Fitness Challenge: You gotta believe

The weight rolls away as Fitness Challenge pounds out of gate

Special to the Tribune Believers Disappearing Act raced out to the early lead in the 17th annual Tribune Chronicle / Mercy Health Fitness Challenge, losing 5.22 percent of their starting weight. Team members are, from left, Arianne Wilden, Matt Wilden, Dave Taylor, Becky Pekarovic and team captain Rudy Pekarovic.

Believers Disappearing Act is, well, disappearing.

The five-player crew trimmed 5.22 percent of their starting weight to bounce into the first-week lead in the 2018 Tribune Chronicle / Mercy Health Fitness Challenge.

“The word for the team is put the hammer down,” captain Rudy Pekarovic said. “That’s an old slogan. … Maybe we should change it up a bit to: Keep your mouths closed and get used to your stomach growling.'”

Just Weight jumped into second place in the food fight with 5.01 percent of starting weight lost, and Do It Again — former Fitness Challenge champions — lurk in third at 4.25 percent.

The teams that lose the greatest percentages of their starting weights win the fattest shares of the prize table for the nonprofit service organizations of their choice. Last year’s champions, Now U C Us, collected $1,155 to give to Cornerstone of Hope, a grief support group for parents who have lost children.

Pekarovic said his team bellies up to one key strategy — vegetables.

“Vegetables are truly a key to success. Even some fruits are high sugar and must be limited,” he said. “We all agree to limit the carbs and fats, for the most part.”

Believers Disappearing Act is made up of three members from last year, including Pekarovic, when they finished in second place as the Believers Heavyweights. The other two members are from years past.

“We have always been competitive, and we will make a strong run at it this year also,” he said. “The Disappearing Act — now you see us; in eight weeks, you’ll need your glasses.”


The sweet icing on the prize cake in the 17th annual Fitness Challenge is that the team posting the best single-week performance each week earns a $10 bonus to tag onto its earnings for its designated nonprofit. So scoop another 10 bucks onto Believers Disappearing Act’s prize plate.


The 17 teams lost a collective 571.75 pounds in the first week of the Fitness Challenge. That works out to a smidge more than 3 percent of the starting weight lost.

Believers Disappearing Act recorded the most total pounds lost for a team — 61.25 — a full 10 pounds more than the next-largest number, third-place Do It Again’s 51.25 pounds. Believers and Again are the only two teams to shrug out of 50 or more pounds.

Two teams hit the 40-pound range, six teams lost between 30 and 39 pounds, four teams were in the 20s and three teams landed in the teens.


Here’s a way to get exercise and professional healthy advice simultaneously — take a Walk with a Doc.

“The value is giving people the opportunity to have access to a physician or a health care professional in an informal setting,” bariatrician and endocrinologist Dr. Steve Robbins said. He took a lap around the Eastwood Mall in Niles with about 15 walkers earlier this month.

“It’s not the commitment of an office,” Robbins said. “In an office setting, there are a lot of intrusive questions. Here, at the mall, it’s just walking around mall. There’s a group aspect to it.”

Walk with a Doc is a national program that began in 2005 in Columbus. Locally, anyone can Walk with a Doc at 8 a.m. the first Friday of each month at St. Joe’s at the Mall, Eastwood Mall.

“Walk with a Doc has been running (at Eastwood) for about four years,” St. Joe’s at the Mall manager Shirley Lisk said. “I have some people who have done it all 42 times.”

This Friday, for Heart Month, the program will be on exercise and its effect on the heart. Call ahead at 330-652-7542 to register and you get prizes and refreshments, too.

For the January walk, Robbins discussed the best approaches to weight management.

“It’s actually different for each person. You have to figure out where your trouble spots are,” Robbins said. “There are a myriad of diets that will help you lose weight. It’s what diet will keep you on track.”

The weight management industry is a multi-billion dollar industry and lots of bad information is out there, he said. But most of the time, it’s really pretty simple — diet and exercise.

He said he’s often asked which is better, diet or exercise. If you’re talking strictly weight management, then it’s diet, he said.

“The importance of watching your intake is very high. It takes about 45 minutes of exercise to burn off a Snickers bar,” Robbins said.

But for weight management and overall health, a combination of diet and exercise is best, he said. Even so, they can’t be treated the same.

“The motivation for workouts and diet is different. There’s a lot more psychology involved in weight management,” he said. “With exercise, you need motivation to do something you don’t want to do. With weight management, you need motivation to NOT do what you want to do.”

The optimal weight loss plan is shed about one to 1 1/2 pounds a week. That’s the kind of weight-loss program that works best for long-range goals of keeping it off, he said.

“Generally, if you drop 500 calories a day, you will lose 1 to 1 1/2 pounds a week,” Robbins said.

Robbins will return to St. Joe’s at the Mall 6 p.m. Wednesday to host a “Fundamentals of Weight Management” class. Call St. Joe’s at the Mall to register.


This week’s service organizations’ spotlight falls on Believers Church, 2577 Schenley Ave. NE, Warren, the designation of the Believers Disappearing Act.

“We are sponsoring the building improvement funding at Believers,” Pekarovic said. “The church just completed a renovation of the youth side of the building. They made it a great place for our youth to have a place to get together and have fun.”

It’s also a place to learn about weight management. Pekarovic will lead the small group focused on “The Daniel Plan: 40 Days to a Healthier Life” by Daniel Amen, Mark Hyman and Rick Warren. The eating program is based on a diet in the Biblical Book of Daniel.

“I have committed to lead this year to help me raise my level of dedication to a lifestyle change,” Pekarovic said.

Believers has several groups open for people who need support with everyday issues or learning more about our Lord,” Pekarovic said. “We will begin the winter signups shortly. We would love for people to visit us and find out what opportunities exist.”


How did they come up with those creative team names? This week, we asked the PsyCare Hungry Gamers.

The PsyCare part is easy. The teammates are also co-workers at the behavioral and health care counseling group. And the rest?

“It was originally a play off of ‘The Hunger Games,'” Hungry Gamers team captain Christina Rudy said. “Then it just sort of stuck. Our team has changed a few team members from year to year, but we still feel keeping the name is important.”

Game on.