Staying fit to win – Insights from Dean Rosson

The average company spends $1 million to $1.2 million in health care costs for every 100 employees, according to Dean Rosson, president and founder of Atlanta-based Fit2Win, a consulting firm that specializes in individual transformation through health and wellness,

“For some companies that money is literally costing them to lose a chunk of their profit margin, or worse to go out of business,” said Rosson, a featured speaker at the 2011 BizTimes Milwaukee Fittest Execs program.

Unhealthy employees have less energy and are less productive than healthy employees. Rosson said. The phenomenon in the workplace when employees come to work, warm a chair but do not do what they are getting paid to do has been coined as “presenteeism,” he said.

“It has been estimated that for every $1 we spend on health care, we as companies end up spending an additional $2.30 on ‘presenteeism,’ on unhealthy employees in a ‘carb-coma,'” Rosson said. “They come to work, suffer from low energy levels because they aren’t taking care of themselves, and end up trying to get through the afternoon slump by drinking carbonated sodas or carbohydrate-loaded foods from the vending machine.”

That lost productivity is equivalent to at least one paid vacation day per week, every week of the year, for each unproductive employee, according to Rosson.

“No company could sustain that, but almost every company is paying for that. They just didn’t know it,” Rosson said. “Healthy employees are profitable employees.”

In addition to being president and founder of Fit2Win, Rosson is also a professional business speaker, nutrition coach and a former competitive body builder.

Fit2Win just launched its newest division, StrongPotential.com, which is designed specifically for companies and executive groups.

“It has been proven that healthy employees are 42 percent more effective in everything they do,” Rosson said. “But what companies don’t realize is that an unhealthy employee, someone who does little to no exercise and has a poor diet, will cost a company almost $2,000 more each year in increased health insurance premiums and productivity losses.”

The American Heart Association has estimated that in the next 18 years, 40 percent of the adult population in the United States will have some form of heart disease at a cost of approximately $800 billion annually, Rosson said.

“The cost of unchecked diabetes in America is over $174 billion a year,” Rosson said. “That’s as much as a conflict in Iraq, as a conflict in Afghanistan. When you think of it that way, it’s so overwhelming, it’s as if we’ve met the enemy and that enemy is us.”

According to Rosson, most heart disease is preventable with a healthy diet and simple exercise.

In his 20s, Rosson also struggled with his weight. He exercised, and even became a certified athletic trainer and fitness specialist. He enjoyed being in the gym, but was still overweight.

“I didn’t understand nutrition,” Rosson said. “I always thought that I could outrun a cheeseburger, that I could out run the bad calories and fat and (carbohydrates that) I was eating on a regular basis.”

When he was 33-years-old, Rosson, like many people, tried to blame his weight problems on genetics. Members of his family were extremely overweight and some even died at a very young age, he said.

“The fact is, and the fact I had to learn too, was that 70 percent of all disease is diet and lifestyle related,” Rosson said. He began to study and understand nutrition and soon found that his energy level increased and his weight dropped off.

“Information was available, but it wasn’t readily accessible to people,” Rosson said. “My goal is to make this kind of information very available and exceptionally accessible to everybody who wants to make a life change. Those who could do it, but just don’t know how to in the right way.”

In addition to fitness instruction, Rosson teaches his clients basic healthy eating techniques like how to read food labels and how to order healthy at virtually any restaurant across the country.

“I used to, like many business executives, believe that knowledge is power,” Rosson said. “If that were true the smartest people in the world would be people who read a lot of books. I know now, though, that applied knowledge is power. We do not get our power simply by having knowledge. By applying that knowledge, no matter how small, we can make significant changes in our lives, in our family’s lives, and ultimately turn around financially some of the economic problems facing this country with personal responsibility.”

Multiple studies have confirmed that simply lifting weights and eating a healthy diet can actually reverse the effects of aging, Rosson said.

“I work with senior citizens, individuals who are 70, 80 and even 90 years old. We lift weights and the results are miraculous.”

The definition of aging, according to Rosson, is muscle lost, fat gained and cellular degeneration. Eating a healthy diet and regular exercise helps the body regain the muscle that age takes away, Rosson said.

“It’s sometimes even amazing to me,” Rosson said. “Some of (my senior citizen clients) who are lifting weights every day and eating a real food diet are dropping, 30, 40 even 50 pounds and they are getting off their medications – saving all of us thousands of dollars a month in pharmacy costs. They are getting away from the scary web called health care and simply not participating in being sick.”

Rosson is nearly 50 years old.

“Personally, I have more energy now than I did when I was in my 20s because I eat right and I exercise daily,” Rosson said. “We all owe it to our families and our businesses to do the best we can to be healthy so we can be there when they need us the most.”

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