Photo Courtesy Sulphur Daily News

By Tina Dirmann

staff writer for BCBS of Louisiana Foundation

Usually, it’s a reporter’s job to remain objective when covering a story. Don’t get personal. Just report the facts…

Unless, of course, you have your own column. Then, use the power of the pen wisely. So, I want to applaud Sulphur Daily News reporter Marilyn Monroe (author of the column Marilyn’s Musings), for using her press pass to highlight one of Southwest Louisiana’s most uplifting programs — Keep It Simple Sister (K.I.S.S.).

You’ve read about this amazing program before. I’ve written about it here a few times. It operates under wellness initiative Dare to be Healthy, supported in part through a $760,000 grant from our Challenge for a Healthier Louisiana program. And for the women who sign-up for this free, 12-week, community fitness program (geared toward low-income, minority women), the K.I.S.S. way is nothing short of amazing. So far, the program, under the guidance of its dynamic leader, Sharmita Rideau, is responsible for helping 77 women in Southwest Louisiana drop 754 pounds and chisel away 900 inches. Wow. For women who have struggled their whole lives to lose a single pound, those numbers are impressive.

How did they finally do it? Old fashioned hard work and dedication, coupled with the bottomless support, guidance and out-n-out prodding of Rideau. Monroe is finding out all about that first hand. She is chronicling her three-month experience through weekly updates in her newspaper, the Sulpher Daily News, where Monroe is a staff reporter. She’s named her new column KISS Talk (I love that).

Says Janice Ackley, project leader for Dare to be Healthy, about having a reporter’s eye on the project, “Marilyn, with her excellent writing talent and first-person perspective, will bring the unique K.I.S.S. project experience to life and inspire the surrounding community to take action!”

Sign-ups were Jan. 6, and Monroe was there. So was Councilwoman Veronica Allison, also participating this time around. Workouts, which are augmented with weekly nutrition classes, began Jan. 13. And although Monroe doesn’t exactly fit the target community for the class (she isn’t a minority, she isn’t low income), she does share one thing in common with her fellow K.I.S.S.-mates — she describes herself as having several pounds to shed, the kind that seem nearly impossible to shake (well, is there any other kind?). But like everyone who meets Rideau, with her infectious message of hope, Monroe has eagerly embraced all K.I.S.S. has to offer.

An excerpt from her first report on the experience reads:
The charismatic Rideau, who is six months pregnant with her third son, made her expectations clear: fully commit to her and the program and the weight will come off and a healthier lifestyle will be learned… Right now, like in any beginning, there is a lot of enthusiasm, along with a lot of hope. I know that I hold on to my own hope that I will make it through all 12 weeks and give a bump up to the project’s numbers while bumping down my own.

Monroe is now in week three of the program, and she’s feeling the pain. Another KISS Talk excerpt:

On Tuesday, my upper legs and my arms were sore; on Wednesday, I discovered that I had abs because they were hurting… Week three also meant that it was time to weigh-in. So before our Monday workout, we lined up and got on the scale. On my turn, I took off my shoes and stepped on. ‘Two pounds lost. Blog that,” Sharmita said to me with a laugh. Done and done.

We’ll post more of Monroe’s weekly updates on the Our Home, Louisiana Facebook page. And at the end of 12 weeks, Monroe has promised to grant us an interview, with more insight on her personal experience and her thoughts on the community impact of a program like K.I.S.S. So good luck, Monroe! And congrats on those first three pounds.

Read the full text of Monroe’s first three KISS Talk columns here: