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Michael Brandy, Deseret News
East High Principal Paul Sagers, above center, sprints with students May 28 — at 235 pounds.

Paul Sagers was nervous. One step would culminate a year's worth of work and a goal that, if achieved, would be reached by just a hair.

But after taking that nervous step up on the scale, relief washed over the East High principal — 235 pounds. He was down 101 pounds in seven months.

"I thought I would be about three pounds off. So when it hit 235, Mr. Y. and I looked at each other and we were both kind of in disbelief," Sagers said. "It was such a feeling of relief — it was unbelievable, the feeling."

"One hundred" has been a bit of a magic number at East High this year. After Sagers' vow to lose 100 pounds during the school year, hundreds of students also jumped on board with what had become the Dr. Sagers Fitness Challenge — supported by the PTSA and Subway.

Be it doing 100 workouts or running 100 miles before the end of the school year, students and teachers marked their progress and worked toward their goals throughout the year — preparing for last week's run.

The fitness challenge started with a timed mile run/walk in the fall, to be compared with the spring mile run held last week.

Sagers shaved 4 1/2 minutes off of his original 15-minute mile, while students had their own victories that earned them a free trip to Raging Waters.

Dropping 100 pounds in a school year wasn't easy and left no wiggle room for a bad week or poor results.

Sagers said every two weeks he would hop on the scales in front of the student body, dropping around seven to eight pounds every two weeks.

But aside from banishing sweets, treats and junk, Sagers' and assistant principal Martin Yablonosky's alarms went off at 4:30 every morning so they could meet at the East High track and work out before school started.

However, since Yablonosky was already an avid runner, his goal last week was to run a six-minute mile. His last week's time was 5:59. And the 11 students who beat him were rewarded with a Subway sandwich.

In addition to the two principals and students, a number of teachers involved in the challenge also met their weight-loss goals. Teachers who reached their goals received $50 awards.

Sagers credits the students, faculty and staff for his weight loss, since he was constantly under scrutiny.

"I had a huge advantage — 2,100 students, 150 staff and the community holding me accountable. I think if people have that kind of accountability they probably would be able to do the same," Sagers said. "I know for a fact that if I didn't have that kind of accountability I wouldn't have made it."

Even so, despite reaching a lofty goal and even being awarded a Ralph Lauren suit and a $300 gift certificate to Mr. Mac for new clothes by the East High PTSA for his success Tuesday, Sagers said it's far from over.

"It's huge, but I don't think I am going to feel that sense of accomplishment until I reach my goal," he said.

And that is tipping the scales at 199.

During the summer he plans to keep doing the same workouts with the goal of completely jogging three miles, instead of jog/walking, and drop another 25 pounds before school starts. Then maybe an additional 20 before Christmas.

And the Dr. Sagers Fitness Challenge will live on. Next year his goal will be to run the Salt Lake City Half Marathon, while he will encourage students and faculty to train for and run either the half, a 10K or a 5K.

He said the last thing that he wanted was so much attention, though people are constantly coming up to him, patting him on the back and asking what his secret is.

"But it's that age-old answer — increase output, decrease input, make sure you couple exercise with diet," Sagers said. "It's really so un-rocket science."


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