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Stepping up

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Updated: August 30, 2013 6:33AM

Recently, I had the great pleasure of working with Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and other city officials for a healthy weight-loss challenge, which we offered to more than 7,500 city employees. In a tremendous display of support and accessibility, Mayor Reed and his team provided each employee with the tools needed for successful weight loss and improved health outcomes.

We started with a daylong health festival, where all employees across the city could get free screenings, critical health information and a copy of my new book, SHRED: The Revolutionary Diet. It was personally moving for me to see hundreds of workers — from police officers to sanitation workers to human resources personnel — step on the scales and record their weight with determination to improve their lives. Each person made a six-week commitment to healthier eating, exercising and better decision-making — and the results were nothing short of phenomenal. Some lost as much as 30 pounds during the six weeks. Katie Couric even featured several of these Atlanta Shredders on her daytime talk show.

The success of this program made me think how awesome it would be to do something similar right here in Chicago. We have the need. We have the resources. And we have the spirit and determination necessary for taking on a fun challenge that would encourage entire families to start living healthier. Forget all of the bureaucracy — unifying the city for this purpose really shouldn’t be difficult, as we all stand to benefit from a healthier and happier Chicago.

To this end, I have tried to put one step in place for anyone in Chicago looking to lose weight with support and within a positive environment. Our group on Facebook is called Chicago Shredders — feel free to join us simply by searching for us and clicking the “join group” tab. If you’re a gym, feel free to offer space or trainers or even discounted memberships. If you’re a food retailer, feel free to offer discounted healthy food items. If you’re a nutritionist, we could use your help in conducting some group sessions throughout the city. The bottom line is that all of us can contribute something to this worthwhile cause.

The message is not that we need to be perfect, but rather that we need to do better. All of us can and should make improvements in the way we treat our greatest asset: our body.

Imagine how monumentally uplifting it would be for all of us to work together to take off some extra pounds, exercise more regularly in the parks and on the lake and place more fruits and vegetables on our kitchen tables. If we work together, we win together. We’ve done enough stating and analyzing the problem. It’s now time to do something about it. C’mon, Chicago. Our shoulders and hearts are big enough. If Atlanta can do it, we can do it even better. Let’s GO!

For more information on how you can get involved with Chicago Shredders, visit

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