PANTS challenge inspires locals to maintain weight over holidays | SummitDaily.com

PANTS challenge inspires locals to maintain weight over holidays

Krista Driscoll
kdriscoll@summitdaily.com

The holidays are filled with friends, family, joy, excitement — cookies, candy, pies and cakes. It's pretty much the worst time possible to think about losing weight, which is why PANTS, Physical Activity Nutrition Team of Summit County, took a different approach this holiday season with PANTS Holiday Trimmings.

The group created the challenge, which started the day before Thanksgiving and ended on Jan. 2, with the idea that people not try to lose weight but, instead, maintain their weight through the holidays, said Renee Rogers, fitness coordinator for Silverthorne Recreation Center and lead organizer of the challenge.

"It was an idea that I had done previously with our employees with the town of Silverthorne," she said. "We always talked about doing a countywide challenge of some sort. We had great success with ours, and we decided to put it out to everyone within the county."

TEAM SUPPORT

“You’re coming into the first of the year feeling better.”
Renee Rogers
lead organizer of the challenge

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Friends and coworkers formed teams with inspirational names, like The Lightweights and The Thinning Blue Line, and free agents were assigned to teams of three to seven people each to provide accountability and support.

"I would consider our team a health-conscious bunch, and we saw the Holiday Trimmings program as a way to maintain that healthy lifestyle through the holidays when the temptation to eat more and exercise less is out there," said Maja Russer, of The Neighbourhood Girls, a team of co-workers from The Keystone Neighbourhood Co.

Teams started the challenge with an initial weigh-in, each member being weighed individually but all members added together to give a starting weight. The teams then weighed out on Thursday, Jan. 8, and the final weights were added together and compared with the initial weight to see which teams maintained or lost.

Rogers participated as a member of team All About the Beets, No Stuffing.

"I have to be accountable, not just for myself, but to a team," she said she told herself. "I don't want to be the one who gains weight. There were quite a few teams who lost weight because of that. I sent out weekly handouts, helpful hints like parking farther away and walking in, put music on and dance, or realistic holiday options — have a smoothie every day to fulfill your fruits and vegetables."

The challenge was self-driven, and teams could choose to communicate with one another, do activities together or just be on the team and weigh in and weigh out, Rogers said. The typical person gains 5 to 7 pounds over the holiday season, but being part of a team meant thinking about more than just your own waistline.

"We all liked that it wasn't necessarily a weight-loss strategy but just a goal to maintain, which during the holidays can be hard for people," Russer said. "Me personally, I still indulged in the occasional Christmas cookie and glass of red wine, but because we were in the competition, I was way more conscious of what I was eating and worked hard to maintain my exercise routine to make sure I was burning off the extra calories."

POSITIVE FEEDBACK

In all, 141 participants on 30 teams weighed in and out, and 21 teams maintained or lost weight. Those winners were eligible for prize drawings, $25 gift certificates for each team member to local businesses purchased with the nominal participation fee of $10, Rogers said. The program received a lot of positive feedback.

"I had a lot of verbal comments from people who felt so much better than they usually do after the holidays from moving more and eating less," she said. "You're coming into the first of the year feeling better."

Rogers said stories ranged from people who cut back from "all of the goodies" to only one or two per day, those who received boxes of cookies or candy as gifts and were motivated to re-gift them rather than eating them and officemates reminding one another about daily workouts.

"We bonded and would give one another updates on when we were being good, and we'd laugh over episodes when we fell off the wagon and just couldn't resist the extra helping of mashed potatoes or that one more Christmas cookie," Russer said.

Other comments from the post-challenge evaluation about what people liked best included "more than just diet, bonded more as a family," "knowing someone had your back and you had someone's back helping them" and "awareness and mindfulness of what I was eating." Rogers said based on the successful outcome of this year's Holiday Trimmings, she hopes to make it an annual event.

"Overall, everyone felt like they really enjoyed it and it made a difference, so that's success," she said.

Russer said she thinks her team would repeat the challenge.

"I would encourage others to participate for sure and explain that just the simplicity of keeping your health top of mind over that holiday time frame aids in maintaining that healthy lifestyle," she said. "It also kept us healthier through what is a busy time for us all at work and, I feel, forced us to fit in exercise or a healthy snack, making us more productive at work as well as keeping the extra poundage off."

Holiday Trimmings prizewinners

The nominal $10 participation fee for the PANTS Holiday Trimmings went toward prizes for four teams drawn from the 21 who successfully completed the challenge. Each team member received a $25 gift certificate to his or her choice of Breckenridge Recreation Center, Silverthorne Recreation Center, any of the local Nordic centers, Whole Foods, a FIRC cooking class or Mountain River Naturopath and Apothecary in Frisco.

• Ortho Ninjas

• KRC (Keystone Resort Center)

• Why Weight

• High Country Healthcare in Frisco

An additional prize was drawn from those teams whose members completed a post-challenge evaluation, which went to team Well, We Tried, Pass the Gravy.