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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, January 18, 2013

Welcoming another group to the Lighten Up world

By the time you read this, it’s possible I will have 66 new friends.

If you’re an early riser like me, though, they’re still strangers.

At noon today, I’m going to embrace the participants in Lighten Up in 2013 as they start their journey to a healthier life.

This year marks our fifth Lighten Up outing.

Permit me to boast a little bit:

In the first four years, we’ve had 56 area residents join the contest, and only 10 have dropped out before the end.

The four-year weight loss total is 1,460.15 pounds.

You’re right when you notice that the figure isn’t quite what they put up on “The Biggest Loser.” But that’s OK, because that’s not what we’re trying to be.

There’s no yelling in Lighten Up.

There’s coaching. There are pats on the back. There’s cheering. There’s even a bit of razzing, once we’ve gotten to know each other better.

If someone’s struggling, we try to encourage them. If the struggling reaches what I call the danger zone, they get a little private counseling. Not even I get to hear what they talk about with the folks at LEAN Living or the Lake County General Health District.

Lighten Up is meant to be a nourishing environment, if you pardon my accidental pun.

Competition is nice, but in the end what we’re hoping is that people’s lives change.

Many have thrived during the competition. But once it’s ended, many have lost their drive to continue their path to complete their life change.

So, some familiar faces will be back tomorrow.

And, they’ll be joined by many, many others.

This year marks the first we haven’t turned anyone away. In previous years we’ve whittled the list down to about 10 to 15 people and followed their journey for six months.

Our 66 participants this year marks the highest number of competitors we’ve ever had, but it’s also the most people who said they wanted to join. The previous record for applications was three years ago with 45.

There’s pressure on them, though, because to make it to the second half of the contest, they’ll have to lose at least 5 percent of their starting weight before the April 27 weigh-in. In other words, a 300-pounder needs to lose 15 pounds to get to the second half of the contest.

If they’re serious, they’ll accomplish that goal. In the past, it’s taken about 20 percent weight loss to win.

The cast of characters is as varied as the reasons they want to lose weight. There are young ones (an 18-year-old woman and a 20-year-old man) and older ones (a woman in her 70s).

There are moms and dads who want to lose because they’re worried they’ll miss their kids’ futures.

There are athletes who long to compete again. There are sisters who want to fight the battle together.

There’s even a father and two daughters who are about to begin.

I wish them all luck and will tell you all the first thing I’ll tell them when our meeting begins today.

Congratulations and welcome to Lighten Up. You’re very brave and I’m proud of each of you.
Twitter: @Lauranh


Blogger Tricia said...

Thank you Laura!!!!! Now I'm not offended when someone says "oh Lighten Up!" to me!!!!!

February 8, 2013 at 4:24 PM 

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