Staying on track: HR director excited about healthier future

posted by Brent Brown on February 5, 2019 Jon DeArmond pic

Jon DeArmond never liked needles.

After a biometric screening last year showed that his health status fit the criteria to be diagnosed as pre-diabetic, the Indiana State Personnel Department HR director took steps to ensure he’d never have to use one.

Not one to rest on his laurels, DeArmond took action right away. He dropped all sodas, including his favorite, Mountain Dew, first substituting tea and the occasional cup of coffee before deciding to stick with little other than water. It was an important first step that, coupled with regular exercise and dietary changes, helped him take control of his health before the onset of a chronic condition.

Jon’s elevated blood sugar, discovered during the biometric screening, was perhaps the “wake-up call” he needed, at just the time he needed it. Jon’s fasting blood sugar level was measured at 125. A fasting blood sugar reading of 126 or higher is diagnosed as diabetes, according to

It was a sobering result Jon immediately took seriously.

“It gave me a scare,” the 37-year-old married father of one said. “I’ve always been against needles. Having to take insulin every day… yeah, that’s a non-starter.”

Other complications that can result from diabetes were equally undesirable to Jon. If he needed motivation to make healthy changes in his life, there was clearly plenty just from the prospect of battling a still-preventable chronic disease.

Facing the possibility of developing a life-altering condition, Jon’s attitude was one of resolve; he was going to do whatever he needed to do to reverse course before it was too late. Every person has his or her own reasons and drive to accomplish goals – health-related or otherwise – and DeArmond believes it’s up to the individual to discover what works best for them.

Knowing someone “has your back” throughout the process certainly doesn’t hurt, either, but in the end, it really all comes down to you, Jon believes.

“You have to figure out what motivates you,” DeArmond, who serves as HR director for several smaller state agencies, said. “You have to do it for the right reasons and lean on others for their support.”

DeArmond had previously taken positive strides toward better health through the State of Indiana’s association with Humana Vitality, and later, Go365, but he was never able to fully commit to those programs and achieve his desired results.

“I’d go through the programs and lose weight to get the points, but eventually I’d get disengaged, and the weight came back,” Jon said.

Coming as close as he did to a diabetes diagnosis helped the state employee of five years vow to make healthier choices, but it was a new measure of accountability that proved to be the difference-maker this time.

DeArmond recently began a 21-week session with Omada, a digital lifestyle program that encourages healthy habits.

Omada users have little choice other than to own-up to their daily health-related decisions, as a free digital scale shipped to program users doesn’t exactly mince words. The daily weigh-in is a sort of “moment of truth” for users – a frequent reminder to stay on track.

“You see what decisions you made yesterday, and you see the results of those decisions today,” DeArmond said.

Losing weight is a key factor in preventing diabetes, so the scale is integral in helping Omada users track their progress. For Jon DeArmond, the scale’s readings grew ever more kind as he buckled down, shedding 20 pounds in about two months.

Dietary changes were a big part of Jon’s transformation as well.

“I eat lots of fruits, lots of vegetables, and lean proteins,” DeArmond noted. Fried foods have mostly gone the way of the dodo, and he’s maintained his vow to jettison junk food and say bye-bye to soda.

Jon said a longtime friend has also played a major role in his reinvention. Neither is the biggest fan of the gym, so they work out with weights in his friend’s home. There’s an extra measure of accountability there as well as DeArmond and his friend try to keep one another motivated.

Not feeling up to working out today?

Wrong answer.

We’re doing this.

The camaraderie of having a friend who cares not only about his or her own health, but also yours, is an invaluable resource; but if you don’t have a buddy willing to hit the gym with you at the drop of a hat, Omada’s still got you covered.

Jon said Omada’s health coaches have been another great resource on his ongoing health journey. Working one-on-one with users, the health coach is there to foster encouragement. Had a bad day? Tomorrow’s almost here, and there’s a good chance it will be better. Hit your goals for today? Way to go! Now, let’s get excited about the next step.

The encouraging, incremental nature of the program appeals to users who truly want to make lifestyle changes but who, for any number of reasons, have not experienced as much success as they’d like. Weekly lessons and peer support groups offer additional wellness-related help.

The totality of it all has Jon DeArmond excited about the future. In all, he’s lost about 50 pounds since starting on this path, and his progress shows no signs of slowing down.

He’s far from finished on this journey, too.

“I want to continue to be more active,” DeArmond said. Getting in better shape and potentially losing another 20 pounds are some of Jon’s current goals.

The shock to the system that was the biometric screening turned out to be a catalyst that has brought about numerous positive changes in Jon DeArmond’s life. He’s looking forward to what the future brings.

“I’m starting to see the changes,” said Jon. “I’m looking forward to what’s coming down the pipeline.”

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