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Getting healthy, pound by pound
West side event encourages nutrition, exercise
Westside health pic1
Members of Patterson Health and Fitness gym stand together on a giant scale outside of the 2011 Healthy Choices Summit in Newman on Thursday. The team hopes to lose more total pounds than their competitors and earn the title of Biggest Losers in the West Side Health Care Advisory Task Force competition. - photo by ANDREA GOODWIN/ The Journal

The West Side Health Care Advisory Task force kicked off their annual Healthy Choices Summit with a weigh in ceremony on a giant scale. Teams of 10 participants stood together on the scale to calculate their overall weight. The teams will exercise and make healthy eating choices over the next eight weeks to drop pounds and compete for the title of “Biggest Loser.”

This is the third year that the Healthy Choices Summit has included a biggest loser style competition. The competition is not affiliated with the television show by the same name, and the format is a little different. The teams will compete for the highest total number of pounds lost as a group.

The City of Gustine and the Newman/ Crows Landing School District are the previous winners of the competition. Groups from west side school districts, gyms, civic clubs and the cities of Newman, Patterson and Gustine all formed teams this year. Team members had varied reasons for joining the weight loss competition — everything from health concerns to getting in shape for a special event.

“I’m getting married in December, so I thought this would be fun and good motivation,” said Natalie Lawrence, a member of the Patterson Health and Fitness team.

The Biggest Loser weigh in was the kick-off event for the Healthy Choices Summit. The summit included information booths, a healthy lunch, and lectures from Dr. John Walker, public health officer for Stanislaus County.

The West Side Health Care Advisory Task Force was created primarily to increase access to medical care in the west side areas of Stanislaus and Merced counties. Jim De Martini, county supervisor of west side District 5, said that an added focus of the task force is to promote healthier life styles.

“Obesity, diabetes and heart disease are far too rampant in our community. We have to keep pressing forward in promoting healthy lifestyles,” De Martini said.

The cities of Patterson, Newman and Gustine are actively participating in promoting healthier lifestyles. Patterson Parks and Recreation offers free hiking, biking and kayaking expeditions. Adrienne Chaney, director of Parks and Recreation for the City of Patterson, said the recreation areas in the west side offer unique opportunities for outdoor exercise.

“If you enjoy exercising, you tend to be healthier,” Chaney said.

The healthy changes in the lives of Biggest Loser participants will be the deciding factor in their weight loss goals. Participants will weigh in again in October to mark their progress and declare a winner.

“It really is our turn to win,” said De Martini, who is a member of the Patterson team.

To contact Andrea Goodwin, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2003.