By Lisa Wade Raasch
Get Healthy Muskogee
Indian Capital Technology Center is in the business of empowering students — high school-aged through adult — to set and achieve meaningful, life-improving goals.
With its “Weapons of Mass Reduction” weight loss challenge, ICTC’s Muskogee campus also encourages staff to set and achieve improved health and weight loss goals.
The challenge, which began on Jan. 4 and will continue through early May, includes team competitions, weekly Thursday weigh-ins, regular group exercise classes and a heaping helping of moral support.
The 39 participants among the six teams have lost a total of 225 pounds in the first five weeks of challenge.
Daryl Collins, an auto collision repair instructor who has worked with ICTC since 1986, holds the current bragging rights for the campus’ “biggest loser.”
Although Daryl, age 50, enjoys gardening and his job can be physically demanding, as his weight crept up he noticed both became harder to do.
“It was more uncomfortable to squat and get up and down without getting completely worn out, especially in the heat of summer,” he said. “I go to TOPS (Taking Off Pounds Sensibly) on Tuesday nights. It works, but I wasn’t really working it like I should.”
The ICTC challenge helped him jump-start a renewed focus on his health. He’s lost 39 pounds already and plans to lose at least 60 more.
“Being among your peers makes you try harder,” Daryl said.
Plagued by an Achilles tendon injury that slows down his exercise, Daryl’s early focus is on improving his diet and nutrition.
First, he cut back on sugary drinks.
“I was drinking way too much pop, at least one two-liter bottle a day was not uncommon,” Daryl said.
By switching to water instead, he now saves more than 800 calories each day.
Second, he started monitoring calories.
Using MyFitnessPal, an online computer program, he tracks his daily caloric intake.
“People don’t realize how many calories they take in each day unless they write it down,” Daryl said. “I’m a firm believer that dieting is a numbers game.”
Daryl acknowledges that support and motivation are critical to success.
“Having to weigh in every week is a great motivator. I don’t want to come in with a gain,” Daryl said. And, he admits that bragging rights are a strong incentive, too.
“You’ve got to have some reason to want to lose the weight,” he said. “When I look through the obituaries, I see people my age and younger and it makes me take notice. Being overweight and unhealthy will contribute to being on the obituary page earlier than necessary.”
Already, Daryl notices a big change in the way he feels.
“I’m moving around a lot better, a lot faster,” he said. “Productivity seems to be a bit better; I do a better job.”
In addition to tracking calories and finding moral support, Daryl encourages others to keep diet-busting foods out of the house.
“It it’s in the house, I’m probably going to eat it,” he said. “Keep food that’s on your diet in the house and still control your portion sizes.”
Other participants in the ICTC challenge see real benefits, too.
Wren Stratton, a health careers instructor, exercises with other staff members two or three times per week and walks outside when the weather cooperates, including during her lunch break.
“My focus is not so much on weight loss, but on health and feeling good,” said Wren, who turns 60 this year and wants to maintain the energy to keep up with her students.
Carol Williams, a health careers certification instructor, leads a cardio and weights class twice a week and captains the team on which both Daryl and Wren participate.
“It’s not just faculty benefitting from this increased focus on healthy living, but it’s also moving to students and into classrooms, as well,” Carol said.
Dana Chandler, a nursing transition instructor and chief cheerleader for the ICTC wellness challenge, is focused on continued motivation for all the participants.
“The first month has been exciting,” Dana said. “ Now starting the second month it’s time to re-motivate, to look at our accomplishments and set new goals so we can have a strong finish.”
Lisa Wade Raasch coordinates the Muskogee Wellness Initiative and directs the EOK Health Care Coalition. Connect online at www.MuskogeeWellness. org or www.facebook.com/ MuskogeeWellness.