TAMIKA Jackson, accounting officer at the Department of Correctional Services, is now a firm believer in what exercise and eating right can do for her health. As a result of her disciplined approach to fitness sessions, her attentiveness, as well as dedication to preparing her own meals after attending nutrition workshops and at times sheer willpower, she topped the field of hundreds of competitors in the National Health Fund's (NHF) Work It Out Challenge 2017 as the Top Female competitor.
“I feel like I am one of the most privileged persons to have been a part of the NHF's Work It Out Challenge. It gave me an opportunity to wake up and make a lifestyle change and it paid off for me,” said an enthusiastic Jackson.
She spoke of her struggle over the years to control and maintain a proper weight. As a result she suffered with pain in her knees and was at risk for developing high blood pressure and other chronic diseases. So after much frustration she decided to make a change, but knew she couldn't do it alone.
“I was at work when my human resource representative brought the challenge to my attention and I decided to give it a try,” said Jackson.
The Work It Out Challenge is a 24-week weight loss and fitness competition that encourages individuals, in teams of five, to change their lifestyle to achieve a healthier mind and body.
During the period, Jackson and her team members gave their full participation at boot camps, dance sessions and nutrition workshops with the mantra that they were, “In it to win it”. At the end of the competition the team placed a close second with Jackson placing first in her category, with the most points and weight lost of all her counterparts.
“I lost 60 pounds and gained greater self-confidence, together with a love and appreciation for healthy eating and exercise. It was not easy, but I had a dream I was going to persevere and win the competition and look at me now!” said Jackson.
Since completing the Work It Out Challenge, she has continued to eat mainly fruits and vegetables and now consumes less starch. She still exercises regularly. In fact, she completed a fitness instructor certificate course at GC Foster College and now is a fitness instructor at her workplace, where she motivates others to practise a healthier lifestyle.
The winning team for this year's competition will walk away with a special prize of $50,000 to be donated to a charity of their choice. Prizes and giveaways for this year's staging will total $2 million.
The Work It Out Challenge is in alignment with the Ministry of Health's healthy lifestyle programme, Jamaica Moves, which is aimed at tackling the risk factors for non-communicable diseases.