They practically live at the gym. So why haven't the Well Wishers been dominating the weight loss competition?
''Exercise is great, but 90 percent of the battle is what you put in your mouth,'' Well Wishers team captain Kristin Reichard quoted one of her former workout coaches. ''If you are eating terrible, you are not going to lose weight.''
Apparently, the team is doing both well. The Well Wishers take over third place this week in the 10th annual Tribune Chronicle-St. Elizabeth/St. Joseph Centers Fitness community weight loss competition to benefit charity.
Farmers Fit Five teammates load their plates at their weekly salad bar. At the right is a conceptual drawing of the Michael Theodore Jr. Youth Center, a memorial to a Marine recruit from Howland and son of a team member, killed last year in a traffic accident in Braceville. Construction is slated to begin this year. The team is playing to benefit the charity. In the front from left are Brenda Jackson, Stephanie Flanigan, Laureen Theodore and Philip Lammers. Lynn Halliday is in the background.
''I love it!'' Reichard said. ''Our goal was, we were hoping to stay in the top 10 throughout the competition. We were bummed out last week when we dropped from fifth to sixth place.''
Believers Bulge Busters tightened their belt on first place, holding the top spot for the second week. Still in second are the Kings of Carz, the leaders the first three weeks.
Moving up the ranks are the Well Wishers, a team whose five members either work or work out - or both - at The Mayor Ralph A. Infante Wellness Center in Niles, commonly known as The Well. They never have been lower than 10th place or higher than fifth - until now.
Reichard said that for her, weight loss has been slow - which wellness experts say is the right way because it's both healthy and lasting.
She follows the Weight Watchers eating plan. But exercise still plays a key role.
''I work out seven days a week,'' Reichard said. ''I work there (at The Well), so it makes it easier. A lot of the battle is getting yourself to do it. I'm already there.
''I do spinning four times a week, a walk two times a week, and I do circuit training (once a week),'' she said.
''I have two jobs and work 55 to 60 hours a week. I have a child at home. And I'm getting older,'' said Reichard, who said at 45, things don't happen as quickly as they did at 30.
''I thought the extra workouts would make me more tired. I find that I have more energy,'' she said.
Energy enough, she hopes, to continue the rise up the scales to drive off the Kings and bust the Busters to take over first place - and hold off all the other teams coming up behind them.
The Well Wishers did well, but Team of the Week honors go to The King and His Court. They put on the best single-week performance, shedding 1.6 percent of their poundage over the preceding in seven days.
They also moved up the charts from 13th place to ninth in the standings at the halfway mark of the 10-week Fitness Challenge.
Other high-flying one-week drops were recorded by Winners that Lose, who melted off 1.45 percent of their weight in a week to move up from 35th place to 24th; Believers Bulge Busters, 1.35 percent to maintain first place; and the Fat Boyz, 1.31 percent, dancing from 24th to 17th place.
The Kings of Carz recorded a 1.63 percent loss over the last week but don't qualify for Team of the Week honors. To qualify, all five members have to weigh in the previous week so that it's a true one-week showing, not two weeks masquerading as one because someone skipped a weigh-in.
GROUPS WE'D LIKE TO
TAKE TO DINNER
Each team chose a service organization for which it is playing. Each charity is guaranteed at least $225, with the top 10 teams collecting more for their designated groups, up to $1,350 for first place.
The spotlight this week falls on the Farmers Bank Fit Five, who are playing for a Michael J. Theodore Jr. memorial youth center to be built later this year.
''We were affected by the loss of Michael Theodore Jr., and we want to help in donating to the youth center which will be built in his honor,'' team captain Philip Lammers said.
Theodore, 19, was one of three Marine recruits killed in a traffic accident March 31, 2010, in Braceville. His mother, Laureen Theodore of Howland, is one of the members of the Fit Five. The five teammates work at the downtown Niles office of Farmers Bank, which is sponsoring the team.
''Last year was difficult for most of us,'' Lammers said. ''It was filled with a lot of emotions, so we wanted to focus on a goal of living a healthy lifestyle so we can enjoy life.''
''Mikey'' Theodore was a worship leader at Pentecostal Community Church in New Lyme in Ashtabula County, about seven miles north of the Trumbull County line and a little more than 15 miles up state Route 11 from Cortland.
His parents are spearheading a drive to build a youth center at the church.
Lammers said togetherness has been key for the team.
''Some of the activities that our team is doing, several times a week we go after work and walk at the Niles Wellness center and we invited all of our associates we work with to join us and the turnout has been great,'' Lammers said.
''Weekly, we do a group lunch salad bar. Once again, the whole branch joins in and brings different ingredients for lunch.''
Last week, a conceptual drawing of ''Mikey's'' youth center was propped up in site of the salad bar on their desks at the bank.
''One of the major tools in watching our calorie intake has been the website www.myfitnesspal.com, which all of us do daily and log in calories consumed. It is jaw-dropping how many calories we used to consume, especially dining out.''
So what's the best kind of diet?
This week, Humility of Health Partners registered / licensed dietitian Lauren Manusakis returns to discuss ''diet,'' which she already has said is a bad word to use.
''The best 'diet' to follow is the one you can stick to the rest of your life,'' Manusakis said. ''It is better to focus more on eating healthy for a lifetime than dieting to lose weight.''
This leaves out most fad diets, she said.
''If it sounds too good to be true - and promises big results over a short period of time - it probably is,'' she said.
''It is unrealistic for individuals to follow most of these 'fad diets' lifelong. Who wants to never eat another carb in your life or drink a shake every day for lunch? It's just not practical.
''It's better to focus on eating food from all food groups with variety, balance and moderation. You want to focus on eating 'whole' foods, unprocessed foods, like fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products and lean meats.
''Limit the food that has a low nutritional value, such as chips, cookies, candy, fried foods, baked goods, etc.,'' she said. ''Limits means we don't have to restrict but rather keep to small portions and don't make it a habit to eat these foods.''
Manusakis will return in the coming weeks with more thoughts on healthy eating.
Where did they come up with those names? This week, we ask Making Our Doctors Happy.
''Each one of our doctors has suggested that we each need to lose weight. So we decided to give the Fitness Challenge a try, and we figured it would make our doctors happy,'' team captain Luanne Hite said.
''Our team celebrated New Year's Eve in New York City and after walking many blocks we realized how out of shape we really are. So in order to get ready for our next family adventure, we decided to give the Fitness Challenge a try,'' she said.
''Our team consists of four siblings and a spouse. We also have a great support base. The other spouses also come and walk and diet right along with the rest of us,'' she said. ''We walk every night at the Niles Wellness Center. It gives us an opportunity to support each other and catch on daily family news.''
And, their doctors are happy.