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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.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Getting the facts straight on Lighten Up in 2014

It stinks when the first thing you do in the new year involves a screw-up.

Welcome to 2014, Laura style.

Unfortunately, it seems a lot like 2013.


New Year’s Day has, for the past six years, involved making a plea for participants in our annual weight-loss contest, called Lighten Up.

The name actually includes the year of the contest, so this year, it’s Lighten Up in 2014.

Last Wednesday was no different, as we included on the front page a little story explaining the rules of the contest and how to enter.

Only I forgot two of the more important facts involved in Lighten Up.

The first was I forgot to mention that those who sign up should include an estimate of their current weight.
It’s not a big deal, really. I’ll find out how much they actually weigh soon enough.

And so will you, when it’s listed in The News-Herald on the first Sunday of February, along with the contestants’ pictures.

Honestly, the only reason I ask is so I’m prepared in case we ever get a contestant who needs to be weighed on a different scale that can handle more weight than the one we use at LEAN Living in Concord Township.

The personal training and fitness studio on Crile Road has been our home for the past five years. Owner Jaime Brenkus’ scale goes up to about 450 pounds.

We’ve never had a contestant who weighs more than that, so we haven’t had to find our Plan B.

Here’s hoping this isn’t the year.

My second whoops involves leaving out a key fact about the contest.

I mentioned how you sign up: Email me at before 5 p.m. Wednesday, and include your name, complete address, a daytime phone number and a 100-word essay about why you’re interested in signing up.

I mentioned the basic rules: Contestants agree to a monthly weigh-in at LEAN Living, and to a monthly personal health assessment with an official with the Lake County General Health District. They agree to have their weight listed in the paper every month, and to blog once a week on our website about their progress throughout the contest.

Then there’s that other other item I forgot.

I am trying not to be hard on myself, because this is only the second year we’ve done it.

I forgot to mention that those who sign up are subject to a cutdown after three months. Those who don’t lose 5 percent of their initial weight will be dropped from Lighten Up.

Last year, it cost us about 15 people.

So, if you’ve signed up already, know that is part of the Lighten Up process, too. If you haven’t, and are still interested, read up a few paragraphs and get cracking, because time’s running short.

The program has been pretty successful so far, with contestants over the first five years losing 1,468.05 pounds.

I won’t lie: Keeping it off has been a struggle for many of the contestants involved.

Some have put a lot back on. Some have put all of it back on and more.

They all stress one thing when they talk about Lighten Up, though. There’s a lot of motivation there when you know your name and how much you weigh will be listed in the paper and on the website every month.

In the first five years, only a couple of people have walked away when they realized that was a fact.

Many have stayed because of that fact.

I just need to find that black magic to keep them motivated after the contest.

I’m sure it involves meetings and weigh-ins and some form of public display, just like is offered via Lighten Up.

I have a few months to work on that.

In the meantime, I’d better get cracking on this year’s contest.

And, if you’re interested, we’d love to have you join us.
Twitter: @Lauranh


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