A steady stream of East Texans filed into the mall Friday to sign up and get weighed for this year’s Lighten Up East Texas, a regional weight loss challenge.
The contest returns for the second year, urging participants to lose at least 5 percent of their weight. For every 5 percent lost, their name is entered for a chance to win a 2014 Dodge Dart, donated by Allen Samuels Tyler.
While the thought of winning a new car is a tempting offer, East Texans say they want to get the weight off to improve their health.
Brenda Isabel, 62, said she will have the support of family members who are all committing to get healthier this year. She’s been battling her weight since she was 25 and hopes to lose at least 40 pounds.
“I definitely want to improve my health,” she said. “I am a participant now of the affordable health care system, so I have an obligation to improve my health because I’m getting the assistance. I just want to do better.”
Lisa Garree, 63, lost 10 pounds last year during the first Lighten Up East Texas challenge. This year, she wants to lose another 30 pounds.
“I’m going to stick to it this year,” she said.
Ms. Garree has coronary artery disease and a stent in her heart. She said she’s gotten good reports from her doctor since the procedure five years ago and she wants to keep it that way.
“I want to be around a long time for my grandchildren,” she said. “I have four beautiful grandchildren, and I want to live as long as I can to be around them.”
Duane Coonrod, 56, has been trying to lose weight since he was 30. The contest will provide additional motivation to reach his goals.
“I’d like to lose about 50,” he said.
Isabel, Garree and Coonrod all said they’ll look to a higher power for help getting the weight off. They all mentioned either the Daniel Fast or Daniel Diet, faith-based programs that emphasize a plant-based diet and spiritual discipline.
“I’ve made more than just a diet (goal),” Coonrod said. “For the next 40 days, no TV, no movies. I really feel the lord is in this with me. He is helping me. I’m trying my best to do a moment-by-moment with him.”
From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. today, East Texans can weigh-in and visit informational booths at Broadway Square Mall. Weigh-in locations and booths will be set up in five places throughout the mall, including the carpeted areas in front of J.C. Penney, Sears and center court.
Entrants who visit booths for health assessments and information today will be eligible for door prizes, donated by businesses within the mall. There will be a follow-up wellness fair on Feb. 1 at the mall, which also will present another opportunity to weigh in. Additional weighing in locations and times are posted at www.lightenupeasttexas.com/registration .
Entrants also may be eligible to win a Brookshire’s gift card. The grocery company is donating $5,000 worth of gift cards. And new this year, participants who do not lose at least 5 percent of their body weight will be eligible for mini-prize drawings.
In November, 3,197 people weighed in for the first contest. There were 578 individuals weighing out, with a return rate of 18.08 percent. Overall, participants lost 4,321.65 pounds. Of those weighing out, 473, or 81.8 percent, recorded a weight loss.
The magic number this year is 5,210. Organizers hope to either recruit 5,210 East Texans into its newest weight loss challenge or garner a combined weight loss of 5,210 pounds.
The 5-2-1-0 represents another initiative of the Fit City Challenge, which encourages East Texas children to eat five servings of fruits and vegetables, limit screen time to two hours, get one hour of physical activity and drink zero sugary beverages each day.
About 28 percent of Smith County residents are obese, and two-thirds of the state is either overweight or obese. The Fit City Challenge was created to unite more than 100 entities for solutions for a healthier community.
The coalition includes businesses, local government, hospitals, fitness clubs, restaurants, schools and nonprofit agencies.