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Ifugao PLGU’s Biggest Loser Challenge, towards a healthier lifestyle for gov’t workers

(PIA) — Overweight and obesity are growing health concerns in the world today. National data show that around 27 million Filipinos are overweight and obese, based on the latest survey of the Department of Science and Technology’s Food and Nutrition Research Institute.

This figure is not too far from the 2022 Annual Physical Exam of employees of the Ifugao Provincial Government Unit (PLGU) that reported weight and lifestyle related diseases as the most common health issues of PLGU workers.

Overweight and Obesity

The World Health Organization defines overweight and obesity as the abnormal or excessive accumulation of body fat, which can negatively impact health. An adult is considered overweight if their Body Mass Index (BMI) is 25 or higher, while an adult is classified as obese if the BMI is 30 or higher.

BMI is a measurement used to categorize overweight and obesity in an individual. It is calculated by dividing a person's weight in kilograms by the square of their height in meters (kg/m^2).

Participants of the Biggest Loser Challenge at the Provincial Capitol in Lagawe undergo their final weigh-in on 14 July 2023.

Studies show that individuals who are overweight or obese have a higher risk for many serious diseases and health conditions including stroke, hypertension, diabetes, coronary heart disease, gallbladder disease, osteoarthritis, sleep apnea, and breathing problems among others.

Obesity and overweight can be attributed to lifestyle and lack of support system to make healthy choices.

Biggest Loser Challenge

Hypertension, hyperuricemia, dyslipidemia, and diabetes mellitus are the top health issues that PLGU employees have. These diseases are attributed to lifestyle-related factors.

To encourage employees attain a healthier lifestyle, the Provincial Health Office (PHO) launched the Biggest Loser Challenge for local government workers.

A total of 178 obese and overweight employees of the PLGU participated in the three-month challenge that started on April 14. Participants stepped onto the scale for the initial weigh-in which is the benchmark for their progress.

The contestants underwent one-on-one assessments with PHO nutritionists to determine their ideal body weight and received personalized weight loss tips.

The PHO closely monitored their progress and conducted a midterm weigh-in on June 14. The final weigh in was done on July 14.

Zyndie Immatong,(l) the Biggest Loser Challenge winner, shed 14.4 kilograms or 19.97% reduction from her weight of 72.1 kilos during the initial weigh-in on April 14 to 57.7 kilos at the end of the three-month competition.

The Biggest Loser Wins

During the final weigh-in on July 31, Zyndie Immatong , 35 years old,  and works as a security guard at the Provincial Crisis Intervention Center under the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office, was the  biggest loser.   

Standing 5 feet and one inch, Immatong weighed 72.1 kilos during the initial weigh-in on April 14. Three months after, she now weighs 57.7 kilos, a 19.97%  or 14.4 kilos decrease from her starting weight.

Immatong shared that  the key  to her success are discipline and consistency.  She made a  decisive choice to  eliminate rice from her diet  and  embraced  a nutritious mix of vegetables and eggs. It was a difficult challenge  particularly in resisting her cravings and her rice intake, she said.

Complementing her dietary improvements, she diligently devoted time to morning and evening workouts. She highlighted the importance of consistency in her daily workout routines.

She also shared her past struggles when she was at her heaviest. She experienced difficulty in breathing, constant fatigue, and persistent body pain. These prompted her to join the  weight loss challenge.

The mother of a four-year-old boy revealed that her current weight is her fittest and healthiest form and she is determined to maintain her ideal body weight. She  said  her new weight has helped her gain more self-confidence.

Another winner is Marcela Pugong from the Office of the Provincial Accountant with a weight loss of 12.6 kg, accounting for 16.26% of her initial weight. Pugong’s starting weight in April was 77.5 kg and has achieved a healthier weight of 64.9kg.

Benalyn Lachaona, an administrative aide at Mayoyao District Hospital, earned the  third  spot with a 10.6kg reduction in weight or 14.27% weight loss.  Her journey began with a weight of 74.3 kg, and is now down to 63.7 kg.

Lachaona also revealed that her weight loss was attributed to a combination of exercise, reducing the consumption of unhealthy foods, and her determination and self-discipline. She expressed her profound gratitude to the PLGU for providing an avenue for them to lose weight.

The biggest losers received certificates of achievement and a P15,000 cash prize for the 1st placer;  P10,000  for the 2nd placer, and P5,000   for the third placer . 

Ten employees  were also awarded consolation prizes of P1,000  each for losing at least 6 to 10 kilos during the three-month challenge. 

Receiving consolation prizes are Ardenia Magciano, Carol Binwag, Yoon Sam Halupe, Karen Joy Maanao, Angie Gano, Gertrude Balonggay, Melody Bahatan, Kevin Atiwon, Catherine Jade Dangayo, and Criston Dinamaan.  

Focus on the big picture

Yvone Indunan,  Health Education Promotion Officer of the PHO, shared ten tips for achieving the ideal body weight.

She said that calorie deficit is the only way to lose weight. A person needs to burn more calories than what he or she  consumes. It is also important to limit sugary drinks and fruit juice and drink water throughout the day. Eating slowly and getting enough sleep can also help in losing weight.

Indunan emphasized focusing on changing lifestyle instead of weight loss. She encouraged both obese and underweight adults to prioritize nourishing their bodies with healthy foods and essential nutrients.

Ten (10) individuals receive consolation prizes for their notable strides in their weight loss journey. These individuals achieved a weight loss of at least 6 to 10kgs during the three-month challenge.

“You should eat to become a healthier, happier, and fitter person—not just lose weight,” said Indunan.

She also reminded the participants to take it slow as weight loss will not show  results every day and that their weights will always fluctuate.

Scale is not the only measure of progress as fat loss and weight loss are not the same. A person can lose fat, feel great but still weigh exactly the same due to increase muscularity.

“Focus on the big picture and don’t get discouraged. It’s the smallest changes that can end up making the big differences,” she said.(JDP/JJPM/FBR-PIA CAR)

About the Author

Jamie Joie Malingan

Regional Editor

Cordillera Administrative Region

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