Liberty County School System staff is trying to set a great example for students when it comes to living a healthy life by competing in L.I.V.E. Well, Liberty County’s employee health-and-wellness program, to lose weight and adopt healthier habits.
One educator in particular has enjoyed tremendous success with the program and plans to continue the lifestyle changes she made as part of the initiative.
Snelson-Golden Middle School science teacher Deborah Dubinsky, a 2013 challenge participant, lost 130 pounds in about a year by eating more fruits and vegetables, increasing her water intake, walking and cutting out sweets.
“This program has been a lifesaver,” Dubinsky said. “I’m sure that I, like my mother, would have died a young death from morbid obesity.”
Lewis Frasier Middle School implemented the wellness challenge in spring 2012, and 48 of the 67 staffers competed. The following fall, all 13 county schools took part in the program, Lewis Frasier Middle School nurse Peggy Rayman said. Middle and high schools competed against each other, while elementary schools competed against other elementaries.
“The young people we are educating now will be the first generation that will not live longer than their parents,” Rayman said. “We need to set an outstanding example for our students in the area of wellness.”
In 2013, the challenge again expanded to fire departments, the police, city hall and county offices.
That fall, as part of their healthy challenge, employees from the school system, city and county offices, and Liberty Regional Medical Center participated in the Walk Georgia program sponsored by the University of Georgia, Rayman said. This program differed from the original eight-week initiative. Liberty County participants logged their minutes of physical activity or walking for 12 weeks. The miles they traveled were translated to distance navigated on a map of Georgia. State facts and ways to improve health were provided when participants logged their distances.
“This is a fun initiative,” Rayman said. “As you track your progress, you learn about Georgia as you go.”
This spring, Rayman said, they went back to the L.I.V.E. Well challenge that Liberty County Human-Resource Director Laura Troutman designed in 2012 for county employees. This year’s initiative, which started Feb. 3, challenges participants to lose weight in eight weeks without diet pills or other weight-loss medication. Three weigh-ins will track the staff members’ progress, and they will earn points by eating healthy, exercising and drinking water.
Dubinsky said she tried many diet plans before, but nothing worked. She said her eating habits were poor, and she lived a sedentary lifestyle.
“The healthy challenge is not a diet, it is a way of life,” she said. “This program is just plain, old healthy eating and exercise — no gimmicks, no pills, no fad diets.”
Now, one year later, Dubinsky has dropped 20 dress sizes and jogs 4 to 5 miles a day. She has come a long way since last February, when she started walking her school’s hallways after school for exercise with Melanie Carrier, a career development teacher at Snelson-Golden. Having a buddy motivated Dubinsky to stick with the program.
“We were accountable to each other, and we motivated each other daily,” she said. For both women, the hardest challenge in the program was exercising.
“I had a pretty sedentary lifestyle, and the thought of exercising every day was more than I could take,” Carrier said. “But with Deborah Dubinsky’s encouragement, and the success of the pounds coming off, I became excited with the way I felt.”
Carrier has lost 63 pounds since she began participating in the challenge last February. The compliments she gets for her noticeable weight loss have kept her committed long after the eight-week challenge ended. Both women plan to continue the healthy challenge for the rest of their lives.
“I never miss a workout,” Carrier said. “If I can do it, anyone can.”