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Getting fit to fit
Ellettsville mom finds wellness on path to a dress
It wasn’t till toward the end of a very hot, very dry summer that Jayne Crescimbeni-Pierce finally allowed herself something cold and sweet.
Even then it was healthy concoction at Josie’s Frozen Yogurt in Ellettsville.
She happily consumed her yogurt alongside daughter Megan, wearing matching Disney-print dresses.
And therein hangs a tale, since those dresses prompted Crescimbeni-Pierce to lose 46 pounds and win the statewide 12-week Indiana University Health Employee Weight Loss Challenge.
Crescimbeni-Pierce first bought Megan’s dress a summer ago, then a couple of weeks later came across an adult-sized version of the dress in a consignment shop. But whereas Megan’s dress was a bit too big, the adult dress was too small for Mom. And her daughter’s disappointment that they couldn’t wear their matching dresses cut Crescimbeni-Pierce to the heart.
“That was not a lifetime memory I wanted her to have,” Crescimbeni-Pierce said. “And, for myself, I didn’t want to be 92 and in a nursing home looking back on a ‘shoulda, woulda, coulda’ situation.
“And a couple of days after that, IU Health announced the challenge. It was like the light bulb lit. I had my motivation, and I had my chance to follow through in an organized context. Now I was going to have the structure and accountability.”
So Crescimbeni-Pierce became one of more than 7,000 IU Health employees statewide participating in the challenge. They dropped a collective total of 25,000 pounds. Crescimbeni-Pierce personally jettisoned a quarter of her previous body weight.
“I started the process to fit into that dress, and met that goal six weeks in,” she said, “but they made me want to buy into it long-term.”
Crescimbeni-Pierce is appreciative of that.
“IU Health just really stepped up to the plate,” she said. “It didn’t just initiate the program, but kept tabs. It would send out a couple of e-mails a week, offering tips and encouragement—recipes for healthy eating, an opportunity for yoga in the atrium, that sort of thing. There was constant, active investment on their part to make the program attainable for everybody.
“We got discounts for local exercise facilities, not only in Bloomington but all across the state, for all the IU Health campuses. It was a huge deal. There was a website to log-in weight. They were serious about employees having the opportunity of taking control of their lives and attaining healthier levels of fitness and healthier lifestyles.”
A survey of challenge participants revealed that nearly 86 percent changed their eating habits and almost 78 percent reported exercising more.
Crescimbeni-Pierce feels the challenge has helped what were once disparate offices coalesce under the IU Health banner: “We were independent providers till we became members of IU Health, but I think now feel a real part of the overall entity, and we feel they’re sincere about what they’re saying.”
Her efforts were also buoyed by co-workers at IU Health Southern Indiana Physicians Orthopedics of Southern Indiana at the Clarizz Boulevard office and by her daughters—Megan and her twin Rachel and their younger sister Ashley.
“I’d given my word to my daughters, pledged to my pride in self, and given my word to my co-workers,” she said. “And they all gave me so much support. So I thought, ‘I can do anything for 90 days and let’s see where it takes me.’”
She did it—the full 90. It was her twins’ birthday, July 28, three days before the challenge officially concluded, but Crescimbeni-Pierce didn’t partake of the cake and ice cream. A piece of cake was placed in the freezer for her, for post-challenge consumption.
“It would have been easy to say, ‘This close to the end of the challenge, it doesn’t matter,’” she said. “But it always matters. It’s a mind-set for me now, and I feel great, too. And I feel good that, as an older parent, I’ve perhaps given myself potentially another decade or so of life with my kids, maybe. I now exercise and eat much more healthily. I feel I have not only increased the potential quantity, but also the quality of my life. And now my kids can all put their arms around Mommy and give her a hug.”
And she and Megan can wear their matching dresses. With a little adjusting.
“The hope was Megan would grow into her dress and I’d lose weight to fit into mine,” Crescimbeni-Pierce said. “Now mine doesn’t really fit because it’s too big and she’s outgrown hers because it’s too small.”