Steve Sonnack's achievement in the "Lighten Up Deere" competition at the Product Engineering Center (PEC) in Waterloo, Iowa, won him a great deal more than a gift certificate. It's produced rave reviews from his personal physician, and encouraged him to develop healthier habits for life.
Steve and his wife had already started a group weight-loss program when the Lighten Up Deere competition began Feb. 1, 2005. The 47-year-old specifications analyst for John Deere Waterloo Works spends most of his time on a computer, so the contest provided extra motivation to get moving. Steve now logs in nearly an hour on his home treadmill, six days a week. "One of the other things I never did before this was to drink a lot of water, and now I'm drinking four or five 16-ounce bottles a day," notes Steve.
Steve earned first place for individual weight loss, and his team took second place for total activity. With the support of his wife and his program's eating guidelines, he's achieved more losses since the contest ended April 30. "I never thought I'd go this far and lose 52 pounds," Steve adds. "This is the fittest I've been in 20 years." He's just eight pounds away from the 190-pound goal weight suggested by his doctor. That same doctor's visit also brought welcome news about other health indicators, including blood sugar and blood pressure. He's also shaved 144 points off his total cholesterol.
Though he's a little concerned that an upcoming vacation may make it hard to stay on the program, it's only a temporary sideline. "We've worked too hard at this not to keep going," says Steve.