Christine Jensen of Staten Island University Hospital

Thanks to a worksite wellness challenge—a joint initiative of Northwell Health, the Union and the Benefit Fund—Christine Jensen lost weight and improved her health.

Christine Jensen, a Financial Investigator in Patient Access Services at Staten Island University Hospital (SIUH, part of the Northwell Health network) and an 1199SEIU member since 1998, had vowed to lose weight after she’d gained 20 pounds in one year. After a frightening thyroid cancer diagnosis in 2007, she had surgery to remove her thyroid gland, which saved her life but caused her metabolism to slow down, and made it difficult for her to maintain a healthy weight.

In 2016, Christine was still struggling with her weight, so she signed up to participate in the Wellness Warrior Challenge—a joint initiative of Northwell Health, the Union and the Benefit Fund—that many of her fellow members were joining. The challenge consisted of a regular group program that took place at lunchtime around the LIUH campus, which combined brisk walks with a healthy diet. “I found all the changes—the group participation, walking and eating a more nutritious diet—to be both effective and fun,” Christine said. As added incentive, she and other participants earned reward points for taking part in the initiative, which they could redeem for discounts at retailers, restaurants and theme parks, and on trips and other goods and services.

Christine lost 15 pounds during the challenge, and she enjoyed the program so much that she enrolled again this year. She and a friend walk on their lunch break every day, weather permitting, and she has continued to eat a nutritious diet. Her midday snacks are mainly fresh fruits and vegetables, and she sticks to lean proteins—such as fish, chicken and beans—as well as salads and vegetables for lunch and dinner. For breakfast, she’ll have a banana or a bowl of healthy cereal to get her metabolism moving. The result? “My clothes fit much better and I have more energy,” Christine said. “I feel wonderful!.”

Everyone who took part in the 2016 challenge was entered into a raffle where the top prize was a trip for two to anywhere in the world, paid for by Northwell Health. Out of some 4,000 entrants, Christine won the grand prize. “Of course, I was shocked, and then I started thinking about how great it would be for me and my sister to visit family in California,” she said. “We leave in May for a week-long stay at a beautiful San Diego resort!”

Participating in the Wellness Warrior Challenge has changed Christine’s life in many ways. “I was used to trying things on my own,” she said. “But the group dynamic really helped me stay motivated and stick to my routine on days that I might otherwise have taken off.”

What Do Your Benefits Mean to You?

You count on your health benefits to support you in your efforts to stay healthy, whether it’s by getting regular checkups, keeping a chronic condition under control or just improving your lifestyle in general. But has there ever been a time when your health coverage literally saved your life or the life of a loved one? If so, we’d like to hear from you. To share your story with your fellow members in an upcoming issue of For Your Benefit, please contact the Funds at [email protected].

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