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EDA Voyagers Lose 72 Pounds, Win ‘Biggest Loser’ Competition

Winners of the Virgin Islands government’s "Biggest Loser" competition in the St. Thomas-St. John District were announced Friday at the 3rd Annual Health and Wellness Expo, where they were presented with their $5,000 prize.

Coach Will Roberts, who ran bootcamps at 5 a.m. and 6 p.m. twice weekly for the St. Thomas competitors, announced the results at the end of the day-long expo at the University of the Virgin Islands’ St. Thomas campus.

“We concentrated on nutrition, exercise and also overall well-being,” Roberts said during his introduction.

The winning team of five, the EDA (Economic Development Authority) Voyagers, lost a total of 72 pounds. Team members Tamra Graham, Dorene Louis and Joy Penn were present at the expo to accept their giant-sized check for $5,000. While Louis went to Roberts’ early morning workouts, Graham said she attended the afternoon bootcamps.

“It was a lot of work, but we stuck together,” Graham said as she held up the check.

Supporting Roberts’ introduction, Louis and Graham both said that while they adjusted their diets and made lifestyle changes, the most important ingredient in their team’s success was support.

“We encouraged each other … like we brought snacks to work,” Louis said.

In support of the EDA Voyagers’ efforts, Roberts presented each member with a $200 gift certificate for personal training with his company, Will Power.

To sweeten their victory even further, Personnel Director Kenneth Hermon Jr. challenged one of the team members to a plank-off. If Hermon lost, the EDA Voyagers would win five days of administrative leave, or as the director said, “A week’s vacation.” A plank is a core-engagement stability exercise wherein a person supports her body weight on either her hands or her forearms in a push-up position, keeping her back and legs straight and level.

Penn took Hermon up on his challenge as bystanders gathered around to shout out support for Penn and friendly trash talk to Hermon. After an impressive two minutes and 32 seconds, Hermon collapsed and Penn emerged victorious while the crowd cheered.

Team Determined Divas took second in the St. Thomas-St. John District, with a combined weight loss of 68 pounds, while Team Hope came in third place by losing 64 pounds. St. Thomas-St. John District teams lost a total of nearly 800 pounds. St. Croix represented strongly, too, shedding roughly 600 pounds.

The weight-loss competition began on June 9, with final weigh-ins on Aug. 29. The competition consisted of 51 teams of five people across all three islands, for a total of roughly 255 competitors.

Roberts said he looks forward to doing the program again and is proud of the winning teams and all the government employees who participated in the challenge. Although she was not on the winning team, Roberts also mentioned Joycelyn Hodge, whose significant weight loss during the three-month challenge resulted in such a drastic difference in her blood pressure that her doctor took her off her high blood pressure medication.

The government’s H.E.A.L.T.H. (Helping Employees Achieve Long Term Health) initiative held expos on St. John and St. Croix earlier in September. Keeping with the goal of long-term health, the expos offered free screenings for blood pressure, cholesterol, body mass index and glucose testing. The expos were limited to insured employees and retirees of the government.

The expos included guest speakers, healthy cooking lessons, fitness challenges and health-related products, as well as the screenings. Local health-focused businesses and health care providers offered samples of products, massages and chiropractic adjustments. Attendees could also learn from and sample food by executive chef Ashley Allen, get their influenza shots or take a Wii hula-hoop challenge.

For more information on the government’s HEALTH initiative, including upcoming events, visit http://www.dopusvi.org/gvihealth “HEALTH & Wellness.”

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