These eight people are happy to be called ‘losers’! Winning teams from the Big Loser Contest at Spring Grove Fitness Center included, team partners: Lori and Gary Wilhelmson, Donna Tweeten (front) and Jennifer Wiste (back), Denise Schuttemeier (front) and Kelly Petersen (back), and Rebecca and Leonard Splittstoesser.<br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->Photo by Marlene Deschler
These eight people are happy to be called ‘losers’! Winning teams from the Big Loser Contest at Spring Grove Fitness Center included, team partners: Lori and Gary Wilhelmson, Donna Tweeten (front) and Jennifer Wiste (back), Denise Schuttemeier (front) and Kelly Petersen (back), and Rebecca and Leonard Splittstoesser.

Photo by Marlene Deschler
"There were a lot of teams in contention of placing in the top three this year, so it really came down to the wire," explained Spring Grove Fitness manager, Brandon Bergey, as he talked about the 2013 Big Loser contest that was just completed at the fitness center.

"It was great to see all the support contestants were giving each other. They really wanted everyone to succeed and achieve their goals."

The 53 contestants participating in the Big Loser contest at the Spring Grove Fitness Center lost 651 total pounds or an average of 12.3 pounds per person. The contest began Jan. 7 with the final weigh-in on April 5.

A new facet was added to this year's contest - a point contest. Participants could earn points by taking progress photos, answering questionnaires, journaling food intake and by working out at the fitness center.

"I think the point system was good because people could control that," Brandon explained. "They could choose whether or not they worked out or what they decided to eat. We cannot always control how much weigh we lose or how fast it will come off, but by working out and being honest with what we eat, it will come."

Winners are determined by the combined body weight percentage lost. This year's top winning (or losing, really) team was friends, Donna Tweeten and Jennifer Wiste. They lost a combined body weight of 12.36 percent.

The second-place team was husband and wife, Gary and Lori Wilhelmson. Together, they lost 11.18 percent of their body weight.

Third place went to husband and wife team of Leonard and Rebecca Splittstoesser who lost 10.75 percent of their combined body weight.

As point winners for the contest, Denise Schuttemeier and friend, Kelly Petersen, were also recognized.

"It has been fun," commented Wiste. "We've visited with others while we've been here at the fitness center. We really helped motivate each other; if one was feeling bad about themselves, the other one brought them up."

"It really did help to plan when we were going to meet at the fitness center," added Tweeten. "Having that accountability and motivate really helped."

"I have also started watching portion sizes and reading labels more," said Wiste. "I've been paying more attention to the calories and fat and sodium, content."

Lori Wilhelmson also commented that they had changed their diet, "We really watched what we ate, paying attention to our carbs and how we prepared the food. We stopped frying things and have eaten more fish and less red meat."

"It has helped doing this as a team because we were accountable to each other," added Gary.

Throughout the fitness center, there are motivational sayings posted on the walls. Rebecca Splittstoesser had several favorites, but one that meant the most to her during this contest was, "When you feel like quitting, think about why you started"

"I've been coming to the fitness center for 84 consecutive days," she said with a smile. "The signs have helpful messages of motivation and have kept me plugging along."

"I've been wanting to go on an elk hunt in the mountains; losing this weight will make that easier, and I'm looking forward to that," said Leonard Splittstoesser. "And I just feel better overall."

"I feel better, too, and I have way more stamina now than I did before," remarked Denise Schuttemeier. "Even my clothes fit better and some are too big!"

Kelly Petersen agreed, "I feel a lot better and even though I've met some of my goals, I have more to meet and look forward to accomplishing those."

Donna and Jennifer each won a six-month membership to the fitness center. Lori and Gary each won a three-month membership and Leonard and Rebecca each won a one-month membership.

As point winners, Denise and Kelly each won a one-month membership. Prizes were also given out at the four- and eight-week weigh-ins.

"It was a very competitive year, but also a very encouraging atmosphere," added Bergey. "It is great to see so many here excited to work out. It's really nice to see the facility being used by so many."