Who's responsible for a successful week on the scale, a never-give-up workout or a focused mental attitude? Depends on who you ask. The 2013 Fittest Loser contestants say none of it would be possible without the discipline and motivation instilled in them by their trainers.
What do the trainers think? This week we asked them to weigh in:
Steve Amsden/Megan McCarthy-Cook
Push Fitness trainer Steve Amsden knows that Megan McCarthy-Cook is serious about the Fittest Loser competition and she wants to win. So he brings his experience in the U.S. Army to the gym and their training sessions.
"My strategy for Megan is similar to the strategy the Army used to build me into a soldier," Amsden says.
"First, eliminate excuses and complaining. Second, when faced with a challenge, push past mental barriers. Third, eliminate the word "try" from your vocabulary ... that's going into a task with a mindset to fail. Fourth, push past what you consider impossible," and last but not least, he says, "quitting is not an option!"
"At the end of a tough workout and Megan's mad at me," Amsden says, "I tell her 'You'll thank me one day.'"
Tony Figueroa/Joe Gundling
Trainer Tony Figueroa pulls no punches when he talks about his plans for Joe Gundling.
"I'll turn this lazy 18-year-old into a 'machine,'" he says.
How exactly does he intend to do that in just 12 weeks?
"He has to overcome the temptation of all the crappy food he's surrounded by, both at home and at work," Figueroa says. "He knows that's exactly what got him into this contest."
The trainer will employ boxing drills and challenge Gundling to run three miles without stopping before the competition is over.
"Joe's strength is his confidence and determination," Figueroa says. "He is really making this work."
Brodie Medlock/Mike Paulo
Trainer Brodie Medlock's strategy for competitor Mike Paulo is twofold.
"Most importantly," Medlock says, "I will constantly challenge his mind, the way he views himself and what he believes he can do. And I will provide him with a gentle push at just the right moment to help him overcome an obstacle."
Medlock is aware of the mental, physical and emotional toll a contest like this can take. So, he encourages Mike to keep his focus on winning each day.
"Mike is a very willing student," Medlock says. "He's extremely coachable and open to instruction."
For Paulo, head softball coach at Elmhurst College, the teacher is now the student.
Paulo's greatest strength, according to Medlock, is his ability to just be open to my coaching.
Wade Merrill/Greg Moehrlin
For Wade Merrill, training Greg Moehrlin in the 2013 Fittest Loser Challenge is much like his experience two years ago with 2011 Fittest Loser contestant John Novak.
Beyond their vocational link, both Moehrlin and Novak are faculty members at Hersey High School in Arlington Heights, they are both, according to Merrill, "very hard workers."
"Greg is in the gym early, running stairs, foam rolling and doing his warm-up exercises to ensure he's as ready physically as he is mentally to begin his workout at 5:15 a.m.," says Merrill.
"He's only limited by his heart," Merrill says of Moehrlin. "I don't mean his internal motivational drive, no, I mean his actual blood pumper."
Moehrlin has a pacemaker that at times keeps him from going longer in a set of exercises.
"But once he's caught his breath," Merrill says, "he's out of the gate with a full head of steam."
Michelle Amsden/Karen Castillo
According to trainer Michelle Amsden, Karen Castillo's positive attitude is her greatest strength.
"Working with Karen is a delight! She's not only positive, she's also a really hard worker, " Amsden says. "Karen fights through every workout I give her without a single complaint."
If there's an obstacle for Castillo to overcome it will be with food. "Food is a challenge for all the contestants," Amsden says. "For Karen, the challenge is to be disciplined and to get creative."
Tony Rinehart/Marianne Costales-Roman
Marianne Costales-Roman's greatest strength contributes to her greatest weakness. According to her trainer, Tony Rinehart, Costales-Roman is a hard worker and a very dedicated person.
"Marianne's greatest weakness is that everyone else comes first," Rinehart says. "That isn't necessarily a bad trait, but it tends to leave her health on the back burner."
With a host of responsibilities between work and home, her greatest challenge throughout the Fittest Loser competition, and beyond, will be taking time for herself.
"My strategy is to do what I do best, motivate and provide guidance," Rinehart says. "It's up to Marianne to realize that taking care of her health is just as important as taking care of others."