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'The Biggest Loser' comes to Screven
Middle, high teachers create own challenge
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      SYLVANIA - Inspired by NBC's popular reality show "The Biggest Loser," Screven County Middle teachers initiated their very own weight-loss competition.
      While many folks proclaim New Year's resolutions but quickly lose sight of them, Brenda Griner, an eighth grade language arts teacher, said the contest has created an atmosphere of motivation among teachers at the middle school - one that encourages follow-through.
      Griner recalled a conversation after Christmas when several middle school teachers were discussing their post-holiday-eating blues and how they could rectify the situation.
      "Someone suggested the idea of having a ‘Biggest Loser' competition" based on the television show, she said, where people are challenged to lose the most weight.
      The idea caught on at the high school as well, where John McAfee, special education teacher, football and track coach, organized a similar contest for Screven High employees.
      Participants weighed in on Jan. 5, Griner said, to record their starting weight. At the end of the three-month competition, a final weigh-in date to determine the winner is set for April 1, Griner said, noting the added humor and irony of it being April Fool's Day.
      A winner from the middle school and high school will be named based on a percentage of total body weight lost.
      Aside from boosting self-image and confidence and just becoming healthier people, participants have their eye on another prize.
      Everyone who entered the contest added $15 to a pool of money. The "Biggest Loser" takes home their school's entire pot of green.
      Two men from each school braved the odds to join in the weight-loss challenge, Griner said, with a total of 29 contestants.
      "We talk about it at lunch and spur each other on," Griner said.
      In addition to encouraging one another over lunch, the contest has sparked support and encouragement from around the school, said one participant, Christie Durrence, eighth grade language arts teacher.
      For example, Bridgett Mixon, middle school agriculture teacher, encourages contestants in their exercise and weight loss goals by offering a Zumba class on Wednesday afternoons.
      "Everyone responds to different motivational techniques," said Marlene Harris, another middle school teacher and contestant.
      Some teachers are using the South Beach diet, some Weight Watchers, and some are cutting carbohydrates from their diet, she said.
      Nicole Peeples, eighth grade language arts, used a fasting exercise at her church to help jump start her "biggest loser" goals.
      "No one has brought donuts to the break room so far this year," said Harris.
      McAfee said by offering a similar challenge at the high school, he wanted to promote that same health-driven atmosphere.

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