Blown Away With 376

During March and April, we hosted Let's Lighten Up Ocean Springs, which was a free eight-week weight loss challenge in Ocean Springs, Mississippi.  We partnered with the City of Ocean Springs, Singing River Health System, and the Mississippi Gulf Coast YMCA.  

Participants were able to register and complete their initial weigh in during the week of February 29th - March 5th.  First, participants met with a registered nurse and exercise physiologist, provided by Singing River Health System, to calculate their weight and BMI.  Then, they were able to work with a registered personal trainer, provided by the YMCA, to talk about nutrition, a workout regiment and anything else they had questions on or needed advice with!  Lastly, they met with our Director, who helped them complete their registration form and gave them their packets!  All the participants received a gym bag, water bottle, healthy handouts, a daily activity calendar and even more!

We were so proud with the daily activity calendar that we were able to put together for our participants, which couldn't have been done without community support.  Our goal was to create a calendar for March and April that had different events each day that people could attend for free, which promoted health and wellness - aligning with our 5210 message.  Oh boy, was it well received by the community!  We had various organizations and people reach out to us with support who were willing to donate their time or classes!  We were able to provide numerous types of fitness classes, nutrition talks, community bikes rides, tobacco talks, ACL screenings, a bariatric program lecture, CrossFit, a foot reform class, walking programs, and yoga.  We also had a few restaurants, Mosaic Tapas Restaurant and Bar, Java Jo'z and Coffee Fusion, all offer discounts on healthy options.

Participants completed their final weigh in on April 30th.  Every person who reached or exceeded their weight loss goals was entered into a raffle to win great prizes - also donated from around the community!

Now that we've had plenty of time to analyze all of the data we collected and read though the participant's surveys, we're excited to share our findings!  Last night, we finally (and officially) wrapped up our Let's Lighten Up Ocean Springs program by giving a presentation to Mayor Connie Moran and the Board of Alderman of Ocean Springs to report all of the data collected, talk about the successes of the program, and what we want to do differently in the future.  And now, we're releasing everything to you - so you can be in the know, too!

First off, let us say that we were blown away during the initial weigh in when we had a total of 376 people come out and sign up!  To be honest, we were prepared for about 100 people and thought the program would be a success if we had 50 people for this pilot program.  You can only imagine how we were shaking with excitement when we had over 50 people come out on the first day of registration!

So, the data.  Let us hit you with some promising and exciting numbers.  

Out of the 376 people who registered, 3 were underweight, 69 normal weight, 115 overweight, and 189 obese according to their BMI calculations at the time of their initial weigh in.  All together, they pledged to lose 4,645.2 pounds!  Which averages out to about 12.35 pounds a person.  High goals!  It was great seeing people so motivated!

At the final weigh in, we had 44 people return (sounds bad, but we'll explain later).  Of those 44 people, according to their new BMI calculations, we found that 6 were normal weight, 18 overweight, and 20 obese.  All together, they lost 343.9 pounds!  Which averages out to about 8.19 pounds a person (some of the normal weigh people didn't have a weight loss goal - just wanted to maintain, so they were left out of this calculation).  We had one participant lose 26 pounds - so inspiring!  Could it get any better?  Hold on to your seat, because it does.  Six of those participants lost enough weight to drop from being obese to overweight and one participant dropped from overweight to normal.  Which is incredible.

We realize that it sounds bad that only 44 people returned for the final weigh in, but we recognize (and have been told) that this is really our own fault.  For the initial weigh ins, we held them on five different days and at different times, so it would accommodate anyone's work schedule.  However, for the final weigh in, we decided to hold it on one Saturday morning during the 1699 Weekend of Discovery in Ocean Springs.  We thought it was going to be great - one great big, final weigh in coinciding with a festival.  Well, we were wrong.  Participants were calling and emailing explaining that they would be busy or out of town that day.  On top of that, there was a 5k and a kid's fun run happening that morning - which prevented people from being able to drive or park close to where we were.  Whoops.

It's always important to evaluate any program or event you've hosted, so you can adapt and change things moving forward.  Thankfully, we had 37 of the 44 people complete a survey and they graciously answered all our questions and shared their thoughts.  We'd love to continue this event and hold it again around the same time next year in Ocean Springs, but doing a few things differently.  We will definitely not be having the final weigh in on only one, we'll structure it the same as the initial weigh ins.  Also, we got a lot of feedback how participants want a weigh in midway through the program - to check in on their progress.  We think that's a great idea!  Participants also expressed in an interest in having us touch base with them more often, such as emailing them weekly reminders and tips.  We're looking into how we can achieve that as well!

If you have any other ideas or suggestions for us, don't be afraid to share them with us in the comments - we love hearing from y'all!  Thanks for reading :)