“I feel like I’m on top of the world!” This simple but powerful sentiment sums up life these days for Emily Cosme, a 40-year-old medical case manager for Neighborhood Health Plan of Rhode Island. Initiated by Neighborhood’s introduction in May 2017 of an onsite Weight Watchers program, Emily has lost 79 pounds. Making life even sweeter, she’s become more active than ever, recently completing her first triathlon – an experience that left her proud, elated and ready for more.
“If someone had asked me a year or so ago if I thought I’d ever participate in a triathlon, I would have looked at them and said, ‘no, I don’t think so – you must be crazy to even ask that,’” said Emily. “Yet, here I am. After struggling with my weight for as long as I can remember, even as a kid, I’ve never felt better and more energized than I do now. I feel far healthier at 40 than I did at 20!”
That healthy feeling was a long time coming, according to Emily. The trajectory of her health only changed when she hit her peak weight of 238 pounds in February of 2017 and started thinking about her family history of stroke and her own family – her husband, Carlos, and three children – for whom she wanted to be around. At 5’3” tall and 38 years old, Emily could no longer argue with the scale or with her family’s health history. She had begun having tachycardia (rapid heart rate) and high blood pressure, requiring her to see a cardiologist who put her on blood pressure medication. She had also reached a point where she was wearing women’s 18/20 plus-size clothing. As a nurse, a wife and a mom – Emily knew it was time to take action and gain control of her health.
As luck would have it, Neighborhood was rolling out its new onsite Weight Watchers program right around the time Emily was ready to make a change in her life. After being approached by a friend at work to join the program with her, Emily decided to dip her big toe in. “I wasn’t 100 percent ready at the beginning, but after a few weeks, something came over me and I immersed myself in the program. I think I had just had it with my weight. I downloaded the app on my phone, started following the points system, lost five pounds by my second weigh-in and just kept going. I’ve, quite literally, been running ever since.”
“The fact that I could take advantage of this program at work, during my lunch break, with the support of colleagues and Neighborhood, made a huge difference,” she added. “Neighborhood affords our Weight Watchers group the extra time we need for our meetings even if they sometimes extend a bit beyond our lunch break. The company’s support and the camaraderie of colleagues only inspired me more, motivating me to take things to the next level and become more active and health-focused in and out of work.” Emily added that Neighborhood’s Weight Watchers program also counts towards the company’s $250 wellness incentive, providing yet another reason for employees striving to lose weight to participate.
At Neighborhood, Emily has become the onsite contact for Weight Watchers. She communicates directly with headquarters, ensures that meetings take place in a compelling and supportive way, and works diligently to recruit colleagues to join the program. Ever committed to helping others lose weight and become healthier, Emily even shares recipes and offers support through colleague’s weight loss journeys. “I have several participants’ cell phone numbers so I can send photos at night of the meals I prepare to offer ideas and inspiration.”
Emily has also joined Neighborhood’s Healthy Food Committee, working with other colleagues to ensure that the company’s café offers healthy food options and that company events do the same. But Emily hasn’t stopped there; she’s also set her sights on the new gym Neighborhood is designing, and looks forward to providing input about its offerings.
Outside of work, Emily engages in a number of activities to stay fit and happy. After inspiring her husband to join Weight Watchers, the couple have become ‘gym rats,’ working out together five to six times a week at a local gym. “Before I joined Weight Watchers, I never exercised,” said Emily. “Now, I work out regularly, think nothing of a 12-mile bike ride, run long distances, swim and oh, yes – I train for triathlons!” But Emily noted that people who are trying to lose weight can’t do it purely through exercise. “They have to change their eating habits too. It’s all about adopting a healthy lifestyle.”
Emily’s message to others who have always wanted to lose weight but don’t know where or how to begin? “If I can do it, so can you! While I’m grateful to Neighborhood for fostering such a healthy work environment, I also had to make a personal commitment to change my lifestyle. I wish I could show everyone what I’ve been doing – I’m like a new person. I feel amazing!”