By Nikki Velarde, The Belton Journal
This week marked the end of the 8 week Weight Loss Challenge at Pirtle Elementary in which 20 teachers and staff members participated and competed to see who could lose the most weight.
Each participant had a goal, whether it was to lose a certain amount of weight, maintain, learn to make healthier choices, or just get into an exercise routine.
“The staff has done great with this challenge and lost a lot of weight,” Christie Crim, R.N. School Nurse said. She has been putting on this event for the past three years, “but this year has been the most weight lost so far.”
Even before the Weight Loss Challenge, teachers and staff were welcome to join in on running after school on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
During the Challenge, yoga instructor Suzanne Jaroch from Soulful Yoga came to give the participants their own class. “Suzanne did great,” Crim added. “A lot of people showed up for the yoga.”
Dr. Montgomery from Montgomery Chiropractic and even a licensed massage therapist came to educate, relax, and assess the challenge participants. ‘It’s not just about weight loss but about how they feel,” explained Crim.
Pirtle also recently established a small fitness room that includes a treadmill, elliptical, exercise bike, hand weights, weight bench, and much more. “It’s more like a mini-gym that employees have access to before school, after school, and during school hours,” Crim added. “It gave them that much more incentive and motivation during the Weight Loss Challenge.”
“Mrs. Crim was really good about making the Challenge fun for everyone,” said Kristine Kelley in Functional Academics. Every Monday, the participants would weigh-in and their names were put into a jar. On Friday a name was drawn and you could win a prize “like a manicure, facial, jewelry, or movie tickets. It was fun knowing your name might be drawn at the end of the week.”
“I made a New Year’s resolution to get healthier, this was a good way to start off the year and a good way to hold myself accountable,” said Laura Deeken, a Speech Therapist. “Plus, I won free movie tickets, which was nice.”
“The Challenge encouraged us to talk to and get to know other coworkers that we normally don’t talk to on a daily basis,” said Brianna Brejcha in Functional Academics. “The competitive edge was nice too.”
“We got a lot of support from each other,” said Kelley. “Even from other coworkers that weren’t involved in the Challenge. I think it has also inspired them to get healthy.”
“I had a really good support system to help me continue through the Challenge and to help make this a part of my life,” said Robyn Smith an Educational Aide in Functional Academics. “I really enjoyed the experience.”
“The fitness room and wellness programs were created because research identifies that wellness programs in the workplace have great potential to impact employees’ long-term lifestyle choices,” Crim explained. “The average employee spends 50 hours a week at work and eats one third of his/her meals at work. Long-term results of wellness programs include improved health outcomes, reduced absenteeism, and improved employee morale.”
“I really enjoy the connectedness of the group,” Crim added. “We have fun and laugh and it’s made me closer to the staff.”
In the end, the total weight lost between all the staff participants was 162 lbs. On Thursday, Robyn Smith was announced as the Weight Loss Challenge winner with 22 lbs lost.
In continuing with the comraderie gained through exercising together, the staff will be participating in a few upcoming 5k races to include the Color Run in Temple as well as Project Celebration in Belton.
As for the students and families, beginning in April, the school will kick off Pirtle Tiger’s Runners Club for the students and family members.
Runners’ Club will meet twice a week directly after school and train for a 1-2 mile Fun Run that will be held in May.
“I enjoy running myself and to see students, their family members, and staff is very encouraging,” Crim said. “I also think it is a confidence booster for students.” Great job Pirtle Elementary!