Weight-loss challenge brings fear, anticipation 

Joyce Cornelison and her daughter, Erin Barrett, giggled with excitement as they moved from one station to the next in the Clark Middle School cafeteria on a recent Saturday morning.

They were about to embark on a journey, and whether it be out of anticipation or fear — or maybe a little bit of both — neither of them could keep the smile from her face.

"This is going to keep me focused," Cornelison said. "This is going to be accountability for me. It will make me responsible, and my ultimate goal is just to feel better."

The mother-daughter duo had joined up with three friends and entered the Lincoln High School weight-loss challenge, which ends April 14 with an official weigh-out.

Cornelison and Barrett had just had their "before" photos taken and were making their way to get their measurements taken. Next on the list was a body composition analysis done by Dr. Richard Snider with Back2Health, 1830 Hart St. Then, they were on their own to make the right choices over the next three months, ones that would lead to a lower figure on the scale.

"I just need to get in shape, be healthier," Cornelison. "I'm getting older, so I need this. And maybe it will keep me from hitting the chocolate and peanut butter before I go to bed."

Barrett said she decided to join with her mother because life as a college student in St. Louis had added to what she considered to be "sedentary" lifestyle.

"This will hold me accountable," she said. "So maybe when I get home from school, even though I'm tired, I'll fix myself something healthy to eat instead of throwing something junky into the microwave.

"And maybe I won't skip that walk either."

Janis Hert and Tricia Hall, both teachers at LHS, teamed up and are hosting the community-wide weight loss program after holding a successful one for teachers last year.

Participants paid $25 to register, and half the proceeds raised will go toward the Lincoln Athletic Department. The winning team will split the other half.

Overall male and female winners also will be chosen, each winning a free 90-day pass to the YMCA, the event's co-sponsor, and $100.

The first weigh-in was from 9 a.m. to noon at Clark Middle School's cafeteria — another followed at 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. — and with an hour still left in the first session, more than 100 people had already come through to weigh-in.

"I'm extremely excited," said Hert as she helped one of the weight-loss candidates sample a meal-replacement shake. "We've all had so much fun today, and the people are just as excited about it. I'm just overwhelmed at the amount of people we've had through here today."

Each team, which had to have five members, had to include either a Lincoln student or an employee, current or retired, with the Vincennes Community School Corp.

And in an effort to support the high school's athletic department — and each other — all seven members of the VCSC school board decided to form a team and see how much weight they could lose.

"Personally, I need to lose some weight," said board member Melissa Turner just after having her measurements taken and recorded. "But also, we all just think this is a great fundraiser.

"This is something so important nowadays, and we want to be role models for the students," she said. "And anything that brings us together as a part of a team, working toward a goal, that's going to make us better."

Nearby, Shawn Cardinal was just anxious to get started. After a couple of health scares, she was ready to get healthy again. And a community-wide weight-loss program to hold her accountable was just the ticket, she thought.

"It's just time to get in shape," she said matter-of-factly. "And it's more fun doing it as a part of a group. Things like this seem to be so popular, and today definitely looks to be a success."

Ali Hill, a senior at Lincoln, was weighing-in as a part of senior girls all anxious to look better this summer.

"We just want to get healthy, get in shape," she said. "And whenever our teachers are involved, it's fun for us to get involved, too.

"We like the challenge."

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