Winners lose weight, gain healthy lifestyles

by Donovan Jackson
Air University Public Affairs

6/7/2013 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. - -- Four months after the start of the Biggest Loser Competition, the winners say that they are thrilled at the results from their hard work and dedication to a healthier lifestyle.

"It is very rewarding, and I feel better," said competitor Mary Arrington. "Although, it was difficult when my sister and I began the competition as a team. We motivated each other while receiving a lot of help from our trainer, Josh Hale."

Arrington, the spouse of an Air Force retiree, and her sister, Marty Root, competed as the Dynamite Sisters. They came in first place in the team competition.

"We had a good time competing," Arrington said. "We even tried to outdo each other."

Arrington said that she and her sister did not let their ages be a deterrent in achieving their health and fitness goals.

"My sister and I are both in our late 50s; however, that does not matter," she said. "Regardless of age, you have to make the decision to get started, be committed, don't give up and set short-term goals."

The Biggest Loser Competition ran Feb. 8 through May 24 to promote regular physical activity, proper nutritional education and, ultimately, weight loss.

"I lost 25 pounds during the challenge," said Julie Lewin, an Air Force spouse. "I didn't lose any weight the first month, but when it started coming off, it was motivation to keep going."

Lewin earned first place in the individual category based on percentage of weight lost.

Melanie Gess, recreation specialist at the sports and fitness center, said that the most rewarding aspect running the competition was seeing the positive results and effects that it made on the competitors.

"Throughout the competition, I witnessed major changes in the participants," she said. "I watched as the program gave participants the incentive they needed to take the first step in making a positive lifestyle change. Most of all, I loved hearing stories of how people could fit into clothes they could not previously wear."

Gess said she is looking forward to administrating the next Biggest Loser Competition, which will take place in February. She said that she enjoys knowing that she has helped someone to reach a goal.

For one competitor, gaining weight instead of losing it during the competition was a bit puzzling.

"I actually gained six pounds over the first half of the contest because of the variety of exercises I was doing," said Lt. Col. Richard Bailey Jr., a professor of strategy and security studies at the School of Advanced Air and Space Studies. "Even though I was confident that my overall fitness was improving, it was disconcerting to be gaining weight during a weight loss contest."

By the end of the competition, Bailey had lost 11 pounds. He said that now that the competition is over, the best way to maintain progress is to continue the winning regimen.

"I'm going to stay with my regimen," said Bailey. "Fitness can't be a mad dash to the finish line. It has to be a lifestyle that becomes part of your routine."

Bailey ranked in first place for the individual category based on a point system of weight lost.
The first place winners of the competition received video game systems that featured games aimed at promoting healthy lifestyle choices.