Purdue Pursuits: Pivio — The Comprehensive Health Improvement Program

Sarah Thomas, assistant director of integrated research at Purdue University Fort Wayne, uses Pivio—The Complete Health Improvement Program to help prioritize healthy eating and exercise. (Photo provided)

After six years of working in sedentary office positions at Purdue Fort Wayne, Sarah Thomas knew she had to start making her health a priority. As a busy single mom, Thomas struggled to find time to make healthier food choices and exercise frequently until she received an email about Pivio — The Total Health Improvement Program.

Formerly called CHIP, Pivio is a 12-week program that focuses on the health of the whole person by integrating nutrition, exercise, and the tools and principles of behavioral psychology. Facilitated in a virtual environment with dynamic group discussions and peer support, the program is designed to help participants make lifestyle changes through education, hands-on experience and empowerment. Pivio supports all five pillars – physical health, behavioral health, social well-being, financial well-being and work-life integration – of the Healthy Boiler program.

“I had a lot of bad habits and I needed something to help me get back on track,” says Thomas, assistant director of integrated studies at PFW. “I didn’t want to run out of energy and not be able to play with my son, so I knew I had to lose weight and get my energy levels up.”

Health risk assessments are provided at the beginning and end of the program to measure and track individual A1c levels, lipid profile and more. Assessments help reduce risk factors for cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure.

Pivio participants also receive a recipe book, a comprehensive set of tools and reading materials that provide information on food preparation and exercise. Thomas used these resources to gradually adapt to lifestyle changes and began buying fresh fruits and vegetables at the grocery store, cooking his favorite recipes, and reminding himself to get up and move every day.

It didn’t take her long to notice how the program was affecting her body.

“It takes a while for your taste buds to adjust to eating more whole foods like whole grains and vegetables while eliminating sauces and salt, but I think pretty early on I started to see the weight come off,” says Thomas. “I felt my energy level go up almost immediately just by making better food choices and moving properly. By the end of the program, I had lost 22 pounds.”

Although she has little free time in her daily routine, Thomas says adding the program to her busy schedule hasn’t been as overwhelming as she expected.

“It can seem like a daunting task to make time to take care of yourself when you’re a single mom and you work 50 hours a week and then come home and take care of everything else,” I think you’re in the program it made it a lot easier to focus my mind on those things,” says Thomas.

It’s been more than a year since she enrolled in the program, but Thomas continues to use the knowledge she gained during each session. She says the experience helped her develop a mindset that allows her to pursue a healthy lifestyle even after completing the program.

“If I make a mistake or choose to eat something that I know I probably shouldn’t, I always make it a point not to say, ‘Oh, I can’t do that – I failed’, but to really take it in stride, have a bit of mercy on myself and next time I’ll make a better choice,” says Thomas. “It doesn’t feel as immersive as other programs.”

How you can participate

Led by Purdue Fort Wayne health coach Lindsey Blum, Pivio’s next program will be held via Zoom from noon to 1pm EST from September 27th to December 13th. Participants will meet twice a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays for the first six weeks of the program and once a week on Tuesdays for the next six weeks.

Individuals must register for the program by August 24 through the Healthy Boiler portal. The registration link can be found in the Healthy Boiler Workshops section of the portal home page. Hover over the “Pivio Health” box and click “Submit” to register.

More details about Pivio can be found on the Lifestyle Medicine Institute website. Questions about the program can be directed to the Center for Healthy Living at 765-494-0111.

More options for a healthy boiler

The Healthy Boiler Workshops and Programs are free to all eligible faculty and staff and dependents covered by a Purdue Health Plan.

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