It's reality check time.
Weight losses are lessening and some poundage rumbled home to roost in Week 6 of the 10-week Tribune Chronicle / St. Joseph-St. Elizabeth Health Centers Fitness Challenge.
''We were just beside ourselves,'' Stephanie Iacozili said of her team, Just Weight.
Janelle Buckler of the Believers’ Bulge Busters works out during a zumba exercise class at the Shining Stars Dance Studio in Niles. The team is the defending Fitness Challenge champ and have led every week so far this year.
Last week, they tied for Team of the Week honors in the community weight loss competition to benefit charity. This week ... ''We thought we dropped to the bottom.''
The five members of Just Weight lost a total nine pounds. But in a week where most everyone seemed to hit the wall and 19 of the 66 teams gained weight, they actually gained ground. Just Weight lightened from sixth to fourth place this week.
''You're kidding,'' Iacozili said.
Believers' Bulge Busters kept first place, even widening the gap a bit, despite its worst showing so far, also losing nine pounds.
''You've hit the point where you're not slacking off and you're still trying hard, and you're not seeing as much come off,'' Busters team member Bruce Buckler said. ''We struggled more this week. I was really scared.''
Refuel, with a loss of less than eight pounds, recaptured second place; the Wellness Warriors, at 4.5 pounds loss, slipped into third; and Weigh out of Control, with a loss of 3.75 pounds, dropped from fourth to fifth in the standings.
The Busters, with a leading 12.2 percent of starting weight lost, also improved their odds of becoming the first team in the 11 years of the Challenge to lead wire-to-wire. They have a 2.4 percent lead over Refuel's second place 9.8 percent, with the Wellness Warriors right behind at 9.7 percent and Just Weight at 9.6 percent.
Iacozili said her team aims to have something to say about the final results. They ranked 19th after the first week. Six weeks later, Just Weight weighs in at fourth.
''We're taking it very seriously,'' she said. ''We're with the Y and everybody there is talking about it. We're excited. We're motivated.''
Just Weight works out with a trainer, spends a lot of time on spinning exercises, and follows the American College of Sports Medicine guidelines for general fitness populations, she said.
''We eat a lot. We eat all the time,'' Iacozili said. ''Everyone (else in the competition) will be starving themselves, and we can eat more than you can imagine. We're eating the right foods. There's not a big secret. We're just eating clean.
''As far as a prediction on a big move, like we said in the beginning, we are in it to win it. As far as that goes, you will have to 'Just Weight,''' she said.
Team of the Week honors for the best single-week performance - and the bonus $10 for their designated charity - go to Mocha House Health Solutions. The team lost 1.7 percent of their weight over the seven days of Week 6.
The work moved Mocha House up from ninth place to seventh. The team started the competition in 33rd 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; Weigh Out of Control, Week 3, 2.1 percent; Bankers Beauties and the Wellness Warriors, Week 4, both 1.6 percent; and Believers' Bulge Busters and Just Weight, Week 5, both 1.76 percent.
---- TIPS AND TASTY TIDBITS
Today is Part 2 in Terri Grimmett's discussion of the warning signs of suffering a relapse into unhealthy choices.
Last week, the manager of Humility of Mary Health Partners New Start Treatment Center noted that relapses are common but preventable, largely by recognizing the warning signs - change of attitude, loss of structure, elevated stress, social breakdown, loss of judgment, loss of control and loss of options.
Here's a look at the first part of that list:
"Attitude changes: You begin the thought process that participating actively in your Fitness Challenge is just not as important as it used to be," she said.
"You feel something is wrong but can't identify exactly what it is. Your thoughts begin to take an unhealthy edge, and you begin to lose focus on the goals and processes that have made you successful thus far.
"Loss of structure: You begin to abandon the daily routines or schedule that you developed in the beginning. Yes, routines and schedules sometimes need modified according to work, family or an unexpected life event, but this is a total abandonment of any kind of structure," she said.
"Elevated stress: Be aware of increases in daily or life stressors and your reaction to these stressors. Pay particular attention to mood swings in response to these stressors.
"Have a plan ready on how to manage stress effectively without resorting to unhealthy behaviors. Denial that stress is getting to you and convincing yourself that everything is OK does not work."
If you recognize yourself, own it and fix it. And remember, you have teammates in the Fitness Challenge - and in life.
"Do not dismiss these feelings. Share how stress is affecting you with someone who truly cares about your emotional well-being," Grimmett said.
Next week, she discusses the second part of the list of warning signs.
---- FAT FACTS
The 330 players on the 66 Fitness Challenge teams combined for a total loss of 233.75 pounds last week.
The group shed 389 pounds the week before, and 401.5 pounds the week before that.
In that heady first week, the masses melted 1,501.5 pounds off the scales. Through six weeks, the Challenge-wide total is 3,316.75 pounds.
---- GROUPS WE'D LIKE TO TAKE TO DINNER
Teams often have very personal reasons why they play for the groups they do. This week, Lou Stemple tells why her team, G-Man and the Chunkettes, chose Caringbridge.org.
''We choose this charity because it is a non-profit, free patient website for our loved ones with health challenges to stay connected with their family and friends,'' Stemple said.
''Any money that we can earn will be donated to Caringbridge as a tribute in the honor of my oldest daughter - who is also the sister of two of my team members, a cousin to another member and friend of the fifth member.
''So every pound we lose will be with thoughts and prayers for her in her battle with cancer.''
---- FOOD LABELS
How do teams come up with those names? Lisa Blair, captain of the MDC Calorie Counters, says theirs was easy.
''We are the MDC Calorie Counters from Trumbull Industries. Our name refers to the division we work for at Trumbull,'' she said.
Trumbull Industries evolved from a plumbing supply house in 1922 into a full-line distributor. The Master Distribution Center on Deitz Road N.E. in Warren claims more than 500,000 square feet of warehouse space - plenty of room for an aerobic workout while they work.
---- SMACKING OF THE LIPS
The previously quoted Believers' Bulge Buster Bruce Buckler's wife and daughter, Janice and Janelle Buckler, marched him off to their zumba class last week. He was caught on camera holding a box of Twinkies during some of the movements.
''My wife told me I had to go to that class. I said I was going to do it my way,'' he said.
Which leads to his weekly advice for all the other Fitness Challenge teams: ''My training breakfast consists of three or four Twinkies, and then I wash it down with a Slim-Fast shake. I recommend the same for everyone.''
Before you take his advice, remember that kindly ol' Mr. Buckler is trying to keep you out of first place so he can stay. Just a word of caution.