Lander University is looking for the biggest loser on its campus, and that lucky person will walk away the biggest winner.
"Biggest Loser" is what the university's Student Wellness Center is calling its recently launched initiative to persuade students, faculty and staff to improve their health by exercising more, adjusting their eating habits and losing weight. A $500 cash prize will be awarded to the individual who records the largest percentage of weight loss when the promotion ends.
Kimberly Shannon, a registered nurse at the Wellness Center, said, "It is more than about the money. The program can be life-changing and improve the way people feel and how they feel about themselves." She said 90 students, faculty and staff have enrolled, many more than expected. "It has been a little overwhelming, but we are really pleased with the response."
Participants are required to fill out a medical history profile and undergo measurements to establish baseline data. Wellness Center nurses recorded each person's current weight, waist size, blood pressure and pulse readings. The same measurements will be taken at the end of the program for comparison.
Paris Knott, a senior exercise science major from Columbia and an intern at the Wellness Center, is coordinating the program. He tells those who are enrolled, "The more you put into it, the more you will get out of it." He said the objective is to persuade participants to exercise 20 to 30 minutes a day.
The routine, which is a combination of exercise and diet, was kicked off in early November with daily 15-minute, one-mile wellness walks on campus. The initiative will get under way in earnest on Jan. 15, 2011, and continue through March 15 when final measurements will be taken and the cash prize awarded.
Rebecca Fernandez, a field experience coordinator in Lander's Department of Teacher Education, is among those in the program. She has set a goal of losing 25 pounds.
Missy Arrington, an employee in the university's Jackson Library, said, "I want to lose as much as possible."
Each participant has received a kit containing tips for starting the program, a 30-day meal plan and suggested exercises.
Between now and March 15, they will have opportunities to receive personal attention and information designed to keep them motivated.
Shannon said, "We will provide the support they need to help achieve their goals," and added, "Unlike network television's Biggest Loser, nobody in the Lander group will be voted out of the program."