With three weeks down and seven to go, the contenders are beginning to separate themselves from the pretenders.
As the action begins to heat up in the 2014 Tribune Chronicle / St. Joseph-St. Elizabeth Health Center Fitness Challenge, a familiar name sits atop the scoreboard.
But, things are tightening up.
Mike Rossi says he is so devoted to the 13th annual Tribune Chronicle / St. Joseph-St. Elizabeth Health Centers Fitness Challenge, he doesn’t even bother taking off his shirt and tie as he works out at the YMCA?of Warren. Rossi is a member of the team 4.5 Full Grown Men. Photo by Ashley Newman
For the second consecutive week, Just Weight remains in first place losing 9.48 percent of their initial poundage.
However, also for the second consecutive week, the fearsome fivesome known as 4.5 Full Grown Men took a bite out of that now narrow advantage.
The Grown Men hopped Mocha House / Warren Strong to put a firm hold on the second position at 9.40 percent of weight lost.
Mocha House stayed steady in third position, but their tally of 7.97 percent lost means well over a full percentage point separates them from second position.
Rounding out the top six are veterans Wellness Warriors (-7.33 percent), Kingz of Carz (-7.29 percent) and Fatagins (-7.12 percent).
No other team in the field has lost over 6 percent of their weigh-in poundage.
Yes, it's safe to say the leader board is whipping into shape. But a lot of time remains on the scales.
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.
Sitting just 0.08 percent behind Just Weight, veteran "losers" 4.5 Full Grown Men pondered "what if" when notified of the week three scoring.
"I knew I shouldn't have had that last piece of cake the other night," team member Frank Tempesta said with a grin.
The 2014 Fitness Challenge marks the sixth consecutive year the Full Grown Men have shed pounds for a good cause.
While their finishes are usually respectable, being this close to the top is foreign territory.
"We're usually around the top 10 and we're always competitive," team captain Mike Rossi said. "I don't think we've ever been close to the top though. I think our highest finish is seventh."
Still, it looks to be an uphill battle for the Full Grown Men, who lost the most weight of any team for the second time in two weeks.
Because they are generally the heaviest team at the start of the challenge and winners are awarded by percentages, the Men must lose far more weight than almost any other quintet.
They began at just more than 1,308 pounds, an average of nearly 262 pounds a man. The team lost 29.8 pounds in week three, which calculates to about 6 pounds a player. So far, they've lost 123 pounds, or just less than 25 pounds a man.
"Traditionally, we're the heaviest team," Rossi said. "Not this year; we were second."
This is How We Roll started at combined weight of nearly 1,418 pounds; Doughlicious checked in at the lightest starting weight, a nip less than 816 pounds.
More weight may mean having to lose more poundage, but Full Grown Men member George Calugar sees it as a possible advantage, too.
"There are some 130-pound women that told me they were going to lose 20 pounds, and that's what they wanted," Calugar said. "Once they lose the 20, they're going to be struggling."
To be sure, these veteran waistband looseners have seen a major reduction in their size over the years. That does not just go for the 10 weeks of competition, either.
For these Men, the Fitness Challenge has been a godsend.
"There was a time when we were over 1,500 pounds at the first weigh-in," Calugar said. "That's three quarters of a ton."
"I'm way under my initial weight," Calugar said. "So are the rest of these guys.
"You can't tell it by looking at us," he laughed.
Tempesta commented that a little of that weight stays off each year.
"That means, by the time I'm 110, I'll be my ideal weight," he estimated.
The Grown Men are playing this year for the YMCA of Warren towel fund.
Pass the Salt...
While celebrating their recent jump up the rankings, 4.5 Full Grown Men wanted to send a message to their rivals Mocha House.
The two teams swapped positions after another strong performance by the Men.
The message? Talk is cheap.
"Mocha House was talking all the trash before," Calugar recalled. "And, they jumped out of the gates in first place. It has been downhill since."
A good bout of smack talk never hurt anyone, and these guys did not disappoint.
"It's a very happy rivalry," Rossi said.
Meanwhile, Tempesta wanted the Mocha House team to know he was not fooled by their week one offer of weight loss advice for any competitor willing to scarf down an entire cheesecake.
"They've tried to get me with that cheesecake trick," Tempesta said. "I know what they're up to."
Apparently, nothing gets by these guys.
As for the team who sits in first place after three weeks - Just Weight?
"We wish them all the luck in the world. God love them," Rossi said with a devious grin.
Is this a genuine bit of good sportsmanship? You be the judge.
The Doctor Is In
Not to dampen the fun of a weight loss competition, Dr. Kristin Astrom, D.O, wants the participants to apply the things they learn over the next seven weeks to their everyday lives.
"I think it is important not to think of what you are eating as 'being on a diet.' Rather, it should be looked as a change in eating for life," Astrom said. "If you go on a diet, it implies that you are going to change your eating plan for a period of time."
For Astrom, living a healthy lifestyle for a few weeks only to revert back to old habits once the Fitness Challenge is over is not a constructive way to get fit.
"You are likely to gain back all the weight that you have lost," she said.
A food diary is a good place to start making healthier choices, according to the doctor.
"Keep track of every thing that that you eat for several days," Astrom said. "People are usually surprised to see the extra calories that they eat without realizing."
New technology can also be your guide.
"You make your log as simple as writing everything on a piece of paper or there are many apps for your smart phone, such as 'Lose It' or 'My Fitness Pal.'"
Astrom is a senior Family Medicine Resident at St. Joseph Health Center and the St. Joseph Community Care Clinic.
Over the coming weeks, Astrom and other Humility of Mary Health Partner professionals will help us in our journey to smarter eating, healthy weight loss and the right kind of exercise.
Fun with Numbers
As the weeks pass, losing the pounds seemingly gets more and more difficult.
The statistics through the first three weeks of the Fitness Challenge highlights this trend.
The third week of the competition saw the 50 teams lose a total of 334.5 pounds, which is down from 581 pounds in week two and an astonishing 1,323 pounds in week one.
Heading into week four, we can expect the reductions to continue falling.
"The first week is the cheater's week, because you weigh in fat," Rossi explained. "You have all that water weight and you put the shoes in the back pocket."
According to Rossi, it's all uphill from here.
See you after week four.