Wuest is running off the fat

See results of 'Biggest Loser' contest, page 8

Staff reporter

If the Biggest Loser competition was based on the percentage of body fat lost instead of pounds, Joe Wuest of Goessel would have won the competition — hands down.

The businessman came in a respectable 10th place out of 69 finishers in the countywide competition, sponsored by Greenhaw Pharmacy.

Joe fell short of his four-month goal of 70 to 90 pounds, but is pleased with the results of losing 50 pounds and becoming more active.

"Halfway through the competition I increased my running time to 50 minutes and rode a stationary bike every day or 70 minutes," Joe said. He said he didn't lift weights or even touch an exercise machine.

"I look at the overall picture instead of just the competition. I could have lost more by not eating but I chose to stick to my plan."

What was his plan? In mid-February when he was interviewed for this newspaper about the competition, Joe said he was considering this a marathon instead of a sprint.

In the past four months, Joe has accomplished the goal of running again.

An athlete and competitor as a teen and young adult, Joe ran marathon races, usually finishing with the front-runners.

Ten years later and 100 pounds heavier, Joe was ready to not only lose weight but return to his athletic lifestyle.

"I've been running 5k races, participating in five between March 8 and the Wichita River Festival," Joe said. In the beginning he was finishing the races in 32 minutes. Now he's doing them in five.

"My overall well-being and the amount of muscle mass and loss of fat has made my running times faster," he said. "That's what matters."

Jeanne Rziha, who oversaw the event, said Joe did lose the most body fat and developed the most muscle mass.

All that running and proper eating paid off.

As did Joe's luck.

At a Newton marathon, Joe had the luck of running into Anna Woods, a personal trainer who was one of the organizers of the Biggest Loser competition of which Joe was a participant.

She had read the feature about Joe in the Feb. 22 edition of the Hillsboro Star-Journal.

"Anna came up to me and said she was proud of me," Joe said. "It really moved me."

Since that time, Anna has been Joe's trainer and supporter.

Losing weight and getting into peak running condition was a result of hard work and changing his behavior, Joe said.

Sharing his new-found energy with the Goessel community, Joe has organized ultimate Frisbee games and a 5k run as part of the Harvest Festival.

Thus far, Joe the athlete has participated in five or six races and plans to keep running.

Anna and her family moved to rural Hillsboro 18 months ago from Oklahoma. In Oklahoma, the certified personal trainer helped organize a similar weight loss program.

Some people she trains never step on the scale because it's too intimidating.

"We focus on the quality of life," Anna said. "There's much more to health and wellness than the scale."

Joe said he probably will sign on with the Biggest Loser competition when the program begins again in June.

"I want to continue to lose weight and become fit," he said.

"This experience has been great. I've found the inner-child in me again. I have a new passion — I'm reborn!" Joe exclaimed.