New clothes, new lungs, new fame for Fittest Loser contestants
As the four military veterans in this year's Fittest Losers Challenge passed the two-thirds point in their 12-week effort, they were seeing some big changes in their bodies.
Most were good. Some were painful. And some were expensive.
Page said, "My size and physique and energy and stamina have all changed. Since last Saturday's 5K race I have run six more 5Ks," sometimes two in the same day, some on a treadmill and some outdoors.
Previously Page had to alternate running and walking on long courses. But Page discovered during the Foodie 5K Race on April 1 that he could keep up a running pace through all 5 kilometers (3.1 miles).
While he was losing pounds, Page was winning something else -- an election. He was elected on April 4 to the board of Grass Lake School District 36 in his hometown of Antioch. So his attention has been divided among the dieting and working out, his part-time job as a business teacher at Northern Illinois University, and election campaigning.
James 'J.D.' DeBouver
As he and the other contestants traded war stories after the eighth weigh-in, DeBouver said he has kept building his core strength and balance by doing Pilates exercises under the guidance of his mother, who happens to be a professional Pilates teacher.
"Without her you wouldn't be seeing me here," DeBouver said. "Pilates helps with my balance and my core strength."
DeBouver said he soon will have to invest in new pants.
"The pants I wear don't have a real belt," DeBouver said. "It's like a Sansabelt. But when I started this competition, it had about 2 inches slack in it. Now it's about 6 inches. I'm about 10 pounds from having to buy a new size of pants."
Page asked him what size he wears now. DeBouver said, "XXL."
"I've got some 38s. You interested?" Page said.
The trainers are working with DeBouver to keep him active while not aggravating his back.
At a recent Saturday boot camp, the other three contestants ran around the Push Fitness building, did a variety of calisthenics, and boxing moves. But trainer Josh Steckler put the injured DeBouver through a modified set of exercises such as holding planks and pushing a foam roller along the floor.
Still, Brown lost another pound during those seven days. And now she made an ambitious vow to her comrades: "I'm gonna lose six pounds this week and when we come back next week I'll be under 200."
Already "I'm down one size in pants and shorts," she said.
Brown said none of her co-workers in the lunchroom of a Fox Lake school had seen the news coverage about her. But, they noticed the change in her appearance.
"One of the teachers asked, 'Are you losing weight?' So I explained about the challenge."
The Daily Herald stories about Fittest Loser have given the contestants a level of fame -- and some external pressure to stick to the narrow path.
Wiszowaty said he got a phone call this week from a girl he hasn't seen in years who had read about his Fittest Loser activities, and also from a guy he hasn't seen since college.
Sometimes this "fame" can be intimidating, though. Wiszowaty said he was eating some sample foods being offered at Sam's Club when someone who recognized him from the newspaper walked by and said, "Are you supposed to be eating that?"