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1945 - Acton Hotel, est. 1890, burns down; arson is suspected [story]


Guest commentary by Jaci Hoffman
| Monday, Sep 17, 2012

It’s a concept that makes pure sense:  If employees feel good and stay healthy, they will be more productive at work and take fewer sick days.  Some large employers, like The Walt Disney Co. and Providence St. Joseph in Burbank and Parsons in Pasadena, have caught on to this notion.  The San Francisco Business Times and Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal this month named Kaiser Permanente Northern California as the Healthiest Employer. The health care organization promotes “Live Well Be Well” to its 68,000 employees and 7,000 physicians in Northern California.

Forrest Machining Inc. in the Santa Clarita Valley recently took on a bold health-related initiative.  The 180-plus employees were offered a chance to complete a 12-week lifestyle modification program aimed at educating and empowering them to make the right choices to get lean and strong for a lifetime.  Seventeen employees, plus many spouses, just finished this program.  Participants lost up to 40 pounds, learned to eat better, and gained a whole new outlook on life.

Denise Acossano, executive assistant at Machining, was crowned the Biggest Winner of the three-month competition at the end of August. She lost nearly 30 pounds and feels more energetic.  Anxious to make a lifestyle change, had already lost 10 pounds before the program even started by changing her eating habits at the advice of the program leader.  Her husband also followed the program and lost 27 pounds.

“This program rejuvenated our relationship. We feel younger. We look better. We ride our Harleys, and enjoy our pool and the great outdoors on the weekend,” said Acossano, a resident of Canyon Country. “When we were overweight, we didn’t feel like doing those things.”

Dr. Roger De Sesa, a wellness chiropractic practitioner in Valencia, has typically only offered the Biggest Winner program through his business.  Hector Davis, a previous winner who went on to lose a total of 100 pounds, has become an icon for the program.  His co-workers at Forrest Machining were astounded at his transformation.  For different reasons, many of them began seeing Dr. De Sesa and soon the idea for bringing the Biggest Winner program to the company was proposed.

Both general manager Steve Wooten and CEO Robert Butler thought the Biggest Winner program sounded like a good thing.  Forrest Machining offered to pay half of the employees’ fees plus let employees take the remaining payment weekly from their paychecks instead of paying all at once.  In addition, lunch time was extended to allow employees to partake in the meetings.

After suffering from a bad hip for six to eight months, Butler himself lost 40 pounds during the Biggest Winner. The hip pain disappeared, and he witnessed a lot of camaraderie with the employees who participated.

“The company took the time to set up the meetings at our workplace and to care about our health,” said participant and Arleta resident Gracie Dominguez.  “I am very thankful. I feel better and work better.  It’s a win-win situation.”

During the course of 12 weeks, De Sesa visited the worksite to make presentations, coach, and answer questions. The participants began with a three-week cleanse and focused on getting into an exercise routine, eating nutritious foods, and keeping a good mindset.

“We start with power thinking.  Participants will learn effective affirmations, visualizations and goal setting that will pave the way to success in the program.  We address emotional eating, stress eating and how to overcome the blocks to success,” said De Sesa.

Along with the 17 pounds she lost, Dominguez no longer suffers from digestive issues, which had plagued her for 12 years.  Her husband and kids (ages 13, 17 and 21) have benefited as well.

“Initially, the program seemed too good to be true.  Yet, Dr. De Sesa was very down to earth and easy to talk to. He asked me to just give the program a chance,” Dominguez said. “It really changed my overall thinking about how people eat. Your body is your temple and you need to take care of it.”

Every year, Dominguez completes a 5K walk in September. Only one child has previously joined her.

“This year the whole family wants to join me.  That’s really exciting,” she said.

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