Contestants struggle to keep losing in recent weeks

By: Natalie Otis, Journal Correspondent
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Editor’s note: Journal correspondent Natalie Otis is following the progress of contestants in the Auburn’s Biggest Loser contest, a 12-week weight-loss challenge. Watch for updates on contestants’ progress at It has been seven weeks since eight people started a journey that has changed not just their lives but the way they see themselves. They now see that they can do this. Eight people who were beyond frustrated at their inability to take off weight have just five more weeks before Auburn’s Biggest Loser is named and someone wins a one-year membership to the Courthouse Athletic Club. Contestants Kim Jenkin-Palaferri, Lisa Swisley, Margaret Adolph, Diana Westin, Danee Davis, Heidi Saiz-King, Don Barnes and Keith Turner have lost a combined total of 134.6 pounds so far. Kim Jenkin-Palaferri has taken the lead with a loss of 21.6 pounds, which translates to 10.65 percent of her body weight. Right now the contestants are gearing up for the final stretch and have lamented that the initial excitement of the contest has diminished, leaving them to rely on their inner determination to make their goals happen. Jenkin-Palaferri said her game plan, in order to finish the race strong, is to continue on with the meal plan coach Angela Martin created for her, and to increase her workouts to two times per day, in addition to walking more. “I also want to keep in mind this is a competition and I am very competitive,” she said. Many of the contestants have been upset that there have been weigh-in weeks where the scale revealed a gain or only a modest loss. “When I only lost like a half pound one week it was very frustrating,” said Saiz-King, who has lost a total of 18.4 pounds. “But, I just push myself to go on because I know that there is always next week and then the next.” Martin said it is natural to have weeks where weight loss is minimal even though nothing in the diet plan or exercise regimen has changed. “When the contestants have gained it’s been ounces. I coach them through it and explain that (it) is nothing to be discouraged about,” she said. “When it comes to staying the same weight I explain that many people reach a weight loss plateau at some point in their fitness lives. The reason is that the human body works hard to keep energy intake and output in balance. Our bodies don’t like to lose weight. I am working with everyone individually to create a calorie deficit that is healthy and results in a weekly loss.” Barnes, 46, said he is in the competition to change his eating habits for the long haul, not just week by week. “A week or two are a mere drop in the bucket in the bigger picture,” he said. “The boot camps are great, but each of us has found that we need to do more with our individual diets and exercise programs to keep going in the right direction.” Since the contest started, contestants have met with Martin each Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday morning. The group has also taken field trips to the grocery store and to a wellness clinic. Martin’s plan has been to expose the contestants to a better fitness and eating regiment but to also tackle some of the deeper issues that cause weight gain. Brad Childs with The Wilderness Institute in Auburn is meeting with the group on May 24 to help them break out of a mindset that might be limiting their final push. Childs said he would be working with the contestants as a group to teach them to avoid the burnout that comes with a long-term goal. “I like to think of life as a series of sprints versus a marathon, that way you have rest, relaxation and a rejuvenation period in between the sprints to avoid stress,” he said. Childs said that in his experience people who are overweight sometimes have an altered self-image that limits success. “It is important when you take on a task like they are — you need to find motivation in your inner person and not worry about how your body is representing you,” he said. “Part of long-term weight loss is staying motivated and knowing when to seek help and support from your strong inner circle.” Childs said he plans to achieve these goals using a series of physical challenges. The prize for winning Childs’ challenge is a one-year supply of Wrigley’s Gum. Wrigley’s donated the gum to the Auburn Biggest Loser contest because the company is studying how gum can help reduce situational stress, help manage weight, help increase focus and improve oral health. Reach Journal correspondent Natalie Otis at, or comment online at