Biggest loser weigh-in draws 128 contestants

Published 5:00 am Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The initial weigh-in for the start of the Lawrence CountyBiggest Loser contest saw 128 participants with a combined weightof 29,144 pounds step onto the scales and vow to thin up in thecoming weeks.

With $1,280 raised in contest admission fees, the biggest loserat the end of the contest on June 30 will win $640. Second andthird place finishers will each receive $320, and even those thatdo not place in the top three will be awarded prizes.

There was also $699 raised in T-shirt sales, all of which willbe donated to the fund for Lawrence County’s Relay for Life onApril 25.

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Mississippi Wound Care Specialists Community Educator JamesLambert, the contest’s organizer, said the response for theLawrence County event was much greater than that of similar eventshe has coordinated in the past.

“It went very well tonight,” Lambert said. “I hope everybodyviews this as a challenge to lose weight and get healthy.”

The challenge will be measured every two weeks as thecontestants report back to the Lawrence County Hospital to weigh inand check their progress. While contestants are not required toshow for the bi-weekly weigh-ins on April 14, April 28, May 12, May26 and June 9, they must be present for the final weigh-in on June30 to be eligible for the contest.

With the initial weigh-ins over and done, the real work for the128 Biggest Loser contestants will now begin.

“It’s all down to getting on the diets and encouraging everyoneto become that biggest loser,” Lambert said.

Biggest Loser contestants entered the competition Monday nightfor a variety of reasons. Most chose to compete to improve theirhealth.

“I’m in this contest to keep from getting diabetes like mydaddy,” said Scotty McCloud, of Monticello. “I don’t care to winthe money.”

Of course, the possibility of pocketing $640 served as a themotivation for some.

“I’m gonna lose weight and win that money!” said MichaelWatkins, of Brookhaven. “It’s gonna be very hard, but I get themotivation from all these people coming out – and the chance to winsome money.”

At least one contestant was in it for the money with no plans tokeep her winnings.

“I know I’m gonna win – and the money I’ll win, I’m gonna donateto St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital,” said Donna WallaceHartwell, of Monticello. “I love them and I’ve been giving to themfor 20 years.”

Many contestants also professed to having a battle plan alreadydrawn up.

Some plan to go it alone. Others are pondering purchasingmemberships at a gym. Everyone named soft drinks and fast food astheir number one no-no.

Monticello’s Shirley Anderson plans to utilize the event’ssponsored walks each Tuesday and Thursday, where further fundingfor the county’s Relay for Life will be raised.

“I will be out there for the walks twice a week,” Anderson said.”I may be the only one out there, but I’m determined.”

Almost all contestants said the group environment of the contestwould serve as a catalyst for losing weight.

“Just having someone to be accountable to really helps,” saidRenee Bowman, of Monticello.

One person who was pleased to see a crowd motivated to gethealthier was Lawrence County Hospital’s own Dr. Brantley Pace, whogave a short presentation on the dangers of being overweight. It isno secret that being overweight can affect and even cause diabetes,but Pace said it also increases the risk for cancer and sleepapnea.

Pace pointed out that sleep apnea is not just an annoyance – itcan be fatal.

“It’s not just that you snore, it’s that you stop breathing,” hesaid. “Sleep apnea is a big deal – it kills people.”

Pace said sleep apnea had increased in the country because ofthe rise of fast food restaurants.

“When I was a med student, there was no such term as sleepapnea,” he said. “It came with McDonald’s, Burger King and TacoBell. Whenever you have a community building fast food restaurants,somewhere along the way there’s going to be a sleep apneaclinic.”

For Lawrence County Biggest Loser contestants who want to go theextra mile in taking care of their bodies, St. Luke Home HealthOffice Manager Gina Evans said her clinic was standing by toassist.

“Home Health is here to teach, to educate patients on health,”Evans said. “We hope this will urge people to be more aware oftheir diet and daily living habits – this is a life-long process.We have all kinds of resources and materials to help them.”