Julie Caprio out for a run with her dog.
The American Heart Association (AHA) recognizes individuals with the motivation to improve the quality of life for themselves and others by awarding them the Lifestyle Change Award. Julie Caprio, a nurse at the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC), won the award in October of 2007 for her employee fit-friendly program, Beat the Boss at Work.
Caprio started working at UMMC in June of 1991. She is currently the charge nurse in the Cardiac Care Unit (CCU), a seamless fit for creating a heart-healthy program. She started Beat the Boss at Work in November of 2004 in an attempt to inspire her co-workers to take their health more seriously. The idea came after a close friend of Caprio, who is a business owner, began working out with her employees. Caprio, an elite-level triathlete who has competed in the Ironman Triathlon, thought it would be a great way to inspire the staff on her unit and implemented her own version of a workplace workout system.
The program was simple and effective. First, they recorded the weights and the body fat percentages of all the contestants and measured them on a monthly basis thereafter. Caprio made a weekly habit of posting articles that were related to diet or exercise to help inspire her co-workers during the workday. During the second year of the program she even invited the contestants to meet her at the gym once a week. The way to win the contest was to lose the most body fat percentage by Valentine’s Day, which Caprio excitedly notes is heart day.
Caprio used creative methods throughout the contest to maintain motivation. At the end, those beating the boss all received a tee shirt that she designed. The back of each T-shirt was decorated with “I beat the Boss.”
Making a lifestyle change is no easy feat, and poor eating and exercising habits are certainly some of the most difficult habits to break. Caprio says, “It makes me most happy to know some people have been moved to a healthier lifestyle.” Inspiring this change in others and her proactive attitude towards health is what earned her this honor, not to mention the respect and thanks of her now fitter colleagues.
“It was great to see the excitement created by Julie’s idea,” says Angie Amig, UMMC’s director of nursing for cardiac care and Julie’s boss. “We all make a difference, and Julie used her talent and passion for healthy lifestyles to make a difference in the CCU.”
--by Katie Campbell