DPH Recognizes Holiday Survivor Winners and Biggest Losers

January 26, 2015

The Holiday Survivor III Awards Ceremony was held last week at the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH).  No matter how much weight was lost, all of the winners proved that losing a few pounds can make a big difference in improving your overall health and wellness.

Holiday Survivor is a health 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.  From Nov. 3 to Jan. 13, 24 employees from the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) at 2 Peachtree, Skyland Drive and the Georgia Public Health Lab made losing weight one of their top health goals for 2015.  

More than 80 employees pledged to fight obesity through friendly but fierce competition to lose the most weight as individuals and teams.  All Holiday Survivor winners and participants were congratulated by James Howgate, DPH chief of staff, Christine Greene, DPH deputy chief of staff, and Susanne Koch, MS, ACSM-HFS, PES, DPH worksite wellness coordinator.

“Commissioner Fitzgerald has made the Worksite Wellness program one of the important health initiatives for DPH employees,” said Howgate.  “I congratulate and encourage all of our winners and participants to stay physically active every day as part of their lifestyle for optimal health.”

The Holiday Survivor program has helped DPH employees lose nearly 1,000 pounds and 24 feet of waist circumference over three years, according to Koch. The average weight gain over the holidays is between 1-2 pounds, with individuals over a BMI of 25 gaining an average of 5 pounds over the holidays. The Survivor program participants averaged a loss of 1.4 pounds over the holidays.

“We hope that employees will take what they have learned from the Holiday Survivor program and master it in their everyday lives,” said Koch.  “This was the most exciting Holiday Survivor program thus far and I am so proud of all the winners. I also recognize that each personal journey is different and that’s why we recognize everyone for their efforts regardless of the amount of weight loss.”

Debra Chapman, operations support manager, Division of Health Protection Infectious Disease and Immunization Section, Office of STD, was recognized for losing 13 pounds.  As a member of Team Scooby Doo Divas, Chapman lost 5 percent of her body weight through personal dedication and team motivation.  Gwendolyn Senatle, an individual participant, and Cynthia Wynn from Team Soul Survivors were also recognized for losing 5 percent of their body weight. 

Chapman has tried different weight loss methods throughout her life, but only maintained her health goal after joining DPH’s Holiday Survivor competition.  Beyond losing weight, she is most proud of remaining dedicated to a task so important her wellbeing.

“Holiday Survivor is the first weight loss program that I have ever joined and completed for the full duration,” said Chapman.  “I’m going to keep losing weight beyond the competition. I am elated to know that I have successfully lost 13 pounds and I have a plan that works for me to lose even more weight. This is a great way to better care for my overall health.”

According to the Mayo Clinic, there are five top lifestyle changes to reduce cholesterol: lose weight, eat heart-healthy foods, exercise on most days of the week, quit smoking and drink alcohol only in moderation. Under the Holiday Survivor program, Chapman implemented these five lifestyle changes to reduce her high cholesterol.

“My cholesterol level was over 200 when I joined Holiday Survivor in November,” said Chapman. “I had my last health check up with my doctor in late December and my cholesterol has dropped to 140. I attribute that change to losing weight.”

Chapman also monitors her high blood pressure, which made it more important to lose weight and adopt a new lifestyle.  Uncontrolled high blood pressure can increase her risk for serious health problems, including heart attack and stroke according to health experts.  

To avoid these health risks, Chapman takes daily medication to manage her blood pressure.  Since losing the 13 pounds, she has experienced fewer headaches and her blood pressure is in a healthier range.  She is also sleeping better at night – a benefit she believes is also due to the weight loss.

Chapman is celebrating that she has dropped two dress sizes and is motivated to keep losing more weight so she can regain control of her weight and enjoy her new, healthy lifestyle.  She has a great support system through her supervisor and co-workers that provided moral support and encouragement for her efforts to maintain a balance between work and personal health.

“I am so proud of myself that I did not quit,” said Chapman. “I have never doubted my ability. I needed the team push, daily exercise schedule and proper meal planning to get better results. I understand through public health and Worksite Wellness that it takes careful planning to view health as a lifestyle.”

Holiday Survivor IV is scheduled to launch on Nov. 3, 2015 so plan your team of at least four employees and get moving now so you can be among next year’s winners.

The following DPH employees and teams were recognized during this year’s Holiday Survivor III awards ceremony:

Overall Holiday Survivors Winners (Awarded $50 -$200 cash prizes and the new Fitbit Charge)

  • 1st – Martina Rowe (GPH Laboratory) – 8.64 percent weight loss – Team Train 2 Win
  • 2nd – Kim Kilgour (GPH Laboratory) – 7.55 percent weight loss – Team Flawless and Fab-u-less
  • 3rd – Doris Gates (2 Peachtree) – 7.37 percent weight loss – Team 3 Sistas and 1 Brother
  • 4th – Antoinette Harvey-Maffett (Skyland) – 6.68 percent weight loss – Team Skyland

Top Three Teams (Awarded $30 gift certificate and a fitness goodie bag)

  • 1st Place  -- Team Git ‘Er Done (GPH Laboratory) – Overall weight loss of 5.35 percent
  • 2nd Place – Team Flawless and Fab-u-less  (GPH Laboratory) – Overall weight loss  of 4.22 percent
  • 3rd Place – Team Slimpossibles (GPH Laboratory) – Overall weight loss  of 3.74 percent

Most Spirited Team (Awarded $30 gift certificate and fitness incentives)

  • 1st Place – Team Belly Busters
  • 2nd Place – Team I’m Dreaming of a Slim Christmas

Individual Awards (Lost 5 percent of body weight)

  • Debra Chapman (Team Scooby Doo Divas) – Weight Loss of 5.41 percent
  • Gwen Senatle (Individual participant) – Weight Loss of 5.15 percent
  • Cynthia Wynn (Team Soul Survivors) – Weight Loss of 5.14 percent

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