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If employees at Hilbert College look healthier this spring, it’s because more than three dozen of them competed in a college wellness competition before the semester started – and won.

There were 286 participants from several schools in the region who collectively lost 444 pounds as they focused more energy on exercise, healthy eating and stress management.

Rick Pinkowski, Hilbert vice president of business and finance, and Maura Flynn, director of human resources, were among winning team members. Prizes included a golden scale from sponsors BlueCross BlueShield of WNY and Lawley Insurance.

You had 38 of 41 complete the six-week program and you lost 101 pounds.

“The goal was really to focus on what people were eating …to not necessarily lose weight, but to maintain your weight,” Flynn said. “We had a few holiday celebrations on our campus and we were all kind of teasing each other and keeping each other on our toes, asking, ‘What’s in this?’”

What were some of the substitutions?

“Using olive oils instead of some of the heavier cooking oils,” said Flynn. “At one party, there was a batch of cookies that had … cranberries in it. Nobody realized they were fat-free.”

“A lot of us picked up on, instead of the easy snacks – chips, pretzels and so forth – it’s much better to grab grapes and strawberries,” Pinkowski said.

– Scott Scanlon