• iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A father of two said he lost 100 pounds with the help of a fitness tracker that he wouldn’t have thought to buy for himself.The Salem, Massachusetts father of two weighed 304 pounds before he stepped into a weekly wellness group, which included fitness trackers, his doctor had invited him to join.“It was life-changing,” Ricky Chakoutis, 29, told ABC News.Chakoutis was given a Withing watch to track his steps and, after the first week of the program, he lost two pounds.“It kind of blew me away how well these things actually work,” says Chakoutis about the fitness trackers. Dr. Jeff Philips, Chakoutis’s primary care doctor, spearheads the innovative wellness program with the help of Lisa Gualtieri, the founder of RecycleHealth.RecycleHealth is a nonprofit organization that collects new and used fitness trackers, refurbishes them, and redistributes them to people who would benefit from them the most, a program that started in 2013 but has started to grow its reach within the last year.Philips has begun utilizing the technological benefits of fitness trackers for patients like Chakoutis.“It’s a tool like any other tool,” he said, adding that the devices provide real data that are accurate enough to be useful.Not just doctors, but also other patients help each other using data from the trackers to stay accountable.“Groups have decided on their own to create a walking club, they would use their Fitbit online group to motivate each other. ‘I’m going to get walking by the beach, come join me,’” says Dr. Philips. “We focus on support, not competition.”Chakoutis said his competitive nature did come in handy with his weight loss, though."I set up little obstacles all over, just so I’m not on the couch," he said. Chakoutis didn’t realize how few steps he was taking a day before he started the program. He thought he was taking 10,000 steps a day, but discovered after wearing his tracker that he was actually taking less than 3,000 steps a day.Philips said that it is normal for people to think that they are moving more than they actually are.Since the discovery, Chakoutis said he has challenged his goals every day, working up to 8,000 steps a day, then 15,000 steps a day and more."Now, I’m at 25,000 steps a day," he said.He used his Withings watch to track his steps -- almost 2 million of them -- before it stopped working.Diet and lifestyle changes were also a big factor in Chakoutis' major weight loss accomplishments. He was previously eating a lot of take-out with his kids, but now the whole family is into cooking meals at home and learning about healthy food choices.“It’s been a challenge, but we are all eating fruits and vegetables now,” says Chakoutis.Friends and family have been supportive of his weight loss. A year ago, a friend jokingly made a bet that if Chakoutis got to 230 pounds that he would pay for their whole group of friends to take a vacation.  He said his friend didn't think he could do it, but the bet was worth it. The group is flying to Las Vegas at the end of the month.Now, Chatoukis is aiming for a new goal of 185 pounds -- the weight he hopes to maintain the rest of his life.In addition to the fitness tracker and lifestyle changes, Chatoukis said his doctor was a major factor in helping him achieve his goals.“If I didn’t have Dr. Philips as my doctor, there’s a good chance this wouldn’t have happened," Chatoukis said. "I credit him for all of it."RecycleHealth said their program is growing; they have received more than 2,000 used and new fitness trackers donations from all over the world, Gualtieri said. There are so many donations, in fact, she's had to move to a bigger office. Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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  • iStock/Thinkstock(KINGSLAND, Ga.) -- Two active-duty U.S. sailors from Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay were found dead of apparent drug overdoses in the same home four days apart, U.S. Submarine Forces confirmed to ABC News.Last Thursday, Petty Officer 1st Class Brian Jerrell was found dead in a home in Kingsland, Georgia, 20 minutes west of the Navy base.Then, on Monday, Petty Officer 2nd Class Ty Bell was found dead inside the same home, which he apparently owned.Sarah Self-Kyler, a spokesperson for U.S. Submarine Forces, told ABC News that the sailors were friends and former shipmates, but not from the same command.The Kingsland Police Department, supported by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS), is investigating the deaths. It is unknown at this time what drug caused the sailors to overdose.On Monday and Tuesday of this week, all commands conducted a urinalysis of every sailor on base, Self-Kyler said.The U.S. Navy has a zero-tolerance drug policy.
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  • Shelby Skiles(DALLAS) -- Shelby Skiles was unable to sleep one recent night while staying with her 2-year-old daughter at Children’s Medical Center Dallas when she just began to write.Skiles, 28, has spent nearly every night since May at the hospital after her only child, Sophie, was diagnosed with an aggressive form of T-cell lymphoma.Skiles estimates she and her husband, Jonathan, have met hundreds of nurses throughout the course of Sophie’s treatment. The toddler is awaiting a stem cell transplant, after undergoing 15 rounds of chemotherapy that helped stop the progression of the cancer.But, the intense chemotherapy left Sophie unable to walk, talk and eat on her own."It was like 3 a.m. and I was sitting on that uncomfortable couch in the hospital room and I couldn’t go to sleep," Skiles said about the night this month she began to write. "I just started writing down what the nurses do and it just kept going."The list included more than just routine checkups."All the things I see them do for us and for other people," Skiles wrote, "like the nurse who sat on the floor with me when I had a panic attack when we got the diagnosis."Skiles posted her letter of gratitude to nurses on a Facebook page she and her family created for Sophie called "Sophie the Brave.""I see you carrying arm loads of medicine and supplies into one child's room all while your phone is ringing in your pocket from the room of another," she wrote. "I see you put on gloves and a mask and try not to make too much noise at night ... I see you stroke her little bald head and tuck her covers around her tightly."The post has now been shared more than 25,000 times.“I thought, ‘Sophie’s page has a lot of followers so I’ll post this and bring awareness to what goes on in a children’s hospital and what nurses do especially when caring for sick kids,” Skiles said. “But I’ve been 150 percent shocked by how much attention it’s gotten.”The post also caught the eye of the nurses caring for Sophie at Children’s Medical Center Dallas.“I just am so grateful that she did that,” said Susan McCollom, clinical manager of the Pauline Allen Gill Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders, who has helped treat Sophie. “Our job is very difficult, emotionally, physically and mentally and it kind of captured why we do our job and that what we do is not just a job.”She added, “I’m very proud of my team, but not surprised because I know that’s what they do every day.”Skiles said she expects Sophie to remain at the Dallas hospital until at least the end of January and then transfer to nearby housing. Once the stem cell transplant is complete, Sophie will need to continue undergoing therapy and live close to the hospital for checkups.“It’s incredible to watch people put their lives on hold and completely care for kids that really, really need it,” Skiles said of the nurses she’s encountered so far. “And they care for the parents too.”
