ENTRY FROM: The Top 100 Health Promotion Professionals

Nominee: Carolyn Marney

Petri Dishes + Rashes =Total YOU

My dream job became a reality in 2001. After 15 years of experience in fitness and wellness, Saint Luke’s Health System of Kansas City selected me to serve as the Health Enhancement Manager for Husch Blackwell, a law firm with five regional offices.

In 2001, corporate wellness was just getting off the ground. I was thrilled to be chosen and eager to use my ideas to create and implement a brand new program. On my first day, however, a woman stood in my office baring her rash-covered arm asking for my advice. I realized I was needed, but I needed help too. What was I expected to do? How was I going to help these individuals without a game plan?

I quickly discovered WELCOA and its resources. These have been instrumental in helping me successfully develop and lead a results-oriented program for what has now become an international law firm. Our wellbeing program serves 16 offices and more than 1,400 attorneys, paralegals and staff. I am able to assist individuals with all their wellness needs; including stress reduction, developing and maintaining healthy lifestyles, and yes, even rashes.

Carolyn Marney, Health Enhancement Manager and CSO (Chief "Shift" Officer)

1. Professional Development

While working at Kansas State University’s cancer research lab, I realized I belong with people not cells and Petri dishes. I switched degrees and graduated with honors in Exercise Science. I keep up-to-date in our ever-changing industry because “good enough” isn’t good enough for me. My certifications from ACSM, WELCOA, Cooper Institute, Back School of Atlanta and Spencer Institute include coaching, personal training, nutrition, wellness and ergonomics.  WELCOA’s summits provide me with knowledge, resources and dancing with my twin, Dr. Ann. I was honored to receive WELCOA’s Faculty status and the Women's Intersport Network for Kansas City’s “Spirit" award.

2. Demonstrated Success

Using WELCOA’s seven benchmarks, we designed the Firm's first outcome-based wellness challenge.

Onsite biometric screening and HRA data indicated our top risk factors were stress and obesity.  As part of our 2014 operating plan, we crafted strategies to reduce these risk factors and included resources in our budget to support this effort.  We chose Dr. Ann’s “Weigh Less For Life” because we knew our folks enjoyed book-based challenges. From previous challenge feedback, we learned individuals prefer short emails and videos, so we designed brief emails with links to Dr. Ann’s videos and our very own wellbeing resource page on the Firm's intranet.  To be all-inclusive, individuals selected their “group” - weight loss or weight maintenance.  To impact the culture and create a sense of “fun”, individuals could compete on teams. At the end of the year, three offices with the greatest success will receive a trophy and congratulations from the firm’s Chairman.

Stage 1 focused on weight management and began with individual assessments of weight and waist circumference. The first stage concluded with post assessments and a program evaluation.

The challenge was a huge success!

Stage 1 Outcomes

Overall (192 Attorneys, Paralegals and Staff completed successfully)

  • 979 Pounds Lost (Average 5.15 pounds/individual)
  • 182 Inches Lost Off Waist (Average .97 inches/individual)

Weight Loss Group (95 Individuals)

  • 900 Pounds Lost (Average 9.5 pounds/individual)
  • 142 Inches Lost Off Waist  (Average 1.5 inches/individual)

Improved Health (Self-Reported via Evaluations)

  • 49% Reported Weight Loss
  • 64% Reported Improved Nutrition
  • 56% Reported Increased Physical Activity
  • 26% Reported Reduced Stress
  • 44% Reported Improved General Wellbeing
  • 28% Reported Improved Health Status

Participant Comments:

  • “Even though my stress level was not reduced, the way I handle stressful situations has been changed. Stressful events do not control my life. My attitude is different and I believe my family sees that and therefore it has changed their attitudes and then it does perhaps lower the stress level at home! The situations still occur, but handling it is everything.”
  • “I really liked the book and will be using it in the future for reference. I liked how the program was broken down each week to read about certain targeted areas and to put them in practice as well as the short video clips. I need structure, and this gave me a plan to go by each week.”
  • “This program came at an opportune time in my life. I was stressed and not sleeping or eating right. The Total You program jumpstarted my goals to improve my health. It totally worked for me!”
  • “I enjoyed watching Dr. Ann's short online videos; changing my attitude about food and exercise (and seeing the results!); and generally feeling better.”
  • “In all my years of being on diets, things like nuts, avocadoes, peanut butter were a NO-NO. I was so happy to learn that these are acceptable and actually have good nutritional values to your daily diet. Love it!”

We are currently in the second stage, which focuses on stress management, and look forward to similar success stories.

