Pounds drop as Biggest Loser contest continues

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 nearly four weeks since the Auburn Biggest Loser contest started, and contestants are seeing results. All together, participants Kim Jenkin-Palaferri, Lisa Swisley, Margaret Adolph, Diana Westin, Danee Davis, Heidi Saiz-King, Don Barnes and Keith Turner have lost more than 83 pounds. The winner will be determined by the highest percentage of weight lost. So far Lisa Swisley is in the lead with a 6.31-percent weight loss. Don Barnes holds the record in the group for most pounds lost. He is down 14.4 pounds. The 12-week contest started with a call out to the community here in the Auburn Journal more than a month ago, which attracted dozens of applicants. The grand prize is a yearlong membership at the Courthouse Athletic Club, but along the way the eight contestants are each eligible to receive one of the many items donated to the contest by local businesses. Danee Davis and Don Barnes recently won Smoothie King gift certificates, along with a one-on-one personal-training session, after tying for first place in a two-mile run up the American River Canyon. Angela Martin, Auburn fitness and nutrition expert of Adventure Here, has donated her time for the one-on-one session and is leading the group through the contest. She has worked with participants both in a group setting and individually to make specific plans that include daily calorie limits and supplemental exercising that will aid the contestants as they compete. On recent visit to a 6:30 a.m. boot camp workout at Recreation Park, participants agreed that the program is getting easier — even getting up before the sun. For Margaret Adolph, 61, the workouts have not only caused her to shed pounds, but she is finally getting relief from a weak shoulder that has plagued her for years. “I can feel my shoulder is getting stronger,” she called out as she completed a strength-building pose in the class. “I couldn’t have done this three weeks ago.” Everyone in the class is instructed to show up at 6:30 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays and at 8:30 a.m. on Saturdays with “weights, water and something in the belly.” Martin has the group set up on top of the picnic tables, using the benches to lead the group through a series of exercises for an hour that focus on strengthening different parts of the body. Diana Westin, 44, says that because of the demanding schedule of the contest she has put other things in her life on hold until the contest is done. “I am exhausted some days and I have figured that things like the house will have to wait,” she said. “I am excited but it is still hard to do all the workouts and make time for other things.” Martin says creating a balance between work, exercise and family is hard, but she believes that the contestants who are going to be the most successful in the long run are the ones that use their 12 weeks to make permanent changes in their lives. “It takes 12 weeks to make or break a habit,” Martin said. Martin says now that she has gotten to know each of the contestants personally, she holds high hopes that they make the permanent changes needed in the next nine weeks to change their lives forever, whether they win the contest or not. “My goal all along has been to give this group the tools needed to make lifestyle changes that will stick. With consistency everyone will meet their goals,” she said. One of the tools Martin is offering is a trip to Graceful Health in Newcastle on Saturday. Graceful Health has donated a session with the contestants hoping that they can address what the roots of their eating problems are. Chiropractors Andrew and Naomi Downey offer wellness classes that work on connecting the mind and body to work together. “I think the experience of getting at what is behind the need to seek out food will be transformational for some of the contestants,” Martin said. “I am really looking forward to seeing how this can help.” Natalie Otis is a freelance writer and gymnastics coach. E-mail her at