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  • ABCNews.com(NEW YORK) -- A new study has found that children who play youth football may take more high-magnitude hits to the head than originally thought.Researchers at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) mounted censors on young football players' helmets during 25 to 30 practices and seven games, and found that many players experienced high-magnitude head impacts, defined as impacts greater than 40 times the force of gravity.Researchers found that of the 7,590 head impacts that were recorded, 8 percent were considered high-magnitude head impacts.The study, which looked at 45 football players ages 9 through 12, found that high-magnitude head impacts were also most likely experienced in those playing the positions of quarterback, running back and linebacker.While researchers looked closely at head impact force, they did not assess clinical outcomes of the head impact.The study, published Tuesday in the Journal of Neurosurgery: Pediatrics, comes at a time when parental concerns over the safety of youth football have mounted.Since 2009, the number of children ages 6 through 12 who play tackle football has gone down by nearly 20 percent, according to the Sports and Fitness Industry Association.The researchers at Virginia Tech found that youth players also experienced a higher rate of high-magnitude head impacts while playing in an actual game, versus at practice.Researchers said they hope the study brings a better understanding of what causes concussions in children, in order to help prevent injury and to eliminate certain drills and plays that are high risks to young players.
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  • (NEW YORK) -- More than half of U.S. women have experienced unwanted and inappropriate sexual advances from men, three in 10 have put up with unwanted advances from male co-workers and a quarter have endured them from men who had influence over their work situation.
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  • Crystal Kaye(KANSAS CITY, Mo.) -- Crystal Kaye's work designing dolls to represent women with skin-pigment loss is drawing grateful responses from women across the country who are thrilled to have a doll that looks like them.“I get messages from women saying that they’re in tears. Women in their 40s and 50s, crying because they’re so grateful to have something that mirrors them,” said Kaye of Kansas City, Missouri.It all began about nine months ago when Kaye took a porcelain doll that her daughter was about to throw away.Kaye, who already had an online store she calls Kays Customz for selling her handmade jewelry, stripped the doll down to make it her next canvas.She started by designing a doll representing black women with albinism. Then she moved on to painting women with vitiligo.Albinism is a condition in which people are born with little to no melanin. Vitiligo characteristically causes milky-white patches across the skin from a loss of melanin. Vitiligo affects an estimated 65 to 95 million people worldwide, although because of underreporting the actual number may be even higher, according to the Vitiligo Research Foundation.Photos of Kaye's first dolls got thousands of likes and shares on Facebook, but the response to images of her creations with vitiligo was overwhelming, she said.She has now had orders for over 150 of the dolls.“It started as a hobby and spun into this,” she said.Kaye designed a doll with a skin patch on her face in the shape of the African continent, an example of her positive portrayal of the skin condition.Some women with vitiligo have asked Kaye for custom dolls that look like them.Finally, a face like her own“I always wanted a doll that looked like me,” said Que Chunn, a 38-year-old mother and nurse from Nashville who was one the first to order a custom doll from Kaye.Chunn said she was diagnosed with vitiligo when she was 14. Because of what the condition did to her appearance, she said she was bullied and called names.She learned of Kaye's work after family and friends saw the dolls on social media and tagged Chunn in the posts.Kaye used a photo of Chunn to design a doll for her, then shipped it off.The doll was sent to Chunn’s home in Nashville instead of the P.O. box she uses when traveling to different areas of the U.S. to serve as a nurse.But Chunn couldn't wait.She drove to Nashville and raced to her mailbox. “I couldn’t do anything but cry. It was beautiful. Every expectation and beyond,” Chunn said of the moment she unwrapped the doll to see a face like her own.She keeps her doll in a glass case in her bedroom in Atlanta, where she is currently positioned as a travel nurse.“It’s a good thing that she’s doing for this community,” Chunn says of Kaye's work for women with vitiligo, “We are never recognized.”People with vitiligo now 'have a voice'Tiffanie Wiley, 29, was diagnosed with vitiligo when she was 7 and the condition was only on her fingertips.After it spread to other parts of her body, she started to get bullied at school.Wiley said began wearing makeup when she was only 10 “as a favor to others.” But after her high school graduation, she said she started to embrace self-love.She has since become a motivational speaker aiming to reduce bullying and increase tolerance through what she calls her #IAmGreat movement.Stumbling upon Kaye’s doll art on Facebook, Wiley reached out for a custom order of a doll sporting an “I am great” slogan.Kaye had the order done in a day.“It was the first time I saw something that looked like Tiffanie,” Wiley says, referring to herself. She said the intricate details of the doll amaze her, the spots around her nose, the markings on her ears. “The things that most people don’t notice,” she said.She now takes the doll on her motivational speaking engagements around her home in the Louisville
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