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Hengst employees drop the pounds

Posted: August 2, 2012 4:39 p.m.
Updated: August 3, 2012 5:00 a.m.
Tenell Felder/

(From left to right) Wanda Suggs, Rashaad Davis and Stephen Sturgis had the highest percentage of weight loss of Hengst's Biggest Loser contest. 1st place went to Davis with a loss of 21.5 percent, 2nd place to Suggs at 13.1 percent and 3rd place to Sturgis at 12.8 percent.

Employees of Hengst of North America recently concluded Hengst’s Biggest Loser contest. Hengst, which manufactures motor vehicle parts, had 89 participants from their Camden and Warren, Michigan sites lose a total of 367 pounds between April 1 and June 30. Prizes were awarded to the top three biggest losers.

Mitch Duncan, Hengst’s safety coordinator at the Camden site, organized the contest.

"The big reason to have this contest is that we have a lot of people who have health issues, things that can be managed…with diet and exercise. We wanted to promote the health and wellness of the site. The prizes were nice but I think that everyone got a sense of what it was all about -- getting healthy," said Duncan.

Participants were provided with guidance on how to safely lose weight.

"We gave a print out of how to lose weight while remaining healthy. Two to three pounds a week is a good average. If you don’t do this right you can experience fatigue. These people did it right," said Duncan.

All three winners were from Hengst’s Camden site. Rashaad Davis, a lead material handler, Stephen Sturgis, a maintenance technician and Wanda Suggs, who works in Hengst’s statistical process control had the highest percentage of weight loss.

Because of a recent diabetes diagnosis, Suggs saw the contest as an opportunity to continue to improve her health.

Davis and Sturgis saw the opportunity for weight loss and friendly competition.

"This was an incentive to get started. I had been meaning to lose weight for awhile and I just love a contest," said Sturgis.

Each of the top three winners made changes in their diet and exercise habits to lose weight.

"I started eating Lean Cuisine, grilled chicken and salad. I stopped eating fried food and potato chips … giving up chips was hard because I love chips and dip," said Suggs.

Davis started an intense exercise regimen to get back in shape. He was motivated to do so after the recent birth of his daughter.

"If I put my mind to something I believe I can achieve it, so I worked out like crazy. I ran three miles every morning and if it was too hot I’d run three miles at night," said Davis

In addition to running, Davis used a pallet jack to manually load and unload trucks at his job instead of a forklift.

Each of the contestants saw significant improvements within a few weeks.

"I started exercising, it was a gradual thing. One time I didn’t ride a bike and towards the end I was riding close to 20 miles a day," said Sturgis.

Suggs insisted that her dieting and exercise greatly benefitted her health.

"I felt healthy, I felt like I could breathe better because I was having shortness of breath. I can get down and tie my shoes where I couldn’t before," said Suggs.

Davis noticed that he was able to increase the intensity of his workouts.

"I was jogging one morning and tried to sprint the last half mile. I couldn’t do it. Next week I tried it again and surprised myself -- that’s when I really started seeing change," said Davis.

With the contest over, the top three winners are maintaining their healthier lifestyle.

"I still go to the scale everyday and weigh myself, sometimes other girls will come with me," said Suggs.

Sturgis, who recently went on a vacation, is recommitting himself to the process.

"It’s been hard these past couple of weeks, but I’ve started back," said Sturgis.

Each of the contestants expressed interest in doing the contest again.

"It generated much more interest than I thought it would. Now everyone is clamoring to do it again. I’d love to do it again," said Duncan


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