By Mr. Kenneth Fidler (IMCOM)June 25, 2008
YONGSAN GARRISON, Republic of Korea - Collectively, they lost more than 200 pounds, walked thousands of steps, and learned to lead healthier lives.
That was in the first month. While it's not a complete version of the Biggest Loser, it comes close.
It's called Fit for Life, and the 70 people enrolled are on a six-month regimen to becoming healthier.
Developed by Suny Gaskey, U.S. Army Garrison-Yongsan health promotion advisor, Fit For Life is a comprehensive fitness and nutrition program.
Participants track what they eat and how much they exercise. Each month, Gaskey gets the group together to share success stories, give them a nutrition class and treat them to a healthy lunch donated by the Yongsan Commissary.
"This program is really fantastic," Gaskey said. "I am so proud of how everyone is doing. We had one person lose 22 pounds so far! So, she's not really the biggest loser; she's the biggest winner."
Gaskey said she didn't want to put together just a typical fitness and nutrition program. She knew that for most folks, some incentive is needed to get them involved.
"Good fitness always improves quality of life, but sometimes people need a little extra something to get going," she said.
Gaskey provided personal fitness training for each participant to get them started, showing them how to use weight machines at Collier Field House and giving them charts on which to track progress.
At each meeting, she presents awards to participants who lose the most weight and walk the most steps. She also gives out a Victory Award to the one who managed their life challenges to make fitness an integral part of their daily routine.
The winners receive Yongsan Commissary shopping certificates of $100, $50 or $25. At the end of the program in November, the top "loser" will receive a $500 Commissary shopping certificate.
Also at each meeting, Amanda Reid, a nutrition specialist with the 18th Medical Command, presents a nutrition class.
Gaskey also tries to plan something special for each meeting. At the June 16 forum, Sgt. Adel Nammour, of Yongsan's 1st Replacement Company, opened with an inspiring rendition of Bette Midler's "Wind Beneath My Wings."
Lia Abney was last month's Victory Award winner for integrating a fitness routine into her busy life. She's a full-time family readiness support assistant at the 18th Medical Command, mother and college student.
"I get up at 4:45 a.m. to do my walking," Abney said. "That's pretty much the only time I can find to do that. Then I try to go to aerobics in the evening."
She said she has high blood pressure and "through exercise, I know I can lower my blood pressure so I don't have to take the pills. I want to feel better about myself."
The program isn't just for employees. Christina Lee Gleaves is a student at the University of North Carolina who's spending the summer with her parents. Her mother, Chong Hye Gleaves, got her involved in the program.
"Even in a month, I can already see some significant changes in my life," she said. "It has really has changed my outlook. I'm more aware of what I'm eating and I make better decisions. Instead of going for that banana pudding at 10 at night, I'll have some yogurt."
(The next Fit For Life meeting is 11:40 a.m. July 14 at Moyer Theater. Although the formal program is full, Gaskey said anyone can attend the meeting's nutrition presentation.)