Georgia has made fighting obesity one of its top priorities.
The state has the 18th highest adult obesity rate in the nation according to the State of Obesity report by the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. In 2013, Georgia’s adult obesity rate was 30.3 percent, up from 24.5 percent in 2004 and from 10.1 percent in 1990. Obesity-related health issues in Georgia include diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, arthritis and cancer.
Last week, 75 employees at the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) set out on a mission to fight obesity by shedding unwanted pounds in the third annual Holiday Survivor competition. Holiday Survivor is a health and wellness initiative coordinated by DPH’s Worksite Wellness team that encourages teams of four to increase health awareness and physical activity to promote weight loss or weight maintenance through mindful eating.
Between Nov. 3 and Jan. 13, 24 teams from 2 Peachtree, Skyland Drive and the Georgia Public Health Lab will engage in friendly but fierce competition. The program encourages physical movement, but mental readiness is equally important to remaining committed to a weight loss plan and could possibly be the defining factor for those who succeed.
“The holidays are such a busy time for us and we are focused on everything else going on around us,” said Susanne Koch, MS, ACSM-HFS, PES, worksite wellness coordinator for DPH. “I love this program because it encourages our employees to be mindful about what they are eating and ensure they are moving more.”
DPH’s finance department staff is doing more than tracking grants and accounts payable. They are tracking their calories, physical activity and reduction of pounds on the scale in the Holiday Survivor competition. Susan Trice has had great success over the past years competing in the program. Her success has not stopped her from joining teammates Angela Kinnebrew and Kathy Robinson on Team A.S.K.
“I lost 25 pounds last year during Holiday Survivor and have maintained this healthy weight for more than 12 months,” said Trice. “I changed my diet to get rid of bread, butter pecan ice cream and chocolate chip cookies on a daily basis. I’m back for the third year to maintain my weight and to motivate my team members.”
It’s difficult to lose weight without the personal determination to get up and just do it. Something is different this year about Kathy Robinson whose attitude is to give the program another chance to shed the pounds.
“Last year, I had several family distractions that made it more difficult to lose and keep the weight off as I had planned,” said Robinson. “It’s just time to lose the weight. I am in the right mindset to see the positive results. As a teammate, Susan was very focused on her goal and I am inspired by her determination.”
With a daily regimen of walking five miles at 5 a.m. around Stone Mountain, Robinson found some success on the long peaceful walks. She is driven to keep moving and to make small changes given her family medical history with diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity.
Angela Kinnebrew isn’t just participating to lose weight; she has her eyes set on a big prize at the final weigh-in of teams.
“I want to lose in order to win something,” said Kinnebrew. “I want something tangible.”
Kinnebrew has all the right reasons to win this time. She experiences daily pain in both knees and hopes the weight loss will improve mobility.
“There is not a day that I’m not in pain when I walk,” said Kinnebrew. “I want to lose weight so I can keep up with my friends because I like to travel as well as enjoy my four grandchildren.”
Trice has great advice for DPH teammates as they embark on this journey together.
“Stick with your healthy choice plan,” said Trice. “Every day poses challenges, yet you remain strong and continue to make progress toward your goals. Why should the holidays be any different? If you want to lose weight during the holidays, you can. You just have to choose to stay in control, one day at a time.”
The final ceremony for Holiday Survivor is Jan. 21 and Kinnebrew, Trice and Robinson are planning to be winners among the big losers.