Health Team

UNC Hospitals staff participate in weight-loss challenge

Posted August 25, 2010 5:30 p.m. EDT
Updated August 25, 2010 6:21 p.m. EDT

— When a person enters the UNC Hospitals Stroke Center, the first thing they see is a poster about stroke symptoms and causes - plaque buildup in the arteries, which can lead to clots that could break off and block blood and oxygen to the brain.

The poster inspired staff to get serious about a hospital-wide weight loss challenge.

“We did it for 12 weeks, so that's a long time to keep up that change,” UNC nurse Sonya Lester said. “One of the reasons why we did it for 12 weeks was to make it a habit.”

Lester was especially inspired by fellow nurse Derrick Brown.

“He came in every day rubbing it all in our faces how much weight he lost,” she said.

“Everyone was against me, so, of course, I had to represent,” said Brown, a former Marine.

Brown, who shed 24 pounds, lost more weight, but Lester lost a larger percentage of her total body fat.

Now, they believe they can help patients and visitors do more to help prevent strokes.

“We're telling them how to do it rather than just telling them they need to do it,” Lester said.

Brown said he lost weight by having five servings of vegetables and eight glasses of water a day. “Once I started doing that, I wasn’t hungry for anything else,” he said.

Brown also got regular exercise, often in the hospital’s gym.

Lester said lunches were a challenge because they only have 30 minutes to eat.

“If you go up to the cafeteria and end up getting what's fast – that's something usually that's unhealthy,” she said.

So, Lester usually packed a healthy lunch from home.

The stroke ward staff members at UNC are continuing their weight loss challenge.