Local teachers compete to be the biggest loser

Local teachers compete to be the biggest loser
The Vermillion Tanagers After the TV hit The Biggest Loser hit the waves last year, the staff at Austin Elementary School became inspired. As a group, they began the journey on Jan. 3. With weekly Wednesday weigh-ins, the group of more than 20 staff members has seen great results and has lost over 200 pounds (as of March 18). However, the competition is not based solely on the amount of weight lost by each participant; it's based on the percent of body weight lost.

Besides losing weight, teachers and administrators have seen other great outcomes as well. "People are more conscious about being healthier and what they eat," school nurse Karol Brodersen said. "I think the key to success is group support."

Kindergarten teachers Carrie Mart and Jean Hansen also agreed that the team that supports them keeps them on track each week. Hansen explained, "I believe the key (to success) is comradery. As a staff, we spend a minimum of eight hours together every day. We share lunch, treats and time. It has been fun networking and gaining new ideas and strategies as well as exercising."

Mart added, "Diets don't work unless you have good people to do it with. One person isn't going to change the way Austin School eats and exercises. It took the whole building to make a change to a healthier lifestyle."

In order to keep the contest interesting, the group splits into smaller teams every two weeks. At first, they started out in two teams and continue to divide into smaller teams. The group with the least percentage of body weight lost has to reward the other team in a healthy way. Some past rewards given include fruit and vegetable trays in the lounge (provided by the losing team), a day where the winners get to wear workout clothing to work, salad luncheons and even days where the winning team is treated to the favorite healthy desserts of the losing team. These are a few of the things that keep the staff motivated each week. Prizes for the teams have also been provided by Sanford Health Care and the USD Athletic Department.

Although the competition ends on May 2, all three teachers hoped that their coworkers would maintain their new habits to eat healthier and exercise during their months off. Mart explains, "I am hoping that many of the members continue their efforts throughout the summer and then some."

This story is published thanks to a joint agreement between the Plain Talk and Vermillion High School journalism class.

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