On your mark, get set ” lose weight

Competition is running high in the University Bookstore this summer, and it’s not just because of textbook prices. Twenty-four Bookstore staff members – students and adults alike – are participating in the first Bookstore Biggest Loser Challenge.

Twelve students and 12 adults signed up to compete in the 12-week Challenge, which began May 26 and will end August 18. Jaci Prowant, textbook buyer, recorded participants’ starting weights and will record them again at the end of the challenge to calculate the winner – the person who loses the biggest percentage of weight.’

Participants can weigh in each week and track their own progress throughout the competition. The official scale was purchased by Wendy Schortgen, assistant merchandise manager and one of the people who started the Challenge. The scale is kept in a closet in her office.

‘It was kind of a collaborative effort,’ Schortgen said. ‘There were several of us that had gone to Weight Watchers and decided to take the summer off, but still wanted to keep ourselves accountable … We kind of modeled it very loosely after Weight Watchers.’

Schortgen said working at the Bookstore requires a lot of sitting at desks, and she’s heard people grumbling about their weight and the difficulties they face trying to lose weight.

‘It’s a lot easier to lose weight when you have the support of people around you,’ she said. ‘We thought we’d give it a shot.’

Schortgen said after the first week of the competition, people told her they had lost between one pound and 4.6 pounds. She said she lost 4.6 pounds and has been counting Weight Watchers points as well as watching portion sizes, exercising and working out with Wii Fit, a fitness video game.

‘We’ve got some really competitive people here,’ Schortgen said. ‘I think that some people will stick with it just for that reason alone.’

Another motivational factor in the competition is the monetary prize given to the ‘Biggest Loser.’ Schortgen said each participant contributed $10, and the ‘Biggest Loser’ will receive a portion of that.

‘I think the first and second place people will each get something,’ she said.

Nicole Pasquale, a senior and the accounts payable student assistant at the Bookstore, said she will probably put the prize money toward books if she wins the contest. She said she was motivated to join the competition because she wants to lose 20 pounds and become healthier, and because many of her co-workers are participating.

After her first week as a Challenge participant, Pasquale said she was happy with her progress: she lost four pounds.

‘I exercise at least twice a week,’ Pasquale said, describing the changes she has made to her lifestyle. ‘I haven’t drank pop … I don’t go out to eat anymore, and if I go to a party or something, I portion my food. I don’t overeat.’

Customer Service Supervisor Cory Reinhard was part of the Weight Watchers program last fall and spring, and she decided to enter the summer competition with a goal of losing 10 percent of her weight.

Reinhard said she, like Pasquale, has been watching her portion sizes, choosing healthier foods, cutting out soda, and exercising more. She said she’s been counting Weight Watchers points and driving past the Dairy Queen instead of stopping there, too.

‘It helps you make better choices, because you think, ‘I’m in a contest, and I probably shouldn’t eat chocolate,” Reinhard said. ‘I realize that I can still have ice cream, but maybe I’ll choose the low fat frozen yogurt instead of the chunky, chunky chocolate.’

Reinhard said if she wins, she might put her prize money toward an elliptical machine or another Wii Fit game.

‘I probably will not be the one that wins, but you never know,’ Reinhard said. ‘If we all become a little healthier in the meantime, we’ll all become happier at work, too.’