In 12 weeks, look what these suburban men and women have done:
"It's a dream come true to be off my cholesterol and blood pressure medicine."
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"I can now tie my shoes without feeling like I'm suffocating."
"It's not always about being the winner, but more about what I've gained -- pride in my work, confidence in myself and the realization of my own self worth."
"I traded myself a long time ago for work, family, stress and success. But in the end, none of those are the reasons for my sedentary lifestyle. Instead, they were the excuses I used."
All of those remarkable achievements and insights happened as the six men and women collectively lost 314 pounds -- and counting.
Final weight loss tallies and the winner of this year's Daily Herald Fittest Loser Challenge will be named tonight at an event at the DoubleTree Hotel in Arlington Heights.
Before the spotlight falls on one person, we want to congratulate them all: Brian Corrigan of Carol Stream, Tom Hampson of Hoffman Estates, Matt Kramer of Elk Grove Village, Karen Maranto of Bloomingdale, Katie Przyszlak of Schaumburg and Michael White of West Dundee, as well as our own Catherine Edman, a Daily Herald cooperative advertising manager who followed along with the Fittest Loser contestants and found her weight loss and dietary changes brought a big bonus: a break from chronic migraine headaches.
With the help of their trainers from Push Fitness in Schaumburg, these Fittest Losers join a group of contest alumni from years past who've managed to turn their 12 weeks of fitness and healthy eating into a long-term routine.
There's plenty of inspiration here for the rest of us, even if our struggles have nothing to do with weight. It's enough to encourage a new look at those forgotten New Year's resolutions -- heck, we could celebrate our own 12-week milestones before summer is even over.
As for this year's Fittest Losers, you can find out the winner, read about each contestant's challenges and strategies to conquer them, and learn how you could follow their example in Friday's Daily Herald, Monday's Health & Fitness and in a special section we will publish on Wednesday, May 16.
Who knows? Maybe their stories will help you make it a summer of possibilities, whatever your goals might be.
"What all of this proves," points out Fittest Loser contestant Matt Kramer, "is that if you put your mind to it and have support behind you, you can accomplish anything."