As the only female member of Tague Lumber’s Phoenixville contingent (the rest of the team’s located at the company’s Philly location), Cindy Valerio has had her work cut out for her, wrangling her four male teammates and encouraging them to eat well and exercise.
But that hasn’t been the hardest part: “The guys are losing weight head over heels,” says Cindy. “I’m trying my hardest, but I’m not seeing numbers like they are.” It’s the classic conundrum of male versus female weight loss; pounds always seem to just melt off the guys.
Cindy’s taken it in stride, and she’s proud of the hard work she and her Phoenixville team have put in. She says in the first half of the contest, they lost a total of 98 pounds combined. Impressive, right?
Team bonding has been an integral part of the weight-loss process. Everyone’s involved in keeping everyone motivated; Cindy leads the charge.
Both the Phoenixville and Philly team members make the contest’s weekly recipe together in their offices’ kitchens. Cindy organizes the Phoenixville effort. She gets the ingredients—”There’s no way they could figure out where to get this stuff in the grocery store,” she says—and gathers the men each week for, well, a cooking lesson.
“The best best part of this whole thing, for me, is learning that you really can eat well if you eat healthy. I would never have said that before,” Cindy says. “You can feel good about what you’re eating and you can enjoy it.” She says her team members have vowed to continue their healthy-eating habits after the contest is over.
Their favorite recipe so far was last week’s turkey breast with grilled apples. Cindy reports that one of her teammates intends to make it again for Thanksgiving. And there have been surprises, too, like the spinach salad. Neither Cindy nor her teammates had high hopes for it, wary of the figs and goat cheese. But they loved it. In fact, Cindy says they now keep a container of dried figs in the kitchen to snack on throughout the day.
The Office Challenge has been a personal learning experience for Cindy, too. Before the contest, she always hated exercise—”Even the word,” she says—but now that she’s been taking long walks with a friend five days a week, she’s learned to love it. They walk outdoors on nature trails in good weather, and inside at the Coventry Mall in bad.
“When we’re done walking, I feel so good. It’s such a different feeling from before,” she says. “I never would have found that if it wasn’t for this Challenge. It’s sad to see it come to an end.”