Double-digit weight loss bolsters Fittest Loser contestants' confidence

  • Contestant Shelly Daley of Arlington Heights is ready to show off her biceps, with a little help from children Addison and Gannon.

    Contestant Shelly Daley of Arlington Heights is ready to show off her biceps, with a little help from children Addison and Gannon. Courtesy of Shelly Daley

  • Contestant Nicole Mueller of Schaumburg enjoys donning a form-fitting dress while out with her husband Tim.

    Contestant Nicole Mueller of Schaumburg enjoys donning a form-fitting dress while out with her husband Tim. Photo courtesy of Nicole Mueller

 
By N.A. House
Daily Herald Correspondent
Posted4/29/2018 7:45 AM

With less than a month left in the competition, contestants are starting to notice how much following the nutrition plan and workout schedules is changing their bodies.

They've lost over 100 pounds combined and as the clock winds down to the final weigh-in, they're ramping up their routines to yield maximum results.

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Shelly Daley

Contestant Shelly Daley at the beginning of the contest.
  Contestant Shelly Daley at the beginning of the contest. - Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

Want proof that the competition is working?

Just ask contestant Shelly Daley to show you her biceps and she'll proudly flex those newly toned muscles.

To date, Daley has lost over 40 pounds, not even letting a sprained ankle prevent her from hitting the gym last week. Instead, she donned a walking boot and kept pushing herself hard.

Her clothes are fitting differently, but it's the increased energy and confidence that she's developed since the challenge began that she notices most.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"If I could play back a video of my first workout nine weeks ago versus a workout today I would not recognize myself," Daley said. "I went from literally not being able to do a situp or push-up, much less even being able to bend over to tie my own shoe, to a person who can handle any workout thrown my way."

Her trainer Michelle Jeeninga describes Daley as a strong competitor who has done everything Jeeninga has asked and more. She said Daley gets more motivated after every weigh-in and is committed to following the diet and exercise recommendations.

"Shelly is staying consistent," Jeeninga said. "She is eating all of her planned meals, tracking her food, and working out five to six days a week."

Chad Lowry

Contestant Chad Lowry of Mount Prospect has lost nearly 30 pounds and has noticed more muscle definition in his arms and chest and a smaller "gut."
Contestant Chad Lowry of Mount Prospect has lost nearly 30 pounds and has noticed more muscle definition in his arms and chest and a smaller "gut." - Photo courtesy of Chad Lowry
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Chad Lowry has already lost nearly 30 pounds, and he's hoping to lose a pound a week for the remainder of the challenge.

At his new weight, Lowry said he's noticed more muscle definition in his arms and chest and a smaller "gut." He's moved down one waist size in pants, his shirts and pullovers are much baggier, and he'll soon need a smaller belt.

That drop in size most likely has to do with the fact that Lowry is continuing to run for longer periods of time and at a faster pace each week, according to his trainer, Mick Viken.

Contestant Chad Lowry at the beginning of the Fittest Loser competition
  Contestant Chad Lowry at the beginning of the Fittest Loser competition - Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

"He's also doing a phenomenal job sticking to the dietary plan which is why it's easy to see how Chad has changed so dramatically so quickly," said Viken. "He's truly all in."

Kirsten Binder

Contestant Kirsten Binder has dropped four dress sizes. She easily slipped into a dress she hasn't worn in years, allowing her to check off her goal of wearing the dress again.
Contestant Kirsten Binder has dropped four dress sizes. She easily slipped into a dress she hasn't worn in years, allowing her to check off her goal of wearing the dress again. - Photo courtesy of Kirsten Binder

Kirsten Binder's changes are noticeable on the inside and out.

She's already lost over 20 pounds and according to her trainer, Steve Amsden, has reduced her body fat by roughly 15 percent. Since the challenge started, Binder's metabolism has sped up tremendously which helps her burn fat throughout the day. Amsden said the combination of diet and exercise have spurred Binder's results, but emphasized that nutrition is a big component of her success.

"You can lose weight with a clean diet and no exercise, but you cannot lose weight with plenty of exercise and a poor diet," said Amsden, who helps Binder stick to her eating plan whenever life's busy moments interfere.

