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Posted by Emily Littman, Jul 10, 2009.
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July 10, 2009

Morris residents lose 2,600 pounds


PARSIPPANY — Susan Graziano said the readout on the scale feature on her Nintendo Wii was the final straw that pushed her to lose weight.

"It weighs you, and it's like 'Oh wow, you are over 200 pounds,' " Graziano said. 

Graziano decided to participate in "Toxic Waistlines," a 100-day weight loss competition sponsored by the Mayors Wellness Campaign and National Strategies to Overcome and Prevent Obesity Alliance.

"Our goal was to help give these people the incentive and the resources to not only change their lives now, but to continue on this healthier lifestyle for the rest of their lives," said Emily Littman, director of the Mayors Wellness Campaign. 

Fourteen Morris County towns participated in the pilot project, which began on March 1 and ended during the first week of June. Though roughly 500 individuals entered the competition only 264 returned for the final weigh-in.

"You had to be motivated," said Michele Sylvin, an aid to Mayor Michael Luther. Morris participants — the ones who persevered — collectively lost 2,617.56 pounds and 622.25 inches off their waistlines.

Thursday, the three individuals who lost the highest percentages of their body weights were each awarded $1,000 at the Parsippany Library.

Robert Zanfino of Lincoln Park was the first-place winner, losing 28 percent of his body weight — 54.5 pounds and 13 inches.

He said he exercised — running, jumping rope, bicycling, hitting a punching bag, and weight-lifting — and changed his diet, cutting his salt and sugar intake and eliminating empty calories.

"I feel like my body is efficient and that it's the way I'm supposed to be," Zanfino said. 

Roberta Wassenfeld of Parsippany came in second, losing 24 percent of her body weight — 52 pounds and 9 inches.

Graziano was the third-place winner, losing 36.4 pounds and 5.5 inches. She has lost more than 60 pounds since she started her weight loss in January, she said.

Parsippany had 129 people complete the competition, giving the town the highest participation rate and the most collective weight lost.

The Mayors Wellness Campaign provided scales and tape measures for the weigh-ins. The campaign also created a Web site with nutrition tips, recipes and weight-loss help, and held a mid-point motivation seminar at the College of St. Elizabeth.

Some towns became more involved, offering fitness classes and activities for "Toxic Waistlines" participants. For instance, Parsippany held three nutrition seminars with a nutritionist from ShopRite and Morris Plains held group walks.

"I think obesity is rampant in the United States," said Robert Heiser, president of the Morris Plains Board of Health. "Anything that we can do encourage people to lose weight or to lose inches around their circumference . . . is a good thing to do."


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