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Challenge accepted: Healthy Weight Journal successfully concludes sixth edition

May 25, 2010
By DIANNE ALWARD-BIERY Journal Staff Writer

MARQUETTE - When The Mining Journal joined forces with Marquette General Hospital's Department of Weight Management in 2006 for the original Healthy Weight Journal, the motivation was clear. The newspaper wanted to put its "responsibility where its ink was" and provide a focal point where the community could monitor a life-changing combination of food management and weight loss, and the resulting fitness improvement needed by so many people. And, of course, who could be more interesting to keep track of - and root for - than one's own neighbors?

To that end, publisher Jim Reevs and advertising rep Jane Hutchens stepped up and positioned themselves at the front of the pubic-eye line. They and nine other community members allowed the public to scrutinize their workouts and leisure activities, and changes to their eating habits. Over the course of six months, the community watched that first group lose nearly 320 pounds, and gain substantial fitness.

The cooperative effort continued through future incarnations of the program; three were groups of individuals, and one session was designed to address the specific concerns of families.

Article Photos

Healthy Weight Journal 6 participants discussed and calculated the volume of fat contained in some common foods at the first leader meeting Jan. 13 in Marquette. Pictured, clockwise from front left, are Jon Gilbert, Helen Anderson, Kathy Paquette, Jill Dykema, Mary Bengry, Kimberly Ronn and group leader Tracy Major, standing. (Journal photo by Dianne Alward-Biery)

The Journal of the American Medical Association "Prevalence and Trends in Obesity Among U.S. Adults, 1999-2008" published online Jan. 13 of this year, cites 33.8 percent of American adults as obese, with overweight and obese combined at 68 percent. Overweight was defined as a BMI (body mass index) of 25.0 to 29.9, and obesity as 30.0 or higher.

Statistics saying fully two-thirds of the adult population is overweight calls to light the ongoing, crucial need for more active, nutrition-smart lifestyles and personal health responsibility.

Answering that call, the Journal and MGH continued the quest to build a better informed, healthier community by offering Healthy Weight Journal 6: Workplace Wellness Challenge. The new configuration included four teams, each represented by two team leaders whose personal journeys and measurement milestones would be published.

The teams and leaders included Jon Gilbert and Dan Nelson of Team Pioneer (Pioneer Surgical Technology); Mary Beth Niemi and Helen Anderson of Team It's Elementary (education professionals); Merry Bengry and Kim Ronn of Team SIR Lose-A-Lot (Superior Iron Range Community Federal Credit Union); and Cathy Paquette and Jill Dykema of Team MIMPA (Marquette Internal Medicine Associates). This group of eight also shared thoughts about their experience on the Healthy Weight page.

The leaders attended meetings and returned to their workplaces to share information and feedback with their non-public co-workers. The idea was to build a larger support system within the workplace - the site of many a doughnut "bait pile" and desks often topped by beckoning candy dishes.

Starting with baseline measurements, weights, blood pressure and blood sugar readings, Dr. Erica Griffen did evaluations to ensure all could safely participate.

MGH clinical dietitian Tracy Major helped participants set individually appropriate weight loss and fitness goals, and provided nutritional guidance through nutritional meetings and monitoring their online eBalance meal logging.

All team members (including non-public) also were able to benefit from exercise/fitness work at Advantedge Training. Owner/trainer Brian Claus and his staff established regimens specific to each team member. Participants learned to listen to their bodies' responses to the workouts, some even becoming finely attuned to their energy expenditures and the caloric deficit it created.

At some of the meetings, leaders were treated to samplings of local restaurant fare. Accompanying content information enabled them to incorporate dishes properly into their food regimens, thus continuing their successful lifestyle changes, while learning to live in the "real" food world.

The program finished off with a final gathering the evening of May 4 at MGH. All the workplace participants were acknowledged for their achievements. Certificates were awarded, with special nods to six people who lost 20 pounds or more. They included five of the eight team leaders, as well as one non-public participant from Team Pioneer.

Of special note was the percentage of fat lost. Since the first screening, the teams combined overall weight loss was 377 pounds. Of special note was the amount of body fat loss, not just total pounds. (See inside pages for specific percentages.)

The person who lost the most weight was Jon Gilbert at 27.6 pounds. That distinction allowed him to win "all the marbles," commemorated by his award of a clear glass decanter filled with blue marbles.

The specific details of the team leaders' successes are listed on the inside pages of this section, along with their personal comments on the program.

Team leaders - well done.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Dianne Alward-Biery can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 245. Her e-mail address is



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