchbox kits from 5Nines, ready to get started with the challenge. We were coming off the hardest winter any of us had seen in recent history, and we were ready to lose the weight that went along with it. Nothing was going to get in our way.

The only problem is that life gets in the way. In the weeks that followed, going to Panera down the stairs seemed a lot easier than taking the extra 10 minutes to pack a healthy lunch in the morning. It was still too cold to walk consistently at lunch, and fairly quickly we all found ourselves in the same place as we were beforehand — giving in to our own vices (Cheetos for lunch? A Coca-Cola in the morning? What Get Fit Challenge?) and making a bunch of excuses (“I’ve had a bad week. I’ll start next week” was uttered more than once).

Kim, one of Drake & Co.’s partners as well as the head of our Legal Division, saw this happening and piped up. “We need something else to motivate all of us,” she said, “and we need to be more of a team, too. It feels like we’re going at all of this alone, and that’s not what the challenge was designed to do.” She was absolutely right, and we all knew it.

So on a Friday morning in late April, Kim and I met and devised a plan to jump-start our team’s morale as well as our weight loss. We’re not sure what motivates you readers, but we certainly know what motivates our group — cold hard cash.

The reward system we devised is based on two outcomes — losing weight and staying active. For the weight-loss piece, the Drake team agreed to weigh in every Thursday before our weekly meeting. Our weights are recorded into a spreadsheet, and at the end of each month through the end of August, the person who loses the highest percentage of his or her weight will be awarded $10 cash. For the staying active portion of the reward system, we’ve put up charts in our break room along with several sheets of gold star stickers. Each gold star represents 30 minutes of workout time (as we’re a very exact group, we even cut stars in half for 15-minute increments!), and at the end of every month, the person who has worked out the most hours will be awarded $10 as well.



However, there’s also a larger prize at stake. We began the challenge on May 1, and there are four months to go until Aug. 31. The person who has lost the largest percentage of weight in that four-month period will get to take home the grand prize — a cool $100 in cash.

We’re over a month into our “challenge inside of a challenge,” and we have to say the monetary prize is indeed working. Big lunches out of the office are less frequent, and when they do occur, we find ourselves opting for salads instead of creamy soups and bags of potato chips. We bring healthy lunches the majority of the workweek. We’ve been walking during lunch, too — so at least when we eat at our desk, we’ve been moving for a half-hour beforehand. We’re in a healthy competition — literally — with each other, and we’re also more of a team.

We couldn’t have done this without the cooperation of our management team here at Drake, who were more than willing to kick in the money to incentivize this challenge, and it’s a testament to the fact that they appreciate the forming of healthier habits — not only for the four people involved in the challenge, but for our office in general. After all, a healthy workplace is a more productive workplace!

We do recognize that, in a small way, we’re throwing money at our problems — but we prefer to think of it as investing money in a solution! And if a $10 reward can buy us a healthy lunch, it’s an investment that will pay dividends down the road.

Meet all of the competitors here, and see who wins at the In Business Expo & Conference.

Click here to sign up for the free IB ezine — your twice-weekly resource for local business news, analysis, voices, and the names you need to know. If you are not already a subscriber to In Business magazine, be sure to sign up for our monthly print edition here.