PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - Several Jackson County leaders are kicking the New Year off with a healthy competition. They have signed up for a weight loss challenge sponsored by Singing River Health System and the American Heart Association. The leaders say they're ready to drop the pounds, get healthier and inspire others to do the same.
Tuesday marked day one of the 12 week challenge, and Jackson County mayors, civic, and community leaders got their blood pumping and their bodies moving. While some members breezed through the exercises, others will have to get use to a vigorous workout. County Clerk Joe Martin said his biggest hurdle will be giving up his favorite southern foods.
"I love fried food," Martin said. "I think I can put that food aside some, but I am not going to give up totally."
"When I weighed in today, they said I was 248 pounds of twisted steel and sex appeal," Gautier Mayor Tommy Fortenberry said with a laugh.
Mayor Fortenberry is a former boxer and admits he needs to trim 30 pounds of that steel to get back to his fighting weight.
"I want to get in shape and make it a lifestyle."
Nurse Rendy Foster said battling the belly bulge is a fight that many people lose because they simply give up. The evidence of obesity is everywhere, especially in the state ranked the fattest in America and number one in heart disease.
"It think it is important to me that we see members in our community develop this healthy lifestyle to live a longer life, live a healthier life and live a happier life," Foster said.
By challenging area leaders to set the pace, the hope is other South Mississippians will begin taking steps to better health too. The county leaders will get a special diet and exercise plan to help fit their busy work schedules.