Growing up in Carmel, Ind., Lauren Drew ’08 learned healthy eating habits at an early age. Her mother cooked all the family’s meals and she never ate fast food.
That was until she got to Hanover and could make her own choices. Although she was active, running track and playing soccer, like many first-year students, Drew put on some weight.
The experience taught her a good lesson, though, one she puts to good use as a corporate wellness coordinator for Novia CareClinics, an Indianapolis-based company that manages primary care clinics at an employer’s facility or nearby location, which their employees can use free of charge.
“The attempt is to not only reduce the health care cost for the employer, but for the employees as well,” said Drew. “With no additional cost, (employees) tend to access our facilities more when they do need them, so there are a lot fewer gaps in care.”
Drew works closely with medical providers to create care plans for employees who need wellness coaching. With a focus on avoidance instead of amelioration, her activities can include anything from one-on-one health coaching to presentations on topics such as stress management and preventative nutrition to reduce the risk of cancer, Alzheimer’s and cardiovascular diseases.
She also offers workshops on stress management, progressive muscle relaxation and holiday safety tips.
“My role is not to tell people what do,” she said. “My goal is to coach myself out of a job.”
Her first task with a client is to help them develop their own vision of wellness, one that’s realistic and attainable. Drew also makes sure the process is as collaborative as possible; within the group setting she helps them learn from others who share similar issues.
“It’s not about being the healthiest person in the world, it’s about being a healthier you.”
“The Biggest Improver,” is a program Drew developed teaches people to make small improvements every day. She coaches clients to keep a diary for things such as how much water they drink, or if they took the stairs instead of the elevator. It also led to one of her biggest success stories.
A client named John weighed more than 350 lbs. and suffered from weight-related sleep apnea and other issues. In addition to referring him to Overeaters Anonymous to help deal with his food addictions, she studied John’s behavior patterns and reflected them back, so he could learn from them.
“By the end of the program he had lost more than 50 lbs. The really amazing thing was that he could take (the lessons) and fit them into his life. He had two young daughters who told him, ‘You’re not eating the daddy-sized portion of pasta anymore.’”
A double major in physical education and psychology, Drew looked at a number of careers in the healthcare industry before she found her current niche. She credits an internship at Methodist Sports Center she secured through Hanover’s Career Center for giving her career options as well as an edge in the job market.
A full-time job and pursuing an M.B.A. in healthcare management doesn’t give Drew a lot of free time. To keep herself healthy and deal with stress, she makes sure to pay attention to what she puts into her body, allowing for an occasional treat, and fits in activity wherever she can.
“I play soccer once a week because I can’t kick anything at work,” she joked.
With the holiday season in full-swing, Drew offers a few tips for getting through them.
“Know your limits and set reasonable expectations. It’s not about the biggest gifts or parties. (Set aside) how much you want to spend and do it five months (ahead).
“Try to find time to remain active; it helps reduce weight gain. Go ice skating, take a walk, have a snowball fight.”
You can read more about wellness topics in the winter 2013 issue of The Hanoverian.
Published Friday, December 14, 2012