DPH Employees Shed More Than 500 Pounds During Holiday Survivor Competition

February 1, 2016

Last week, Brenda Fitzgerald, M.D., commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH), recognized and congratulated 101 DPH employees who maintained or lost weight during the Holiday Survivor IV Challenge. Participants used will-power, food portion control, exercise and raw motivation to reach an incredible milestone. 

Collectively, the 101 participants lost 577 pounds and 140 inches off their waists. That is the equivalent of losing 2,307 sticks of butter, according to E. Susanne Koch, MS, ACSM-HFS, PES, worksite wellness coordinator at DPH.

“They are all winners by the mere fact that they are placing health and wellness at the top of the list in their work and personal lives,” Commissioner Fitzgerald said during the awards ceremony. “I am proud of each participant regardless of whether they’re a team or individual winner. DPH has made fighting obesity and better fitness one of our main goals in Georgia and in the workplace. We can get our work done when we have fit employees and champions who are walking and talking wellness.”

Yolanda Worthem, administrative assistant in DPH’s Sexually Transmitted Disease Program, has benefitted from her Capitol Hill Fitness Center (CHFC) gym membership and Worksite Wellness programs. Prior to Holiday Survivor and working out daily, Worthem suffered from chronic pain. She was ready to throw in the towel.

“I’ve lost a total of 51 pounds and I lost 14 pounds during Holiday Survivor,” said Worthem. “With the weight loss and daily movement, I’m sleeping in my bed again and not in a recliner. I almost cancelled my gym membership because I was in so much pain.  However, Susanne instructed me to try specific yoga exercises, stretching and foam rolling. I feel so much better.”

DPH’s Holiday Survivor Competition offers employees a fun and supportive environment where they can lose weight with colleagues and learn how to make mindful food choices during the annual holiday season. The competition’s goal is to inspire employees to eat well and exercise regularly all year round.

“This year’s Holiday Survivor winners and overall participants reached amazing new levels,” said Koch. “On average, participants lost 5 percent of body weight. The key is keeping it off. This journey is a marathon, not a sprint. Therefore, our focus is total wellness for employees.”

The Holiday Survivor top team winners are (1st) Just for Fun, (2nd) Shrink-to-Fit and (3rd) Down Thighsing. Just for Fun team members are Phoebe Searcy, Samuel Demisse, Sara Lagesse and Avis Lemons and their weight lost range is 7.05 percent to 7.26 percent. 

DPH recognized individuals who lost the most weight on their teams during the challenge.  This year’s individual winners are impressive with 9.73 percent to 11.7 percent of weight lost. The winners are (1st) Doris Gates (Fab-u-LESS-Five), (2nd) Martina Rowe (Shrink-To-Fit) and (3rd) Voly Vaugh (Flab-u-Less) who won cash prizes as much as $300 along with fitness gifts.

“I lost 22 pounds and I owe my success all to my team,” said Voly Vaughn, a purchasing specialist in the Contracts Section at DPH. “I was eating healthy, but I wasn’t moving every day. My team members got together to motivate me to get up from my desk and get in at least 30 minutes of daily walking. I walked off at least 90 percent of the weight lost.”

Commissioner Fitzgerald also recognized the Wellness Ambassadors, which is a two year assignment for champions who help steer the direction of Worksite Wellness. 

“Our DPH Wellness Ambassadors are our cheerleaders,” said Koch. “Their job is to communicate with staff on upcoming wellness programs and offerings. You might see an ambassador helping out with events or encouraging employees in their work area to join or participate in a sponsored event by the Capitol Hill Fitness Center.”

To learn more about the health and wellness programs, classes and services offered through Worksite Wellness and Capitol Hill Fitness Center, email WorksiteWellness@dph.ga.gov

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