Wellness, Scholarship Initiative at USAO Tips the Scale in Third Year
Armed with new resources for creating and sustaining wellness and weight-loss efforts, students, faculty and staff set a new record for the Make Marble Pay program at the University of Science and Arts.
In all, participants shed more than 630 pounds during the competition, which ran from late January through the second week of April.
USAO awarded iPad minis to three participants for their efforts.
Dustin Barrett, a mathematics senior from Godley, Texas, won the award for greatest total number of pounds lost. Richard Bowen, a business freshman from Paoli, shed the highest percentage of his body weight among students and Bo Steele, Sparks Hall and residence life director, the highest percentage for faculty/staff participants.
Now in its third year, the Make Marble Pay program kicked off in 2011 with a challenge from Dr. Dex Marble, vice president for academic affairs, to students, faculty and staff alike.
For every pound lost during the program, Marble donates $10 to the scholarship fund.
Steele’s motivation was three-fold: get healthier, help raise money for scholarships and deprive USAO’s health services director, Chris Basco, of the staff/faculty award.
“I’m a firm believer that friendly competition can be an awesome motivator,” Steele said. “I knew Chris was going to bring his ‘A’-game and that made saying ‘No’ to the things that would take me further from my goal a little easier.”
Steele, a 2007 graduate of the university with degrees in history and sociology, benefitted from scholarships in his time as a student and was eager to give back.
He credits much of his success to the new Nobbs Wellness Center and dietary changes.
“I went to Nobbs almost every day and started running outside again as well,” Steele said.
Steele also cut carbonated beverages out of his diet, focused on eating more fruits and vegetables and reduced his portion size.
By the end of the competition, Steele lost 44 pounds.
Basco echoed Steele’s praise of the new wellness center as a catalyst for the program’s success this year.
“Participation was up across the board and I could see people coming in day after day to meet their fitness goals,” Basco said. “The result was nearly 400 extra pounds lost versus last year and that’s just incredible.”
To encourage consistent workout behavior, Basco solicited local business to help provide small incentives to visitors to the Nobbs center who were enrolled in the program.
Contributing businesses included Crazy 8’s, Dunn’s Food Center, Tans Unlimited, Lynn Natural Health Food Center, Subway, Bistro Lorene, Paw Paw’s and Taco Mayo. Though Marble ended up paying more than double last year’s total, he is thrilled with the outcome.
“I didn’t initiate this program so I could hoard money,” Marble said. “The lifestyle habits that our students acquire now will shape the future course of their health so anything we can do to encourage wellness is worth every dime.”
Inspired by Marble’s commitment to student wellness, Dr. Kathy Black, an alumna of USAO’s previous incarnation as the Oklahoma College for Women, made a matching pledge of $1 per student participating. “I applaud Dr. Marble for his challenge to encourage wellness and weight loss among the student body,” Black said.
“USAO has some of the brightest students in the state, and they must live as a witness to all the people of Oklahoma that part of being a responsible citizen is practicing a healthy lifestyle.”