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updated: 4/7/2014 6:08 AM

The trials and tribulations of losing weight in the spotlight

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  • When it comes to advice, the Fittest Losers, including contestant Cheryl Seibert, say less is more helpful.

       When it comes to advice, the Fittest Losers, including contestant Cheryl Seibert, say less is more helpful.
    BOB CHWEDYK | Staff Photographer

  • The contestants lean on one another each week at boot camp.

      The contestants lean on one another each week at boot camp.
    JOE LEWNARD/jlewnard@dailyhrald.com

  • The trainers at Push Fitness, including Brad Parotto working with Chris Kalamatas at a recent boot camp, are the best antidote to naysayers.

      The trainers at Push Fitness, including Brad Parotto working with Chris Kalamatas at a recent boot camp, are the best antidote to naysayers.
    JOE LEWNARD/jlewnard@dailyhrald.com

  • Trainer Wade Merrill is Allie Monroe's No. 1 fan.

       Trainer Wade Merrill is Allie Monroe's No. 1 fan.
    BOB CHWEDYK | Staff Photographer

 
By Lisa Jones Townsel
Daily Herald correspondent

While the Fittest Loser contestants couldn't possibly get through this arduous 12-week challenge without the enormous support of family and friends, they run into a few naysayers from time to time.

No, not the types who have wished them harm or totally squelched their stamina. It's just the little snide remarks that are said that they have had to push aside, or the people who remind them routinely of what they can't have along the way.

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No one is complaining. Each contestant knew what they were signing up for, and has every intention of finishing strong. Yet, without any one comment being tied to an individual, they wanted to give a glimpse of what it is like to change eating and exercise habits in a fishbowl.

Contestants say they knew that everyday life wouldn't stop just because they embarked on a personal weight loss journey, but they do wish co-workers and family members wouldn't flaunt edible goodies in front of them.

While they will resist the temptation; it's really hard to.

"When everyone knows you're on a program, please do not tempt that person with what everyone is eating for lunch by offering them some of your pizza or doughnuts," one challenger says, emphatically. "Yes, one piece can throw us off our program."

In fact, another contestant is adjusting to colleagues boasting about deals they receive on what had been a favorite pig-out food: pizza.

"They love to talk about their deep dish with bacon, pepperoni and extra cheese," this participant says. "Then they turn to me and say, 'Sorry,' knowing I can't have any."

Another is simply adjusting to having so many people being interested in what had been a very private battle before.

"I don't know if anyone really treats me any differently except for being more involved in my weight loss than ever before," the contestant says. "People will constantly ask me how each week went and offer support during the rough weeks as well as praise during the good weeks."

One contender says that complete strangers come up to congratulate them on one hand, and then offer advice on how they could do a better job, on the other.

"I want to say, 'My training and nutrition are working just fine,' but I have to bite my tongue and smile," this contestant confesses.

A night out with friends elicited one unexpected comment for one contender.

"This friend made a comment when I told him about my total weight loss. He said, 'Good for you but what are you trying to do, make me look bad?' I was somewhat offended," the contestant says, "but I dismissed it."

Others say they have gotten used to the new normal of not being invited out much anymore or at all. But they say, they know it's out of a showing of support.

"It's because friends know I can't eat and drink like I used to," says a participant.

Some say they have learned to put insensitive comments into perspective. After a particularly bad week, one participant was told by a naysayer "not to give up just because you couldn't win." The contestant took the comment in stride. "I was shocked at first," the challenger says, "but then realized that person is not very competitive."

One contender wanted people to know that being overweight comes in various sizes and that each contestant had their own unique challenges to overcome when entering the competition, be it for weight loss only or simply for overall better health.

Already, this contestant had been asked why they even entered the challenge in the first place.

With all of its twists and turns, supporters and naysayers, the Fittest Loser contestants say they are still having the time of their lives and are determined to meet their weight loss goals.

"It's nice to have people that just want to see you succeed," one participant concludes.

The contestants weigh in

John Bohanek, 46, South Elgin
Starting weight: 361
Current weight: 319
Weight lost this week: 7 pounds
Total weight loss: 42 pounds, 11.6 percent

Chris Kalamatas, 63, Lake in the Hills
Starting weight: 262
Current weight: 238
Weight lost this week: +1 pound
Total weight loss: 24 pounds, 9.2 percent

Tim Lange, 57, Algonquin
Starting weight: 236
Current weight: 208
Weight lost this week: 8 pounds
Total weight loss: 28 pounds, 11.9 percent

Allie Monroe, 29, Schaumburg
Starting weight: 334
Current weight: 298
Weight lost this week: 3 pounds
Total weight loss: 36 pounds, 10.8 percent

Cheryl Seibert, 40, Joliet
Starting weight: 263
Current weight: 241
Weight lost this week: 6 pounds
Total weight loss: 22 pounds, 8.4 percent

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