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Harbor High health teacher gives students extra credit when they support his weight loss

Harbor High health teacher gives students extra credit when they support his weight loss
Newport Harbor High School health teacher Ed Bell has made it a goal to lose weight and live a healthier lifestyle as part of his health class curriculum. (Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

Newport Harbor High School teacher Ed Bell stepped onto the physician beam scale placed in the corner of his classroom Wednesday morning.

The scale read 255 pounds. Bell had lost 8 pounds since he last weighed himself in November.

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His students cheered, and he did a little dance.

“Thanks to you guys and your inspiration and focus on keeping me accountable, I’ve made incredible progress,” Bell told his students, who are taking an active role in helping their teacher meet his target weight.

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Bell has made it a goal to lose weight and live a healthier lifestyle as part of his health class curriculum. He knew that to encourage his students to “buy into” his lectures, he needed to practice what he preached.

He began walking the school track and eating better.

Nicole Knickerbocker, 17, said it was inspiring to see her teacher circle the track for hours while she was at tennis practice nearby.

For every pound Bell lost, his students gained a corresponding number of extra credit points.

“The nice part is for kids who are on the cusp of a C-plus or B-plus," Bell said. “They’re encouraging me because they saw the immediate reward.”

He has lost 30 pounds since he began in September.

Newport Harbor High School health teacher Ed Bell weighs in during class Wednesday. He has been on a weight-loss program this semester and has involved his class in the process.
Newport Harbor High School health teacher Ed Bell weighs in during class Wednesday. He has been on a weight-loss program this semester and has involved his class in the process. (Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

Students have analyzed his blood work and regularly ask how many steps his Fitbit has tracked. They also researched some of the top weight loss programs, such as Jenny Craig, the South Beach Diet and Slimfast, and shared their results in class.

On Wednesday, Bell relayed to students some good news from his doctor: he is no longer at risk for type 2 diabetes.

The teacher also emphasized the importance of remaining patient — even when he’s hit a plateau — while working toward his long-term goal.

Bell’s last weigh-in is at the end of the semester, in January. His goal is to get down to 245 pounds.

“Now I’m being a role model and showing it can be done,” he said. “That’s the biggest reward — on top of being healthy.”

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