This is the third installment in a series of stories about getting fit and staying fit. Each story will highlight a different way local residents are choosing healthier lifestyles.
Kristin Cooley was tired of looking at herself in the mirror. The wife and mother of two young children had dropped off in her fitness routine and did not like the results. She remembered what it felt like to be physically fit and the former college soccer player decided it was time to do something about it.
“There comes a point where you have to look at what you’re doing and give up the excuses,” Cooley said.
Cooley took control of her schedule and made time for exercise. Every day the Turlock mom works out to a fitness DVD while her 2-year old and 7-month old nap. When her husband gets home from work, she takes to the streets and runs five kilometers — every day.
To keep her food intake on track, Cooley uses the MyPlate calorie counter application on LiveStrong.com.
All of these changes made a difference in Cooley’s physical fitness, but the thing that has kept her motivated day after day, week after week was the Biggest Loser Turlock Weight Loss Challenge.
The challenge offers local residents looking to lose weight a place to be weighed in every week, with a hard cash motivation. Each participant in the challenge puts $30 in a pool, which at the end of the challenge is split between the top 10 losers — of body fat.
“It’s nice to know someone is here to keep you accountable,” Cooley said. “And it’s low cost, with a big pay out at the end.”
Cooley was the challenge’s newest winner. She lost 42.8 pounds and 19.6 percent of her body fat during the 12-week New Year’s Challenge. For her hard work and dedication, Cooley won a cool $1,250.
Friendly competition grows to community-wide challenge
In the summer of 2010, Patti Allen and a few friends decided to help each other reach their individual fitness goals by weighing in together once each week. To make sure the women were motivated to show up every week, they decided to make it a challenge — with a few dollars at stake.
Because the women were fans of the popular TV show “The Biggest Loser,” they decided to call their challenge Biggest Loser Turlock.
Almost two years later, the challenge has grown to include over 100 participants and the winning prize is consistently over $1,000.
“We did about three rounds of the 10-week challenge at my house,” Allen said. “That’s when we hit 100 people and it was too much traffic for my street.”
The group then moved the weekly weigh-ins to a room at Monte Vista Chapel. Now, every Monday night from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. a steady stream of people — young and old, toting young children and dragging in co-workers —stop into the church’s gym for a five minute turn at the scales.
Allen and a couple of other volunteers dutifully record every weight in each participant’s individual file — and electronically for the challenge results. If a participant finds the scales not in his or her favor that week, a fine must be paid; $1 per pound, to be exact. If a challenge participant doesn’t show up for a weekly weigh-in, then a $5 fine awaits them the next time.
This weekly ritual goes on for 10 or 12 weeks, depending on the individual challenge, and at the end a winner is announced based on percentage of body fat lost.
“This is not a program. We’re not going to tell you what to do or what not to do,” Allen said. “Most people who show have some idea of what works for them.”
The New Year’s Challenge was Turlock resident Richard Holt’s fourth time in the competition — and he’s had pretty good success at losing weight — and winning prizes. The first time he lost 64 pounds in 12 weeks and came in third place in the challenge. In the second and third times he competed in the challenge, he lost 50 and 30 pounds, respectively. This time he came in ninth place.
“I’m held accountable; I have to come every Monday and be weighed,” Holt said. “And I don’t want to pay.”
Holt’s fitness routine includes generally eating healthier — cutting out flour and sugar —and drinking more water.
“A trick I learned was at grocery stores, stick to the outside aisles. All the bad stuff is in the inside,” Holt said.
For exercising, Holt found walking and weight training works best for him.
Couples theme of next challenge
Biggest Loser Turlock will begin a new 10-week challenge on April 16 — only this time it’s teams only. Each two-person team will have their weights tracked individually and then added together to calculate their percentage of weight loss.
“We hope to increase accountability with the team theme,” Allen said.
The top five teams with the highest combined weight loss percentage will be declared the winners.
To register for the Team Challenge, e-mail Patti Allen at email@example.com or visit facebook.com/BiggestLoserTurlock.