A Good Time to Lose

By Melissa Face

An e-mail message was sent out to see if there was any interest in a faculty-wide weight loss competition. I deleted it. I had many reasons for not wanting to participate: too time consuming, too costly, too personal. My weight was not something I planned to discuss with my co-workers. It just didn’t feel right.

After the first e-mail message, there was another. Several teachers had signed up, but the group leader was recruiting more. I heard co-workers chatting about weight loss goals and tips. It was the main topic of discussion in the English and History departments.

“Have you signed up for Prince George Biggest Losers?” a co-worker asked.

“No, I haven’t. I don’t really have the time for that right now,” I lied.

Really? The time? The more I thought about it, the more ridiculous it sounded. I was declining the opportunity to improve my health because I didn’t have time for a weekly weigh-in and a brief meeting. I was starting to re-think my decision.

My friend, Anna, and I were walking to the faculty lounge to get some coffee when she told me she had decided to join the group.

“Have you thought about it?” she asked. “We could be weigh-in buddies. It might be fun.”

Talking with Anna made me realize that I had not seen all of the potential benefits of joining. At the end of our discussion, I returned to my work area and fired off an e-mail to the gym teacher, our weight loss group leader. After all, what did I have to lose? Well, about twenty-five pounds to be exact.

“Ms. Gilbert, please add me to the list of participants. I will be at the first meeting next Friday.”

Ms. Gilbert made folders for all of the participants that contained charts for weight and measurements as well as some tips for healthy eating and exercise. At our first meeting, we recorded our initial weight and discussed the rules of the program. We would weigh in each Friday morning with our partners. We would pay two dollars per week for sixteen weeks. There would be a weekly cash prize awarded as well as two grand prizes, one for the most pounds lost and one for most inches.

I didn’t make too many immediate changes to my diet. I just quit eating late night snacks, switched to diet sodas and drank black coffee.

At the first official weigh-in, I recorded a loss of eight and a half pounds. I was quite pleased. I was even happier when I found out that was the week’s biggest loss, and I was taking home twenty-five dollars.

As the weeks went by, I continued making small changes to my diet. I drank more water, ate more salads, decreased the size of my dinner and avoided second helpings. I wasn’t losing weight quickly; but I also didn’t feel like I was suffering. That was important to me. If I gave up too much too quickly, I was afraid I might become frustrated and quit.

A few weeks in to the program, co-workers began commenting on my appearance.

“Those pants are sagging off your behind,” one lady said. “It’s about time for you to go shopping for some new clothes.”

I thanked her graciously for the compliment. It felt great to have my hard work noticed by someone other than immediate family. I was encouraged by the positive comments, and I continued down my path of exercise and better eating.

About a month later, I won the weekly competition a second time. At that point, I had lost a total of twelve pounds. It was a little victory between the scale and me. So I kept on going.

I was steadily losing weight, and I could feel myself becoming more confident. My tummy wasn’t protruding, and my double chin was starting to realize it no longer owned a spot on my face.

And in addition to my personal loss, I was also enjoying being a cheerleader for co-workers. We congratulated one another in the hallways and shared our success stories. I felt connected to others as we continued working towards a common goal.

The middle of December finally arrived, and it was time for our final weigh-in. I didn’t lose anything that week – not a single pound. I also didn’t gain. But I knew that no loss would badly hurt my chance of an overall win.

I was not the school’s biggest loser. I lost a total of nineteen pounds but there were three other people who lost more. I was happy for them. Everything about the experience had been positive, and I was really glad I had participated.

When school opened after winter break, an e-mail was sent out to see if there was any interest in a second weight loss competition. I didn’t waste any time making that decision. After all, what did I have to lose? Honestly, about ten more pounds. And what did I stand to gain? More self-confidence, friendships and improved health.

I signed up right away.

About this writer

  • Melissa FaceMelissa Face lives in southern Virginia with her husband, son and daughter. Her stories and essays have appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul and Cup of Comfort. Email Melissa at writermsface@yahoo.com.

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One Response to “A Good Time to Lose”

  1. Kim says:

    Great story, Melissa!

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