Five months is a long time to make healthy eating choices, but in the spirit of teamwork, the Weight Warriors worked together to change their lives and lose an entire person during ADEC’s Wellness Challenge. Delmar Birkey, Anne Cripe, Cheryl Hoffman and Danielle Howard – all Direct Support Professionals at ADEC Day Services in Bristol  – lost a combined 132 pounds over a five-month period.

For the Weight Warriors, ADEC’s Wellness Challenge provided an opportunity to share lessons learned with friends and co-workers while becoming healthier, lighter versions of themselves. Each person set their own goals and entered the competition with different motivation, but they remained united in encouraging each other no matter what.

The Wellness Challenge came at a perfect time for Anne Cripe. When Anne went to the doctor before the challenge began, she was told she had to lose weight or suffer the consequences of lasting health problems. With this motivation in hand, she joined the Weight Warriors and lost so much weight her shoe size changed!

“I can’t wait to see [my doctor] again,” Anne shared with a smile.

Danielle Howard took the reins as a leader for the Weight Warriors. She and other team members really enjoyed ADEC Recruiting Specialist Laura Zalas’ helpful e-mails filled with tips throughout the challenge. To take it a step further for her own team, Danielle began compiling a motivational e-mail to send to the team after weighing in each Friday. She also kept track of weight loss and fluctuations throughout the challenge to encourage team members on how far they had come.

One advantage the Weight Warriors team had during this challenge was seeing the wheels already set in motion in Danielle and Delmar’s lives. The two of them had been working to achieve a healthy lifestyle already and served as coaches for the rest of the team. Delmar uses Herbalife, while Danielle focused on eating clean with light to moderate exercise.

“I was fortunate to have two teammates that have been working on a healthier lifestyle for a long time, so they kind of motivated me by their successes on a weekly basis,” Cheryl reflected. “I’m not gonna lie, I was the slacker of the group. My teammates did a great job encouraging me to keep going and applauding when they saw me make a wise food choice. They knew I was struggling, but didn’t get too critical . . . just maybe did a few extra miles on the treadmill for me. I was able to stick with it because I didn’t want to let my team down, as they were trying so hard. I guess that was my biggest motivator, that I didn’t want to hold them back because they were doing awesome!”

The truth is, no one was a slacker on this team, but they did a great job of holding each other accountable. They had a mutual agreement to tell each other when they made bad choices and then encourage rather than tear each other down. As a result, each person lost more than 10 pounds.

“All of us had our different factors pulling against us, but we all lost,” Danielle explained. “It was impressive . . . Don’t let the bad days get you down. It’s on the bad days you really need to sit down and say, ‘I’m doing this for me.’”

When the ADEC Wellness Challenge kicked off on January 26 with 26 teams participating, the competitive spirit around ADEC was palpable. From the start, the Shrinking Violets from Hawthorne seemed in it to win it. No team took this more to heart than the Weight Warriors.

Six weeks before the challenge ended, Danielle said her team members took matters into their own hands and pushed to win. “This team really impressed me,” Danielle said. “I’m really proud of everyone on my team. It makes me happy [to see their results].”

Having won the challenge, the Weight Warriors all received $100 gift cards to buy clothes in their new sizes! Everyone has been looking forward to updating their wardrobes. Two team members also have the added benefit of shopping at places they’ve not been able to before. Delmar can buy clothes at Walmart again, while Danielle is rediscovering the shops in the mall. As they shared their excitement about the clothes, the team laughed as they said there have been a few wardrobe malfunctions over the past few months.

As they moved down in size, Anne and Danielle decided to pay it forward by donating their larger sizes when Anne’s church collected clothes to send to the Ukraine.

Moving forward, the Weight Warriors are grateful for the clear call to action, and to the other teams at ADEC for putting their best foot forward.

“I want to recognize the teams who stuck with this,” Delmar said. “They really used this as a motivator to eat healthy and be clean, even though they didn’t have enough weigh to lose to win.”

“People weren’t just in it to lose weight,” Danielle explained. “They were in it to change their lives.”

Article by Whitney Craig | Communications Specialist

Photo Edited by Rod Tackett | Communications Specialist

A true team sticks together no matter what. Cheryl was unable to make it for the “after” photo so Rod Tackett worked his magic with Photoshop. Pictured above are (from left) Delmar Birkey, Cheryl Hoffman, Danielle Howard and Anne Cripe