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Published: Friday, 12/26/2008

Hancock, Fulton set weight-loss projects

BY JENNIFER FEEHAN
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Diana Luther described herself as a lifelong yo-yo dieter: Lose a few pounds, gain a few pounds.

"I've always had a wide variety of sizes of things in my closet," the Findlay woman said.

Last year, she and 900 other Hancock County residents lost a collective 9,024 pounds over 12 weeks as part of a first-ever "Be Healthy Now" program.

Mrs. Luther, 48, said though she's managed to keep off some of the 16 pounds she lost, she's gearing up to do it again in the new year.

Hancock County plans to kick off its second round of "Be Healthy Now" from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Jan. 17 at the Findlay Village Mall.

Teams of four to six adults will weigh in during the week of Jan. 12-17 and "weigh out" the week of April 6-10. During the 12 weeks, participants can enjoy special offers at area gyms, compete for prizes, and attend free educational sessions on topics like modifying recipes for healthy eating, reading nutrition labels, and the effects of stress and sleep on weight control.

Kristin Steele, a spokesman for Blanchard Valley Health System, said organizers aren't sure what kind of turnout to expect this year. They were blown away when more than 3,700 people signed up for the program last year.

"In our wildest dreams, we never expected 3,000 people to sign up," she said.

"I think people are always looking for a way to kick off the New Year's resolution or find a way to finally lose that extra few pounds," Ms. Steele said. "It was an interesting concept last year because it was something different. Most people don't say, 'I'm going to call up four of my friends and lose weight.'•"

The program's success in part has prompted Fulton County to try it out in the new year.

Cheryl Barber Spires, extension educator for the Ohio State University extension office in Fulton County, said organizers hope to get 700 residents to sign up for the program, which has scheduled its kickoff for Feb. 28. The program is co-sponsored by the Fulton County Health Center and the Fulton County Health Department.

Ms. Barber Spires said the last community health assessment done in Fulton County showed that weight control was the No. 1 health concern facing residents. Regular consumption of fruits and vegetables and physical activity topped the list as well.

"Sixty-nine percent of Fulton County adults were overweight or obese," she said. "We're really hoping to key in to that and get people excited about it."

Mrs. Luther, who captained her team in Findlay dubbed the Not So Broads, said she's enthusiastic about taking a second stab at improving her health with her friends at her side.

She said she believes the program worked because she went into it focused on her health rather than her appearance and because her team provided the kind of moral support she needed to stay motivated.

"We all had our weeks where we'd say, 'This just isn't coming off.' We'd tell each other, 'Keep working at it, and eventually it will come off,'•" Mrs. Luther said, adding, "I'm looking forward to the new challenge."

Contact Jennifer Feehan at:

jfeehan@theblade.com

or 419-353-5972.


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