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Holland College staff join forces to get into shape

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Kim Gallant, first place winner.

 

Anyone who has tried to lose weight knows how difficult it can be. Anyone who’s succeeded knows how rewarding it is to have more energy and to be able to button things that used to strenuously resist buttoning. It’s a feeling of self-empowerment and accomplishment, of taking charge of one’s health and reaping the benefits. When Holland College’s Wellness Committee challenged staff to improve their health by losing weight, 42 stepped to up to the plate and in only eight weeks shed a total of 235 lbs. 

Leslie Holt, a library technician in the Charlottetown Centre, coordinated the event for the Wellness Committee. 

“We had 13 people from the Charlottetown Centre, seven from the Tourism and Culinary Centre, four from Adult Ed, nine from the Aerospace Centre, and nine from Montgomery Hall,” she said. “Staff of all ages participated. It was great fun.” 

There was a $10 registration fee for each participant, and then an additional $2 per week went into the kitty for weekly draws. Every Friday, recorders at each centre would weigh the contestants and send the results to Leslie. 

Kim Gallant, Secretary for Industrial Technology and Trades in the Aerospace Centre in Slemon Park, topped the charts with a total weight loss of 17lbs. Her prize included $426, and a $200 gift certificate to the Inns on Great George, given to her in a Publisher’s Clearing House-style presentation complete with balloons and flowers. 

Kim said the competition came at a perfect time for her. 

“I had already started focusing on a ‘healthier’ me for 2010,” she said. “This sounded like fun.” 

She said rather than going on a diet, she focused on drinking water and watching what she ate. 

“I basically went from drinking ZERO water to drinking water constantly throughout the day. I paid more attention to what I was eating, when and how often I ate, with more healthy snacks throughout the day. If I could offer one word of advice, it would be: WATER!” 

She also made sure she got plenty of exercise. 

“Pretty well every day I spent my lunchtime at the APA gym. This was something I started to do the beginning of 2010. I basically just stuck to cardio and the first month (January) I wasn’t seeing the results on the scale, but then in February the weight started coming off gradually. I do want to mention the great group we have at Aerospace Centre that go to the APA gym over lunch. It’s a great motivator knowing that certain co-workers are going to be asking if you’re going to the gym, as you don’t want to be the one to say you’re not going!” 

Second place winner Keely Gallant Vos

 

LINC instructor Keely Gallant Vos, who placed second in the competition, and third place winner Gweneth Branch-Rice, the Fundamental Arts learning manager, had pretty much the same strategy – watching food portions and exercising – in their plans, too. 

“I have always been a healthy eater, but I decided I would keep a food journal and watch my portions,” Keely explained. “I cut out a lot of my carbs, salt and all processed foods. I also incorporated a lot of exercise, a minimum of 30 minutes a day, maybe a few one hour sessions a week at the gym.” 

Gweneth decided to participate on a whim, but found it was just what she needed to get off 15 pounds. 

“I just cut back on portion size and cut out sugar. I usually exercise but I upped what I usually do and I started going to yoga. The college organized the yoga class, and I loved it and have continued even though the class is over here,” she said. 

Ryan Johnston, third place winner Gweneth Branch-Rice (centre), and competition coordinator Leslie Holt

 

All three agreed that the atmosphere of friendly competition and support on a weekly basis went a long way toward helping them achieve their weight loss. 

“[It] was a way to motivate myself and make me accountable to myself,” Keely explained. “Winning a few weekly pots helped too! The competition was one of the tools that helped me…. I discovered that I needed to have many resources at hand to achieve my goal.” 

“The weigh-ins can certainly make you behave! I needed that!” Kim said. 

The three all continue to exercise and watch their diets. 

“The competition may be over, but my personal challenge is not. I’m continuing to drink my water and I go to the gym at lunch still,” Kim said, adding that she learned something about herself over the course of the eight weeks. 

“When I found out I won the mid-way prize, the competitor in me suddenly surfaced. I didn’t realize I had that in me! I should have played sports as a child!” 

Ryan Johnston, Director of Human Resources at the college, said he was pleased with the results of the competition. 

“It’s our goal to make sure that our employees have the tools at hand to take responsibility for their health. The Wellness Committee, which is comprised of staff volunteers, works hard to come up with initiatives that employees will want to participate in. Given the response to this competition, I think that we’ll probably run it again,” he said. 

Leslie and Ryan (far left) presented Kim with her prizes in her office at the Aerospace Centre in Summerside. Kim said the support that the staff at the Aerospace Centre give to each other has been key to enabling her to stay true to her wellness plan.

 

Organizer and Wellness Committee member Leslie said that some of the competitors continue to meet on a regular basis, providing each other with support and motivation.

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Written by Sara Underwood

May 13, 2010 at 11:58 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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