You don't need to get all high-tech to win a modern-day Fitness Challenge. Then again, perhaps hedging one's bets isn't a bad idea.
PsyCare's Weigh Cool is mixing it up, using both high-tech and low-tech exercise devices. One way or the other, they aim to move up from second place to overtake the still-hot Flab to Fab Flashes in first place in the ninth annual Tribune Chronicle-St. Elizabeth/St. Joseph Fitness Challenge weight loss competition for charity.
"Pam (Thompson) is doing the Wii," team captain Lena Dietrich said. "Doug (Muccio) is playing basketball and jogging. I walk my dog."
The Wii is an interactive video game in which players can use wireless paddles, sticks and other controllers to swing and swat through all the motions of activities such as boxing, baseball, bowling and other sports.
"I'm still in front of the TV," Thompson said. It's just not couch potato mode.
Meanwhile, Dietrich (whose name begins with the word "diet") went low-tech but vigorous.
"I have a four-month old puppy. He's got a lot of energy," she said. "He's a Lab-Weimaraner mix. He's 40 pounds now and will be double that when he's grown."
That's pretty much it, she said - exercise, salads and portion control. And encouraging each other at mealtimes.
"We watch everybody on the team, and we have spies watching everyone when they are in our other offices," she said.
Oh, and there's another strategy to finally bump the Flab to Fab from the top-dog spot: "We'll send them some cookies," Thompson said.
"We'll fling 'em right back at 'em," countered Becky Bucco, the school nurse who advises both teams from Champion Local schools, Flab to Fab (first place) and Curvy Champion Chicks (eighth).
Don't mess with teachers, Bucco warns. They WILL serve you detention. But more on that later.
n Twenty-two charities and service organizations were chosen by the 32 teams playing this year. All the nonprofits chosen are guaranteed to receive at least the $250 team entry fee, plus the top 10 teams earn more for their designated groups. First place nets $1,500 for its charity; second place, $1,000; third, $600; fourth, $400; fifth to seventh, $350; and eighth to 10th, $300.
n The most popular designee once again this year is the American Cancer Society Relay for Life. Seven Challenge teams are playing for their Relay teams.
TIPS AND TASTY TIDBITS
Registered dietician / licensed dietician Cindy Heslop, clinical dietician at St. Elizabeth Health Center, Belmont Avenue, returns to tell us more about putting together a healthy nutrition plan and sticking with it.
"Make lifestyle changes one step at a time," Cindy advises. "Set small goals that are SMART - specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timed."
n Instead of chips or cookies, eat a piece of fruit after work Monday through Friday for the next two weeks, or walk three times a week for 20 minutes over the next two weeks.
n Reward yourself, but not with food.
n Track your progress. Using daily logs and charts to monitor your progress is motivating and leads to long-term success.
n Learn to recognize true hunger. Eat only when you are hungry, and shop only from a preplanned list.
n Keep a positive attitude. Lifestyle change is a matter of progress, not perfection. Change is always easier when you feel good about yourself.
n Don't overwhelm yourself. Pick one main thing to change at a time, rather than adopting an "all-or-nothing" philosophy.
n Focus on positive changes in the here and now. Don't expect long-term results in a short period of time.
GROUPS WE'D LIKE TO TAKE TO DINNER
This week's featured service organization is Whitetails Unlimited, the group for which The Commish is playing. The Commish is captained by Trumbull County Commissioner Dan Polivka.
Team member Denny Malloy, the Whitetails field director for the Northeast U.S. Region, said, "Whitetails Unlimited is a national, nonprofit conservation organization dedicated to whitetail deer and deer hunting as a sport and management tool."
There are more than 500 chapters and 80,000 members nationwide, including four chapters in the Mahoning Valley. The Mosquito Creek Chapter in Trumbull County boasts 550 members.
"We recently bought archery equipment for Badger and Bristol schools, hold youth outdoor skills days, donated outdoor books to the Trumbull library system, donated venison to local food banks - a huge hit - bought ammo and equipment for Boy Scouts, 4-H groups and prizes for kids' fishing derbies and granted more than $30,000 in the last three years to local sportsman's clubs for their own conservation programs.
"Our members come from every walk of life and are dedicated to preserving our rural lifestyles and hunting traditions," Malloy said.
Each week, we ask how a team chose its name. This week, we are curious about the Little Debbie Devastators.
"My team had a hard time at first coming up with a fitting, yet funny name," team captain Chris Stringham said. "One of my team members, Steve Namola, also took on some help from some co-workers, and his friends, like the rest of ours, must have realized that a Little Debbie snack doesn't stand a chance around any of us - well, before the challenge.
"Even though Little Debbie now has 100-calorie snack size items, I'm still staying clear. I joke with my wife, Rita Stringham, who is on the Diet Commandos team, that they did that to try and lure us in, and also stay in business."
SMACKING OF THE LIPS
And now back to our teachers in Champion.
Last week, a weigh-in center accidentally reported the same weight for two players on the Curvy Champion Chicks. They should have been in fifth place, but the error had them in 20th.
Team captain Becky Bucco accused me - yes, ME - of manipulating their figures. And she sent me a detention slip! My permanent record suddenly is in shambles.
Worse, I am being ordered to serve detention in the school cafeteria, which serves hefty and delicious meals.
"Burt, you know you should not mess with teachers," Bucco admonished me. "When we were in school, we would have had a ruler across our knuckles or a crack on the behind for forgery. But today, you are going to get an after-school detention.
"Note: detention can be waived for good behavior and low-fat treats."
Give you some of my food? You better send me the school menu so I know what day I'm serving.