Brooklyn BP Marty Markowitz, Wearing Robe in Official Brooklyn Colors of Blue and Gold, Weighs-In and Kicks-Off Eight Week
"Lighten Up Brooklyn" Program
Brooklyn residents seeking to slim down will have start and end weights recorded; neighborhood that loses the most wins
Wearing a boxing robe in the colors of his borough, with the words "Mr. Brooklyn" emblazoned on the front and "Lighten Up Brooklyn" on the back, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz stepped up to the scale to be officially weighed today and to launch Lighten Up Brooklyn, an eight-week campaign to encourage overweight Brooklynites to "lighten up." The results of his weigh-in, he said, "were not pretty."
Starting next Monday, Brooklyn residents who wish to shed excess weight -- and improve their health -- can register and follow the Borough President's lead by getting weighed at one of 140 designated Lighten Up Brooklyn weigh-in stations located in drug stores, supermarkets, government offices, churches, health clubs and hospitals throughout the borough. During the week of June 9th --the final week of Lighten Up Brooklyn -- they can return to the same weigh-in station to have their weight recorded again.
Recognizing Brooklynite's strong neighborhood loyalties, Lighten Up Brooklyn is sponsoring a friendly contest: the neighborhood that loses the most weight per-person on average will appear nationwide on the NBC Today Show and will have its neighborhood flag hoisted above Borough Hall. The weight-loss champ from each weigh-in station will enjoy a free night at the New York Marriott-Brooklyn.
Borough President Markowitz said that he organized Lighten Up Brooklyn because "too many of us -- myself included -- can afford to lose a few pounds" and "the health consequences of overweight and obesity are serious: greater risk of heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure."
He cited the results of a recent Lou Harris poll in which 80% of Americans viewed themselves as overweight, up from 64% in the same poll in 1990. "We in Brooklyn are blessed with wonderful food -- from blintzes, pizzas and coconut bread to cheesecakes and sweet potato pies. And it shows."
To encourage Brooklynites to improve their eating and exercise habits on a permanent basis, Lighten Up Brooklyn has organized special exercise and nutrition education programs during the campaign's duration. Among these are: Walk to Work Monday's, power walks at lunch time on Wednesday's, and walks in Brooklyn's parks at 10:00 AM on Saturday mornings. All twelve of Brooklyn's hospitals are participating through special programming and events. The American Heart Association, the NYC Health and Hospitals Corporation and the NYC Health Department advised. Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Frieden attended and spoke at today's kick-off event.
A complete schedule of events through April appears in the official Lighten Up Brooklyn brochure and on the Borough President's web site, brooklyn-usa.org. Information is also available by calling the Lighten Up Brooklyn hotline, 718-802-3777. Additional available information includes a list of 35 tips on losing weight and keeping it off (as compiled by Weight Watchers International), a pamphlet with Questions and Answers on obesity and health which includes a Body Mass Index table (an index of between 19 and 24 is considered normal) and a sample daily food diary.
The Borough President promised to be the chief cheerleader and "poster boy" for the campaign. "Starting today, I'm going to eat healthier and get more exercise." He said he will personally participate in all of the Lighten Up Brooklyn exercise programs. And he'll work out on exercise equipment several mornings a week. "I talk the talk. Now I have to walk the walk," he admitted.
The commercial health clubs that are designated as official weigh-in stations are offering discounts and promotions. For instance, Bally Total Fitness Clubs will give two free weeks' membership to anyone who comes in to have their weight recorded. Eastern Athletic Clubs will give free memberships to the Lighten Up Brooklyn weight loss champs at each of its locations.
Borough President Markowitz stressed that Lighten Up Brooklyn isn't about going on a crash diet and surviving on melba toast and celery sticks: "It's about lifestyle changes, eating differently, and getting more exercise. I've tried to diet many times. But the only way that really works is to set realistic goals and make these necessary lifestyle changes." Dr. Howard Shapiro, author of several popular books on weight loss and an advisor to Lighten Up Brooklyn, who also attended today's weigh-in, emphasizes eating healthier as opposed to just eating less.
Borough President Markowitz observed: "Brooklyn is the borough of trees. It'll never be known as the borough of twigs. And that's not the intention. At the end of the day, if we can persuade some people to modestly alter their behavior -- and to lose a few pounds -- we'll have accomplished something."
Among the Brooklyn leaders who will join Borough President Markowitz in slimming down during Lighten Up Brooklyn are Dominick Gio, President of the Wyckoff Heights Medical Center; Mickey Heller, legal/business manager of the Christian Cultural Center, one of Brooklyn's largest churches; Daniel D. Ricciardi, Chief of Rheumatology and the Director of Medical Education for the Long Island College Hospital and a member of the Board of Directors of the NYC Health and Hospitals Corporation; and Ophelia Perry, President of Church Women United.
Major corporate sponsors of Lighten Up Brooklyn include Modell's Sporting Goods, Health Plus, Weight Watchers, Sween 'n Low, New York Marriott Brooklyn, with additional support from Pfizer, Inc. and Tanita Scales.
Mitchell Modell, of Modell's Sporting Goods, got into the spirit and will personally try to lose weight during Lighten Up Brooklyn. He and Borough President Markowitz have a bet on who loses more weight. If the Borough President wins the bet, Modell's will declare a Mr. Brooklyn Day at all six of the chain's Brooklyn locations and all Lighten Up Brooklyn participants will receive a major discount that day. If Modell wins, he'll take the day off and the Borough President will be challenged to "manage" the Brooklyn stores. Shoppers in any of the Brooklyn Modell's stores when the Borough President is "doing his job" will receive a major discount. Regardless of who wins, on Wednesdays during the campaign, Lighten Up Participants will be entitled to a 10% discount when they show their official weigh-in card.