East Texans looking to shape up made their way to Broadway Square Mall Saturday to sign up for Lighten Up East Texas during the campaign’s second day of weigh-ins.
The fitness event, which is part of Fit City Tyler, promotes sustainable weight loss and healthy lifestyles through attractive incentives.
This year the campaign’s grand prizes include a 2014 Dodge Dart, provided by Allen Samuels Tyler, and several $1,000 Brookshire’s gift cards.
Last year, Lighten Up East Texas attracted 3,197 participants with 578 people sticking with the challenge to completion.
By the end of last year’s event, more than 4,700 pounds were lost.
George Roberts, CEO of the Northeast Texas Public Health District, said this year’s goal is 5,120, whether that number is the number of pounds lost, or the number of participants.
Roberts stressed the importance of the challenge, stating that in Smith County, around 28 percent of people are obese, and about two-thirds of the population in Texas is considered overweight or obese.
He also mentioned the challenge is for people older than 18 years of age, since children need to focus on simply getting fitter and growing, which involves gaining healthy weight.
Terrence Ates, Northeast Texas Public Health District project Coordinator, said the challenge is a win-win situation for all involved.
Ates said many East Texas companies are encouraging their employees to participate in the fitness challenge.
“Employees, they have the incentive of possibly winning a prize, and they also know that their business supports them to stay healthy,” he said. “On the businesses’ side, knowing their employees are staying healthy is going to affect their bottom line. It works both ways.”
Some participants, however, consider the prizes an afterthought.
Rae Meinen, of Tyler, said she now thinks more about fitness as she nears 50 years of age.
She plans on losing at least 10 pounds and hopes the program is a good motivator for reaching her goal.
“For myself, in the past I have learned that setting goals is one thing; to have something in mind,” she said. “But if you make a statement that you’re going to do it, you’re more successful.”
She also said the program would be beneficial to the area.
“It’s good for the community as far as health costs and overall health, I mean, why not? It just makes sense.”
Cindy Clewis, of Tyler, has similar reasons for joining the challenge, since she is 39 years old, but she said a bigger factor was her two-year-old son, Jaden.
“The older that you get, I think fitness is more important, because of the longevity of your life. That’s important,” she said.
To join the challenge, residents will need to have a starting weight registered at one of designated weighing locations by March 31. Official weighing locations can be found at http://lightenupeasttexas .com/registration.
People will be contacted during the last two weeks of May to return to an official entry location to have a final weight entered.
Participants can earn an entry into the grand prize drawing for every 5 percent of weight that is lost from their starting weight. Up to four entries are allowed per participant.