When Eric Altemeyer, a biomedical technician with the Clinical Engineering department at Baptist DeSoto for five years, decided to get his Humana Vitality check in 2014, the 30-year-old felt quite confident he’d pass with flying colors. While not a runner or gym person, he always maintained an active life fishing, scuba diving and soaring.
“I thought, I’m a perfectly healthy 30-year-old, so I got this whipped. I fully expected to get the 4,000 points that day,” he said.
Although he’s always been known as the “skinny” kid growing up and had no health issues, when the results came back, he was shocked.
“My body mass index (BMI) was within normal limits, but my blood pressure and cholesterol were elevated. My triglycerides, however were 238!” With under 150 being the normal range, Eric couldn’t believe it. At that point, he had two choices: follow a new diet or face medication maintenance.
Eric describes his past diet as nothing out of the ordinary. A Coke lover and an occasional drive-thru patron, he never really read labels or focused on his diet. “I describe my eating as a normal American diet. I love food, but there’s nothing I really indulged in regularly.” Additionally, his family has no history of heart disease or diabetes. His brother, who also works at Baptist, completed his Vitality Check and found them all to be normal.
With the help of his family, Eric decided to change his diet drastically for three months. His very strict diet eliminated dairy, breads, fatty meats and fried foods. He instead switched to baked meals, stir fry, fish, and chicken. “I also ate smaller portions.” Living in Cordova near a neighborhood lake, he began walking around the lake every day.
After three months, he returned to undergo another Vitality Check. “While I wasn’t overweight, I had lost 20 pounds and my triglycerides were 108. Now, my blood pressure stays about 117/75.”
Amazed and inspired by how much his diet had been slowly eroding his health, Eric has taken a leadership role at Baptist when it comes to engaging other team members. “It’s all because of Humana Vitality that I found out something was wrong. If 20 years would have passed, I would have been a heart patient.”
Since the start of 2016, he has shared his story during new employee orientation and serves on a Vitality Platinum Committee at Baptist DeSoto that functions as a peer resource and support tool for those trying to make healthy choices. “Anyone can call me up and ask me to help them with a device. People have questions about technology and we can help.”
So what does he tell people who are still standing on the sidelines? “Don’t just be a part of Humana Vitality for the monetary benefits or the stuff you can get free, do it for the knowledge itself. And if you find out something isn’t right, Humana Vitality has tons of resources and can help you set goals to become healthier.”
Eric also says accumulating points isn’t hard and he’s taken advantage of free gift cards or items from Amazon. “And what I tell new employees is that I only pay about $10 each pay period for my insurance and Baptist is kind enough to give us that real benefit.”
Two years later at age 32, Eric feels great and knows that his seeking early knowledge will be his real benefit far into his lifetime.