Thursday, December 30th, 2010
Rising to challenge to drop extra pounds
By Margie Wuebker
Lt. Martin Emerine works out in the exercise room at the Mercer County Sheriff's. . .
'Tis the season for New Year's resolutions with people vowing to get more healthy and lose some weight.
Fifteen members of the Mercer County Sheriff's Office started early by launching their own 14-week Biggest Loser competition Nov. 1. To date, the eight women and seven men have lost 91.5 pounds.
Sgt. Lori Knapke, Nicole Grabow and Kory Hoffhines worked out the details and sent out e-mails to all employees after receiving the necessary clearance from Sheriff Jeff Grey. And then they waited for responses.
"We knew there was a lot of interest, but we never realized how much," Knapke said. "This is an ideal way to not only lose weight but get more healthy in the process. We are all in this together providing support and motivation every step of the way."
Grabow said a major motivating factor in the program is Lt. Martin "Marty" Emerine, who began his own weight loss and exercise program in February. He has shed 94 pounds toward his goal of losing 120. Emerine quickly signed up as a participant, knowing full well he would never win the Biggest Loser title or the pot of money for the winner.
"I had hoped to reach the 100-pound mark by Jan. 1, but that is not going to happen," he said. "Joining this effort makes sure I stay on track. As for motivating factors, mine were detective Lance Crum and dispatcher Kandi Baucher, who also lost weight and got more healthy this year."
Participants initially paid a $5 registration fee with an additional $1 due at each Monday weigh-in. Those who miss a visit to the scale pay $2 for the faux pas. There is also a $1 penalty if one's weight remains the same, and those who indulge too freely pay $1 per pound gained in addition to the weekly fee. The ultimate victor will receive 60 percent of the pot with 25 percent and 15 percent going to the second- and third-place finishers.
"This is really fun," Grabow said. "Some people don't eat breakfast before they weigh in and others take off their shoes among other things because unfortunately the scale does not lie. One of the guys plans to take off his belt (loaded with gun, ammunition, handcuffs etc.) for the final weigh-in. That will be good for 12 pounds in one fell swoop."
All weigh-ins must be witnessed by a fellow participant with that person e-mailing the results to Hoffhines. Grabow, who handles the money, can tell when someone has a bad week judging by the way they walk into the office and the number of dollars in hand.
"This involves far more than prize money," 911 administrator Monte Diegel said. "It's all about friendly, spirited and healthy competition not to mention morale and camaraderie. Marty set an example of what can happen when people make healthy choices. We've already noticed people ordering more salads and Subway sandwiches than burgers and fries."
Participants also log considerable time in the department's exercise room during off-duty hours. The facility is equipped with elliptical machines, treadmills, a weight machine and stationary bikes.
Emerine chuckles recalling his first attempt at the elliptical machine affectionately dubbed "the devil." He finished the three-minute session red-faced, gasping for air, questioning his sanity and vowing never to return, he said. He now relishes an hour on the contraption six days a week before moving on to the other equipment.
Exercise not only combats chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis and certain types of cancer, but it also helps prevent or manage high blood pressure, improve "good" cholesterol readings, lower "bad" cholesterol, boosts energy levels and promotes better sleep, according to the Mayo Clinic website.
Emerine has noticed many of these benefits. The one-two punch of diet and exercise has led to a reduction in his medications. He sleeps better even after a busy midnight shift and his energy level no longer sags, he said.
Grey is enthusiastic about the results of the voluntary program.
"The Biggest Loser competition is a way to boost morale as well as health, which in turn benefits taxpayers," he said.