Participants gather online to learn Fittest Loser Team Challenge winners
Last Tuesday, the Daily Herald hosted its first virtual Fittest Loser Finale in lieu of the beloved celebration held annually at Chandler's Chophouse & Banquets in Schaumburg.
The presentation included the much anticipated reveal for this year's challenge winners, raffle prizes and a moment of gratitude for all health care workers, including the AMITA Healthcare nurses who have continuously displayed compassion, hard work and dedication to help keep us all healthy.
In addition, we are extremely grateful for the challenge sponsors who have provided activities, support and prizes to the Fittest Loser contestants.
This year's sponsors include Push Fitness, Planet Fitness, AMITA Health and AMITA Health Weight Loss Solutions, Chandler's Chophouse & Banquets, Cooking Skills Academy, Deer Park Town Center and Avalon Salon Spa, Dick Pond Athletics, Elk Grove Park District, Elk Grove Pavilion Fitness, Equilibrium, Happy Eats Healthy, John B. Norris Recreation Center, Journyz, Northern Illinois Food Bank, Profile by Sanford, Salon Lorrene, Seasons 52 and Starship Travel.
We started the program with more than 230 participants and despite all odds we were excited to have 73 finish the challenge -- many with positive results.
This year's team to finish in third place with a 9.29% weight loss as a team is "Size: Sexy" of NEC Display Solutions in Downers Grove.
Early on, this team was so motivated to win you could see the fire in some of the contestant's eyes. Like many other teams battling stay-at-home restrictions, this team overcame this obstacle and found strength through weekly video calls to share mutual frustrations and personal achievements.
Team member Betty Budd says: "I truly believe our weekly video calls helped. It helped me express how I was feeling, and to know I wasn't the only one feeling that way! My team encouraged me to want to do better. We all struggled, but we all came back and really did well this year."
Ebony Treadwell says she has learned a lot, including label reading, self-control and dedication to be better than the day before. "I am a mother of two and I started this program going through postpartum, stressed, overweight, undecided and absolutely little to no energy, day to day. I am leaving this program stronger than ever. My workouts have been a major stress reliever. I overcame postpartum and I have more energy and I am more organized than ever!"
NEC Display Solutions had more reason to celebrate when team captain Lenna Bohlman was announced Team Champion for displaying the true spirit of a leader.
In addition to leading "Size: Sexy," Lenna also competed and led the team "Waist Management," which was a handful, but Lenna's commitment to her teams and ability to inspire others through leading by example are highlights of Lenna's leadership abilities.
This year's second place was awarded to Schaumburg Park District's "Schaumburg Shredders," led by another dedicated and passionate captain, Kimberly Jurkowski.
"Schaumburg Shredders" ended the challenge with 9.72% weight loss as a team and members have a lot to celebrate.
Anna Schuld says: "Constant communication with the Schaumburg Shredder Team and our captain/nutritionist/personal trainer, Kim, aided my individual success and the overall achievement of our team. Accountability is key -- sending one another sweaty selfies and pictures of our workout results. Scheduling virtual workouts gave me something to look forward to and motivated me."
Another team member, Eliana Lucena, has experienced additional hardship having been laid off due to quarantine, but she didn't let that bring her down.
"I was in awe that our team won second place! I am so incredibly proud of our team and what we were able to accomplish! Thank you to the Fittest Loser," she said. "Without this program, there's no doubt I would have gained even more weight during quarantine and gone down into an abyss of uncertainty, self-doubt and self-loathing."
In first place we have the "Silent Assassins" from Elk Grove Village. This team ended the challenge with a total 10.44% weight loss as a team.
Their team name has been a secret motivator throughout the competition as it represents the silent killers of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, etc.
Team member Bill O'Malley, who was named the top male in 2018 when he lost 23.71% of his body weight, recently had to undergo surgery and decided to join Fittest Loser again to get back to a healthier weight.
"Diet was especially important with the gyms closing," he said. "Riding a bike was my secret the last three weeks, as I went down every street in Elk Grove. Our secret weapon was Michael (Kaveney)."
Michael Kaveney did play a role in "Silent Assassins" success by being the 2020 top male finisher, experiencing a 16.09% weight loss.
"I've loved the mutual support team Silent Assassins has had throughout this journey," Kaveney said. "When Bill O'Malley first approached me about being on a team for this project, I was both flattered and intimidated knowing he had won this two years ago. Yikes."
Michael is excited to donate his 47-inch waist jeans and says he is feeling wonderful. He says brisk 5- to 7-mile daily walks with his wife and teammate Tina contributed to his success while in quarantine.
The top female to win this year was Maureen Koziol from "Fab Friends" from Wood Dale. Maureen was able finish with a 14.75% weight loss.
So far it has been a rough year for us all but the Fittest Loser Challenge has proved that through unity, determination and a little bit of accountability, anyone can overcome adversity and find success -- no matter how big or small.
Congratulations to everyone that participated in this year's challenge. We hope you continue your wellness journey and stay healthy.
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