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Leading by Example

Health care success stories told by the people who lived them


Leading by Example

Marty Cutrone

If you're going to talk the talk, you'd better walk the walk.

That's what UnitedHealthcare member Marty Cutrone found himself thinking late last year. As director of field service for the Orange County, Calif. Council of the Boy Scouts of America, he and the council leadership had noticed a troubling trend.

At a gathering of thousands of scouts, he estimated that roughly half of the kids were overweight. And, of those, he guessed a third were obese. But, it wasn't just the kids who caught his attention. The number of adult members and volunteers with weight problems was also startling. Some were from the council office.

In an organization that touts personal fitness as one of its core values, that was troubling. It was as if scout leaders were telling the boys, "Do as we say, not as we do."

All of this gave Marty and the leadership team an idea on how they could challenge the staff at the council office. They decided to work on a wellness program that would help their co-workers "walk the walk."

Scouting for resources – and discovering

Marty knew that the program should be more than just a weight-loss contest. He wanted people to consider their overall health. So, he began thinking about all the aspects of wellness.

Having been a longtime UnitedHealthcare member, he was aware of® and decided to look at the site for ideas. But, he's the first to admit he didn't know the site well.

"I've got to be candid, I didn't spend a whole lot of time checking out the UnitedHealthcare website prior to this," Marty says. "But, when I did, I found that it was enormously helpful."

Marty learned about UnitedHealthcare's online health coach. He also discovered useful health tools – and a wealth of health and wellness information. And, it was easy to read and navigate. "I thought it was fantastic," he says.

Winning at wellness

Armed with all this valuable information, Marty created a wellness program that enabled the staff to earn points individually and as teams. For example, they can get points when they:

  • Share and eat healthful recipes
  • Engage in calorie-burning activities
  • Improve their fitness levels
  • See their doctors for checkups
  • Develop good sleep habits
  • Lose weight healthfully
  • Work to control stress
  • Share tips with others
  • Take part in team events, such as Frisbee golf and beach volleyball

Those points lead to prizes, such as gift cards for juice bars and natural food stores.

Gaining momentum

Some people jumped in right away. Others were slower to respond. But, in time, more and more joined the program. "We've picked up quite a few people who got caught up in the fun of it," Marty says.

Part of that fun has included sampling recipes at monthly staff meetings and learning about healthful eating options. Marty, for one, discovered quinoa, a highly nutritious grain with a flavorful, nutty taste. "I'd never even heard of it before," he says, "but it's a fantastic food."

Since the program started, walking groups have formed. Staff members are drinking more water and healthful teas. And, everyone's learned about exercises they can do at their desks. Participants are even earning points for consulting their online health coach and reading their Healthy Mind Healthy Body newsletter. "It's gotten a lot of positive feedback," Marty says of the program.

Perhaps most importantly, Marty and his co-workers are getting on the road to better overall health. And, they're discovering that the journey doesn't have to be unpleasant. It can be interesting and fun.

Leading the way

Marty is grateful for the inspiration provided – and the positive changes he's seen in others. Already, he's seeing the program make a difference in staff members' lives. And, he hopes that they'll carry what they've learned into their futures.

He's also hopeful that the Boy Scouts they're working with will get the message, too. "It's all about modeling and setting a good example," he says. "It's what scouting is based upon – leaders of good character and being a good example."

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