For many Americans, the struggle to maintain a healthy weight or to lose those extra pounds can be a physical and/or mental challenge. But that challenge did not stop the 181 participants of The Biggest Winner, a free program to help St. Charles County residents lose weight, eat better and gain an appreciation for a healthy lifestyle. The program was sponsored by Barnes-Jewish St. Peters Hospital, Progress West Hospital and Mid Rivers Newsmagazine.
For 10 weeks, participants – supported by medical monitoring and help from dietitians– worked on achieving better health. In the end, the group lost a total of 958 pounds, or 53 percent of their collective body weight.
Third-place winner Barron Weber, of St. Charles, lost 12.48 percent of his body weight. “It was really the snacking,” he said. “I cut out the snacking and not eating out for lunch. I only ate out for lunch one day a week.” He also said that participating in a competition helped in giving him an incentive.”
Second-place winner Libbie Kaplan, of St. Peters, lost 12.88 percent of her body weight. A teacher in the Francis Howell School District, said the lifestyle change has been profound. Her feet no longer hurt standing in the classroom and “going up and down steps is not a big deal anymore,” she said. “I’m happier.”
Sheryl Albertson, of Lake Saint Louis, won first place, losing 14.92 percent of her body weight. “A big difference was cutting out fast food, restaurant food and no fatty foods or starches,” Albertson said. “I concentrated on clean eating and exercise.”
Six other participants – Leah McGrail, Lisa Chilton, Jodi Ward, Diane Pelletier, Karen Maxwell and Amber Rector – also lost 10 percent or more of their body weight.
“We told them to keep coming and stick with it,” Elena Vance, RN, BJC Patient Care Services said. “We emphasized weekly small goals, not just on the scale but also on how they felt.”
Albertson has advice for anyone considering a lifestyle change.
“I started this thinking ‘I can do anything for 10 weeks.’ Now do it for another 10 weeks and break it down to smaller goals,” Albertson said. “The biggest challenge is to maintain it. The longer you go; the temptations become easier to overcome.”