Dec. 4 , 2006

Winners at Losing

By Kristen Miller
Staff Writer

American Time and Signal of Dassel is trying to be the biggest loser – in weight loss, that is.

With insurance rates skyrocketing, a wellness committee was formed to try and become a healthier company, according to Holly Newman, American Time and Signal resource manager and wellness committee member.

The committee then came up with a “Biggest Loser” contest, similar to the NBC’s show.

Out of the 75 employees, 36 are participating. For 12 weeks, nine teams of four will see who can lose the most weight as a group.

“It blew my mind that there are so many participants,” Newman said.

The company’s weight loss goal is to lose a total of 500 pounds by the end of the 12 weeks in January.

The company is currently just under 250 pounds after six weeks of the program. A Biggest Loser cookbook will be given to the person who has lost the most weight at the end of the halfway mark.

Each week, the participating employees weigh in confidentially and report their weight to Sue Ritterholz, who then records it and tallies up the weight loss. A chart is kept in the cafeteria with each group’s weekly results and a chart of the company’s weight loss as a whole.

The committee is still trying to come up with a reward for the winning weight loss team at the end of the program, but the company’s insurance agents, Al Nagel and Kelvin Nelson of Minnesota Benefit Advisors, has offered embroidered ATS shirts as a reward.

To help the employees with their weight loss regimen and to encourage healthy living, the committee has a table set up in the cafeteria with free information, tips, and recipes. Also for the employees’ use is a computer with the Blue Cross Blue Shield web site, which offers tips on eating right and exercising.

The two top biggest losers so far are Sally Genzler, who has lost 25.5 pounds, and Bryce Sundve, who has lost 24.5 pounds.

Genzler has lost the weight by drinking a lot of water, eating supper before 6 p.m., and not eating anything after 7:30 p.m.

“I think [the program] is awesome,” she said. “It’s nice to have more than one person trying to lose weight,” Genzler added.

The company has also invited nutritionist Lynn Marcus to come in and speak every month. This month’s topic will include holiday eating tips.

Employee Pauline Willems didn’t have much weight to lose, so instead, she took it upon herself to quit smoking.

The past few years, Willems has weened herself down from one pack a day to a half of a pack per day. Now, with a little help from a nicotine patch, she has quit entirely.

Some of her motivation came from the “Biggest Loser” contest, but the majority was from society as a whole, she said.

With restaurants becoming smoke-free, and not wanting to offend anybody with her smoking, she felt it was time to give it up.

Weight loss challenge

American Time and Signal is up for a challenge, as well. They are inviting other companies to participate in their next 12-week weight loss project.

For example, ATS and Crest Healthcare Supply of Dassel, had a food drive competition. ATS lost to Crest, with ATS collecting 500 pounds of food items and Crest collecting 700 pounds.

“We are up for the challenge,” Newman said.

“It won’t end after the 12 weeks. We want to help maintain the weight loss,” Newman said.

“It’s nice to see camaraderie. It’s brought people closer together. Some have even come out of their shells,” Newman said.

“It’s been a positive force,” she added.

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