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Wrap-up event celebrates better health for every body

November 18, 2007|By MARIE GILBERT

HALFWAY - Several months ago, Nina Dutrow told herself she needed to make some changes in her life.

A diabetic with high blood pressure, she wasn't eating the right foods, avoided physical activity and had a hard time losing those few extra pounds.

But now, she has a new image and a new attitude.

She's lost weight, follows a healthier diet and does something she never thought she would do - she exercises.

"Within a six-week period, I've become a new person," the Mercersburg, Pa., woman said. "And it was actually fun."

Dutrow was among about 750 people who participated in the Health for Every Body Challenge, a community awareness campaign designed to promote healthier lifestyles.

The program was sponsored by the Nutrition and Physical Activity Partnership of Washington County (NAPA), a coalition of local organizations that is making a coordinated community effort to reduce obesity and obesity-related diseases among area residents.

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Participants signed up for the free program and formed teams with the hope of improving their health.

Each week, participants earned points for consuming U.S. federal dietary serving recommendations for fruits and vegetables. They also earned points for drinking water and incorporating more physical activity into their daily routines.

On Saturday at Valley Mall, the Health for Every Body Challenge held a wrap-up event, with displays by local health organizations, healthy cooking tips and exercise demonstrations.

The challenge's top two winning teams also were announced. Taking first place was Team Rocket from Washington County Hospital with 40.7 points, and placing second was Fitness Fanatics from Cedar Ridge Children's Home with 40.4 points.

Receiving honors for the most improved team was TOPS MD462 of Smithsburg with 36.3 points.

Each winning team received prizes donated by area businesses and organizations.

Becki Weir, health outreach coordinator with Washington County Hospital, which is a member of NAPA, said that by looking at team results, the challenge proved that eating smart, moving more and drinking water does work in improving a person's health.

"We wanted to target everybody, regardless of social status, age, size, gender or ethnicity," she said. "We wanted to show that by taking small steps, you can adopt a healthier lifestyle."

"I thought it would be much more difficult," said Dutrow, who was team captain of Bottoms Up, a group of employees from Endoscopy Center at Robinwood. "But we encouraged each other, made some major changes in our lifestyles and, hopefully, will continue to stay on the healthy track."

Fellow team member Sonnia Tracy said her job requires her to be on her feet all day, which often resulted in lower back pain and lack of energy.

Now, she said, she's eating better, goes for a walk every day with her dog and has improved her stamina.

Bo Myers, director of athletics and leisure studies at Hagerstown Community College, participated in the challenge "because as a member of NAPA, I thought it was important to lead by example."

"Anything any one of us can do to promote good health, anything we can do to mobilize the community to get involved is important," he said.

Because of the success of the six-week program, Weir said a second challenge already is being discussed.

"We'll probably tweak it," she said. "Maybe next time, we'll do a healthy kids challenge."

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