Faculty members are weighing in.

Today, Jan. 31, as part of Goshen College’s “Biggest Loser” competition, faculty will step on the scale as a part of a program that will provide incentive to get in shape this semester.

"The Biggest Loser Competition is just a fun way to motivate me to make progress over the coming two months,” said Michael Sherer, director of information technology and a Wellness Committee member.

This contest is open to all Goshen College employees and is meant to improve wellness screening numbers. The posters plastered on many campus bathroom stalls announce “$500 in prizes.”

Mandatory health screenings for GC employees began two years ago. Five different areas are measured in the screening: cholesterol, blood pressure, glucose, body mass index and nicotine.

After initial screenings, each employee must set goals to help them improve in these areas.  According to the GC Wellness Page, employees who don’t participate are required to pay 20 percent of their health care premium.

Leslie Miller, assistant professor of art and a Wellness Committee member, explained that the contest is designed to “help people achieve their goals and give them the catalyst to start.”

To promote student innovation and respect employees’ time, an informatics co-curricular created a web app that allows participants to sign in with their GC username, put in their initial weight and sign up for a team.  Employees may also request encouraging e-mails and weigh-in reminders.

“For most of the students, this was their first serious web app, so it’s cool that it’s actually going to get used right away,” Sherer said.

Sherer and Miller both agree that this contest is as much about team spirit and “positive peer pressure” as it is about individual health.  Not only did students work together to create an app, but participants are working in teams to cheer each other on and hold each other accountable.

The Goshen College wellness web page explained that “the biggest incentive to participating in this program is better health that will improve the quality life for each person.” Miller added that her incentive for helping develop this contest was because she loves “seeing people get excited about weight loss.”

Even the faculty and employees who aren’t participating can be found at the Recreation-Fitness Center doing Zumba, using elliptical machines or running around the track with their children.  The wellness page provides handouts from Bravo Wellness explaining the benefits, both financially and physically, of creating and meeting fitness goals, a form of incentive for employees not participating.

Whether the contestants are trying to be healthier, stick to their New Year’s resolution or meet goals at screenings, there’s no incentive like good old-fashioned competition.

The first weigh-in is today, Jan. 31, and Sherer is ready to get moving.  “Odds are good that along the way, we’ll learn something from each other and be inspired by one another’s success,” said Sherer. “I look forward to that.”