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Celebrating winners at the losing game

While most New Year's resolutions have been long abandoned, a group of MSU employees is celebrating the happy ending of an enjoyable journey. After six months of conscientious food choices, increased activity and weekly weigh ins, participants in the MSU Weight Loss Challenge Extravaganza can finally say "yes" to dessert.

The idea originally started in late October when Derek Van Dyke, student recruiter, decided he wanted to drop a few pounds before the holidays. Initial plans included about a half dozen people from Enrollment Services, who agreed the camaraderie and accountability of group participation would be motivating. The idea quickly spread, and six eager participants mushroomed into 26.

Every Thursday morning, Caren Barnett, Student Health Center director, arrived with her scale and set up shop in Van Dyke's office to record progress. She then sent a recap of individual and group progress to all participants.

"I have enjoyed hearing all the stories over the last six months," Barnett said.

However, stories are one thing, results are another. Since November 1, the group lost a total of 122 lbs.

"I wanted to lose a little bit of weight and am not very good at starting on my own or sticking to it," said Ashley Blake, Registrar's Office administrative assistant. "This (group) helped me keep track better than if I had done it alone."

Keryl Lesmann, POWER Center program assistant, was skeptical when she first heard about the weight loss challenge.

"It was the wrong time of year to do it," she said, referring to the upcoming holidays. "But Darla (Weigel) grabbed me and said, C'mon, let's do it.' Looking back, it's been fun; I really enjoyed it."

Seinquis Slater, admissions coordinator, used the challenge to enhance her personal journey of balancing diet and exercise.

"I do P90 workouts three times a week, and have really changed my diet," Slater said, ticking off the number of fruits and vegetables she consumes daily. "This was the perfect way to track my weight in a healthy way."

Group front-runner, Kevin Harmon, assistant vice president for enrollment management, found that once the scale started dipping, the incentive to continue the downward spiral grew. Not one to mess with karma, Harmon wore the same outfit every Thursday for six months during the weigh ins.

Even though Van Dyke's weight remained constant, he feels victorious. Maintaining weight over the holidays is a success he pointed out, and the group became each other's biggest cheerleaders.

"We will take a break and maybe start this up again in the summer, where we can make use of the nicer weather to walk or bike," he said.

Just in time for swimsuit season.