Over the past 15 months, Bob Harrington has lost 85 pounds and shed his blood-pressure and diabetes medications. Harrington, a senior instructional specialist for Huntington Ingalls Industries subsidiary AMSEC LLC, hopes to jettison an additional 17 pounds by the new year, through healthy lifestyle changes.
For example, when co-workers take breaks to smoke cigarettes, Harrington goes for a quick walk.
"It gets me away from my cubicle for a few minutes, it gets me up and running and increases my metabolism," Harrington says. "This is a lifetime journey because you have to change your habits and re-educate yourself on how to eat better."
Harrington is one of two Huntington Ingalls employees who recently received the American Heart Association's Peninsula Lifestyle Change Award. Based in Newport News, Va., Huntington Ingalls is the nation's sole manufacturer of nuclear-powered aircraft carriers.
The other award-winner, Brandon Booker, a nuclear engineer for the company's Newport News Shipbuilding division, has lost about 140 pounds since he was hired by the shipyard six years ago.
During his new-hire physical, Booker learned that he had high blood pressure and sleep apnea. Shipyard doctors told him that if he didn't lose weight, he could die.
Booker attributes most of his success to the company's wellness program, HealthWaves, and his fellow shipbuilders.
"They changed my life," Booker says. "I could not be where I am now if it wasn't for their encouragement and support. I never imagined getting to this point in my life, and certainly not getting an award for it."
Booker and Harrington were among more than 380 Huntington Ingalls employees who participated in the Sept. 21 and Oct. 12 Heart Walk events, raising more than $29,000. The Heart Walk is a principal fundraiser for the American Heart Association.