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Weighing in on hunger

American Financial Solutions employees recently completed a weight loss competition where they collectively lost 171 pounds in 12 weeks. For every pound they shed, AFS donated a pound of food to the Central Kitsap Food Bank. - Rachel Brant/staff photo
American Financial Solutions employees recently completed a weight loss competition where they collectively lost 171 pounds in 12 weeks. For every pound they shed, AFS donated a pound of food to the Central Kitsap Food Bank.
— image credit: Rachel Brant/staff photo

Shedding unwanted pounds is always a positive thing, but combining weight loss with helping out the local food bank is about as good as it gets.

American Financial Solutions (AFS) in Bremerton recently completed a weight loss contest named after the NBC show “The Biggest Loser.” Twenty-eight employees formed seven teams and competed against one another for 12 weeks.

“About 50 percent of our staff participated,” said Audi Ritz, AFS human resources manager.

After the final weigh-in on May 5, the entire group discovered they lost a combined 171 pounds.

“It feels really good. I can move better, I can sleep better,” said Becky House, AFS quality and training manager, who lost 52 pounds during “The Biggest Loser” contest.

Aside from creating healthier employees, AFS decided to give back to the local community as well. For every pound AFS employees lost, AFS donated a pound of healthy food to the Central Kitsap Food Bank.

“It took us out of the mindset of ‘we are a company,’ but we’re part of the community,” Ritz said.

Ritz said AFS, a budget counseling and debt management company, has a program called The Healthy Incentive and the company works hard to ensure its employees are healthy.

“American Financial Solutions has always had an interest in keeping their employees healthy,” Ritz said. “We have a gym downstairs.”

House lost more weight than any other AFS employee during “The Biggest Loser” contest and is still shedding the pounds. She even started doing martial arts and walked in her first ever Armed Forces Day parade earlier this month.

“This gave me the boost. Before I would have never joined martial arts,” House said.

Because House lost 52 pounds, she single-handedly donated 52 pounds of food to the CK Food Bank, which she said she feels great about.

“I think that’s awesome. I wish it could have been more,” she said.

AFS raised almost $1,000 in cash and prizes from suppliers and vendors such as Fred Meyer, Subway and Curves to hand out as prizes to employees who participated in “The Biggest Loser” contest.

“It was really neat to be a non-profit and have the community support, so we had lots of support internally and externally,” Ritz said.

House said she thinks more companies should offer healthy living programs to their employees because not only does it help individuals shed unwanted pounds and stay healthy, but boosts company morale.

“I think it is really great. It speaks to the amount of support we have in this environment,” House said. “It’s great, it’s a very close knit company.”

AFS delivered the 171 pounds of food to the CK Food Bank this past week and Ritz said the company may do a similar contest again in the future.

Ritz added that AFS may try and compete against other companies in a weight loss competition if any local businesses are up for the challenge.

“We’ll challenge any company,” she said.

“Bring it on,” House added with a smile.

Any businesses interested in competing against AFS in a “Biggest Loser”-style contest may contact Ritz at (888) 282-5492, ext. 1115 or e-mail aritz@debtsolutions.org.

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