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Staffers strive to be the 'Biggest Losers'

By Jennifer Rooks
On October 11, 2011

Since February, members of Winston-Salem State's first Weight Watchers program are still losing pounds and getting fit. 

Eight months ago, the members collectively lost 211 pounds, with the most successful member losing 76 pounds.

The staff-only program has about 11 members ranging from ages 25 to 55.

The program, which is a 17-week series, is the first and only "weight" program exclusively for the campus staff,  says Deana Brim, a program assistant in the Office of International Programs and the Weight Watchers program coordinator.

The group meets every Monday in the Thompson Center for about one hour starting at 1 p.m.

During the meeting, members eat a healthy bag lunch consisting of steamed vegetables, sandwiches made with whole wheat bread, and fruit. They discuss topics such as weight loss motivation and benefits. They also celebrate their successes of reaching goals and discuss troubleshooting failures.

Weight Watchers was chosen by the staff senate's health and wellness committee because the program uses portion control to promote weight loss.

London Mickles says the program was suggested by Brim as a possible answer to a now repealed health insurance regulation, which used the body mass index to determine which policies would have been available to staff members.

Mickles is the administrative assistant to the provost and president of the staff senate.

Some staffers joined for personal reasons like Laurie Werts, administration associate for the graduate school's department of education.

Before joining the group, Werts described herself as being unhealthy, and said she had a difficult time walking up the steps to her own house.          Since beginning the program, Werts said she has noticed a complete improvement in both her health and her walking.

"I'm eating better, and I'm drinking diet everything," Werts said.

Joyce Jacob-Mau, Weight Watchers leader says, "We [Weight Watchers] want them to be healthy; we want them to be active. This isn't a diet this is a life choice."

The program has been used in affiliation with the core and low-impact aerobic training for members of the program at the Donald L. Evans Fitness Center. 

In spite of the reported success, some staff decided not to participate in the weight loss program.

Marilynne Singletary says she would rather lose weight on her own, than join a weight loss program like Weight Watchers.

Singletary is an administration support associate and academic records specialist for the Registrar Office.

"I want to do it so that I know I'm going to stick with it," Singletary said.

"I've never been interested in the program."

Sandra Young, assistant director of student activities, said she had been a member of  the program but dropped out because of the program's price increase.

"The first time I went I had to pay $60," Young said. That time staff senate took care a part of it. I don't understand why they didn't continue to do that."  

The program is recruiting members to join the established group or start another group.

There is no plan to expand this program to students and faculty, though Brim has expressed an interest in looking into a student version.

Brim said that although this particular program is for staff only, there are plenty of workshops and programs available on campus for student and faculty.

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