Small Steps Lead to Big Results

JSHWJeff Shonka visited his doctor regularly for check-ups. He was told that his cholesterol was on the high side and that he should watch his blood pressure, but the busy president and CEO of First Insurance Company of Hawaii (FICOH) didn’t take the warnings seriously — until 2 ½ years ago.

His doctor told him he was at risk of becoming diabetic and facing other health issues down the road if he didn’t change his habits. Having received the message, he decided to take steps to solve the problem.

“Little changes in your food and exercise routines can add up to big change,” Jeff says.

He is living proof. He began slowly, adding 5,000 steps to his daily routine. He modified his diet by eating smaller portions and adding more fruits and vegetables to meals. Over time he has increased his walking to 30,000 steps throughout the day – almost 15 miles! He has lost a total of 70 pounds in the process.

FICOH Lunchtime WalkersAfter walking eight miles every morning, Jeff gets more steps in at work, taking walks at lunch and during breaks between meetings and taking the stairs instead of the elevator. His new routine fits in with FICOH’s philosophy of supporting its employees’ efforts to be healthy.

Once a quarter, the company hosts walk-at-lunch events that have become quite popular with staff. Sometimes Jeff has 50 to 80 associates keeping him company during his lunchtime walks. Jeff is pictured with fellow FICOH lunchtime walkers.

For the past three years, FICOH has offered a weight loss challenge loosely based on television’s “The Biggest Loser.” From October through December, pairs of participants compete as teams to reach weight loss goals. Dubbed “The Bumboocha Challenge” (Hawaii slang for “big”), the collective weight loss of the 60 participants in this year’s challenge was just shy of 500 pounds.

FICCOHHW1000The outreach doesn’t end at the office. FICOH is a platform sponsor of the American Heart Association’s Healthy For Good campaign, a core component of the Heart and Stroke Walk. Jeff is the chairman of the 2017 Oahu event. Feeling more energized and having brought his cholesterol, blood pressure and glucose down to healthy levels inspired Jeff to challenge others to do the same. FICOH associates answered the call. More than 300 of FICOH’s associates signed up to participate in the Heart and Stroke Walk on August 12 and raised nearly $50,000 toward the American Heart Association’s fight against heart disease and stroke.

The Healthy For Good campaign consists of four pillars:

Eat Smart – Give your body the nutrient-dense fuel it needs.
Add Color – Include fruits and vegetables.
Move More – Find forms of exercise you like and will stick with. Start with 150 minutes per week.
Be Well – A healthy lifestyle includes getting enough sleep, managing stress, connecting socially and more.

“What I tell our employees is do what works for you, do what you can continue to do for the rest of your life,” Jeff adds, “It’s about making a lifestyle change.”