Rolling Meadows man loses 73 pounds to win Fittest Loser
Before the 2016 Fittest Loser Challenge began 12 weeks ago, Mel Boldt said he felt he'd already won. On Tuesday night, he did.
The Rolling Meadows resident said in February the weight-loss competition -- co-sponsored by the Daily Herald and Push Fitness in Schaumburg -- would allow him to commit to his health goals and provide him with the professional help he'd long needed.
With the help from Push Fitness trainers and a strong support system, Boldt shed 73 pounds from his starting weight of 340, a loss of 21.47 percent of his body weight.
In front of 400 people at Tuesday night's finale party at Chandler's Banquets in Schaumburg, Boldt credited his supporters for keeping him in the program.
"Three weeks into this, if I didn't have Push Fitness trainers, there's no way I would've kept doing it," he said.
Josh Steckler, owner of Push Fitness, said Boldt came in determined to win from Day 1.
"Everything he's done since that time has showed me he's determined," Steckler said.
For three months, Boldt and four other competitors underwent a major lifestyle change, turning from people who rarely darkened the gym floor to people who worked out with personal trainers at least three times a week. They attended "boot camp" every Saturday morning and drastically altered their eating habits.
The race for second place came down to fractions of a percent.
Jiten "J" Patel, 41, of Hoffman Estates lost 20.86 percent, or 63 pounds, of his starting weight of 302. But Katherine Couston, 57, of Schaumburg claimed second prize for losing 20.87 percent of her body weight, shedding 43 pounds from her 203 starting weight.
Next in the competition were Sharon Miller, 59, of Elk Grove Village, who lost 13.17 percent of her 243-pound starting weight, and Janet Ford, 51, of Elk Grove Village, who lost 12.39 percent of her 226-pound start.
Together, the contestants lost 239 pounds. Since the annual competition started eight years ago, the 40 contestants have lost a combined 2,349 pounds.
Also announced Tuesday night were the winners of the Fittest Loser At Work Challenge, a separate competition that this year featured 295 people in 57 teams of co-workers from across the suburbs, the most in the workplace challenge's four-year history.
The winner was the Hanover Park Police Department team called Pounds for Blue, whose members lost a total of 10.33 percent of their starting weight. The team's captain, George Sullivan, said three of the team members lost more than 30 pounds, which is also the amount of weight in equipment that they as officers have to wear around their waists.
"Though a lot of officers carry more in the waist from food intake, too," Sullivan cracked while accepting the award.
Pounds for Blue got $2,000 to donate to charity, which the team chose to split between the Illinois Special Olympics and the War Dog Memorial. Each team member also won $100 gift cards to Deer Park Town Center, Dick Pond shoes and Beats By Dre headphones.
For winning the individual competition, Boldt won a two-night stay and spa package at Le Meridien Chicago-Oakbrook Center valued at $1,200, $75 gift cards from Valli Produce and Seasons 52 dining, and two months of personal training at Push Fitness.
Each of the five participants won a $25 gift card from Valli Produce, Dick Pond Brooks shoes and a $50 Seasons 52 gift card.