Employee Wellbeing Month is an opportunity to spotlight the workplace’s role in creating healthy employees. It’s also a wonderful chance to hear from individuals whose lives have been positively impacted by the health and wellbeing initiatives set forth by the organisations for which they work.
We’ve been inspired by stories such as that of U.S Venture’s Julie Ritzman, the winner of the Virgin Pulse Life Changer award. Julie’s journey toward greater health and wellbeing began almost four years ago, when her first health screening at U.S. Venture revealed a need to take action.
“I was close to 100 pounds overweight,” said Julie. “Then, I was diagnosed with metabolic syndrome, a precursor to diabetes. I was afraid that I would become diabetic and follow in the footsteps of my parents, who are limited in their ability to walk and can’t travel well because of complications from diabetes. I realised that if I wanted to live a long healthy life, I needed to make changes – immediately.”
Julie started by eliminating all processed foods and soda from her diet and emphasizing proper nutrition practices that she could sustain over the long term. When a colleague convinced her to join the National Bike Challenge, she really started to cruise.
“I can still remember how long and painful those one-to-five-mile rides were during the first few weeks,” she said. “But by the end of the challenge, I led the U.S. Venture team with the most miles ridden! Every morning, my day begins at 4:30 a.m. with an hour-long bike ride, and since U.S. Venture offers a flexible workout schedule, I can also ride during the workday. I encourage others to join me on lunch rides every Wednesday.”
Today, Julie continues to enjoy long-distance cycling. She has been able to purchase two new bicycles over the last four years thanks to U.S. Venture’s Healthy Associate Reimbursement program and she will complete her first bike across Wisconsin in August. Julie has lost more than 90 pounds since the start of her journey and successfully maintains the weight loss thanks in part to working with a personal trainer. She’s proud that her new healthy habits have also influenced her family members. Her husband has lost 50 pounds and her children now exercise on a regular basis.
“I’m grateful to U.S. Venture for offering a well-structured wellness program that provides the tools and resources to make healthy choices,” she said.