By Rachel Ponder, APG NewsJune 18, 2012
Thirty-seven employees participated in this informal challenge, from April 10 to June 4, losing more than 125 pounds. Participants shared their success stories and top losers were announced during a recognition luncheon at the garrison headquarters main conference room June 4.
im Foard, from the Visual Information Service Center, won first place after he lost 19 pounds. Michele Farmer, from APG's U.S. Army Signal Network Enterprise Center, came in second with a 13-pound loss. Michael Breidenbaugh, from the Directorate of Public Works Environmental Management Division, took third place, dropping 10 pounds.
APG Garrison Commander Col. Orlando Ortiz presented certificates of appreciation to each of the winners. Foard was also presented with a Commander's Coin and a $150 gift card. Farmer received a mini grill.
At the beginning of the competition, some participants contributed a small donation. Money that was collected was used to purchase prizes for the winners. For most participants, however, losing weight is its own reward.
Foard said the challenge inspired him to adopt a more active lifestyle. His daily lunch time routine now involves a 30 to 45 minute power walk around the Plumb Point Loop walking trail. He also walks an hour around his neighborhood or Essex Community College's track after work.
Before the challenge, I noticed that I lacked endurance. I couldn't walk up a flight of stairs without feeling winded," Foard said. "Now I have more energy."
Additionally, Foard credits his weight loss success to reducing portion sizes and drinking more water.
"It sounds so basic," Foard said. "You have the desire to make positive changes. You can do it, if you want to do it."
Farmer said the weight loss challenge inspired her to try different exercise classes on post offered free through Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation. She said that incorporating variety in her exercise routine helps her stay motivated. Farmer added that making exercise plans with coworkers and Family members keeps her accountable.
"Before the challenge I would spend all evening on the couch watching television," she said. "Now I am always active and have more energy."
Breidenbaugh said that he decided to take part in the challenge with a small group of coworkers, who encouraged him to stick to his diet and exercise plan. He said the group decided to continue to exercise together and weigh in at work once a week.
"We talk about the challenge every day," Briedenbaugh said. "It is a supportive group, we motivate each other. Doing a weight loss challenge with other people makes you more accountable."
Wendy LaRoche, the installation's community health promotion officer, said getting the right support when you're trying to lose weight is key to success. Throughout the competition, participants attended "lunch and learn" sessions that featured presentations from nutritionists, personal trainers and even a phone call from renowned fitness personality Richard Simmons.
These sessions also gave participants time to share what works for them.
LaRoche said personnel at the Public Health Command, Kirk U.S. Army Health Clinic and Human Resources employees from the U.S. Army Chemical Materials Agency, to name a few, have also conducted informal challenges with coworkers, motivating each other to lose weight.
"Competitions are totally voluntary, and are not endorsed by any organization," she said. "Challenges are led by people who have a desire to motivate themselves and help motivate others to lose weight and get healthier. Individual groups come up with their own guidelines.
"I think it was evident that those who led the Spring into Wellness challenge and those who participated gained not only a great deal of knowledge but the desire to adopt healthier lifestyles and habits."
For more information on starting a weight loss challenge or other healthy living initiatives, call LaRoche at 410-417-2312.
Information is also on the Community Health Promotion Website, http://www.apg.army.mil/APGHome/sites/commander/CHPC/healthpromotion