Losers are winners in weight-loss competition

Staff reporter

When registered nurse and Greenhaw Pharmacy employee Jeanne Rziha decided to start a weight-loss program, she had no idea so many people would participate.

For the past six weeks, Rziha has weighed in 179 people in what has become a countywide weight-loss program. Of those, 178 continue to participate.

Rziha optimistically prepared 30 packets of information for participants. Before she knew it, she had printed another 30 and another 30 . . . with the current enrollment of nearly 180 people.

So, who is enrolled in the program and why?

"I have been amazed with the response from all around the county," Rziha said, and there are some who don't even live in Marion County but have county connections.

Nearly every city within the county is represented in the program.

Another surprise is the ages of the "losers" — ranging from 13 to 72.

Teams are allowed with the total weight loss being averaged among the members.

Tailored after The Biggest Loser television program, participants paid $20, weighed in, and will be weighed two more times before the program ends the first part of May.

The strongest motivation of all to lose weight — money.

The person who loses the most weight (pounds) will receive $1,790 cash, which is a 90 percent of the registration fees.

Prize money also will be given for second and third place — $850 and $425 respectively.

When the numbers of participants kept increasing and more copying was needed, Rziha's initial budget, provided by Greenhaw Pharmacy, was depleted. Luckily, the three Hillsboro banks — Central National Bank, Emprise Bank, and Hillsboro State Bank — came to her aid and donated $50 each to help offset printing and advertising costs. None of those donations are being used for prize money, Rziha said.

The weigh-in

The total weight of the 178 participants is nearly 40,660 pounds, Rziha said, with the average participant weighing 228 pounds.

It is recommended that participants try to lose two pounds per week, which means most should lose more than 30 pounds during the three-month program.

Rziha, who is pre-diabetic, knows the struggles of losing and maintaining a healthy weight.

"I have fought my weight all of my life," she said. The risk of being a diabetic was enough reason for Rziha to get involved in a weight-loss program.

About the program

When people initially sign up for the program, their weight is analyzed on a body composition analyzer machine.

Rziha enters information about the person on the machine — body type, gender, and height — and the machine provides more information other than weight.

Body mass index, basal metabolic rate, total body water, fat-free mass and fat mass, and percentage of body fat is figured when a participant weighs-in. It also provides a target percentage of body fat. Rziha then calculates the approximate amount of weight that person should lose to be within the target areas.

Participants are required to weigh weekly — either at Greenhaw Wellness Center or weigh at home and call in the results to Rziha.

On March 4 and 6, which is the halfway mark for the program, participants will weigh in with Rziha.

The final weigh-in will be May 6 and 8, winding up the four-month program.


The secret to successful weight loss, Rziha said, is accountability.

"People who write down their food intake will lose weight," she said.

Following The Biggest Loser plan, starving is not the way to lose weight. Experts continue to say those wanting to lose weight should eat every three to four hours.

The amount of calories should be determined by multiplying your current weight times seven. However, do not drop below 1,000 calories per day.

The Biggest Loser daily diet pyramid includes two fruit servings (one cup, one medium piece, or eight ounces, avoid dried fruits); two vegetable servings (one cup or eight ounces, may have more, at least one salad every day, no white potatoes but can have spaghetti squash); protein foods, three servings daily (eight ounces or one cup, low fat milk, cottage cheese, low fat meat, eggs); whole grains, two servings daily (two slices of bread, one bun, one whole wheat tortilla, or one cup cooked brown rice, whole wheat cereal, or whole wheat pasta, choose bread with two or more grams of fiber per slice); and 200 calories to use as you choose.

Dieters also should drink six to eight cups of water daily. Do not drink flavored waters that have calories. Coffee and tea also are OK. Limit diet sodas to two a day.

Experts recommend eating four to six planned meals a day. This works out to breakfast, lunch, supper, and two to three snacks.

By eating every three to four hours, the appetite is regulated, blood sugar is controlled, it leads to lower body fat, a higher metabolic rate, reduces stress hormones, and helps counter impulse eating.

Foods that stimulate the appetite are white bread, white pasta, white potatoes, pastries, doughnuts, cookies, cakes, pies, candy, potato chips, and other packaged and fried snacks.

Aim for 25 grams of fiber each day. Best sources are pinto beans, chickpeas, lentils, fruits, and vegetables.

People can still join the program and compete for the prize money. For more information, contact Rziha at (620) 947-3048 or (620) 947-3784.

For most of the participants, it's not about the money.

"The biggest benefit successful dieters will receive from this program is their health," Rziha said, which is the most important benefit of all.