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'Auburn's biggest loser' sheds 40 pounds to win contest

By: Natalie Otis, Journal Correspondent
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Editor’s note: Journal correspondent Natalie Otis has followed the progress of contestants in the Auburn’s Biggest Loser contest, a 12-week weight loss challenge. It was an emotional grand finale for the final eight competing for the title of Auburn’s Biggest Looser Thursday morning. As each contestant placed their bare feet on the white scale at the Courthouse Athletic Club in Auburn for the final time — palms grew sweaty and hearts were racing. “I have really just tried to stay calm these last few days,” said contestant Lisa Swisley before her final weigh in. “I feel like I want to throw up,” said Kim Jenkin-Palaferri. Of the eight in the competition, the battle for the title ultimately came down to two — Swisley and Jenkin-Palaferri. Each of the women had been within a half pound of each other during the past few weigh-in sessions, however, in the end there could be only one. Jenkin-Palaferri was named Auburn’s biggest looser on Thursday morning and took the trophy, the title and the prize of a one-year membership to the Courthouse Athletic Club. The 41-year-old mother and professional photographer from Auburn lost 40 pounds in just 12 weeks. She started the competition at 202 pounds and was a svelte 162 at the final weigh in. “I am in a state of shock,” she said as she looked around the room at her family and newfound friends at the early morning event. With the emotions of the win leaving her speechless, each competitor rushed in with hugs and hearty pats on the back. “Can you believe it — 40 pounds,” said fellow competitor Diana Westin. Jenkin-Palaferri’s story is startling — she almost missed being a part of the competition at all. Jenkin-Palaferri was actually an alternate that was put into the group late as one of the initial contestants had to bow out after he couldn’t get a doctor’s release to compete. “Yeah, I almost never was in this. I don’t know what I would have done,” she said. “Next to child birth, this has been one of the most profound times in my life.” Jenkin-Palaferri said 13 weeks ago she was at the point where she weighed the most she had ever and was dependent on medications and insulin. “My doctor told me he was going to fire me as a client,” she said. “He said he felt there was nothing he could offer me anymore as a doctor and that I should seek someone else like an endocrinologist to have an insulin pump put in. My visit with him last week, he told me congratulations because I am completely off any medications.” Jenkin-Palaferri said that she credits her success to being in a competitive environment and working with others as part of a group. “I wanted to win,” she said. “I am competitive and this is what it took.” Jenkin-Palaferri is so competitive that her final push to win included working out four times a day and doing spin classes, boot camp classes with instructor and group leader Angela Martin, swimming, hiking and controlling her diet on a daily basis. “This is all a lot more fun and easy at this point,” she said. “This has been an unbelievable opportunity to work out with Angela (Martin) and an inspiring group of people who keep you going. I now want to be able to bike up Donner Summit.” Together contestants Jenkin-Palaferri, Swisley, Westin, Margaret Adolph, Danee Davis, Heidi Saiz-King, Don Barnes and Keith Turner lost a combined total of 219 pounds. Swisley was the runner up to Jenkin-Palaferri, loosing 36 pounds which was about 10 pounds more than the average contestant. The average was 27 pounds. Win or loose, the group has a winning attitude. When 61-year-old Adolph got on the scale Thursday morning, she screamed “I did it!” “I feel like bursting into tears,” she said. She didn’t clinch the competition but her personal goal was to get under 200 pounds and when the scale came up at 198 she cheered along with her teammates who gave hugs of support. “The support everyone has given eachother has been amazing,” Martin said. “It has truly been a pleasure working with everyone.” Most of the team plans to continue with Martin, who owns Adventure Here and offers one-on-one training in addition to boot camp classes through her company. The team says they credit her dedication and encouragement to their success. “This has absolutely been a defining moment. I realized what it takes to change my life,” Turner, who lost 25 pounds, said. “It takes lots of focus, willpower and help from someone like Angela Martin.” Natalie Otis is a freelance writer. E-mail her with health and fitness related story ideas at natalieotis@gmail.com.