Another week, another first place ranking for the Believers' Bulge Busters. Ho-hum.
The Bulge Busters are attempting to become the first team in the 11-year history of the Tribune Chronicle / St. Joseph-St. Elizabeth Health Centers Fitness Challenge to lead the Challenge from wire to wire.
Four weeks down. Six long ones to go.
A first-year Fitness Challenge team at the Trumbull County Health Department, known as the Farm Team, includes, from left, Denise Allen, Sharon O’Donnell, Bob Biery, Natalie Markusic and Lucinda Senter.
''I hope we can keep this pace,'' Bulge Buster team member Bruce Buckler said. ''This is about the time you level out. If we level off, other teams will level off.''
At least, he hopes so. Traditionally, the first two weeks of the Fitness Challenge feature fantastic losses. Then it gets to be, well, a challenge.
Pounds gain stubbornness. Muscles unused to exercise rebel. Enthusiasm wanes. Life happens. The third candy bar of the evening sings an irresistible siren song.
It's a time when the determined make their move in the annual community weight loss competition to benefit charity.
''Anybody can come up,'' Buckler said. ''It's kind of exciting. It's like a NASCAR race, watching the standings, watching the points.''
If they hang on , the defending champs once again will collect the $1,350 first prize pot for its designated service organization, the Bella Women's Center. If they fade, some other do-good group cashes in on the fat prize.
The Wellness Warriors aim to make that their quest in the name of the American Cancer Society Relay for Life in Niles. The group moved up a notch to second place this week. They've been there before.
''Last year was my first and we almost won, but second place was the best we could do,'' team captain Scott MacMillan said.
''The contest is great for folks trying to loses weight and change their lives to be healthier. Also, it's for a great reason, to raise monies for organization in need,'' MacMillan said.
The team Weigh Out of Control (American Cancer Society) moved into third place this week, dropping last week's second-place team, Refuel (Rich Center for Autism) into fourth. The Hot Cross Buns (Nicholson Center) held onto fifth.
Buckler's advice from the top: Laugh and enjoy the challenge.
''I think that's key, if you can make it as much fun as you can, because you're pretty hungry,'' he said.
---- Tips and tasty tidbits
What kind of foods should we eat? Challenge dietitian Lauren Manusakis of Humility of Mary Health Partners returns one more time to offer tips on fuel, and then what to do with it.
"Focus on eating more 'whole' foods," she said. "The less processed and boxed foods, the more healthy.
"A whole foods diet helps individuals eat from all the food groups focusing on fruits, vegetable, whole grains, lean protein sources, and low-fat dairy products.
"The idea is to avoid the overprocessed foods, which include many of our convenient food items. The idea is to not make it easy to eat unhealthy," Manusakis said.
Proper nutrition feeds into a better ability to exercise. And exercise is key, she said.
"Physical activity is a necessary part of weight loss and overall health, but physical activity alone cannot promote the desired weight loss of most individuals," she said. "It has to be a combination of eating less and burning more.
"To burn 100 calories, you would have to walk one mile, or you could just not eat that cookie.
"Physical activity enhances weight loss, but you will have to do at least 300 minutes a week of moderate activity to see that benefit.
Therefore, just because you work out does not give you an excuse to eat that candy bar."
Sorry, kids. That's why it's called a challenge.
Team of the Week honors go to two teams. Bankers Beauties and the Wellness Warriors each lost about 1.6 percent of their starting weight over seven days, tying for the best single-week performance. Each team earns a bonus $10 for their designated charity.
Previous Team of the Week winners were Believers' Bulge Busters, Week 1, at 4.9 percent; the Farm Team, Week 2, nearly 2.3 percent; and Weigh Out of Control, Week 3, 2.1 percent.
---- Fat facts
-- The most popular team name was Weapons of Mass Destruction. Four teams tried to register under that name; three settled for a different name.
-- Six teams gained weight this week and three other showed no change. Remember, it's a weight LOSS competition.
-- As a group, the 330 Fitness Challenge players lost 2,930.25 pounds over the first four weeks. That's an average 8.9 pounds a person, and a nearly 4.3 percent of total starting weight gone.
---- Groups we'd like to take to dinner
This week, the service organization spotlight shines on the Nicholson Center, 3581 Youngs-town Road, Warren. It's a nonprofit center that offers services for adults with developmental disabilities.
''Panera (Bread) Elm Road teams always play for the Nicholson Center by request of our GM, Colleen Rose, and I personally think it's a great place to donate to,'' Carolyn Baer, captain of Overproofed, said.
Overproofed is one of three teams playing for the Nicholson Center this year, along with the Hot Cross Buns and Northwood Skinny.
''Developmental disabilities are often overlooked or brushed aside by people even though they are affecting more and more people,'' Baer said.''I feel great about playing for a place that provides for people with special needs.''
Rose, a member of the Hot Cross Buns, said her son, 29, attends programs at the center and does well.
The Nicholson Center states that it ''provides employment and training for adults with developmental disabilities or special needs in Trumbull County.''
Baer said, ''I wanted to lose some weight and get in shape but was never motivated enough to do it on my own. What better motivation than on a team with my co-workers, playing for a charity?''
---- Food labels
As noted above, the Wellness Warriors pushed their way to second place.
Why do they call themselves Wellness Warriors?
''We chose our name because we are all members of the Niles Wellness Center, and that is the location that we work out at,'' team captain Scott MacMillan said. He's also director of operations for the Mayor Ralph A. Infante Wellness Center.
The Warriors part - that's what they hope the Bulge Busters are about to find out.
---- Smacking of the lips
This week's smack talk comes from Bruce Buckler - you know, the guy who gave the NASCAR analogy at the beginning of this article.
''We've got Daytona coming up, so I hope all the other teams enjoy pizza, chips and cookies while they watch the race. Go ahead and take Sunday off and relax.''
He'll be watching with his carrot sticks.