Local assisted living facility employees start friendly weightloss competition
Executive director Melinda Hawkins (right) and several members of the Hawthorne Court staff are holding their own

Employees at Hawthorne Court, an Ahwatukee Foothills assisted living facility for Alzheimer's disease and dementia patients, started a friendly competition in January after enjoying a few too many sweets during the holiday season. "We were all talking about the fact that we needed to go on a diet, and one of our employees, Ruth (Zanorik), mentioned we should do our own Biggest Loser," Hawthorne Court executive director Melinda Hawkins said. "Christmas was horrible around here with residents' family members bringing food in, and the dining staff is just excellent." On Jan. 7, 14 employees made a 12-week commitment to an internal biggest loser competition. Employees weigh in and graph their weight loss once a week, just as cast members on the popular NBC reality television show do. "Each one of us has a different plan," Hawkins said. "I lost 40 pounds four years ago on Weight Watchers, so I'm going to go with that again." Zanorik is also following Weight Watchers, counting points and eating frozen meals to keep calories in check. Nurse Tracey Roe is avoiding fast food and opting for more nutritious choices. She also dropped soft drinks all together. "Getting past the first week is horrible, but it gets easier," activity director Avril Sanders said. "Our kitchen has seen a whole lot less of us lately." Employee Tom Raines is participating in Hawthorne Court's Biggest Loser competition not only to lose weight, but improve a previously existing health condition. "I had a medical condition in April that opened my eyes," Raines, who used to consume three 64-ounce Mountain Dew beverages daily, said. "Since then I've lost 40 pounds. This competition is motivation to continue what I'm already doing." As an additional incentive, each contestant donates $2 to a community bank each week. At the end of the 12 weeks, the biggest loser will take home $336. "Our motivation is that so many of our staff members are participating," Hawkins said. "It's great for our team here."

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