Scales have ceased their shudders. Sweat-soaked workout clothes lie in the bottom of hampers. The Mahoning Valley sighs at being a ton and a half lighter than it was two months ago.
The 12th annual Tribune Chronicle-St. Elizabeth / St. Joseph Health Centers Fitness Challenge community weight-loss competition to benefit area charities is in the books, and the winner is...
Ah, c'mon, you know better than that after 12 years.
We always take an extra few days after the final weigh-in to check and double-check numbers and make sure everything's in order.
The winners and final standings for all 51 teams will be announced on Sunday.
Until then, here a few parting shots from the final week.
To recap, here's how things stood last week at the end of seven weeks:
In It to Win It, a Niles-based team of friends and relatives prone to insane workouts, held a strong lead at 15.9 percent of their starting weight lost going into the final week.
"I imagine we won, unless they lost 30 pounds apiece," team captain Jeff Tate said after the final weigh-in. "We worked hard that last week to make sure."
The Wellness Warriors, another team of crazies based out of the Ralph A. Infante Wellness Center in Niles, were in a solid second at 13.9 percent.
"I have no idea," captain Scott MacMillan said on the final week. "I hope it went well."
The Warren YMCA-based team Just Weight sweated and dieted their way to an 11.6 percent third place going into the final week and planned a huge push to the finish line.
"I think we're in third place," captain Stephanie Iacozili said after it was over. "I don't know if we did enough for second place, but we're hoping."
A group of Mathews High School teachers with an eye for researching nutritional facts, known as the Lonesome Doves, hovered in fourth at 9.3 percent.
And the Fatagins, a Warren-based family team, had a shaky hold on fifth place at 8.69 percent, with the next four teams less than a percentage point off their trail.
On the Menu
Here's how the Fitness Challenge worked:
Five-member teams paid $250 to enter, and each team designated a service organization.
The teams that lost the greatest percentage of their starting weights won the most for their designated charities - first place, $1,350; second place, $900; third, $540; fourth, $360; fifth to seventh, $315 each; eighth to tenth, $270 each; all others, $225.
The team with the best one-week showing each week earned a bonus $10 for its charity.
Tips and Tasty Tidbits
So what was it all about? Fitness Challenge physician Dr. Yun Xia explains a bit about the changes you experienced as the pounds melted away over the last eight weeks.
''The cardiovascular system will be less strained,'' Xia said. ''Your heart will not have to work as hard, and you can reduce the risk of atherosclerosis, a condition that hardens and narrows the blood vessels.
''The body will be more efficient in using oxygen and creating energy.
''Exercise makes your body able to produce more red blood cells, and you will build more muscle mass, which will give you extra energy and allow you to exercise more to lose more weight.
''Weight loss can make the body more sensitive to insulin, a hormone that regulates blood sugar. So it will reduce the development of diabetes and also help diabetes be better controlled,'' Xia said.
''Weight loss reduces risks of hypertension, high cholesterol and sleep apnea. It also helps to treat depression, infertility, fatigue and loss of libido,'' she said.
In other words, don't quit just because the contest ended. This was meant to be a light-hearted competition to do good for others, but it's quite serious for the good of your own heart and other organs.
So breathe easier and live longer.
Groups We'd Like
to Take to Dinner
Four teams are playing for the Animal Welfare League - the WAAFA, Covelli Calorie Counters, Health Nuts and Chip off the Blocks.
The last two teams both are based out of the Trumbull County Health Department. Denise Allen, captain of the Health Nuts, said, "Many of the team members own livestock and just have an overall love for animals. So we figured the Animal Welfare League would be a good choice."
The Animal Welfare League of Trumbull County, 545 Brunstetter Road, Warren, was founded in 1969 and has been cramped. A September opening is planned for its $6 million, 47,000-square-foot facility on 20 acres of land at the old Thunderplex building on Youngstown Kingsville Road in Vienna.
The site includes 3,900 square feet of kennel space that will hold 250 cats and dogs, compared to the maximum 25 dogs at the current shelter.
The new site also has partnerships with the Trumbull Career and Technical Center and Kent State University at Trumbull for animal and veterinary programs.
You don't have to tax the brain too much to figure out how the team Tigers Try it Twice came up with its name. The group of teachers and staff from Howland came back to give the Fitness Challenge another go.
Nor do you have to look far to figure out their charity, the Kylee Vidas Diabetic Fund.
"All of my team works at North Road Intermediate School, and Kylee is one of our students," school nurse and team captain Tonya Rollison said.
"She is the sweetest, most fun-loving little girl you would want to meet, always skipping and smiling. She has Type 1 diabetes and she recently had a stroke, which caused her spend some time in Akron Children's hospital. Due to her feisty personality, she came back strong and is back at school doing well.
"Due to her mounting medical expenses, we wanted to contribute anything we could. We also wanted her to help motivate us," Rollison said.
While you snack on celery sticks and await the final tallies, here are a few facts and figures from the unofficial final results to whet your appetite.