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Thursday, November 02, 2006

Creative And Honest 'Straight Talk' Weight Loss Advice Gets Police Chief Canned


Florida police chief's e-mail asked, "Are You A Jelly Belly?"

Imagine if you received the following e-mail from your supervisor or owner at work that was sent out to the entire company:

"Take a good look at yourself. If you are unfit, do yourself and everyone else a favor. See a professional about a proper diet and a fitness training program, quit smoking, limit alcohol intake and start thinking self-pride, confidence and respectability. And stop making excuses for delaying what you know you should have been doing years ago. We didn't hire you unfit and we don't want you working unfit. Don't mean to offend, this is just straight talk. I owe it to you."

How would it make you feel? Would you take offense to it or would it spur you into action if you do have a problem with carrying around a few extra pounds?

Well, just ask former Winter Haven, FL Police Chief Paul Goward because he is the author of that now-infamous e-mail. Disgusted by the weight gain that so many of his officers have experienced this year, Goward decided enough was enough on October 11th, so he sent the message to his 80-member team that he desires to see them strive to lose weight and get healthy.

What did Goward get for this good deed? A pink slip for allegedly upsetting the morale of the department. There was ONE anonymous letter of complaint from an "upset" officer alleging Goward was too dictatorial in the way he managed the police officers and that this e-mail was just the "icing on the cake." (Interesting choice of words considering the subject of the e-mail!)

In the face of unemployment, Goward was defiant about doing anything improper or hurtful towards his officers with his e-mail..

"If they got their feelings hurt to the extent of 'Do something about it,' then I did what I was intending to do," Goward exclaimed.

It should be noted that not one time in the e-mail Goward wrote did he ever mention an officer by name which may have been cause for an uproar. His position was that if someone took offense, then perhaps that means they needed to do something about their weight problem. Obesity on the force poses a liability problem in the course of performing the duties of a police officer, including chasing and aprehending criminals. Goward certainly had the right intentions with his "straight talk."

Interestingly, even before the e-mail was sent out to the officers, Goward had given strict orders that fast food and doughnuts were off limits to them. There is a physical examination at the beginning of employment, but no regular health updates to insure the officers are fit for the job.

So what about this story? It reminded me of the story from last year about the doctor who called his patient "fat" because she needed to lose weight. Tensions over that ran high at the time and even garnered me some negative feedback about my agreement with what the doctor had said.

Like this doctor, Goward was merely pointing out a problem that needed to be handled in his role of leadership over the officers. He wasn't being hateful or mean in his remarks, he was simply getting creative and being honest about his genuine concerns about the health and well-being of those he was in charge over.

Again, if someone took the e-mail personally, then perhaps they are being convicted about their need to lose weight--EXACTLY what Goward was hoping would happen! We all need those moments in our life when we "wake up" from going through the motions and simply existing rather than living life. I had several of those just months before I started livin' la vida low-carb which I detail in my book. One of those examples was featured in this newspaper article about my weight loss story.

While I am always in favor of using the proper tact and never demeaning anyone about their weight when confronting the obese about their weight problem, I don't see where Goward was in the wrong here. He identified a problem, sent out a message to EVERYONE about that problem, and let the chips fall where they may. I bet he had no idea this action would cost him his job.

Oh, I forgot. We live in an ultra-sensitive society now where we have to make sure we don't hurt anyone's feelings or make them feel bad about themselves in any way. I'm sorry, but that's EXACTLY why we'll never move forward on getting obesity under control because people want to have their hand held and told they are okay weighing 300 pounds. IT'S NOT OKAY!

I keep coming back to this because it's true: PEOPLE NEED TO TAKE PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY FOR THEIR OWN HEALTH! Being overweight isn't a disease you need a cure for even if doctors are overlooking it. If you need to lose weight, then you need to get serious about it.

Don't fool yourself into thinking you are healthy when you clearly are not. Regardless of HOW you got to be at the weight you are, the time has come to follow "a proper diet and a fitness training program, quit smoking, limit alcohol intake and start thinking self-pride, confidence and respectability...and stop making excuses for delaying what you know you should have been doing years ago."

That's a refreshing message of hope and inspiration that is sorely lacking in our society. THANK YOU to Chief Goward for not being a coward about this. While it is unfortunate he lost his job, I think he did the right thing in the right way and is owed a debt of gratitude for his courage.

What are your thoughts?

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4 Comments:

Blogger Wanda said...

ALthough I don't disagree with what he is trying to do, an email in my mind is the coward approach.
What ever happened to a PT test or a meeting or a sit down in the office..............Can he not face the people that work for him and tell them straight up?
I am sure they have a code of conduct and THAT would not be email people and calling them out.....

I would have fired his ass too!

Wanda

11/02/2006 6:29 PM  
Blogger Angela said...

I think it is great that he sent the email out to the entire detachment and sent out some "food for thought" and put it out there for people to stop and think about their own health. He wasn't going around the office shouting "Hey fatty lose that gut" he was giving a nudge to people to make them stop and realize that they have a physically demanding job and perhaps they should be taking care of themselves. However I agree with Wanda that maybe the officers should go through testing every so often. Something that the Canadian military do. Then people with the best of intentions won't get fired for being honest. I dislike the fact that people have to tip toe around issues in case they might hurt someone's feelings. Sometimes the truth hurts.

11/02/2006 9:26 PM  
Blogger PJ at TDLC said...

Good article, I agree.

You gotta realize though that the underlying core of the response to him is way deeper than this particular issue.

Many eons ago, it was realized that for every 3 women who passed the police academy for the LAPD, about 7 men did. Now to me, since it's very physical and emotionally demanding, and our culture does 'generally' tend to gear men more toward properly repressing emotions (hahaha) and being physically tough, that made sense to me. I felt better knowing that if there was a woman cop on the street it meant she was tough enough to be there. But no, of course this doesn't make sense to anybody else, and it was claimed that this was unfairly biased against women, and they LOWERED THE STANDARDS so that around the same number of women could graduate the academy as men. This resulted not only in far less competent women cops on the beat, but on less competent male cops as well.

This is how our society deals with competition. We neuter the strong so nobody else gets their feelings hurt.

11/03/2006 12:58 AM  
Blogger Newbirth said...

They need to have regular examinations, especially for cops who are on the beat and likely to be chasing criminals. Make them pass the physical every two years or something.

11/05/2006 6:44 PM  

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