"This was good for our employees and good for the company, because if our employees are healthier, it will help keep our absences down," said Francis Smith, Justin Boot plant manager. "With this incentive more people were motivated to be healthier. We hope even more people will want to be involved next time."
Each person who participated in the Biggest Loser competition was required to pay a $5 entry fee, said Martin Krallman, who partnered with Brenda Pitts to organize the contest.
"I lost 105 pounds, so this is something that I care about," said Krallman. "I started talking to people and everyone was excited about the idea. We had open enrollment for the contest and around 50 people entered."
Justin Boot matched the employees' entry fees by adding $250 in prize money to the contest pot. Additional prizes were donated by several area businesses.
"Brenda volunteered to oversee the weigh-ins, which we had each week," said Krallman. "We recorded how much each employee lost and the percentage of their weight loss and posted the weekly winners on the outside of the first aid room."
Participants also posted healthy recipes and workout tips to help motivate their fellow competitors, said Krallman.
Over the 12-week period, which began on May 7 and ended July 31, the Biggest Loser competitors lost a total of 326 pounds. On July 31, Justin Boot awarded cash prizes to the top three Biggest Loser contestants.
Rod Mattingly was the overall winner. He lost 44 pounds or 22.11 percent of his total body weight.
"I decided that I was not going to go over a 36-inch waist," said Mattingly. "Giving up my Pepsi was the most challenging part of the contest. I also gave up sweets and the second helping at supper, and drank lots of water."
Jamie Foster earned second place in the weight-loss contest. She lost 38 pounds, which was 20.76 percent of her total weight.
"I wanted to make myself healthier for my kids," said Foster. "It was hard walking in the heat. I walked five miles a day and I have an Ab Lounger that I used. I really feel better about myself now."
Third place went to Pitts, who lost 26 pounds or 17.68 percent of her body weight during the competition. This brought Pitts' total weight loss to 104 pounds.
"I missed my goal by one pound," said Pitts. "I wanted a healthier life. I feel better now, and it is easier to move around with a few less pounds."
Mattingly, Foster and Pitts said that their biggest motivation throughout the competition was each other.
"Brenda started out like a rocket, and we were all chasing her," said Mattingly. "Then Jamie took over, and we were chasing her. We all wanted to beat each other."
Between sharing weight-loss tips and working out together, many Justin Boot employees developed a stronger friendship, said Krallman.
"This really brought our employees closer and helped them learn a lot about fitness," said Krallman. "This was a bigger success than I ever thought it would be. A lot of people put a lot of work into it."
Krallman said that the company plans to host the weight-loss competition annually. New ideas will be implemented during future contests.
"Francis is encouraging us to develop some new ideas," said Krallman. "We might try to work in teams or have one plant compete against the other to get more people involved next time.
"A lot of people here have went down the road of weight loss, and it is very important to them," said Krallman. "It makes a huge difference in your life and in the way you feel and act."
To further promote health in the work place, Justin Boot plans to host a health fair for its Cassville employees in October.