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Laura Kessel is managing editor of The News-Herald in Willoughby. She writes a weekly column and shares her thoughts here.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Secret is safe with me (for now)

I know a secret.

It’s not a really big one, because plenty of other people know it, too.

But, every summer for three years now, I’ve had the pleasure of keeping this secret and anxiously waiting to share it with the world.

Well, at least Northeast Ohio.

In just a little over a month, I’ll be able to reveal it.

I can’t wait!

In case you haven’t figured out what I’m talking about, I guess I should clue you in.

As the coordinator for our Lighten Up weight-loss contest, I get to go behind the scenes each month as the contestants weigh-in.

In doing so, I get to watch their bodies change.

And, boy, do they!

Faces thin. Stomachs disappear.

But, for me, the most important part is seeing the excitement in the participants’ eyes as they realize that yes, they can do it.

When we sit down and talk at the start, they all explain what brought them to the contest.

Usually, it’s a string of excuses.

We’ve all made them.

“I’m too busy.” “I didn’t realize it had gotten this bad.”

“I’m too fat to exercise.”

Many are poignant, quietly explaining that children or grandchildren deserve their time and knowing that they need to do something to make sure that they’re around for a long time.

Some just want to look better.

I’m sure we all know that feeling.

After the initial meeting, I see them once per month, but for brief periods. They walk into Slim & Fit Personal Weight Loss & Fitness, step on the scale and are out the door within a few minutes.

But the visits last long enough to notice the changes.

Sometimes, they’re subtle, taking just about the entire six months to become clear.

Other times, they’re consistent and more shocking each month.

This year’s group falls into the latter group.

And, in just about a month, you’ll be in on my little secret.

Last year’s winner, Barb Henderson of Painesville, still looks just the way she did at the end of last year’s contest. She’s not happy about it, either.

She entered this year’s contest with hopes of getting to her ultimate goal, which was to lose 130 pounds overall.

Henderson gained a pound between the end of last year’s contest and the start of this year’s. The aftereffects of knee surgery mid-contest have slowed her down some this year.

But, she still is my perfect example of that surprise I mentioned earlier.

After her victory last year, I remember putting together the before-and-after photos and smiling at the difference Henderson showed.

You can find it here:

A month of inaction following her surgery put Henderson on the offensive and she’s again sporting that competitive spirit I grew to love last year.

Hope she doesn’t mind, but I’m expecting big things at the final weigh-in.

I’ve already seen huge things from this year’s leaders, Stephen Lambert, Michael Kadlub, Jim Longbons and Patricia Tranter.

And, by big things, I mean, smaller numbers.

All have put up nice losses, but have provided that “I’ve got a secret” feeling.

I should admit that Kadlub is sort of teasing me with his weight loss, because, as a busy business traveler, he has only attended two weigh-ins with the rest of the group.

He usually shows up the day before the rest of the group and posts his numbers.

But wait until you see Lambert, Longbons and Tranter.

The latter two have the look of loss that Jaime Brenkus of Slim & Fit always describes as the “top down” formula. He says people show their weight loss from the top down, meaning it starts at the shoulders and works its way down.

Faces are thinner. Arms are smaller. And now waists are becoming trimmer.

But, Lambert takes the cake. Wait ... let’s hope he doesn’t!

Don’t think you’re looking at a different guy when you see his photo. Trust me, it’s really him.

About the only thing that hasn’t changed about him is his height. I might measure that at the final weigh-in just to make sure, though.

But, get ready, because this one will be like those makeover shows you see on TV all the time.

Cue the smoke and dramatic music, and raise the spotlight. My secret is about to be revealed!

Twitter: @Lauranh


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