Brother’s Death Prompts Jose to Get Healthy

Jose on a bike

Jose Camacho was concerned about his brother’s weight loss, but was assured everything was fine. A few months later, however, his brother died from colon cancer.

“He was too afraid to get the tests and help he needed,” said Jose, Optum operations supervisor in Allentown, Pennsylvania. “That was a huge wake-up call for me and I decided that I needed to get a physical and learn more about my health.”

His colonoscopy came back negative, but test results showed Jose had high glucose and cholesterol levels that would soon require medications. Wanting to avoid prescription drugs, he started eating healthier and exercising.

Today, Jose says people notice his 30-pound weight loss and ask if he’s OK. He is happy to report that his weight loss, unlike his brother’s, is due to his commitment to a healthy lifestyle and access to Stride.

“It didn’t happen overnight, but I gradually started to eat smaller portions, put less sugar in my coffee, park farther away building entrances and take the stairs,” Jose said.

He also appreciates the company’s extra incentives to get healthy. He’s a regular at his location’s new on-site fitness center and keeps himself and others motivated with Stride programs such as Moving Minutes. (Allentown is one of three locations with Moving Minutes, a 15-minute period for movement included after a team member’s meal break). “We have no excuse not to work out now. It’s so convenient,” he said.

When colleagues ask how he has turned his life around, he shares the story about his brother and encourages them to get needed preventive screenings, such as biometric screenings, colonoscopies and mammograms, and to take advantage of the on-site gym and Stride.

“Jose and Moving Minutes have motivated me to start using the gym,” said Debra Horak, a senior customer service representative who works with Jose in Allentown. Although recently diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, Debra says she appreciates having time available after lunch to exercise and has already lost several pounds. “Stride is great. It keeps me focused and helps reduce stress.”

Jeffrey Craig Jr., senior customer service representative in Allentown, agrees. “This job leads to a sedentary lifestyle and, depending on the time of the year, the opportunity to move around is severely limited. Moving Minutes encourages me to move and helps me keep alert during those after-lunch calls. Jose also helps keep me motivated,” Jeffrey said.

“As the voice of the company, we need to advocate for a healthy lifestyle with our members. And it’s easier to do that when we know that the company cares about our health,” Jose said. “The company is not just saying that they want us to be healthier, they are actually doing something about it.”

As someone who also signs up new team members for the on-site fitness center, Jose recognizes that he needs to lead by example. “I tell people that I’m going to look for them at the gym!” he said.

And he will soon look for people on the bike trails as well. His office is sponsoring a bike ride in September, where team members can get sponsors to ride a certain number of miles. Donations will be given to a local charity.

Moving Minutes is one of the Stride programs being rolled out by location and encourages team members to walk (or move) for 15 minutes following a meal during the workday. Research shows that walking after a meal has multiple health benefits, such as improving glucose levels and reducing stress.

To support team members whose breaks are scheduled, an additional 15-minute paid period for movement will be added after regularly scheduled meal breaks. All other team members are encouraged to add this time to their calendar to stay active every day. The program is voluntary and team members have the option to opt out of participating in the program.