The fat lady's warming up - and there's a lot more room in her choir robe than there used to be.
It's payoff week for the 11th annual Tribune Chronicle / St. Joseph-St. Elizabeth Health Centers Fitness Challenge, and plenty of teams are kicking up the exercise to sweat off those final few pounds.
Or possibly, they're eating cheesecake.
Godney and Makridis give the thumbs up to what they really eat: a large salad at the Mocha House.
''Any team that comes to the Mocha House for an entree gets a free slice of cake, as well as the 20 percent off an entire cheesecake,'' John Woods, captain of the Mocha House Health Solutions team, said by way of helpful reminder to all rivals.
The Mocha House team slimmed from fifth to fourth place this week in the community weight loss competition to benefit local charities. It was another Team of the Week performance for the gang of five who live in the land of baked goods.
''Since we are sponsored by the Mocha House and Premier Health Solutions and are directly across the street from each other, where we eat has not changed - the Mocha House - but what we eat is low-fat, low-junk carbs - read 'sugar' - and lots of fruits and vegetables,'' Woods said. ''A couple have sworn off the starches, a couple have not, and we are all being successful.''
This week, that added up to another 22 1/4 pounds lost for the team and a one-week showing of 2.1 percent of starting weight lost, and a total 12.7 percent of starting weight lost.
''(Teammate) Bill Axiotis is closing in on 50 pounds lost and I expect him to get there next week,'' Woods said. ''He has done it thorough changing what he eats and a big increase in activity, mainly racquetball and with this summer in March, tennis.
''Earl Godney, because of health restrictions, has lost 25 pounds through diet alone (and not strenuous exercise). He has always walked a lot so, that has not changed, but he, too, changed what he eats and the weight consistently has dropped off from the beginning, proving that you can have a positive impact on your health just by what you eat.
''Bill Axiotis, Nick Liakaris and I have agreed to get to the weight we were when we got married, so we have a ways to go,'' he said. ''The Mocha House is going to start another competition among their employees right after this one ends. We are going to pick teams and continue.''
The top three teams remain the same, though the gap is closer: Believers' Bulge Busters kept first place with 15.8 percent of their starting weight lost; Just Weight, remained in second at 14.1 percent; and the Wellness Warriors are still in third, 13.9 percent.
Moving up from sixth place into fifth behind the Mocha House team are Weigh Out of Control at 11.6 percent.
If the Bulge Busters keep the lead one more week, they will will become the first back-to-back champions and the first team to lead the Challenge from wire to wire. The team has a comfortable lead of 1.7 percent. Last week, the lead was an ever-more-spacious 2.2 percent.
''I guess the advantage goes to us, but we can't sit back and take it easy - although I'd like to,'' Buster Bruce Buckler said.
Stephanie Iacozili, captain of second-place Just Weight, said despite the mathematical odds, her team still is aiming for first.
''There's time. We're exercising hard and giving it all we got,'' Iacozili said. ''We're exercising diligently and and doing what we've been doing.''
The team follows a nutrition plan and puts in a lot of sweat equity, especially on the spinning machines at the Warren YMCA, she said.
''This has been a blast. It's been a lot of work and very rewarding,'' she said.
As previously stated, Mocha House Health Solutions collected the $10 Team of the Week bonus for the best performance over the last seven days at 2.1 percent. It's the third time they've done so in the last four weeks.
The Mocha House team may have gained more ground if the other teams at the top had been goofing off. The other Team of the Week contenders this week were Just Weight, 1.9 percent; the Wellness Warriors, 1.8 percent; and the Bulge Busters, 1.4 percent.
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; Mocha House Health Solutions, Week 6, 1.7 percent; Mocha House Health Solutions, Week 7, 1.7 percent; and Just Weight, Week 8, 2 percent.
Tips and tasty tidbits
Since Fitness Challengers should have built a decent exercise foundation by now, Ryan Foertch, manager of the Humility of Mary Health Partners Competitive Edge Sports Medicine, returns this week to talk about how to kick it up a gear.
''I would work on increasing either frequency, intensity or time of the workouts,'' Foertch said. ''But only do one of these at a time. As the exercises get easier, you can change one of these, and work toward a more intermediate workout.''
As noted last week, at the beginner stage, a person should shoot for 30 minutes at 60 to 70 percent of target heart rate. In the intermediate stage, that increases to workouts of 45 to 60 minutes at 75 to 80 percent of target heart rate.
Down the road, a healthy person will work up to 90 minutes of workout, at more than 80 to 90 percent of target heart rate.
The American Heart Association says that generally, the target heart rate zone of a 20-year-old is 100 to 170 beats a minute; 30 years, 95 to 162 beats a minute; 40 years, 90 to 153 beats a minute; and 50 years, 85 to 145 beats a minute.
Foertch returns next week with thoughts on advanced workouts and how to reduce the risk of injury.
The Ladies of Justice won the first Fitness Challenge in 2002 with 8.4 percent of their starting weight lost. There were eight teams in the Challenge. So far this year, 15 of the 66 teams topped 8.4 percent.
Sixteen teams gained weight, and eight didn't weigh in this week.
Overall, Fitness Challenge competitors combined for 194 1/4 pounds lost this week, 4,236 overall, and 6.2 percent of starting weight lost.
Groups we'd like to take to dinner
Three teams this year are playing for the Warren Family Mission, the Fatagains, Inches Away and the MDC Calorie Counters.
Counters captain Lisa Blair said, ''We want to get in shape and help raise money for the Warren Family Mission. We support the mission at Christmas and for Make A Difference Day with food and toy collections in our office.''
According to its website, every month, the Family Mission at its sites serve 6,000 meals; distributes 500 to 700 food boxes; gives clothing to more than 700 people; provides 1,000 nights of shelter, 3,000 hours of rehabilitation, education and work training, and 1,500 hours of prayer and counseling; and gives out large quantities of furniture and household items.
Smacking of the lips
Remember the cheesecake offer from the Mocha House team? Captain Woods says his team members might partake, but within reason.
''Our goal is to never have the need to enter this competition again. We want one and done and not be like Vince Peterson and the courthouse teams that are perennial contestants,'' Woods said.
In a tip to justice, we now shall allow the courthouse teams a week to file a brief for the defense.