Counting the pounds

Published 12:11 am Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The staff of United Mississippi Bank spent the last six month counting 20s — not dollars, pounds.

Twenty-eight employees participated in a weight-loss contest modeled after television’s “The Biggest Loser.”

The final weigh-in was Friday.

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Collectively, they lost 275 pounds and the winning team, out of three, lost 129 pounds.

This challenge was the brainchild of Debbie Boykin, operations manager.

“It started off with selfish motives at first because I wanted to lose weight,” Boykin said.

The participants put $5 into the pool each month for the weigh-in. Whoever had lost the most weight that month was awarded the $140.

“Sometimes they’d have to split it because there would be a tie,” Boykin said.

With the bank matching funds and Blue Cross Blue Shield representative Fred Parker giving $200 for the final pot, Boykin said $2,580 would be distributed among the winning teams members.

The biggest loser got $340 and the winning team got $840 to split.

But winner or not, participants still got money.

“Everyone participating got $50 a piece just for participating,” Boykin said.

And the health benefits were well worth it, too.

“It’s been a lifestyle change,” Boykin said. “One girl got taken off her blood pressure medication. The health benefits have been great.”

Boykin said she was never a winner but was pleased despite that.

“I lost 30 pounds and didn’t win a dollar, but I lost the weight,” she said.

The contest allowed participants to choose how they would lose the weight.

“Fortunately, nobody took any diet pills,” she said.

Many of the participants used Weight Watchers and plain old exercise to achieve their goals.

A yoga class was offered at the bank and many people took their lunch breaks to walk around the building.

Lynn Case was the biggest loser, losing 34.2 pounds, a stunning 21 percent of her body mass.

She said she did it through Weight Watchers and yoga.

Most importantly, though, she had her team to encourage her.

“We did it as a team, not individually and it was fun,” Case said.

She said her weight loss was steady and never hit any plateaus or suffered fluctuations.

Boykin said the bank was supportive and wants this to be done next year.

“It was a win-win for the bank,” Bank President Sammy Porter said.