Rec hosts Biggest Loser

Sean Ammerman

Gretchen Julian and Kim Rufra, employees of the Student Recreation and Wellness Center, take turns weighing in for the Biggest Loser competition.

Credit: Steve Schirra

With the colder months ahead, this time of year can be a nightmare for those who want to lose weight.

As Halloween moves into Thanksgiving and Christmas to New Year’s, the “holidays for fat people” – as Wendie Willis calls them – are fast approaching.

Willis, a higher education administration graduate student, will be battling the upcoming holiday season by participating in the first ever Biggest Loser competition held by the Student Recreation and Wellness Center.

“This weight is like a ball and chain,” Willis said. “I’ve got to get rid of it.”

Being about 100 pounds overweight, she said she was encouraged to do the Biggest Loser by a friend who is also overweight.

The contest, which was inspired by the television show of the same name, will have teams of Kent State students, staff and faculty competing to see who can lose the most weight. With weekly weigh-ins at the rec center, teams with the highest percentage of weight loss will win a prize each week.

“I had read in the newspaper about (The University of) Akron doing their Biggest Loser program, and I thought what a wonderful idea for a facility,” said Katie Rood, wellness reception team leader at the rec center. “At our facility we have fitness assessments, nutritionists, personal training and everything, so we can have a really well-rounded program.”

Participants will be able to have their body composition, daily caloric intake and blood pressure screened, in addition to receiving tips, recipes and a wellness assessment at each of the weigh-ins.

David Wallace, network engineer at the Administrative Services Building on campus, joined the program after seeing an advertisement in e-Inside. He called the contest a win-win situation for the rec center and participants.

“They get to show off their services,” Wallace said. “And here you have a chance to be healthier.”

His ultimate goal is to lose 100 pounds. He does not expect to lose it all this semester but said he thinks the competition is a good way to start things off.

“The problem with dieting is that it’s too drastic sometimes,” Wallace said. “I think (the Biggest Loser) is a good way to teach people.”

Willis’ expectations are not quite as high. She simply wants to get back to the weight she was while living in Ethiopia and working as a teacher for the International Foundation for Education and Self Help.

“I was considered too big in Ethiopia,” she said. “They wanted to charge me two fares to get on the bus.”

The differences in culture were dramatic, she said, and it forced her to eat less and healthier. So when she moved back to America last March, she was 30 pounds lighter.

“Coming back to this country,” she said, “I can see how grossly overweight we are.”

After an ankle injury left her temporarily in a wheelchair, Willis gained back all the weight she lost in Ethiopia. Her goal with the Biggest Loser is to get back to her “Ethiopian weight,” and with the help of her team, be more active.

“Teams are really getting into it,” Rood said. “They’re getting together for that support.”

Wallace, who has had little success dieting in the past, thinks the motivational support of a team will make it easier.

“I’ve never tried it this way,” he said. “I figured it would be a better way to encourage myself and encourage other people.”

For the first weigh-in this week, Wallace lost 7 pounds. He compared the success to earning a paycheck and said all he did was cut out all fast foods and soda from his diet.

The contest ends Dec. 2 when the winning team will receive a grand prize.

“We’re still putting prizes together,” Rood said. “We had 67 people (participating) in this, and we want to make the prize supportive.”

With the high turnout they had this time, Rood said she expects to have the Biggest Loser back next semester.

Contact Student Recreation and Wellness reporter Sean Ammerman at [email protected].