Home At Home & Beyond County’s weight loss challenge kicks off Jan. 21

County’s weight loss challenge kicks off Jan. 21

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Participants at the initial weigh-in event at the Great Hernando Weight Loss Challenge in 2022. This team, called “The Absolute Way” were one of three teams to successfully lose a combined weight of 100 lbs and more.  Photo courtesy of the Hernando County Health Department.

Ten-week initiative helps residents achieve healthier weight, lifestyle.

Each year, losing weight ranks as the most popular New Year resolution — usually, so we can overindulge from Christmas to New Year’s Eve, promising ourselves we will start afresh on Jan. 1.

Sadly, the reality is we wake up on New Year’s Day set to fail before we begin because of the bewildering range of fad diets and quick weight-loss schemes. Fortunately, Hernando County has a program in place — a program that’s been successful for several years now — that energizes and encourages residents and visitors to lose weight.

Called the Great Hernando Weight Loss & Wellness Challenge, a Community Health Improvement Plan Partnership (CHIPP) driven initiative, the Planning Committee is comprised of the YMCA, the Department of Health, United Way, Hernando County School District, Hernando County Parks and Recreation, and Marla’s Gifts.

“We are in the seventh year of this weight loss initiative, and we’ve always had a good response throughout those years,” said Ann-Gayl Ellis, the Health Education Program Manager at Hernando County’s Health Department.

“As with everything, COVID reduced participation numbers the past two years, but so far this year, registration is proving to be robust,” she said.
“Not only is participation intense, we have increasing engagement from our health and wellness community,” said Ellis. “Both HCA Oak Hill and Bravera Medical Group have become financial supporters, and the number of wellness professionals who are offering classes and/or activities is growing tremendously! This is exactly what we have been working towards …a true community initiative.”

Community weight loss challenges encourage residents to lose weight. The challenges are varied and can be designed as healthy lifestyle education programs, sports competitions between teams, charity donation drives, or faith-based initiatives. They are typically multi-component interventions that include education, weight status, food intake tracking, regular check-ins, and group support.

“Participation of our program in the first few years has been as high as 760 participants and as low as 100 during the Covid pandemic,” said Ellis. “This year, we are anticipating about 300.”

Ellis stated the goal is for participants who want to lose weight to lose 10 pounds over the 10-week initiative but no more than 20 pounds in total.
“In the early years of the challenge, we used to include a “greatest weight loss” theme, but we’ve moved away from that now, putting more emphasis on “wellness,” hence, the inclusion of the words “and Wellness” in the program title,” she added.

Incentives for wellness activity include weekly prizes that have been donated by generous community partners. Activities may include in-person participation in a class, reading an article, or watching a video.

Challenge participants can register as an individual or as a member of a team of ten.
“At the end of the ten weeks, all participants who are ten pounds lighter than when they started are entered into a raffle to win a number of $100 gift cards,” said Ellis. “Participating teams of ten who have a combined weight loss of 100 lbs are entered into a raffle for a $500 gift card.”

The 2023 winners will be announced the first week of April via the GHWLWC Facebook page. The Kick-Off event is being held from 9 a.m. to noon on
Saturday, Jan. 21, at Hernando Park, 205 Fort Dade Ave in Brooksville. The 10-week program ends Saturday, April 1. Participants can collect their informational packets at the Kick-Off event, have a confidential weigh-in, and meet with local health and wellness professionals who have rallied around this annual event. Residents are also invited to join the Kick-off event wellness activities, including three 20-minute exercise classes offered by The TUFF Trainer, Brooksville Yoga Company, and Downtown Athletics.

For more information about the Great Hernando Weight Loss & Wellness Challenge and Kick-Off event, please visit the GHWLWC Facebook page at Facebook.com/GHWLWC or email [email protected]

Area health and wellness organizations are welcome to get involved by contacting the Challenge Planning Team at [email protected]
Hernando County CHIPP, Inc * 4028 Commercial Way, Spring Hill, Florida 34606 * 352-279-1949