Bogside’s Big Losers!

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There’s Mission Slimpossible, the Slimpsons, the Jelly Bellies the Diet Divas and more. All in all, 110 participants eager to get their hands on a hefty £500 prize fund are taking part in the search for the Triax area’s ‘Biggest Loser.’

The project is being run by the Bogside and Brandywell Health Forum in conjunction with alcohol awareness group DIVERT, who are determined to get people in their area to bin the concept of binge.

According to DIVERT project worker Paula Dalton, when it comes to a lifetime on the hips, alcohol is just as big an offender as many calorie filled foods.

That’s why, she says, her organisation have chosen to get on board with the high profile campaign which hopes to get people in the Bogside, Brandywell and Creggan areas to adapt a more healthy attitude to food, alcohol and keeping fit.

Since a call was put out for teams a few weeks ago, 110 participants have now signed up for the ‘Biggest Loser’ competition where they’ll battle it out in teams of five, against one another, to see who can lose the biggest percentage of body fat.

“We’ve been bowled over by the response,” says Paula.

“The local community here in the Bogside have really taken this on and every one of the participants is totally committed to attending as many of the exercise classes as they can. For us here at DIVERT, this is about early intervention and encouraging people to ‘bin the binge’ when it comes to alcohol. A lot of the time, people don’t realise how many calories there are in food, and then there’s the fact that after drinking on a night out, most people tend to get a takeaway on the way home which is more binge and the Biggest Loser competition is about addressing that,” she says.

Paula believes the project is an example of the kind of early intervention which can change peoples attitudes towards drinking.

“We have participants aged between 16 and 50 taking part and for us it’s a chance to give people the information about the hidden harm with alcohol and the effects they might not be aware of. The brilliant thing is that this is done in a friendly, non preaching atmosphere where everyone takes part, In the different teams we have staff members from DIVERT and other organisations taking part as well so no one is preaching to anyone else. For us, it’s about being innovative in the way we send our message out.”

Paula says some of those taking part in the ten week fitness drive have already made positive changes to their lifestyle.

“We have one woman who says she sat and had a glass of coke while others at the table were drinking wine and that she had just as good a night. We hope that will encourage other people and we want to get a bit of education in there as well. For example, people often don’t know that you should never go to the gym with a hangover. Sometimes people think that would be a good idea to feel better, but it’s actually bad for their health doing that.

“The key with the Biggest Loser is to get people thinking about the effect alcohol consumption is having on their health and to try and change attitudes. We’re also using the fantastic local resource of the Gasyard Field with the help of personal trainers Chris Hamilton, Conor McBride, Paul Doherty and David Doherty to help people get fit and stay fit. We’re delighted so many people have become involved and it really helps get our message out there.”

The winning ‘Biggest Loser’ team will be crowned and given their £500 prize money on August 15 as part of the Gasyard Feile. Look out in local press for details.