Members of the Downtown Optimist Club of Columbia lose weight to inspire teenagers

Saturday, September 29, 2007 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 2:56 a.m. CDT, Friday, July 18, 2008

COLUMBIA — Joe Sestak, 73, has been getting a workout lifting and moving Christmas trees for the Downtown Optimist Club of Columbia fundraiser since he joined in 1990. Now, Sestak is doing a different fitness activity with the club as part of Has Anyone Seen My Spare Tire?, a Shape Up Missouri team.

“Working with the Christmas trees put me in shape,” Sestak said. “I need to eat less and do a little more exercise too.”

Shape Up Missouri

Fall Session dates: Sept. 17--Nov. 8 Registration: Deadline: Teams can register until Oct. 8 Cost: $15 per person per session or $7.50 per session for AARP members Team size: 2-10 What you get: Shape Up Missouri T-shirt, biweekly informational newsletters Divisions: Weight Loss and Activity Awards: 10 $500 community awards, various monthly prizes

Has Anyone Seen My Spare Tire? is a nine-member Shape Up Missouri team made up of members from the Downtown Optimist Club of Columbia. This is the second season that the Optimist Club has participated in the Shape Up Missouri competition, and their new goal is to beat their last activity and weight loss average, which was 5,500 minutes and 54 pounds, respectively.

“We did it because we have a relationship with the Show-Me State Games,” said Mike Messer, 32, Has Anyone Seen My Spare Tire? team leader. “We wanted to try and find additional ways to support them.”

The Downtown Optimist Club of Columbia is a service organization that provides opportunities for Columbia’s youth. They have sponsored youth events and provided funding for sports activities, scholarships and the fight against childhood cancer. Members of the Optimist Club Shape Up team say that by actively staying in shape they hope to be an example to youth. In the past, the Optimist Club helped hand out medals for the Show-Me State Games, Messer said.

“A major teenage health problem today is obesity,” said team member Arthur E. Rikli, 90. “Hopefully, the Optimist Club can help by example.”

The number of overweight children age 6 to 11 has more than doubled in the past 20 years, according to the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion Web site. The rate among adolescents 12 to 19 has more than tripled.

Shape Up Missouri is a competition offered in the spring and fall for Missourians to lose weight and live healthier lifestyles. It is sponsored by the Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Health and the Show-Me State Games. Teams of two to 10 people can work together to lose weight and increase physical activity. Rank is determined by percentage of total weight lost or minutes of physical activity. There are monthly prizes and community awards given at the end. Teams can continue to sign up for the competition until Oct. 8.

“(As for diet and exercise) it’s pretty much up to the individual team,” said Seth Myers, senior information specialist for the Show-Me State Games. “We ask for each person to get ideally 60 minutes of exercise a day, which they can do in a variety of ways. It’s really up to them. Some people like to work out; some prefer to take long walks. There’s no set exercises.”

Messer plans on working out at 5:30 a.m. four days a week at Wilson’s Total Fitness, doing weight lifting and some cardio. Last season, Sestak lost 10 pounds and hopes to lose more this season. Rikli wants to lose a pound a week. He plans on changing his diet rather than working out.

“I’m going to start by reducing chocolate consumption,” Rikli said.

During the spring competition, Sandra Webb of Florissant lost more than 40 pounds with the help of her team of co-workers.

“I would recommend it to anyone,” Webb said. “I just got moving. I had never exercised, and I didn’t realize how good I’d feel.”

The Missourian plans to follow the progress of Has Anyone Seen My Spare Tire? throughout the competition on a blog,

“By being healthy ourselves, we’ll have more years where we can help the kids,” team member Rick McKernan said.

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