Tulsa Housing Authority Employees Challenged To Lose Weight

Thursday, September 13th 2018, 5:00 pm
By: Ashley Izbicki

Oklahoma is the ninth most-obese state in the country, and a government agency Tulsa is trying to help its workers drop the weight - one pound at a time. 

Tulsa Housing Authority nicknamed it the two-and-a-half ton weightloss challenge. That's how much weight employees stood to lose on the mission to fight obesity. 

The incentive: a free cruise - and possibly a life-saving lifestyle change.

"I have three kids, and I have two grandbabies now. So I'm like, I need to be around," said Tuesday Johnson. 

"I've been big most of my life," said Bruce Leonhart. "When I was in high school, I was like 260 pounds."

"I don't want to have to buy clothes that are too big, I want to wear them becuase they're comfortable," said 21-year-old Jo Miller.

Three faces. Three stories. Three goals. 

"Thirty pounds. That's where it's set," Johnson said.

"I just want to feel better. I want to lose this double chin. I'm tired of it!" Miller said.

"To lose about 60 pounds is what I would like to do," said Leonhart.

Bruce Leonhart and his wife are taking on the challenge as a family with their two young kids. 

"When they're playing sports and stuff, it kind of affects my ability to be able to play with them," he said.

Jo Miller is hoping to wash out something pretty common.

"When I got in college, that freshman 15 is real," she said with a laugh. She also wants to break her family's cycle of obesity.

"You eat the way your family eats, and even when you're alone, you eat the way your family ate," she said. "So, you know, in my family, food is love. You buy a snack to show someone you care about them.

And Tuesday Johnson is running toward a goal of adding healthy years to her life.

"Raising kids and stuff, you don't think about yourself," she said. "Because you're running with the kids, and you don't realize until one day you step on a scale and you're like 'ummm, is someone on here with me?' Or you know, like 'is this broken?'

"I want to be in my 70s, 80s, and still being active."

Tulsa Housing Authority created a new logo and ordered polos for employees. But when most women couldn't fit into the shirts - and most men had to choose the largest sizes -  leadership here knew it was time to tackle the problem. 

Seventy-two employees signed up for the challenge, weighing in at 7 tons, 14,100 pounds. THA brought in a global leadership training coach used by Nike.

Employees learned what to eat, when to eat, and how to get moving. 

There were meltdowns - and breakdowns.

After six months of ups and downs - well, they didn't lose two-and-a-half tons. And Bruce, Jo and Tuesday didn't win a cruise.

The winner of 2018 THA Heart Healthy Weight Loss Challenge was Bill Hoover." 

But they do have something to cheer about. And they lost weight.

"I feel really good. Even, I didn't lose all the weight I wanted to," said Bruce Leonhart.

"I don't know how many inches that is, but I'm telling you, it's a big difference," said Jo Miller.

And Tuesday Johnson celebrate losing about 15.

They may not have hit their goals, but their stories are far from over. 

>>Leonhart: "I have a lot more confidence than I had," Leonhart said. "I feel like people respond to what I have to say now, and hear what I have to say." 

"You just have to find that balance, and I think I found a pretty good one," Miller said. "I'm slow, but steady, and that's what's going to win this race."

"This is a lifestyle change. It wasn't just a challenge change," Johnson said. "This has been a whole lifestyle change for me."

If the challengers maintain their weight a few months from now, they get half a vacation day. They earn a full vacation day if the scale is the same come January.