Contestant Kirsten Binder at the beginning of the Fittest Loser contest.
  Contestant Kirsten Binder at the beginning of the Fittest Loser contest. - Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

Due to increased muscle definition her clothes are fitting differently (she's dropped four dress sizes and two pants sizes), and she said because her waist is narrower she can't leave the house without a belt. Most recently she slipped into a dress she hasn't worn in several years, allowing her to check off her goal of wearing the dress again.

"The dress, which is four sizes smaller than what I was wearing just two months ago, fit beautifully," Binder said. "What surprised me even more was that I'm still about 10 pounds heavier than I was the last time it fit. A number on the scale is some measure of fitness, but it's not the whole story."

Kim Rosewell

Contestant Kim Rosewell of Roselle has changed from wearing baggy clothes as she tones up her body.
Contestant Kim Rosewell of Roselle has changed from wearing baggy clothes as she tones up her body. - Photo courtesy of Kim Rosewell

Kim Rosewell notices the impact of her trainer Nicole Steinbach's diet and exercise plan most when she's working out because she's able to push herself harder for longer periods of time.

"I used to enjoy doing running and walking cardio intervals, but since gaining weight it became more difficult," Rosewell said. "After getting back into the routine of things, it has become one of my favorite workout routines again."

Contestant Kim Rosewell at the beginning of the Fittest Loser competition.
  Contestant Kim Rosewell at the beginning of the Fittest Loser competition. - Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

Steinbach said she sees the effects of the workouts in Rosewell's waist and upper body. In the beginning Rosewell wore baggy shirts and pants to workout. Now, she sees her coming to train in more form-fitting clothes, which make the changes in muscle definition more noticeable.

"Everything has gotten better. Her squats and lunges especially. I feel her range of motion from head to toe has increased, and she can lift heavier weights than before," Steinbach said.

Nicole Mueller

Contestant Nicole Mueller at the beginning of the Fittest Loser competition
  Contestant Nicole Mueller at the beginning of the Fittest Loser competition - Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

Nicole Mueller has lost over 20 pounds since the challenge began. For her, the competition was the jumping off point for the new lifestyle she plans to permanently adopt moving forward.

She's already buying smaller clothing sizes and has noticed physical changes throughout her body, including seeing the weight loss in her face and increased muscle definition in her arms, shoulders, and back. What's more, she no longer avoids going to the gym.

"Now, I crave the opportunity to get to the gym. I love the workouts and look forward to the next one," Mueller said.

Perhaps the most important change for contestants is their outlook on health. Mueller and the other competitors have always said that the challenge was about more than who won or lost or how much weight they dropped. It's about developing the mindset that they have control over their health and well-being.

"I thought I had a healthy respect for the amount of control we have over our health, but I didn't truly get it -- plain and simple. I completely took for granted the extent to which the "small" good and bad choices accumulate," Binder said.

The path to wellness is long and winding, but it's one all the contestants plan to trod for years to come.

Contestants know the work won't end when the Fittest Loser is over. Lowry, for example, said he'll continue working toward his goal weight after the finale event.

He plans to work out every day before work either by lifting weights or running five miles and continuing with the eating plan by preparing salads and other small meals to avoid eating unhealthy foods.

Lowry now recognizes that he is responsible for his health and lifestyle choices. Prior to the contest Lowry said he knew he should exercise, lose weight, and eat better, but it seemed as if he wasn't entirely in control of making that happen.

Today, he feels differently.

"Now I have a firm grasp on the responsibility being mine as to what I eat, when I eat, how much I eat, how much water I drink, and whether I choose to vacate the couch for the sake of a run or workout," Lowry said. " No excuses -- my weight can be explained solely by the choices I make for myself."

Workouts that get Binder's heart rate up are now a part of her daily life and something she plans to continue doing post-Fittest Loser, as do her four competitors.

Binder's increasingly toned muscles have bolstered her confidence and she's eager to continue strength training past the contest.

As for the nutrition plan? Binder has no problem sticking with what the trainers at Push laid out for her.

"There are a lot of foods that I'm not even tempted to add back into my diet," said Binder. "Bread used to be a staple of my daily diet; now, it's just not worth it."

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