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Second healthy challenge brings transformations, lifestyle commitments

by Cindy Abole
Public Relations
Eighty Lowcountry residents gathered at MUSC Harper Student Wellness Center auditorium on Nov. 20 to celebrate a loss. The group, which has been meeting weekly since Sept. 11, cumulatively lost a total of 1,479.2 pounds as part of the 10-week 2008 Fall MUSC Healthy Charleston Challenge sponsored by MUSC and other community business sponsors.
And with that loss in pounds and inches was the group’s gain in the understanding of a healthy and active lifestyle, and renewed confidence as they continue in their journey toward lifelong wellness.
Their efforts are part of the second Healthy Charleston Challenge program sponsored by MUSC since January. The first program, which occurred from January to March, resulted in more than 80 participants losing 1,500.6 pounds.
“We continue to see amazing results and transformations with this program,” said Janis Newton, program director, MUSC Harper Student Wellness Center and Challenge director. “With the Healthy Charleston Challenge, we’ve created the right formula to help people achieve success in their weight loss goals through accountability, teamwork and education. Once again, it’s been a wonderful experience for everyone.”
Teams were sponsored by area businesses including MUSC Weight Management Center, Charleston County Parks and Recreation (CCPR), Access Healthcare—downtown and Mount Pleasant, Jason’s Deli, Joe D. Bands, The Culinary Institute of Charleston at Trident Technical College (TTC, Charleston Fit Quest and Adventure Team Works.
Winners in the fall challenge were revealed in multiple categories. For the second time in a row, MUSC Boot Camp, sponsored by the Culinary Institute of Charleston at TTC, took first place with a combined weight loss of 202.4 pounds and 10.68 percent body fat loss.Their trainer was Sgt. Ben McKee of the U.S. Marine Corps. Second place went to Anderson Insurance with 160.2 pound weight loss and 10.46 percent body fat  loss. Katie St. Clair was their fitness trainer. Leo Windham of Team Access Healthcare-Mount Pleasant boasted the top individual weight loss (male) with 46.4 pounds and 18.28 percent body weight loss. Team Access Healthcare-Downtown’s Melissa Guggisberg lost the most weight, 40.2, among females. Also, Fran Shuler, Team Charleston County Parks, was recognized as the top percentage body weight  winner with 18.65 percent.

First and second place team winners received prize packages. Overall team winners, Boot Camp, each won a pair of CCPR gold passes, $100 cash from Anderson Insurance Company, and dinner from The Culinary Institute of Charleston (TTC). For second place, members of the Anderson Insurance team also received a pair of CCPR gold passes, and $50 cash from Jason’s Deli.
The fall challenge featured 10 teams of eight men and women who committed themselves to this life-changing weight loss program, which focuses on healthy food choices, nutrition and exercise. The program supports statewide health prevention efforts established in 2005 by Gov. Mark and Jenny Sanford called the Healthy S.C. Challenge, an education and outcome-based awareness campaign designed to improve the health of South Carolinians and combat adult obesity through the promotion of active and healthy lifestyles.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently ranked South Carolina seventh in the country for its population of obese adults. About 28.4 percent of S.C. adults were obese in 2007, compared to the national average of 25.6 percent. According to a S. C. Department of Health and Environmental Control report, physical activity costs the state about $4.6 billion in medical care, workers compensation and lost productivity each year, with an average of about $1,466 per person.
An important resource for the fall challenge included the partnership of mentors on challenge teams. Mentors are individuals who completed the first Charleston Healthy Challenge in March and served as counselors/coaches for individuals participating in the program. Additionally, HCC participated in their own weekly weight loss competition among themselves. In total, they succeeded in a combined weight loss of 180.8 pounds. Boot Camp’s Steve Walker recorded the top weight loss of 28.2 pounds.
“I can’t thank the mentors enough for their help, dedication and example to others,” said Newton. “They’re part of the reason this program is a success because each of them has proven that they’re remaining active and still losing weight more than eight months later.”
HCC results continue to impress success. Almost all participants in the challenge lost weight and all participants lost inches and body fat. Sixty-four participants lost  more than 10 pounds and 29 people lost more than 20 pounds. Four people lost more than 40 pounds; and nine people lost more than 30 pounds.
Each team was assigned a personal fitness trainer, mentors and a team-appointed captain. Teams also relied on the professional support and guidance of a program registered dietitian, Judith Herrin, clinical psychologist, Josh Brown, Ph.D., and program physician, David Albenberg, M.D. Participants and mentors took part in weekly weigh-ins, education lectures and scheduled group fitness activity.
Other winners include (top weight loss) Daniel Gross, Fit Quest, 43.8 pounds; Ben Weinstein, Boot Camp 41.4 pounds; and Rick Farthing, Boot Camp, 39.2 pounds. Top percentage body weight loss winners were: Selena Kaufman,15.32 percent; Rick Farthing,14.86 percent and Nick Clekis, 14.82 percent.

Nov. 28, 2008

The Catalyst Online is published weekly by the MUSC Office of Public Relations for the faculty, employees and students of the Medical University of South Carolina. The Catalyst Online editor, Kim Draughn, can be reached at 792-4107 or by email, Editorial copy can be submitted to The Catalyst Online and to The Catalyst in print by fax, 792-6723, or by email to To place an ad in The Catalyst hardcopy, call Island Publications at 849-1778, ext. 201.