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The City Journals

Mother, son dominate; two women tie to cap off West Jordan’s healthy contest

May 21, 2018 10:30AM ● By City Journals Staff

Top contestants take home $200 gift cards (Photo courtesy Healthy West Jordan)

By Amy Green  |  [email protected]

West Jordan’s “Way to a Better Life” 2018 contest was finalized on April 26 at the Gene Fullmer Recreation Center. This annual contest (open for anyone 18 and older) focused on helping people everywhere to make permanent healthy lifestyle changes. While some competitors lost a lot of weight, the central focus was about improving well-being and overall health. Even the tiniest improvement was still a big win.

“We went, we participated, we won,” Francine Simkins said. She, along with Melissa Ainsworth, tied for first place after a tight race in the women’s overall points category. The contest had separate scoring brackets for men and women, allowing for more chances to win something. Ainsworth plans to use her winnings to “buy some new clothes,” she said.

Rebekah Linnell won first place in women’s weight loss percentage. The men’s weight loss percentage titlist was Nathan Linnell, with $200 awarded to each for their victories. Double bills and some paired wins among family contenders this year. 

Richard Simkins, who won the men’s category in highest points, happens to be Francine’s son. The mother–son victory was coincidental but could be considered inspiring. The Linnell and Simkins high-scorers might be motivating for others wanting to get healthy with relatives. The Simkins have also done the contest before with past winnings—a few ongoing triumphs for them. 

The challenge started with a small registration fee collected from each participant, but after 13 weeks, it ended with $200 gift cards handed to top winners. Each contestant gained points by meeting daily goals of eating well, drinking water, exercising and showing up for weekly weigh-ins. Everyone was scored on their individual progress. It was anybody’s game. 

"I think it’s something everyone should do, regardless if they have weight to lose,” said Melissa Ainsworth. “My mental health is a lot better. I sleep better at night. My mood is better. My family is more active.” 

Different awards allowed more than a few participants to win something. This was not a stingy contest. Organizers Linsey Miller, Katie Prawitt, Polina Konuchkova, Makyla Grovenburg, Mike Wilson, Joe Johnson, Tanya Packer, Keith Papenfuss, Wade Brinton, Al Richards, Rob Bridge and Nathan Peterson were dedicated volunteers running the contest. Gift cards were ready for even random prize drawings. This was a surprise aspect of the finale. Any WBL participant could win something just for signing up and making an effort.

Adam Ainsworth was a random drawing winner from a group of upper-tier scorers, who won $50. The Ainsworths are another family pair of winners. 

“I enjoyed the contest,” Adam Ainsworth said. “It was motivating. It’s a good thing the city does.” All contestants reacted similarly. They were humble and grateful about their success. Each clapped for others or walked up to get awards with calm and supportive Zen. Regular exercise is purported to have that effect. 

Life changes can be hard. Weight loss can be hard. The internet can be a confusing way to navigate and learn how to do it. Often, weight-loss advice from random places can be dangerous. To educate and encourage, provides safe and credible ways for getting started with improvements. 

Following Healthy West Jordan on Facebook, the public page shows progress made by contestants, posted over their weeks of dedication. The page is informative and ready for anyone to “like.” You can “follow” to see healthy recipes or find out when the next challenge starts.

It was a contest and culmination party full of appeal — getting healthy and having a chance to be awarded money at the end. Though a winner’s momentum doesn’t have to stop at fancy gift cards and finish lines. Whether someone went home with $10, 400 smackaroos (or something in between), the consensus from participants was that healthy habits are worth continuing. A “better life” can be rewarding, in many priceless ways. 

The next event for Healthy West Jordan will be the Linda Buttars Memorial Fun Run on June 30 at Veterans Memorial Park.