Memo to engraver: Don't etch any names on the trophy yet. With its second straight Team of the Week performance, the Mocha House Health Solutions pounded its way to third place in Week 7 of the Tribune Chronicle / St. Joseph-St. Elizabeth Health Centers Fitness Challenge.
They began in 33rd place. They aim to end in first.
''Mathematically, that will be tough, but that is the goal,'' Mocha House captain John Woods said.
Here’s “before.” Nick Liakaris, left, of the Mocha House Health Solutions, plants himself on the scales during the Jan. 19 initial weigh-in at the Warren YMCA as Rob Nicholson from The Skinny Knights looks on. Seven weeks later, Liakaris is 30 pounds lighter, his team is in third, and he’s aiming for an “after” photo from the winner’s circle after three more weeks. Nicholson, meanwhile, has shed 12 pounds for the 15th place Knights.
Defending champions the Believers' Bulge Busters remain solidly in first place with 13.3 percent of their starting weight lost; the Wellness Warriors moved back into second at 11.2 percent; Mocha House weighs in at 10.7 percent; Just Weight remains in fourth at 10.6 percent; and Refuel dropped from second to fifth at just less than 10.6 percent.
The team that loses the greatest percentage of its starting poundage in the 10-week community weight loss competition earns the heftiest share of prize money for the service organization of its choice.
''The work is paying off,'' Woods said Friday afternoon, taking a break from a game of raquetball. ''If there's any secret, it's staying active.''
Four team members play raquetball or run. The fifth member, under some activity restrictions, still is succeeding through a better diet, Woods said.
''The main thing we've done is just get rid of the junk (from our menu),'' he said.
Mocha House Health Solution team members follow sensible eating plans, each dropping three to five pounds a week most weeks, Woods said. In Week 2, they pushed from 33rd to 23rd place. By Week 4, it was 11th; then ninth; then seventh; and now third.
''It's been fun doing this,'' Woods said. ''I'm down 21 pounds. I spent most of the last decade at 245 to 250.
''No matter where we're at, we won't get to our ideal weights by the 29th (the final weigh-in), but we want to keep it going. So three of us have a side bet. The last one to get goal weight has to buy Handel's ice cream for the other two and watch them eat it.''
Meanwhile, the Bulge Busters continue their quest to be the first Fitness Challenge team to lead from wire to wire.
''We definitely have to keep our eye on the ball,'' team member Bruce Buckler said. ''We have a good team, we're focused, and it's just keeping that focus and the eye on what you're playing for.
''Any team that focuses on why they're doing it, it will be to their benefit. And hopefully, it will benefit us the most,'' Buckler said.
Eight of the 66 teams playing are members of the 100-pound club so far. If the standings were based on total pounds lost instead of percentage, the scales would tip this way (with current place in parenthesis):
Mocha House Health Solutions, 128.5 pounds lost (third place);
Wellness Warriors, 128.25 pounds (second);
Believers' Bulge Busters, 128 pounds (first);
Refuel, 122 pounds (fifth);
4.5 Full Grown Men, 120 pounds (eighth);
Just Weight, 117 pounds (fourth);
Weigh Out of Control, 112.75 (sixth);
Save the Tatas, 102.5 pounds (13th).
Tips and tasty tidbits
Today is part 3 in Terri Grimmett's discussion of the warning signs to suffering a relapse into unhealthy choices.
The manager of Humility of Mary Health Partners New Start Treatment Center noted that relapse is 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 second part of that list:
''Social breakdown: You may begin to feel uncomfortable around others and make excuses not to socialize,'' she said. ''You stop associating with people who are a support to you and who are also taking the same Fitness Challenge. You begin to isolate.
''Loss of judgment: You begin to have trouble making healthy decisions. You could begin to use poor judgment in your choices and cause yourself setbacks due to the re-occurrence of impulsive behavior. You may feel overwhelmed for no apparent reason and begin to feel angry or annoyed easily.
''Loss of control: You make irrational choices and cannot alter these choices. You cut off people who can help you. You lose confidence in your ability to manage the journey to fitness that you had been successful with, so far,'' she said.
''Loss of options: You limit your options. You may feel frustration, anger, resentment and tension. You feel helpless and desperate,'' she said.
The answer: Recognize what's going on.
''Acknowledge it, accept it as a part of your journey that can and does happen,'' she said.
Use it as a learning experience, reach out to your teammates and ''go get back on the path to a healthier you - immediately,'' she said.
Groups we'd like
to take to dinner
Teams often have very personal reasons why they play for the groups they do. This week, Terry Mascioli of Weapons of Mass Reduction tells why they are playing for A Heart for Hannah's House.
''Hannah's House is part of the Warren Family Mission and is located in Vienna. It is a one-year residential program for women of all ages who are struggling with alcohol and drug addictions, homelessness, abuse and other life challenges,'' Mascioli said.
''I am the director / founder of A Heart for Hannah's House. I began teaching the 12-step program at Hannah's House over two years ago. It has been the most rewarding experience for me. I felt led to start a fundraising organization where the proceeds would directly benefit the women of Hannah's House. These proceeds are used to purchase Bibles, gas for the van, classroom supplies and field trips such as camping, and last fall we were able to take the women to see Joyce Myer in Cleveland. We also assisted in the remodeling of the dorm rooms.
''All of these things are great, and we thank God for all of it, but what is most important is the women who walk through the doors of Hannah's House broken and tired. Many of them have lost everything. But I can tell you that many of them complete the one-year program and come out transformed,'' she said.
Clever team names are a Fitness Challenge tradition. This week, the rankings include the curious juxtaposition of the Big Sexys in 31st place, immediately chased by the Big Uglies.
Then there's the double feature of names that sound like movie titles, the Fat and the Furious in 14th, followed by The Skinny Knights.
Also on the menu are G-Man and the Chunkettes in 34th, sounding perhaps like a style of soup, followed by Soup's Weight Loss Crew in 35th. (Soup's is captained by David Campbell, if you're looking for the recipe for a team name.)
One of our favorite names here at Fitness Challenge Central is a team calling itself Puzzled by Weight Loss. Sums it up for many.
As previously stated, Mocha House picked up Team of the Week honors for the best single-week performance, and the bonus $10 for its designated charity, the Chios Society. They lost nearly 1.7 percent (1.68, to be precise) of their weight over the previous seven days.
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, 1.6 percent; Believers Bulge Busters and Just Weight, Week 5, 1.76 percent; and Mocha House Health Solutions, Week 6, 1.7 percent.
Smacking of the lips
Refuel team captain Brian McConnell explains one of the things that has kept his team in the top five through most of the Challenge:
''Two of our team members are baseball coaches in Niles, one the head coach, and they want to look good in their baseball uniforms this spring.''