In It to Win It still holds an impressive lead in the Fitness Challenge, but the Wellness Warriors are closing in.
Last week, In It held a 2.3 percent lead over the second-place Warriors. This week, it's been cut to a 1.7 percent lead in the Tribune Chronicle St. Elizabeth / St. Joseph Health Centers Fitness Challenge community weight loss competition to benefit charity.
"It gets harder and harder every week," In It captain Jeff Tate said.
Aaron Shaw of Champion, shown above and at right, a member of the Thunder Buddies and a student at Kent State at Trumbull, works out at KSU’s fitness center.
After three weeks of the 12th annual Fitness Challenge, the 255 players on the 51 teams have shed a total 2,062.25 pounds - an average of just more than 8 pounds a person.
The teams combined for a loss of 290.25 pounds this past week, the third week, compared to the 504 pounds that melted away in Week 2. What it means is as more teams struggle and with five weeks to go, it's time for others to make their move.
--- Main Course
In It to Win It lost 15.5 pounds to improve to 9.7 percent of starting weight lost. That's way off the 100.25 combined pounds lost in the first two weeks.
"I had a couple guys slip up on me this week," Tate said. "One guy was eating pizza and chicken wings, and one guy only lost 1.5 pounds."
"That's going to happen. It's hard. There's a lot of temptation out there."
The fact that teams are gaining on their lead should help, Tate said. It should fire up the guys to get back on track, he said.
Wellness Warriors team captain Scott MacMillan said it truly is a team effort that has them at 8 percent of starting weight lost.
"I have one member each week that steps it up and the rest of the team holds steady," MacMillan said. "Our one member runs the Niles cemetery, and I think he may be digging the graves by hand.
"This week is our hump week, and we will really turn it up - boot camp! The light is showing at the end of the tunnel, and we want to donate the money to the Relay For Life."
The Lonesome Doves were in seventh place in Week 1, moved up to fifth in Week 2, and now sit in third with 6.2 percent of their starting weight lost.
"We actually were disappointed with our second week, so we threw in five bucks each and whoever lost the most weight last week got the money," Lonesome Doves team captain Jim Parry said. "A couple of us in our group are ultracompetitive."
So who collected the cash?
"I did," Parry said with a chuckle. "I lost seven pounds. I doubled up on everything - dropped the calories, did extra exercise."
While players can't do that all the time, Parry said he hopes an intensive week will kick-start losses that will continue.
"We're all teachers at Mathews High School," Parry said. "It's nice being at the same building. It helps to have somebody looking over your shoulder."
It works even when they're not together. "We do a lot of cardio. One guy might text, 'Hey, I just did 40 minutes,' and another guy texts, 'I did 50.' So you get back on the machine and do 20 more minutes."
Team of the Week honors go to the Wellness Warriors, who dropped 2.07 percent of their starting weight over the seven days. The team collects a bonus $10 that will be added to whatever prize money the team earns for its charity.
Any team can win the bonus cash with a great week. But all five team members have to weigh in at both ends of the week. We don't allow cheating by holding a couple guys back in an attempt to pass off a two-week total as one.
--- Tips and Tasty Tidbits
The Challenge has become more challenging. Official dietitian Lauren Manusakis of Humility of Mary Health Partners says not to give up.
''Most people think that losing weight is hard, but in actuality, weight loss is easy,'' Manusakis said.
''If I challenge you to lose one pound in one week, could you do it?'' she said. ''Over a year, that would be 52 pounds.''
Target weight loss per week is current body weight divided by 100, she said. For example, 190 pounds divided by 100 equals 1.9 pounds a week.
''Setting the bar too high set us up for failure. Remember, we didn't 'catch fat,' and it didn't happen overnight, so we cannot expect the pounds to melt off without a little work and time,'' Manusakis said.
''The focus of any 'diet' should be on changing habits to promote healthier behaviors that last a lifetime. Fad diets only work in the short term and leave us with unrealistic dietary changes,'' she said. ''Plus, once we get tired of the diet, we go back to our old way of eating and pack back on the pounds and then some.
''This becomes an unhealthy trend that not only impacts your waistline but also your health. When we gain the weight back, it is mostly fat weight, which puts you at higher risk for heart disease, hypertension, diabetes and many other chronic diseases.''
Manusakis returns next week with simple changes to accomplish lasting weight control.
--- Food Labels
Sometimes, you wonder how a team came up with its name. Other times, you've got a pretty good idea. Such is the case of the team called Sweating for the Wedding.
Team captain Jeff Sharpe said, "My oldest daughter, Aliesha, is the one getting married in September, so when I read this (Fitness Challenge) in the Tribune, we decided to take the opportunity to lose weight for two great causes."
"The team is developed of myself, my wife, Michele, my oldest daughter, Aliesha, my middle daughter, Corrine, and my only sister Deanna.
"We are steadily losing weight and our looking forward to keep losing more," Sharpe said. "We want to personally wish every team the best of luck, for every pound lost is a positive change with only the best from every step forward."
--- Groups We'd Like to Take to Dinner
While the Lonesome Doves like to have as much fun as possible on their weight loss quest, they, like most times, are quite serious about their service organizations. The Doves are playing for Cornerstone of Hope.
"One of my college roommates founded it when he lost his son to meningitis and found that there was nothing out there to help," Parry said. "There was no service for what he went through."
Mark and Christi Tripodi realized that families who suffer the loss of young children need a support system. Finding there wasn't one in the area, Tripodi quit his job to do so himself, Parry said.
"That's my motivation, really, to help those guys out," Parry said. "We don't see each other that much, but we do keep in touch, and we always do this for them."
Cornerstone of Hope, based in Independence, lists as its mission to provide "comprehensive grief support services to those seeking support after the death of a loved one and to the professional community who serves the bereaved."
--- Fat Facts
Need further proof that it was a tough week? Eight of the 51 Fitness Challenge teams gained weight in Week 3, ranging from a quarter pound to nearly six pounds. A ninth team stood pat.
That means about 18 percent of the teams in the competition to lose weight didn't last week.
In fact, they gained a total of 20.5 pounds.
That means the other 42 lost 310.75 pounds, or almost 1.5 pounds a player. Team losses ranged from a quarter pound to the Wellness Warriors' 20.5 pounds for the week.
--- Smacking of the Lips
Usually, teams challenge each other. But in this case, MacMillan asked to challenge one of his players, the guy whose turn it is to carry - er, dump - the load.
"Put the fork down, Steve Papalas, and be the biggest loser this week!" MacMillan said.
He also has, uh, encouragement for the competition: "I want to take In It to Win out for a large DQ Blizzard."