Group forms its own ‘Biggest Loser’

May. 13, 2014 @ 08:50 PM

Experiencing loss can sting,  but not when shedding pounds is the goal.

That’s why a group of professionals and others are celebrating a milestone: They lost a total of 219 pounds – the equivalent of two small people or one large one – during a weight-loss challenge inspired by the hit television show “The Biggest Loser.”
The idea for the challenge came from Cheresa Greene-Clemons, an education professor at N.C. Central University who brought 10 others into the group. They included doctors, nurses, teachers, a police officer, a stay-at-home dad and a college student.
From Jan. 2 to April 10, participants used cellphones to share their weight loss efforts, posting photos of their scales every Sunday for all to see.
There was another incentive – money. Everyone chipped in $10 a week during the challenge, bringing the pot to $300. But what surprised the group is that the satisfaction of losing weight was far more important than money, Greene-Clemons said.
The group included her best friend in Durham, a former Durham resident who’s a professor at the University of Arkansas, and other friends and relatives in Charlotte. The biggest loser was her brother-in-law, who shed 53 pounds.
“He joined the YMCA and started working out,” she said. “He was 273 pounds at the beginning, and his last weigh-in was on April 10 at 219 pounds – a total of 19 percent lost,” she said.
In addition, he eliminated soft drinks, and that accounted for much of his loss.
“All he did the first week was to stop drinking sodas, and he lost 6.5 pounds,” she said. “He didn’t even work out that week.”
As for Greene-Clemons, her starting weight was 190 – well above her normal 175. By April 10, she was at 173.
Cutting carbs and sweets, and running almost daily, helped her lose big-time.
Sharing her progress and setbacks by phone was another big factor.
“The support from the group really helped,” she said. “One person might say: ‘I’m having a hard time today, and I don’t think I can make it. I’m about to eat some chocolate.’ ”
Then someone in the group would respond: “No, don’t do it! You can make it.”
“And it helped to know that on Sunday we would all post a picture of our scale,” she said. “Pictures don’t lie, so it’s not like you could just send a text and say I’ve lost several pounds.”
She said accountability helped more than the prize money.
“I think that even if we hadn’t put money in, we would still have gotten the same results,” she said.
The challenge is officially over, but Greene-Clemons said the group still checks in with each other the first Sunday of every month.
She believes others can create a similar group and be big losers.
“It can be anyone – people at work, family or friends,” she said. “Invite as many people as you can, and we can move toward a healthier community.”