Challenge Begins

ST. MARYS — The latest edition of a local weight-loss challenge kicked off Tuesday night.

The Grand Health Challenge began with the orientation meeting at St. Marys Memorial High School. Deb Zwez, publisher of the Wapakoneta Daily News, spoke first and introduced the rules of the challenge.

“Really there’s only one unshakable, unbreakable rule,” Zwez said. “This is the deal breaker — you must weigh in every month for your team to be eligible to be a money-winner. But let’s keep in mind that only three teams are going to win money. And let’s keep in mind why we’re really doing this, and while the money is a great motivator, we’re all in it to get healthier, maybe adopt some new healthy habits, live a longer life, have a better quality of life. So please, if you must miss a weigh-in, don’t let that discourage you from continuing.”

Zwez urged the audience to push themselves to make it through all 10 weeks of the challenge, as in the past, she said, about half of participants have dropped out by the end.

“This is the largest group we’ve ever had participate in the seven years, which is really the opposite of what we ever expected,” Zwez said. “Let’s really work on getting to all the weigh-ins and finishing the challenge, regardless of your placement.”

Krissy Mullenhour, a registered nurse, took the stage next, explaining the general key factors outlined in participants’ information packets to help them lose weight. Among the tips included eating fruits and vegetables, drinking plenty of water and exercising every day.

Participants had previously received a fast food guide, a food and exercise journal, information on the Road to Fitness Challenge, which will hold walk/run events starting this month through Dec. 14, and more at the first weigh-in.

Dawn McNaughton, a doctor at Grand Lake Primary Care, was the night’s motivational speaker.

“It is exciting, it’s fun that we’re launching something new for the year of 2013,” she said. “It’s the day — today — to make that change in your life that’s going to last forever. And it doesn’t have to be major, it doesn’t have to be extreme, it just needs to happen. So this is the first step.”

She gave participants the starting points to developing healthful eating and exercising habits, which included balancing calories, avoiding oversized portions by limiting food to a 9-inch plate and avoiding skipping meals.

“If it comes in its own wrapper and it was created by nature, it’s probably good for you,” McNaughton said, describing how to choose the foods to include in a diet.

She urged the audience to start small, making minor changes to their diets — buying whole grain bread instead of white, switching to 2 percent or skim milk, choosing chicken breast over bacon and eliminating soda and sugary drinks.

McNaughton stressed the importance of being realistic in setting weight loss goals, as it takes burning 3,500 calories to lose a pound.

“And this is the healthy way to do it, the gradual way to do it — picking good foods and exercising on a daily basis,” she said.

Not only that, but picking foods that will be enjoyable to eat for a lifetime, she said, is key to making the weight loss sustainable. The same goes for exercise, as she urged participants to choose an activity that they enjoy doing and to make it a priority by putting it on their calendars.

Community Outreach Coordinator for Joint Township District Memorial Hospital Anne Larger closed the meeting.

“Next month we hope to see you as losers, and we hope you have a great month,” she said.

The next meeting for the Grand Health Challenge will be held from 5:15 p.m. to 6:15 p.m. Feb. 12 at Pantry Pride, where participants will be given a tour of the healthy food found in the grocery store.