It's halftime, Fitness Challenge. Five weeks of the Tribune Chronicle / St. Joseph-St. Elizabeth Health Centers Fitness Challenge are on the scales; five more weeks have yet to be weighed.
Halfway home, the Believers' Bulge Busters are STILL in first place, where they've lightly floated above the rest of the masses since Week 1.
The Wellness Warriors remain in second, Refuel slips into third place, bumping Weigh Out of Control down to fourth, and Hot Cross Buns keep fifth.
Expect changes. Scott MacMillan, captain of the Wellness Warriors, ranks among a number of team captains vowing to shake up the standings in the second half of the community weight loss competition to benefit charity.
"We are all working out at the Niles Wellness Center and spin a few days a week," MacMillan said. "Our diets are that of a squirrel and we are chasing the Believers group hard.''
Bruce Buckler of the Believers said he believes it.
"We see some of their team members at the Wellness Center,'' he said. ''They're a really competitive team. They're really not the ones you want barking at your heels," Buckler said.
The Believers harbor no plans to surrender first, said his wife, team captain Janice Buckler.
"We have two good reasons," she said. "The Bella Women's Center (their designated service organization) and second, we have a really good team. Everybody's on board."
Getting everyone in the same salad line, so to speak, keys success. One of the teams making the biggest moves in rankings in Week 5 was Team TCTC, which jumped from 24th in Week 4 to 13th this week, for that very reason.
"We're slow but steady and moving on up," team captain Tina Hentosh said. "We're a group of strong women. We motivate each other.
"I've lost 110 pounds myself since last March," Hentosh said. "Too bad it (the Fitness Challenge) didn't start then.
"Obviously, doing the Fitness Challenge is extra motivation," she said. "It gives us a push. You have to want it from within. You have to want to be healthy."
Seeing one team member want it helps the rest, said Denise Cera of the 16th place Save the Tatas. For them, that's team member Ron Darlington, who lost 30 pounds through the first five weeks of the Challenge.
"Ron is the biggest loser on our team," Cera said, meaning it in a good way. "He is counting calories, watching his carb intake and gave up regular soda. He's been walking at the Wellness Center, too.
"He is determined to lose the weight, get healthy and stay healthy. We all know he will succeed, and that helps us too," she said.
---- Tips and tasty tidbits
Several of the 330 members of the Fitness Challenge weighed in the first week and haven't hit the scales since. Other players find their enthusiasm waning or hit a wall of discouragement after a slipup or two.
Today, Terri Grimmett, manager of Humility of Mary Health Partners New Start Treatment Center, begins a series on how to prevent relapses.
Mistakes and moments of weakness happen, Grimmett said. It's a fact of life when a person attempts to change his or her lifestyle.
"Relapse is not the end of the world," she said. "If it happens, acknowledge it, accept it as a part of your journey that can and does happen, but it can also be avoided.
"You can use your relapse as a learning situation. Now, go get back on the path to a healthier you - immediately."
Knowing the warning signs that lead up to a relapse can help a person make healthier choices and take alternate action, she said.
The warning signs are change of attitude, loss of structure, elevated stress, social breakdown, loss of judgment, loss of control and loss of options.
The Fitness Challenge - and more importantly, personal healthier lifestyle goals - loses importance, and new routines begin slipping back into bad habits. Hey, it happens, she said. And fixing it also can happen.
Next week, Grimmett will begin examining the warning signs in greater detail.
For the second week in a row, two groups tied for Team of the Week for the best single-week performance. Each team earns a bonus $10 for their designated charity.
Believers' Bulge Busters and Just Weight both dropped 1.76 percent of their starting weight over the last seven days. That let Believers boost their lead and moved Just Weight up from seventh to sixth place.
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; Bankers Beauties and the Wellness Warriors, 1.6 percent.
---- Groups we'd like to take to dinner
Teams often have very personal reasons why they play for the groups they do. The American Cancer Society or its various Relays for Life in Trumbull County were the most popular organization chosen. Seven teams are losing weight in hopes of squishing cancer.
"We chose the Niles Relay for several reasons," MacMillan said of his Wellness Warriors. "One, we host the only area indoor relay at the Niles Wellness Center. Second, we have all lost someone to this horrible disease - and want to do what we can to help find a cure.
"I lost my father-in-law, Jerry Gatta, a month ago after a courageous battle with the disease," MacMillan said.
The Niles Relay for Life is held at the Mayor Ralph A. Infante Wellness Center on the last Friday in April each year.
---- Fat facts
At halftime, the Fitness Challenge has dropped about 3,317 pounds, about 4.8 percent of the starting weight. That's an average weight loss of a nudge more than 10 pounds a person.
---- Food labels
How do teams come up with those names? Some are puns, some are personal and some are tips of the hat, as in the case of Southside Environmental.
''Southside Environmental was nice enough to sponsor our team for the challenge, so I thought it was just that our team be called that,'' team captain Jason Davis said.
''Plus every year, their company gives a generous donation to my mom's Relay for Life team. I know it's not the most original name, but I believed this was a good way to show my family's thanks for their generosity throughout the years.''
---- Smacking of the lips
MacMillan left this message for the Believers' Bulge Busters: "When they weigh in this week, I will have cupcakes from the Blue Iris waiting for them. Look out Believers, the Wellness Warriors are coming hard."