Hey there, tubby! How's that New Year's resolution about losing weight working out for ya?
If that exercise thing and healthy eating rigmarole are weighing on your nerves, maybe motivation will help.
It's time to sign up for the 10th annual Tribune Chronicle-St. Elizabeth / St. Joseph Health Centers Fitness Challenge, a community weight loss competition to benefit local charities.
''We know that many people need motivation to begin eating healthy,'' Sue Shafer, Tribune Chronicle community events coordinator, said.
''We all need to be more conscious of our health and eating habits. And we are helping out our favorite charities raise much-needed donations in a difficult economy when donations are down,'' she said.
We will tease, taunt and tug each other on toward better health. It's a light-hearted approach that attempts to spin a little fun into the accountability of competition to jump-start your journey toward better health.
l ON THE MENU: Tenth annual Tribune Chronicle / St. Elizabeth / St. Joseph Health Centers Fitness Challenge
l INGREDIENTS: Five-member teams loseweight through healthy eating and exercise. The teams that lose the greatest percentage of their starting weights win the bulk of the prize money for the charities of their choice.
l SERVING: Feb. 10 to April 21.
l ORDER: Entries due Feb. 1. Entry form runs periodically in the Tribune Chronicle. Today, it is on Page 3C.
l PRICE: $250 a team.
l DESSERT: Winner donates at least $1,350 to its charity of choice; second, $900; third, $540; fourth, $360; fifth to seventh, $315 each; eighth to 10th, $270 each; all others, $225. (Size of the prizes for charities can grow if additional sponsors step forward.) The team with the best performance each week earns another $10 for its charity.
FINAL STATS FROM 2010
l CHAMPION: Never Say Never, who lost a record 18.9 percent of their starting weight.
l NUMBER OF TEAMS: 75 for 375 players (2009, 32 teams, 160 players)
l COMBINED STARTING WEIGHT: 81,121 pounds (34,723.25 pounds, 2009).
l TOTAL POUNDS LOST: 5,588.5 pounds (2,599.75 pounds, 2009).
l AVERAGE LOSS: 14.9 pounds per player, 6.9 percent of starting weight lost (16.3 pounds, 7.5 percent, 2009).
l TOTAL MONEY RAISED FOR CHARITY, 2010: estimated $21,810 ($11,050 in 2009)
l MOST TEAMS: 75 in 2010 (previous record, 62 in 2007).
l FEWEST TEAMS: Eight, 2002, 2004.
l PREVIOUS CHAMPIONS: 2009, The Y-Guys, 15.3 percent of their starting weight; 2008, Cortland PsyCare Shrinks, 13.4 percent; 2007, Inlaws / Outlaws, 14.2 percent; 2006, 4 Men and a Lady, 13.81 percent; 2005, Fab Five of PsyCare, 11.31 percent; 2004, Hillside Hotties and Master K Dog, 7.78 percent; 2003, Hospice Hunnies, 7.87 percent; 2002, Ladies of Justice, 8.4 percent.
2011 WEIGH-IN SITES
l The Mayor Ralph A. Infante Wellness Center, 213 Sharkey Drive, in Waddell Park, Niles.
l Vlad Pediatrics, 2654 state Route 5, Building C, Cortland.
l YWCA of Warren, 375 N. Park Ave., Warren.
l Kent State University Trumbull Campus, Workforce Development Building, 4314 Mahoning Ave. N.W., Champion.
For example, while it is illegal to load your pockets with obesity studies to pad your initial weigh-in, it is perfectly fine to send doughnuts to an opposing teams to test their resolve.
The Challenge works like this: Five-member teams spend 10 weeks eating well and working out to earn a fat payoff for the area charity of their choice. The teams that lose the greatest percentages of their starting weights earn the bulk of the prize money for their designated nonprofit agencies.
In 2010, a record 75 teams - that's 375 players - lost a combined 81,121 pounds, an average 6.9 percent loss a person. And they raised nearly $22,000 for area nonprofits.
''The Fitness Challenge is a fantastic opportunity to impact positive change on several levels,'' Tina Creighton of co-sponsor Humility of Mary Health Partners' St. Elizabeth and St. Joseph Health Centers said.
''The hard work of the teams to improve their lives helps the charities of their choice improves the lives of many others. It's a win-win or maybe lose / win-win,'' she said.
Teams weigh in weekly and team standings will be published every Tuesday in the Tribune Chronicle. St. Joseph and St. Elizabeth will provide weekly tips from the doctors and dietitians. Other co-sponsors will pop up with additional prizes and incentives.
While no diet or workout plan in particular is endorsed, we strictly insist that they must be healthy. If we catch anybody on a starvation diet, the rest of us will force-feed that person biscuits and gravy until the sausage leaks out that person's ears.
Scott MacMillan, director of operations of the The Mayor Ralph A. Infante Wellness Center in Niles, one of the official weigh-in sites, said, ''Unfortunately, we are part of a high-stress, stationary culture that needs to expose theirselves to more activity and community interaction.
''Through promotions of programs like the Challenge, our community grows healthier and has a more positive outlook on selves and others.''
The Fitness Challenge debuted in 2002 when Trumbull County probation officer and pastor Vince Peterson and friends each tossed 50 bucks into a pot and said the guy who could lose the most won the cash. That gave them competition, accountability to each other, an incentive - and fun harassing each other.
''I thought something like this would be great if it could be done on a larger scale,'' Peterson said. ''After having been a former football player under coach (Jim) Tressel and learning the concept of giving back to the community from him and my parents, I thought it would be great if the monies raised would go to charities.''
Peterson brought his idea to the Tribune Chronicle, and the rest is 10 years of history.
Vinnie P. not only has been a founder, but also a yearly participant.
''I gained 10 pounds over the holidays. Hey, but there is a bright side. It could have been 20 if not for my son being home from Villanova (where he plays defensive back on the football team). He ate everything that was not nailed down - 14 pieces of toast at a time, or eight waffles and eight sausage patties alone with a bucket of milk.
''I'm trying to get him to take several months off from school during the Fitness Challenge. There will be nothing in the house to eat, therefore, I will lose weight,'' Peterson said.
''Anyway, I'm in it to win it. My wife has already started her own thing and doesn't want to be on my team. My daughter is in great shape and doesn't need the Fitness Challenge. I might recruit my dad. So get ready. I'm baaaa-aaack and bigger than ever! But not for long!''
Grab four of your buddies and step up to the dinner plate - I mean, step away from the dinner plate - and sign up for the 2011 Fitness Challenge.
On a more serious side, studies have linked a sedentary lifestyle and too many pounds to all kinds of life-shortening diseases and conditions, from diabetes to high blood pressure to sleep apnea to some forms of cancer.
Experts say about three months of practicing a something can be enough to form a habit. For 10 weeks, beginning with the Feb. 10 initial weigh-in, the Fitness Challenge offers a mixture of accountability and silliness with the chance to establish better habits.
Creighton said, ''As the teams embark on their quest, a reminder that resolving to lose weight is a journey, and just like any journey, there will be bumps and detours. It's important to keep your eye on the destination and remember even small changes can move you forward on your way to your goal.''
So c'mon, skinny, let's get Challenged.