3. Leadership

If anyone is looking for me during my break they can find me running down Kansas City’s old trolley track, rolling on a foam roller or eating plain Greek yogurt with almonds. Other times, I just sit outdoors, enjoy the weather and practice deep breathing for stress relief.

My law-firm team consists of five very talented professionals. As their leader, my goal is to nurture them to become leaders as well. I encourage their creativity and individualism. Our team is successful due to our talents, ideas and passion for people.

I’m fortunate to be a member of a large team at Saint Luke’s Health System, consisting of approximately thirty health enhancement professionals. I provide training, education, mentoring and leadership to the members of the group.

My advice to others is to be true to yourself, always be open to learning and laugh every day.

4. Innovation

I love to exercise and would gladly do it for others, if possible. So when my employer, Saint Luke’s, announced its new program focused on exercise, I thought, “This doesn’t apply to me, I already exercise.” The programs I was offering to my law-firm clients also focused on one behavior. How could I do things differently?

I spent over a year creating “Total YOU”, a program allowing participants to select their own area of focus; Life Balance, Nutrition, Physical Activity or Self Care. Within each area, participants chose goals and healthy habits to incorporate into their lifestyle. To ensure success, our intranet page provides numerous resources, tools and online “Habit Tracker” tailored to these areas, goals and habits.

The key element of this innovative program is to allow participants a choice to work on what is important to them. The program isn’t finished, but the feedback is tremendous so far.

5. Compelling Vision

Health and wellness promotion professionals will have to continue to prove their value, especially now, when businesses are cutting back. However, by shifting focus to enhanced performance and an emphasis on stress management, this should be an easy task.  This shift opens the door for new opportunities and expanded visions. Our strategies will complement those of business leaders.  It’s exciting to imagine the possibilities for the next five years. I’ve begun incorporating elements of happiness, motivation, purpose and performance in our programs. “Shift” happens! I’m excited and grateful for my dream job.

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Carolyn Marney, Health Enhancement Manager and CSO (Chief "Shift" Officer) Dr. Ann Kulze, I think we look like twins! Success! A few of my exercise converts and me, after completing the Warrior Dash.
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Carolyn M.
Carolyn is the Health Enhancement Manager for the international law firm, Husch Blackwell. Her passion for wellbeing and helping others has created success for individuals, their family members and the Firm. View Carolyn M.'s Profile.
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Comments 4

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I’d hate to think where we’d be without Carolyn. All of the physician referrals + dietary and exercise advice + workout classes + get healthy programs + showing up when someone is having a health crisis at work = Health Guardian Angel. Heck, that doesn’t even cover everything she does. Thanks for all of the great ideas, classes, programs, and being there for us!

Andy R. on 11/17/2014

Never before in the world of wellbeing have I known anyone wth the knowledge, zest, and passion for inspiring and motivating others to reach their wellness dreams, no matter what they are. She enriches the lives of those she touches and I consider her to be an examplary role model for all wellnes practitioners. Husch Blackwell and Saint Luke's have a true gem with her!

Pascale B. on 10/27/2014

Carolyn is a popular and positive presence around our firm. She works tirelessly to develop programs throughout the year to address common challenges and provide new ways to approach or conquer them, The programs are not complicated or riddled with time-consuming record keeping. They are all very doable! Her high energy is infectious and just running into her in the halls puts an extra spring in your step. It is nice to work in environment that values healthy employees and willingly supports healthy lifesyles. We couldn't do it without you, Carolyn!

Elizabeth S. on 10/23/2014

I have had the privilege of working closely with Carolyn for approximately 12 years. Wellness is not Carolyn’s job, but Carolyn’s passion and true calling! She genuinely puts her heart and soul into helping others achieve their health goals and maintain their health. One of Carolyn’s major achievements is has been in her ability to expand her Wellness program to a multitude of offices, without adding additional headcount. Since Carolyn started our Wellness program, our firm has tripled in size! Another important achievement of Carolyn has been in her ability to successfully market her services and to gain more attorney participation in our Wellness program and activities. Carolyn, is a truly special person who has positively changed many peoples’ lives. I can factually tell you that Carolyn has saved several peoples’ lives! I know that in the Wellness field there is a lot of emphasis on data, metrics, etc. I believe the best measurement of true wellness is; who is alive today because of our wellness efforts? Understanding measures are important, but that’s not most important in my view. I believe that Carolyn deserves more recognition than our firm, WELLCOA or me can give to her. However, I believe irrespective of winning awards; Carolyn’s biggest award is helping others! Levi W. Snow Director of Human Resources

Carolyn M. on 10/23/2014

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