Scales have been calibrated, numbers crunched and the standings calculated.
The second week of the 13th annual Tribune Chronicle / St. Joseph-St. Elizabeth Fitness Challenge found a shuffle at the top of the standings.
Looking down at the rest of the competition, Just Weight surged past the field with a strong week on the scales.
State Rep. Sean O’Brien, D-Brookfield, checks his weight for the 13th annual Tribune Chronicle St. Joseph-St. Elizabeth Fitness Challenge. O’Brien is captain of the team “Soon to be, Skinny D’s,” all Democratic state lawmakers from Trumbull, Mahoning and Columbiana counties. In the background is state Rep. Nick Barborak, D-Lisbon.
Tribune Chronicle photos / Ron Selak Jr.
When told of this week's standings, team captain Stephanie Iacozili let out a yelp.
"We're fired up," she said.
Just Weight has now totaled 7.6 percent of their initial weight lost. They are playing for the YMCA of Trumbull County.
Meanwhile, last week's first place team, Mocha House / Warren Strong, took a short tumble to the second spot with 7.16 percent lost.
Mocha House is competing this year for the Chios Society.
Coming in third place overall, but losing the most pounds this week is the quintet known to the world as 4.5 Full Grown Men. They are the final team with a score over 7 percent, finishing the week at 7.16 percent lost.
Rounding out the top five are Fatagins (-6.3 percent) and Wellness Warriors (-6.17 percent). The Fatagins are sponsoring Paramount at BCF, while Wellness Warriors are supporting Niles' Relay for Life.
No other team reached the 6 percent mark.
All told, the 250-person field spread over 50 total teams lost a combined 581 pounds this week. Overall, the teams have lost 1,903.5 pounds during the first two weeks of competition.
Things are heating up with eight weeks remaining.
The Fitness Challenge works like this:
Teams are comprised of five individuals who select their favorite service organization for which they are participating.
After an initial weigh-in to gauge starting points, the team who loses the highest percentage of weight over the 10-week competition wins at least $1,400 for their chosen charity.
Runner-up receives $900; third, $550; fourth, $400; fifth to seventh, $325 each; eighth to 10th, $275 each; all others, $225.
Additionally, the team that loses the highest percentage of weight each week will receive a $10 bonus award. This week, that team is Mocha House / Warren Strong.
After the initial weigh-in, which occurred Jan. 16, 10 weekly weigh-ins will be held at various locations around Trumbull County.
The final weight check will be held March 27 and the contest winners announced April 6.
Just Weight may be taking their place atop the overall standings for the first time in week two, but this quintet of devoted dieters aren't newbies to this game.
"I think maybe we've been in it too many years," Iacozili said with a laugh.
The team's history is as heartbreaking as it is long. In 2012, Just Weight came in second place and were less than a pound from taking the gold. Just Weight is frequently seen at or near the top of the board and 2014 looks no different.
Just Weight's formula has been simple so far this year.
The key for Iacozili is the shopping list.
"The key to any successful weight loss is to have your meals prepared the right way," she explained. "Organize your time and make sure that you have healthy foods to prepare."
Additionally, team members try to get together a few times a week to focus on cardio work.
"We do exercise as a group when we can," Iacozili said. "We do a lot of spinning along with our cardio stuff."
"Spinning" is the hip term for indoor cycling, a common favorite among many of this year's competitors.
According to Iacozili, the team was not expecting to be in first place after this week's weigh-in, but they'll take it.
Just Weight are playing for the YMCA of Trumbull County, which Iacozili said offers a variety of interesting health-promoting programs, including swimming, zumba, spinning and rubber band workouts.
"We were very surprised," Iacozili said.
Now, the team is looking toward week three and maintaining that success.
Pass the Salt
When asked for a comment on their biggest rivals in this year's competition and the team they see as the biggest threat, Iacozili wouldn't bite.
"Our team is working very hard exercising and eating healthy," she said. "Hopefully we can continue at this pace."
OK, Stephanie, but this is the smack talk portion of the article. Let's hear it...
"It takes hard work on everyone's part and we wish everyone good luck," she said with a smile.
Iacozili and her squad may be veterans at losing weight, but they could take some lessons in the art of smack talk.
Let's just move on ...
The doctor is in
With two weeks down in this year's Fitness Challenge, Dr. James Kravec said teams start to really feel the burn of a new workout program.
"Any time you're starting something new with working out, you're initially going to feel fatigued and have some muscle soreness," he said.
Kravec is the chairman of Internal Medicine for St. Elizabeth Medical Center and medical director for Humility of Mary Health Partners.
"The main benefit of exercise and dieting is overall health of your body," Kravec said. "That reduces your chance of high blood pressure, problems with cholesterol and diabetes. Those are the three most common illnesses I see."
An additional benefit of healthy eating and exercise habits can also be an eventual reduction in medication.
"As people exercise and diet, they lose weight and when you lose weight, your blood pressure goes down and the diabetes gets in better control," Kravec said. "As those things begin to happen, that's when we see medications start to drop off.
"You may see lower doses at first and then eventually they will see fewer medications. So that is one of the wonderful benefits of what they are doing."
For now, Kravec believes participants should already be seeing improvements in their body functions.
"After a week or so, they should notice the increased energy and sleeping better," he said.
Over the coming weeks, Kravec and other Humility of Mary Health Partner professionals will guide us on the journey through losing weight the right way.
Fun with numbers
As is common in weight loss competitions, the highest percentage of weight may drop off in the first week.
This year's competition is no different.
Last week, the average weight lost by the 250 participants was 5.3 pounds.
That number dropped all the way down to 2.3 pounds lost per person this week.
Still, the total of 1,903.5 pounds lost so far by the field is impressive.
Teams will look to add to it in week three.
Let's get started.