HATTIESBURG – University
of Southern Mississippi faculty, staff, and students participating
in the Learn and Lose Southern Miss Weight Loss Challenge are seeing
results after spending five weeks on the program. Of the participants
who have been weighing in, a loss of 85 total pounds has been recorded
and more is expected as the program continues.
Learn and Lose is a 10-week weight loss challenge
provided through Southern Miss Student Health Services that started
at the end of February. Faculty, staff, students, and spouses participate
in weekly lectures, behavior-change activities, team support, and
weekly weigh-ins. Incentive prizes are drawn weekly and have included
donations from Barnes and Nobles at Southern Miss, Blockbuster Video,
and Healing Touch. The challenge will conclude May 5.
According to the Center for Disease Control, 41 percent
of Mississippi’s population is overweight and over 25 percent
is obese. The Learn and Lose program is designed to help fight excessive
weight and obesity in the Southern Miss and Hattiesburg community
through education and accountability.
Susan Dobson, the Health Educator at Student Health
Services assisted in developing the Learn and Lose program. Dobson
said many students have struggled with their weight for some time
and may not have the tools they need to make healthy decisions about
diet and exercise.
“I believe college is an excellent time
to teach and encourage students to make positive lifestyle decisions.
This program teaches the basics in nutrition and exercise and it
also offers students simple, practical changes they can make to
lose weight in a healthy way," she says.
Olivia McCay, registered dietitian and coordinator
of the Learn and Lose program believes the program has benefited
those who have actively participated. “Many people signed
up that weren’t quite ready to make the changes, but they
are interested,” McCay said. “Then there are those who
signed up and were actually ready to make a change. The program
gives education to those who are thinking about making changes and
gives tools to change to those ready to make changes.”
Dr. Virginia Crawford, director of Student Health
Services, is pleased with the program’s success and the loss
of 85 pounds at the half-way mark in the program. “Losing
weight is hard,” Crawford said. “I am glad that this
program is offering support and inspiration.”
McCay feels the program provides a unique approach
to weight management through a team and goal-oriented approach.
She believes motivation is a key factor in weight loss, and through
team support and accomplishing weekly goals, it can be maintained
long-term. Each week, short-term goals are set by each participant,
while keeping their long-term goals in mind.
Laura Malone, a participant in the program, says
she has been setting goals weekly. “I don't always reach every
goal but with encouragement from Olivia, my teammates and other
participants, I continue to learn and look forward,” Malone
said. “Every goal met is an accomplishment and it's celebrated.
It's been great and I already feel stronger and healthier.”
Malone also says the program is a great motivator
for her. “The program has encouraged me to try things I've
wanted to attempt for years,” she said. “I'm currently
training for a sprint triathlon.”
McCay says weight loss isn’t the only thing
participants are getting out of the program. “I’ve gotten
positive feedback from participants, not only about losing weight
but about how much they’re learning about healthy nutrition
and themselves,” McCay said.
For more information on this program, call (601)