The 10th annual Fitness Challenge lumbered out of the starting gate at a jiggly 64,011 pounds.
That 32 tons of fatified fun breaks down to a robust average 210 pounds a player.
Of course, not everybody in the weight loss competition to benefit charity is that girthy about the gut line.
Done Weighting team members check their starting weight Thursday at Kent State University Trumbull Campus. From left are captain Maria Magiassos, Noeleen Miller, Debbie Hall, Sam Magiassos and Jack Finch.
The lightest of the 61 five-player teams in the 2011 Challenge checks in at a feathery 801 pounds.
"Not bad for a team that spends eight hours a day in a bakery," Brian Champion, captain of the Lean and Mean squad, said. They are one of three teams based out of Panera Bread store in Hermitage, Pa.
Despite their wispiness on the scales, Lean and Mean still can be heavyweights in the standings over the 10 weeks of competition - standings are based on the percentage of starting weight lost, not total pounds.
l PREVIOUS CHAMPIONS: 2010, Never Say Never, 18.9 percent of their starting weight; 2009, The Y-Guys, 15.3; 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.
l TOTAL MONEY RAISED FOR CHARITY, 2010: estimated $21,810 ($11,050 in 2009)
l MOST TEAMS: 75, 2010
l FEWEST TEAMS: Eight, 2002 and 2004.
l 2010 COMBINED STARTING WEIGHT: 81,121 pounds (34,723.25 pounds, 2009).
l 2010 TOTAL POUNDS LOST: 5,588.5 pounds (2,599.75 pounds, 2009).
l 2010 AVERAGE LOSS: 14.9 pounds per player, 6.9 percent of starting weight lost (16.3 pounds, 7.5 percent, 2009).
"I'm at 221 pounds and my goal is to be at 190 by the end of the competition," Champion said. "If my team can lose 15 pounds each, we should give a good showing."
If Lean and Mean puts up those numbers, they would lose about 11.4 percent of their starting weight. That percentage would have bested anyone in the 2002, 2003, 2004 or 2005 Fitness Challenges.
At the other end of the scales, the heaviest team to start the contest is 4 Full Grown Men, tipping the tote bars at 1,539 pounds. That's a team average of "Welcome to the NFL; you're an offensive linemen."
Team captain Mike Rossi notes that that high-flying poundage isn't his fault.
"4 Full Grown Men represents four very large men and one not-so-large man, yours truly," Rossi said.
Just don't expect them to be too big to compete, he says. Last year, they started slowly and worked their way up toward the top 10, finishing in ninth place and dropping a little more than 160 pounds - a good chunk of which they seem to have reclaimed.
"We returned because we enjoy the Challenge and want to lose more weight," Rossi said.
Welcome to the Tribune Chronicle-St. Elizabeth / St. Joseph Centers Fitness Challenge.
ON THE MENU
Over the next 10 weeks, 310 players on 61 teams from across the region plan to eat wisely and exercise in an effort to build healthier habits and lose weight. The idea of a team contest is that teammates hold each other accountable while opponents liven things up by drawing out the competitive juices.
Teams weigh in each Thursday and weekly updates with team standings will be published on Tuesdays in the health section.
The team that loses the greatest percentage of its starting weight gains the largest share of the prize money for the nonprofit agency of its choice.
Each team paid an entry fee of $250 and chose a charity for which it is playing. The winner will donate at least $1,350 to its charity of choice; second place, $900; third, $540; fourth, $360; fifth to seventh, $315 each; eighth to tenth, $270 each; all others, $225. Also, the team with the best one-week showing earns a bonus $10 for its charity that week, putting another $100 in play.
Size of the prizes for charities still can grow if additional sponsors step forward.
TIPS AND TASTY TIDBITS
Throughout the Fitness Challenge, experts from St. Elizabeth and St. Joseph health centers will offer help in the quest for better health. This week, registered nurse Terri Grimmett, manager of the New Start Treatment Center and Humility of Mary Health Partners Regional Tobacco Treatment Center, stops by to talk about how to retrain ourselves toward healthier choices.
"Behavior modification is not a myth. It works," Grimmett says. "Behavior modification retrains both memory and behavior that supports change.
"Behavior modification requires action that supports a person in reaching their goals. Without it, you are left fighting yourself for the rest of your life in trying to make changes that may or may not occur.
"Begin to make behavior changes that reinforce new thinking patterns and memory tracks. Eliminate focusing on or giving any time to old thinking patterns/memory tracks. They only tend to support a relapse to old behaviors and a defeatist attitude," she said.
"Over a period of time, new memory tracks are laid down and are reinforced by practicing new behaviors - behavior modification," Grimmett said. "Now old thinking patterns are replaced with new memories that are supportive of behavior change and a positive, can-do mindset."
Grimmett will return over the coming weeks with more ideas on how to swap out bad habits for better ones.
In 2010, a record 75 teams played. The 375 players combined for a total starting weight of 81,121 pounds and lost a combined 5,588.5 pounds for an average 14.9 pounds - 6.9 percent of starting weight - a player.
GROUPS WE'D LIKE
TO TAKE TO DINNER
This week's featured beneficiary of the Fitness Challenge is the Warren Family Mission, 2671 Youngstown Warren Road, Warren. It was chosen by three teams - The Right to Bare Arms, Winners that Lose and The Northwood Skinny - plus, The Weight is Over team designated Hannah's House, a Warren Family Mission location in Vienna.
Chris Heltzel, captain of Right to Bare Arms, said, "One of the persons on our team works in the mental health care field and sees indigent patients sometimes who cannot obtain a job because of their illnesses. He felt that the Warren Family Mission does a good job of helping these people with food and shelter, and to try to get on track, get job placement, and find meaning in their lives. It's a valuable safety net for our community."
The Warren Family Mission, with four locations in Warren and the one in Vienna, lists itself as "a Christ-centered, nonprofit mission which provides food, shelter, clothing, spiritual and drug and alcohol rehabilitation help free of charge to participants from Trumbull County and its surrounding area.
"We operate solely on donations from individuals and local businesses."
The mission's website states that each month it serves 6,000 meals, gives away 500 boxes of food, helps 10,000 people with clothing, provides 1,000 nights of shelter, puts in 3,000 hours of rehab, education and work training, and 1,500 hours of prayer and counseling.
Where do they get their names? This week, we check in with Done Weighting, a name that could mean team members are done putting on weight, done waiting on losing weight, or that they're just poor spellers.
Actually, it's probably a combo of the first two, according to team captain Maria Magiassos.
"Like it says, we are 'done weighting' and we are ready to get healthy," Magiassos said.
SMACKING OF THE LIPS
Hey, teams! Do you want to issue a challenge? Call out any teams in particular? Tell others why they might as well try for second place because you're gonna win? Do you want to lay down the smack?
Here's your chance. Challenge others and send your smack talk (the sillier the better - remember, we're all friends and co-adventurers on this journey to health) to the e-mail address right below this sentence.