Fayette County

Co-workers weigh in en masse to help each other shed pounds

Yes, we know, it didn't turn out so well at The Office.

Steve Carell's fictional gang gained after they weighed en masse on an industrial scale for dieting inspiration.

The folks at Ridge Behavioral Health made a similar field trip Thursday, planning for different results.

Some 34 employees hope to shed 702 of their 6,109 pounds.

And, for every pound lost, Urban Active Fitness and Kroger have agreed to donate a pound of food to God's Pantry. The hospital also will be making a donation to God's Pantry.

"It is a good way to help ourselves and help the community," said Nina Eisner, chief executive officer of the psychiatric and drug treatment facility. Eisner said she was excited that employees from every department in the hospital, from doctors to food-service workers, were participating.

Organizer Catriona Smart said she hoped the public weigh-in might encourage other offices to start their own efforts to "lighten up" — the group's rallying cry.

"We've got all these great resources that we use for our patients and that we promote for our patients," Smart said. "We might as well practice what we preach."

Even with frigid, blustery weather, the folks stepping on the concrete and metal scale stripped off their coats as winds whipped across a parking lot, to try to keep the number as valid as possible.

The 18 weighed Thursday, on a scale usually reserved for moving vans, were packing 3,300 pounds. Other employees wrote down their weights in envelopes that were opened by employees of Fister-United Van Lines so people could maintain their privacy, said Smart.

The idea, she said, is to create a supportive and encouraging atmosphere. There is no competition, but there are some rules.

There is no talking about weight in front of patients, who might have issues of their own. No nagging if you see somebody snacking on a Little Debbie. ("That might be their only treat for the week," said Smart, who works in the facility's psychology department.)

Smart has bought some 480 gold Christmas balls. Every time a pound is lost, a ball will be put in a large clear bin so everyone can get inspired.

The goal: changing the culture at work, and getting caring professionals to care a little more for themselves and stop supporting each other with plates of home-cooked brownies.

In August, they'll get back on the scale.