09/27/05 — Now they are fighting weight gain and crime

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Now they are fighting weight gain and crime

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on September 27, 2005 1:46 PM

Monika Barkley remembers what it was like two years ago when she participated in the Dr. Phil (McGraw) Show's weight loss challenge. People, even strangers, did not hesitate to approach her in restaurants to comment on what she was eating.

Now, she is hopeful that will happen for the 10 law enforcement officers she is coaching in a local weight loss challenge.

"I'd love to see the city of Goldsboro be both teams' circle of support," she said. "Keep them accountable, keep watch on them. This could be a huge citywide effort."

Earlier this month, the challenge began between five detectives from the Sheriff's Office and five detention officers.

The health and fitness challenge is based on what Mrs. Barkley learned during her own experience, where she lost 55 pounds. She was later featured on the TV show "Extreme Makeover."

More than just losing weight, though, she stresses the importance of better health and emotional wellness. The Dr. Phil show provided free copies of his book, "The Ultimate Weight Solution: The 7 Keys to Weight Loss Freedom."

"The seven keys works with anything," Mrs. Barkley said, noting that in addition to changes in eating habits, it encourages "right-thinking" and ways to change one's environment.

Other items have also been donated for the teams, including food guides, cookbooks, and scales.

Mrs. Barkley meets with the teams every other Saturday at Gold's Gym for weigh-ins and training tips. Members are already seeing results.

Officer Leigh Albertson from the detention center said she has tried to lose weight in the past.

"I'm a bread person," she said. In the initial two weeks of the challenge, though, bread was not allowed. "I feel like I lost some weight. I have more energy."

As she stepped off the scale, Mrs. Barkley gave her the official results: 91/2 pounds lost.

Ms. Albertson said her goal is to lose 50 to 60 pounds. Her motivation is to beat the other team, she said, but mostly to get into the dress for her April wedding.

For fellow team member Sgt. Cindy Williford, that day came much sooner. Her wedding took place at 5 p.m. Saturday.

She doesn't plan to let up on her efforts, though. She said she was planning to continue exercising on her three-day honeymoon.

Lt. Betty Scott already had an uphill climb, battling thyroid problems and considered a borderline diabetic. She said she was motivated by the need to prevent further health problems.

"I've already met my goal," she said Saturday. "Not as far as weight, but I feel healthy, rested. I sleep through the night and have all kinds of energy."

She said she used to eat one meal a day but now brings healthy snacks. A lot of her co-workers at the detention center are not only supporting those on the team, but are incorporating the same habits, she said.

From the Sheriff's Office team, Sgt. Buddy King said the hardest part for him has been giving up fried chicken.

"I've learned to grill it, fry it," he said. "It's not bad."

He said his fiancee follows the plan when she prepares meals. He has already lost 12 pounds.

Lt. Daryl Overton agreed that having a supportive partner at home helps. He said his wife making sure healthy food was in the refrigerator and on the table ,and then hearing the same message at the group meetings, was working for him.

"It's been good," he said. "I listen to everybody else and do what they say."

Owen Jackson retired from the Sheriff's Office in December 2003, but returned to work part-time. He and Overton learned Saturday they had each lost nine pounds in the challenge.

"My goal is to be around to play with my grandchildren," Jackson said.