‘Purdue Pursuits’: Pivio: The Complete Health Improvement Program

Sara Thomas, assistant director of integrated studies at Purdue University Fort Wayne, used Pivio – The Complete Health Improvement Program to help prioritize healthy eating and exercise. (Photo provided)

After six years working in sedentary office positions at Purdue Fort Wayne, Sara 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 Complete Health Improvement Program.

Formerly called CHIP, Pivio is a 12-week program that focuses on the health of the whole person by integrating tools and principles from nutrition, exercise and 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 reinforcement. Pivio supports the five pillars of the Healthy Boiler program: physical health, behavioral health, social well-being, financial well-being and work-life integration.

“I had a lot of bad habits and I needed something to help me get started again in the right direction,” 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 needed to get my weight down and my energy levels up.”

Health risk assessments are provided at the beginning and end of the program to measure and track people’s A1c levels, lipid profiles 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 tool kit, 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 her favorite recipes and remembering to get up and move every day.

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

“It takes a while for your taste buds to adjust to eating more of these whole foods like whole grains and vegetables while cutting out sauces and salt, but I think early on I started to see the weight come back to come down,” says Thomas. “I felt my energy level increase almost immediately just by making better food choices and moving like I should. By the end of the program, I was down 22 pounds.”

Although he has little free time in his day-to-day life, Thomas says adding the show to his busy schedule wasn’t as overwhelming as he expected.

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

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

“If I make a misstep or choose to eat something that I know I probably shouldn’t, I’m always mindful not to say, ‘Oh, I can’t do that, I’ve failed,’ but to take it easy , I have a little grace for myself and make a better choice next time,” says Thomas. “It doesn’t seem as overwhelming as other programs.”

How you can participate

Led by Purdue Fort Wayne Health Coach Lindsay Bloom, Pivio’s next program will take place 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 following 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’s home page. Hover over the “Pivio Health” square and click “Submit” to register.

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

More Healthy Boiler opportunities

Healthy Boiler workshops and lifestyle programs are free to all benefit-eligible faculty and staff and dependents covered by a Purdue health plan.

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