Visitors from Jacksonville, Henderson, Longview, Nacogdoches and Canton were on hand Wednesday as Fit City coalition members announced the details of the kickoff to Lighten Up East Texas, scheduled for 9 a.m. to noon Nov. 3 at Bergfeld Park in Tyler.
Lighten Up East Texas, a regional weight loss contest, has attracted people from neighboring counties, and community members are being encouraged to sign up for the competition.
Individuals or teams may be entered into a drawing for every 5 percent of body weight they lose.
Online registration for teams is encouraged before mid-October, coalition members said. After the initial weigh-in on Nov. 3, other weigh-ins will happen across East Texas counties on Nov. 9 and 16. These counties include Smith, Gregg, Wood, Van Zandt, Cherokee, Henderson, Rusk, Anderson, Upshur and Camp.
The final weigh-ins will be April 19, April 26 and May 4. The celebration event, in which winners of the drawings can receive significant prizes, will take place May 18. Participants must be at least 18.
The City of Tyler will create a weight tracker for people to log in with a password on a landing page for Lighten Up East Texas.
Fit City coalition members structured the contest to help people create sustainable ways to lose weight, which is why it will occur over a long period of time and uses weight percentage instead of actual pounds lost. That concept also has been the mission of Fit City.
While adults may sign up for the contest, children also will be encouraged to learn healthier behaviors through Fit City 5-2-1-0.
Dr. Valerie Smith, a physician at St. Paul Children's Clinic, restated the goals of 5-2-1-0, a healthy initiative for school age children to get five servings of fruits and vegetables, two hours or less of screen time, one hour of physical activity and zero sugary beverages daily. That program has rolled out to Tyler and Whitehouse ISD schools.
“They spend a significant amount of time at school and I want them to hear those same messages at school,” Dr. Smith said, referring to her own children.
Key strategies of the program include limiting unhealthy choices, limiting recreational screen time, promoting water and low-fat milk over sweetened beverages and giving nonfood rewards.
Dr. Smith noted that it was important for adults to model the behaviors listed in the 5-2-1-0 program.
“Our actions speak louder than our words to our kids,” she said.
Also upcoming is the annual Brookshire's Firefighter Combat Challenge, which will set the stage for an ongoing Fit City saga between Tyler City Manager Mark McDaniel and Tyler Morning Telegraph publisher Nelson Clyde. Clyde has challenged McDaniel's team during the challenge. The loser must volunteer 10 community service hours at the East Texas Food Bank.
“Our team is ready to kick their team's butt,” Clyde warned.
NEIGHBORING CITIES MEET FIT CITY
“Our focus was more on awareness and to get the community moving,” Dietrich Johnson, of Mayor Jay Dean's office, said. A coalition was formed to work with the community, colleges and schools, but when the funds ran out, so did the energy behind the efforts.
“Your efforts here have given us the boost of energy that we needed to get things going again,” Johnson told Fit City coalition members.
Chris Taylor, chief executive officer at Cherokee County Health District, shared during Wednesday's meeting the county's newest initiative, which borrows from the efforts of Fit City Tyler.
Fit COUNTY Cherokee aims to promote healthy choices and get people moving. The county is one with many challenges, with high rates of obesity, chronic illness and adults who smoke.
The Fit COUNTY Cherokee will work with local agencies to map out parks, trails, and farmers' markets in the area. Taylor also said they will push for a 5-2-1-0 program in the schools there.
“Being a parent, I get tired of folks saying well, we've got to do this,” Taylor said. “We are the state and we've got to take that power back. We've got to tell the people what we want to see in our communities and in our schools.”
L.E.A.N. was established about seven years ago to renovate parks to include walking trails and farmers' markets in Rusk County. Pike said they also partnered with the Texas Agriculture Extension Service and other organizations for nutrition and exercise programs.
Derrick Head, of Nacogdoches, touted his city's Healthy Nacogdoches 5K Challenge. He said the city went from having three or four 5Ks to about 15. The city has been awarded more than $500,000 in grant funding to improve the community, which includes creating trails and parks. Head said they are about to add 1.6 miles to a five-mile trail.
For more information about Lighten Up East Texas, visit http://myemail.constantcontact.com/Gather-a-team-for-Lighten-Up-East-Texas.html?
Follow FitCity Tyler on Twitter and look for the Fit City Challenge on Facebook for updates on the challenge as well as other health information.