Last updated: August 27. 2013 12:44PM - 258 Views

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About 70 people turned out to weigh-in at the kickoff of the Healthy U communitywide weight loss challenge Thursday — a first step in a six-month journey toward better health and lower weight.



The event, which was coordinated by the Healthy Living Action Group, featured a weigh in and a question-and-answer session for participants, who will embark on a quest to lose the highest percentage of weight before being weighed again in January.



Five Healthy U students, who have already been improving their own health with the help of the program, addressed the crowd and shared their own weight loss stories with jokes, tears and simple strategies for community members to put into practice.



The students identified four key areas where participants can make positive life changes: planning, accountability, creativity and support.



“It’s hard,” said student Alicia Maggert, who has lost more than 34 pounds through Healthy U. “This isn’t easy. It takes a lot of willpower ... Get a support group and come to those meetings. Have a plan and write it down. Have some variety in exercise and food.”



The students had many other tips for community members, including drinking lots of water, trying new vegetables each week, and not being too self-critical when you fall off the weight-loss wagon.



“You didn’t blow your diet — you’re working on a better life,” said student Richard DeFord, whose work with the program has led him to lose more than 43 pounds.



The students’ remarks had a deep impact on many of those who attended the kickoff of the community contest.



“I had the application form and kept filling it out,” said Alena Hoeffling, of Sedalia, speaking of the form that the 12 current Healthy U students completed in order for a chance to participate in the program. “When I found out I missed it, I cried.”



Hoeffling, who attended the event with her husband, Aaron, said she wasn’t going to let the opportunity to get healthy pass her by again. She said the couple planned to support each other and lose weight together. Their strategy?



“Portion control and exercise — and not so much beer,” Aaron said.



Community members who chose to take part in the Healthy U Community Contest agreed to release their beginning and ending weight and photos to the public and took a pledge to refrain from weight-loss surgery, diet pills and other extreme weight loss methods.



In January, the contestant who has lost the most weight will receive a package totaling over $1,200 in prizes, including a one-year gym membership, a day at the spa, new cookware, and bicycle rentals. For more information on Healthy U, its other community events and the progress of the 12 students already participating, visit facebook.com/



HUPettisCounty.


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