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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.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

See numbers fall throughout this year’s contest

This column was published Feb. 4, 2012: 

I’m never going to get used to it.

Most people can’t walk up to someone and ask them how old they are.

You also risk a slap in the face if you ask them how much they weigh.

Yet, I do both.

I was reminded how unusual this is about six weeks ago, when I emailed the contestants from Lighten Up in 2011 to ask for a update on their weight loss.

A few didn’t respond. I can’t say I blame them, I’d have, too — especially since I’d put on a few pounds myself in those intervening months.

As I sat in my office one day, I started reading people’s Facebook posts.

I saw one from the champion of Lighten Up in 2011, Michael Kadlub, who was celebrating the arrival of his new workout program.

I started typing.

“Gonna send in your answers to the questions I sent out, champ? Looking forward to seeing what you say!”

It took him a few weeks, but he filled out all the blanks and included a little needle at the end of one answer.

“(Don’t you know it is not politically correct to ask about weights during the holiday season)”
Of course I laughed.

It is what most people consider their biggest secret.

I have had people come up to me in the grocery store, telling me of their weight struggles. One time it happened in the chip aisle. I had to laugh at the irony. What were either of us doing there?

That number certainly is my biggest secret. I won’t even let my doctor tell me!

But, when you run a weight-loss contest, those numbers are just that — numbers.

At the start, they’re big numbers. At the end, they’re small.

Over the first three years of Lighten Up, our participants have lost 1,076.85 pounds. I have to admit, I’m pretty darn proud of them.

They work hard, they suffer and they celebrate.

And, so do I.

When those lower numbers pop up on the scales, I’m as happy as they are.

Tomorrow, I’ll introduce you to a new crop of your neighbors who have signed on to share their personal struggles with their weight.

When I met them on Jan. 29 at Slim & Fit Personal Weight Loss & Fitness in Concord Township, I told them they’re brave.

And I mean it. How many of us would be willing to have our weight published every month for six months?

Not many.

I just wish I were more like this group of 15 determined souls.

Sure, I say I need to lose a few pounds. Sure, I know what I need to do to make it happen.

Heck, I’m going to be lecturing them over the next six months about eating right, exercise, how to handle stress and good snacking practices.

But, as testimony to how much of a challenge that will be for me, I give you exhibit A.

After the weigh-in, and before my husband and I hit Giant Eagle on Sunday afternoon, we stopped at Panera so we wouldn’t shop on empty stomachs.

Not so bad, right? As if!

An order of soup in a bread bowl later, and I’m feelin’ the guilt so many do when they realize they’ve sabotaged their diets for the day.

To quote Jaime Brenkus of Slim & Fit: “SO WHAT? Make up for it at the next meal, or the next day.”

Exactly! So I told my husband that we’d be having a light dinner that night, to compensate for the fact that we ate too much for “lunch.”

And, we did it! Hooray for us!

And, hooray for those 15 contestants in Lighten Up, who will be making me proud for the next six months — and long afterward.

Don’t miss the updates as they continue their journey through the first half of the year.
Twitter: @Lauranh


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