Gourmet Dining revamps “Biggest Loser” challenge

The “Biggest Loser Challenge” was recently renamed “The Healthy U Challenge,” following the release of a Letter to the Editor, featured in the Feb. 20 edition of The Rider News.

By Jamie Hafner

Gourmet Dining has revamped its “Biggest Loser Challenge,” renaming the lifestyle challenge “The Healthy U Challenge.”

The rebranding came shortly after the release of a Letter to the Editor to The Rider News called “The Real Biggest Loser,” which addressed the negative effects the challenge’s logo and name had on students with eating and mental health disorders at Rider.

     “The new marketing reflects the challenge in a positive way and [promotes] healthy food choices,” said Alexa Essenfeld, the registered dietician on campus. “The title doesn’t talk about weight loss. I think the marketing materials are a better representation of what the challenge does.”

     The new marketing campaign, which used colorful fruits and vegetables as well as positive words and phrases, was tailored to encourage contestants and students to eat and feel better, inside and out.

     The encouragement found on the advertising for “The Healthy U Challenge” reflects the effective and safe weight-loss program that participants have taken part in.

    The 10-week program, which is registered-dietitian approved, began on Feb. 18, and encouraged participants to be safe and healthy. Each participant signed a contract which helps them understand their preparedness and confidence before starting the challenge.

     The detailed packet of information that was given to students and staff at the beginning of the challenge included a variety of nutrition information for participants, meal ideas that are filling and fun and plenty of safe and simple workout styles that get participants up and moving.

     The program also encouraged participants to lose weight at a safe rate, and did not allow  students to participate if they wanted to lose a drastic or unhealthy amount of weight. The packet also said that participants are “expected to follow the safe, proven nutrition and exercise advice provided” and that “use of other plans, supplements or unsafe practices will cause immediate removal from the program.”

     “It’s very rewarding getting to see the positive impact the challenge has had on student and faculty,” Essenfeld said. “Students are increasing physical activity and decreasing soda consumption.”

     The program, which reached the halfway point on March 25, also had optional prizes for participants who lose the most weight.  

     “There doesn’t have to be a cash incentive [to encourage weight loss,]” Essenfeld said. “Everyone gets prizes for showing up, regardless if you lost a certain amount of weight.”

      Essenfeld mentioned that participants were happy to receive a free jump rope just for showing up to the event to mark the halfway point.

     When asked about her favorite part of the dining hall-sponsored event, Essenfeld said, “Getting to witness success among students and staff in feeling like they achieved some of their goals and following healthier lifestyles. People are now encouraging others to do the same.”

     The challenge is having a great impact on the students involved in the challenge, as well as students outside of the event. Freshman public relations major Hailey Hensley said that it was admirable of Gourmet Dining to respond the criticism it was given for the original name of the challenge.

     “It is really cool of Gourmet Dining to adapt for the sake of the physical and mental well-being of the student body,” she said. 

     Essenfeld, who witnesses the participants’ positive physical and mental transformation, values the transformation that she sees. 

    As “The Healthy U Challenge” finale approaches, Essenfeld looked back on the program happily, knowing the positive impact it has made on the lives of students and staff at Rider.

     She said, “It’s one of the best parts of being a dietitian.”

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