Ten weeks ago I visited a group of women and men from Ballymagroarty who had just embarked upon a healthy weight loss programme called ‘Ballymac’s Biggest Loser’.
Countless weigh-ins and a few pairs of running shoes later and the group of more than 60 people shed over 40 stone in weight between them.
Local man Colum Melaugh was crowned ‘Ballymac’s Biggest Loser’, having lost two and a half stone inside ten weeks and the blue team won the overall team competition.
Now much slimmer and leaner, all those who took part in ‘Ballymac’s Biggest Loser’ marked the end of the course with a party in the Delacroix last Friday evening.
“It was such a worthwhile project,” said Ballymagroarty and Hazelbank Community Partnership (B.H.C.P.) Health Worker, Roxanne Nixon.
“The fact that this group has lost over 40 stone inside ten weeks is just amazing; if I had told them that at the start they’d have probably thought I was mad in the head,” said Roxanne happily.
At the start of the project all those taking part split into four teams; red, blue, black and yellow.
The blue team finished in first place with a final collective weight loss of 14.8 stone; black team - 11.7 stone; red team - 9.5 stone and yellow team - 3.2 stone.
“I think it’s fair to say that some people worked harder than others,” laughed Roxanne.
“But seriously though, although this project was all about showing people how to lose weight there was a great social side to it too.”
‘Ballymac’s Biggest Loser’ was funded by Derry City Council but Roxanne has secured funding to run another project called ‘Get Fit, Don’t Quit’.
“The main aim of the ‘Get Fit, Don’t Quit’ project is to ensure that those who took part in the Biggest Loser are able to keep the weight off and hopefully lose even more weight and get even healthier.
“We’ll be starting the ‘Get Fit, Don’t Quit’ project up again in the next few weeks but if anyone has any questions or would like to find out more about it they should contact us at the B.H.C.P. offices in Dunluce Court,” she said.
Twenty-nine year-old mum of three Pauline Daniels works part-time and looks after her three children.
Pauline, who was in the red team, managed to lose over a stone within the ten weeks but explained why she saw ‘Ballymac’s Biggest Loser’ as much more than just an opportunity to lose weight.
“Most people I know want to lose a bit of weight and I suppose that was why I went along in the beginning but it turned out to be much more than that.
“I haven’t had as much fun in a long time. The craic was brilliant and in between the meetings and the weigh-ins everyone would be on Facebook slagging one another off.
“When you’re working and looking after young children you get very little time to yourself. This course gave me that time I needed for myself and I even made a few new friends along the way too,” she smiled.
Declan Thompson is 42 years-old and when he’s not looking after his 13 year-old twin daughters and ten year-old son, he’s taking care of his wife and working for local youth organisation Extern.
Declan was in the blue team successfully shed just over 1.5 stone inside the ten weeks but explained that ‘Ballymac’s Biggest Loser’ has given him the inspiration to lead a more healthy and active lifestyle.
“I really have to tip my hat to Roxanne Nixon because although the project finished a few weeks ago, Roxanne has somehow managed to secure funding so that those who want to can continue on with running, zumba and yoga.
“It’s one thing losing weight - it’s a completely different thing entirely keeping it off.
“I was delighted with the amount of weight I lost - I injured my leg during the course which probably meant I could have lost more. I even joined a running club on the back of ‘Ballymac’s Biggest Loser’. It’s not going to stop here,” said Declan defiantly.
Local mums Aishlene McShane (30) and Melanie McCullagh (37) lost half a stone each and said one of the reasons they all lost weight was because of the help and support they received from coaches Helen McCallion, Kit McCallion, Alec Given, Tommy McCallion, Connor McBride, Daniel Quigley and Darren McCann.
“The coaches were just brilliant - we wouldn’t have been able to lose half as much as we did without their help,” said Aishlene.
“Myself and Pauline have registered to take part in the ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ event in a few weeks time so hopefully that’ll keep us fit and healthy but as soon as it’s over I will be going to the the ‘Get Fit, Don’t Quit’ course,” said mum of four Melanie.
“The way the community came together for this project was like nothing I have seen before,” said part time community worker Melanie.
“I took part in ‘Galliagh’s Biggest Loser’ last year but as soon as it was over everything just stopped. The ‘Get Fit, Don’t Quit’ programme is tackling that issue so hopefully we’ll all be able to keep the weight off,” she added.
For further information on the ‘Get Fit, Don’t Quit’ programme contact Roxanne Nixon at the B.H.C.P. offices on 028 7127 1977.