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Amy Umble is health reporter for The Free Lance-Star

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Hundreds turn out for start of hospital’s weight-loss challenge

Gloria Groover will be one of the participants in the weight-loss challenge, sponsored by the Spotsylvania Regional Medical Center.

More than 310 people filed through the lobby of the Spotsylvania Regional Medical Center last night to be photographed and weighed.

They’ll return to the hospital this spring to find out if their hard work and good intentions resulted in pounds lost.

The hospital kicked off its first “Lose Big, Win Big, Weight Loss Challenge,” a community-wide push for better health.

Participants paid $5 each to enter the contest. Officials said they’ll pool the money and distribute it at the end of the competition to those with the greatest percentage weight loss.

“I’m a member of Weight Watchers, and I have a gym membership already, but I just needed some added motivation,” said Gloria Groover, after her weigh-in.

Groover, an office coordinator for a national counseling group, emerged from behind a privacy screen to say she hopes to lose 20 pounds during the contest and 70 pounds by the end of the year.

“My husband has started working out at the gym several times a week, and he’s lost about 25 pounds. I’ve got a lot of catching up to do,” she said.

The hospital’s program comes as the nation continues to grow heavier. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that one in three adults are obese. Extra weight is associated with a number of health problems, it says.

Hospital officials said they hope their program encourages better eating and regular exercise. They’ve modeled it after “The Biggest Loser” reality television show.

“Everybody at the first of the year wants to lose weight,” added Kristin Thompson, business growth leader for the hospital.

Your faithful correspondent, better known as Inmate 281, paid $5 and entered the Lose Big, Win Big challenge last night. I weighed 199 pounds, which I blame on the heavy shoes. My goal is to lose 10 pounds.

Participants will receive weekly emails of encouragement from the hospital. Otherwise, they’ll be exercising and counting calories on their own.

“I’ve been working to lose weight so that I can lower my blood pressure,” said Tracey LaRue, a Spotsylvania resident.

LaRue, a school teacher, said she’s lost 47 pounds recently and hopes to lose another 26 pounds during the 13-week program. She also said she’s been running and hopes to compete in the Marine Corps Historic Half race this spring.

“This can only help,” she said.

Final weigh-ins will be held May 1, at the opening of the hospital’s annual farmers market.