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  • Lost it / Portland Tribune
  • Lost it / Portland Tribune
  • Lost it / Portland Tribune
  • Lost it / Portland Tribune
  • Lost it / Portland Tribune

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Vow not to gain weight leads to group losing effort

Jennifer Dugan sparks Biggest Loser-type program at
Legacy Mount Hood Medical Center

By Mara Stine
staff writer


It’s amazing what a little friendly competition can lead to.

A total of 37 employees at Gresham’s Legacy Mount Hood Medical Center are vying against one another to see who can lose the most weight in what can only be described as an East County version of “The Biggest Loser.”

Jennifer Dugan, an emergency department technician nicknamed Doogie by her co-workers, sparked the contest with her revolutionary Thanksgiving resolution.

A knee injury followed by surgery resulted in a sedentary spell and a horrifying number on the scale. “I can’t be this unhealthy anymore,” she told herself. But instead of vowing to lose weight, she pledged to not gain any more.

She shared her new mantra with her four sisters who live in Idaho, Utah, Nevada and Texas. All liked the sound of it and adopted the pledge. And an interesting thing happened. Their weigh-ins every Tuesday, coupled with their camaraderie and heightened dietary awareness, resulted in them shedding a few pounds.

By the time Christmas rolled around, Dugan was noticeably slimmer. Her co-workers inquired. “Well, weigh in with me,” she said, adding as an afterthought that maybe they could make it a contest like the hit television show “The Biggest Loser.” “It was just kind of to motivate a few of us,” Dugan said.

“We all have very stressful jobs. We work 12-and-half-hour days and eat on the go when we can.” Which is a nice way of saying they ate junk. Before long, a handful of coworkers took Dugan up on her offer to weigh in with her. She posted a flier and a sign-up sheet.

More joined in.

“I thought it may be 10 or so,” Dugan said. Instead, the number hit 37. “It just kind of caught on. It just kind of exploded.”

On Jan. 1, each participant weighed in on the same hospital scale to log a starting weight. Every two weeks, Dugan will weigh everyone to track lost or gained pounds.

Those who gain must pay $1 per extra pound. The money will go to stock shelves at a local food bank. At the end of the competition on March 1, staff will donate their collective weight loss in food.

Also, thanks to a $20 participation fee, whoever loses the highest percentage of body weight will win $400. Cash awards also will go to second and third-place winners.

Dugan is already seeing results. Cheese and crackers are replacing donuts as a workplace snack. Brown bag lunches are taking the place of fast food.

People are going for brisk walks on their breaks instead of grabbing a calorie- laden coffee drink. Others have joined gyms, which they’re hitting three or four times a week.

“We are just trying to make those better choices,” she said.

For Dugan, that began as eating smaller portions, or about half of what she usually did. This seemingly simple step resulted in her dropping 13 pounds before her Jan. 1 weigh-in. Since adding exercise to the mix, she’s reached the halfway point to reaching her goal of losing 30 pounds.

“Now I will have to work for the rest,” she said.

Reporter Mara Stine can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or by calling 503-492-5117.

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