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Weight Loss Wednesday: A company working to help their employees get into shape

Imagine if you went to work, and your company gave you the tools and time you needed to get in top health and lose weight.

NEW ORLEANS — Imagine if you went to work, and your company gave you the tools and time you needed to get in top health and lose weight.

Well, that's exactly what a local company is doing. And it is working, helping employees get medications while being more productive and transforming their lives.

“I lost my father to heart disease, and so I said I've got to do something. You know I want to see my son grow up. I want to see my granddaughter grow up,” said Gregg Schenck, Enterprise Resource Planning Developer at Laitram.

“I was thinking about as I get older, I don't want my husband and daughter have to be, I don't want to be a burden to them,” said Laitram Customer Service Representative, Barbara Favret.

“Disney World, trying to get on one of the rides, and have, they have people come and push the safety on to make sure everything was locked in, I lived through that,” said Daniel Hill, Laitram Operations Manager.

Gregg, Barbara and Daniel's lives are changing in a way they never thought possible. Despite struggling with weight for many years, Gregg is down 115 pounds, Barbara is down 132 pounds, and Daniel is down 60 pounds. But what's different, is the change is happening at work.

“We wanted to give people the tools, because as a business, what we're trying to do is attract talented, committed, self-managed people,” said Jay Lapeyre, CEO and Chairman of the Board of Laitram.

It’s a global company, 4,000 employees strong, based in Harahan. The organization innovates and builds its new ideas to make the industry run better through shrimp peelers, conveyor belts and nut pasteurizers.

Employees already have access to an on-site doctor's clinic, for physical and mental health care, a pharmacy, physical therapy, a dentist, and a state-of-the-art gym, complete with trainers and classes.

But Jay decided to take it a step further, when he invited Dr. Tro Kalayjian, and his team of medical weight loss coaches, on board.

“The results at six months were just amazing. I mean, so amazing that we said we're going to open this up to the entire company,” said Dr. Kalayjian, board certified in internal medicine and obesity medicine who runs Dr. Tro’s Medical Weight Loss in Palisades, New York. 

He not only knows how, and has published, on the ways to help people accomplish health goals, but he, and his health coaches, have lived it.

“I was 350 pounds, 10 years ago, and if i could go back, I would say to that person that you deserve health, and our current world, all the food companies, all the restaurants, they're not interested in your health, and many doctors and dietitians don't know about nutrition,” said Dr. Kalayjian.

His team is in constant contact with each person. They have blood sugar monitors, scales in their offices that measure fat and muscle mass, and blood pressure cuffs, that his team can measure remotely. 

A food app directs choices. He also had to learn what was in po'boys, king cake and turtles, and why it's so difficult to lose weight in Southeast Louisiana.

“Anything that's going on in this patient's life, we want to be a partner in their care. So, when they're struggling, we want to be able to message them in real-time and say, ‘How can we help you?’”

Dr. Tro found a local bakery to make low-carb king cake. He even called local pizza restaurants until he found one with a crust that Barbara could have. It's about controlling hunger, not deprivation.

“If I want my McDonalds or Wendy’s or Burger King, I go, I just buy the patties,” said Favret.

“I can't tell you the times they called me out of the blue. I wasn't scheduled, but Dr. Tro picked up the phone and said, ‘I noticed something going on with your blood pressure,’” said Schenck.

“It was the education that just really drove it home for me. The alternatives for the diet, just really stuck with me,” said Hill.

Employees are off of heart and diabetes medications. Their spouses and families are now inspired and losing weight too.

“We want people to think independently, and bring their best and in return to help us improve, and in return we bring the best to impact their lives in a positive way,” said Lapeyre.

Like for Gregg, who finally felt ready for the family trip to Disney World.

“And I fit on the plane, didn't have the seat belt extender. I went on all the rides, probably walked about 30 miles, and I never had a pain in my body. And so to experience Disney World with a three-year-old, that was just heaven,” Schenck said.

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