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posted: 5/19/2014 5:30 AM

'Happy' theme for Fittest Loser Corporate, Community Challenge teams

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  • Wood Dale Heavyweights' Stephanie DiMaso was the overall community champion of the 2014 Fittest Loser Challenge.

       Wood Dale Heavyweights' Stephanie DiMaso was the overall community champion of the 2014 Fittest Loser Challenge.
    Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Lutheran Life Community Warriors won the corporate challenge on the strength of team members, from left, Sara Sondergaard, Amanda Seilheimer, Morelba Becerril, Samantha Breden and Tanairi Cruz.

       Lutheran Life Community Warriors won the corporate challenge on the strength of team members, from left, Sara Sondergaard, Amanda Seilheimer, Morelba Becerril, Samantha Breden and Tanairi Cruz.
    photos by Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

 
By Jacky Runice
Daily Herald correspondent

Pharrell William's effervescent tune, "Happy" was the surefire soundtrack of the final night of the 2014 Fittest Loser Challenge as Corporate and Community Challenge teams collected their kudos. The teams, that included 194 participants from local park districts, businesses, government offices, and health, cultural and educational institutions, reveled in their new found sense of accomplishment and wellness at the event held at Eaglewood Resort in Itasca.

Team members endured 6 a.m. fitness classes, expended calories in new pursuits like hot yoga, learned to love pizza concocted with cauliflower crust and completed 5K races. The challenge for community teams not only included the totality of weight lost, but also the number of events in which they participated, team spirit and social media sharing.

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Of the 13 park district teams in the contest, Team Fit of the Elk Grove Park District took the third place spot and the Mount Prospect Park District's MPPDeterminators came in second with a notable 11.1 percent of total body weight lost. The five members of Wood Dale Heavy Weights (Wood Dale Park District) will need to contemplate a name change after becoming the winning Community Challenge Team. Dino DiMaso said the team made it to number one by simply paying attention to what they put into their mouths. "I realized that it's 90 percent diet and 10 percent exercise," the SMG Security Systems, Inc. employee said. "Of course, you have to exercise, but healthy eating is it."

DiMaso's wife, Stephanie DiMaso, participated for the second year in a row in the Fittest Loser Challenge in order to reach her absolute goal weight. "It's important to do it for yourself and you just can't give up," she beamed. Guess it worked because she also won the individual Community Challenge award for an extraordinary 22.7 percent of body weight lost. Joanne Lamb joined the challenge for the second year with her friend, Stephanie, to lose additional pounds. "I came close," Lamb said. "Just three pounds shy."

The competition was keen with 23 corporate teams sweating it out: Schaumburg's WOWW (Working Out With Wings) of WINGS Program Inc. snagged third place and Clearbrook's Fit Happens squealed into second place. The Wellness Warriors of Lutheran Life Communities paid homage to their moniker by a victorious first place ranking. Team member Sara Sondergaard was in no doubt that the trainers and dietitian from Northwest Community Hospital were key to their win and Morelba Becerril agreed. "The first time I saw my trainer she said 'we're gonna win this' -- she believed in me and I did it," she said, "and I'm going to keep on doing it." Becerril lost 37 pounds over the course of the challenge.

Getting fit is a numbers game and John Nicholas of the Village of Elk Grove walked away with the Corporate Individual win -- losing 17.2 percent of his body weight. "We're in Public Works, and after a long winter and eating fast food all the time, it's not hard to see how the weight comes on," he said. Working out twice a day, six days a week and revisiting foods like broccoli for the first time in decades helped Nicholas shave off 45 pounds and reduce his body fat count from 32.2 percent to 20 percent. "For a guy who could put away three pork chops at a sitting and to now make and like better choices of fruit and salads," he smiled, "it's pretty phenomenal."

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