Sixteen contestants have sixteen weeks to change their lives, adopt healthy eating habits and undertake regular physical exercise in order to lose weight and become the WOW’s biggest loser. Business Editor Lindsey Turnbull finds out just what the WOW programme entails and reports.
The second annual War on Weight (WOW) initiative began at the end of August with sixteen individuals all overweight and keen to get in shape and eventually be crowned the biggest loser this coming December. This diverse group has come together with a collective aim – to lose weight and hopefully adopt a healthy lifestyle that will continue long after the sixteen weeks is up. The committed and highly motivated group come from all walks of life and all ages. They will be supported along their entire journey by WOW committee members (an offshoot of the Cayman Heart Fund). WOW committee members, Summer LaRue, David Dinner, Andrea Knox, Jacqueline Smith and Leandra Charles, are all keen to further their own healthy lifestyle and weight loss plans (three were contestants in last year’s WOW initiative) and so they have each be assigned three or four contestants with whom they will work out alongside during the sixteen week period.
WOW committee member Andrea Knox explains how she hopes to encourage her assigned contestants: “We are hoping that having someone working out and mentoring the individuals who isn’t necessarily a size two might help make the contestants realise that their goals are attainable and realistic; if you are dedicated and give the programme 100 per cent you really will lose weight!”
100 per cent commitment needed
Andrea says that around 75 individuals actually applied to take part in this year’s WOW programme. This figure was whittled down to just 16 via a points system, whereby prospective candidates were allocated points for various qualities, such as their motivation and desire to lose weight.
“We finally chose those individuals who we considered would be the most determined to shed the pounds and stick to the regime,” Andrea confirms.
Each WOW contestant has undergone a series of tests to ensure that they are physically fit enough for the programme. Blood tests were taken to check for blood glucose, cholesterol and thyroid abnormalities and individuals’ statistics were measured and noted, such as age, height, weight, blood pressure, heart rate, Body Mass Index and body measurements (shoulders, arms, thighs, calves, waist, chest and hips). Doctors John Addleson and Mari Ellis conducted the blood tests and will continue monitoring the contestants throughout the sixteen week period.
Dr Addleson states: “We initially took a series of tests to ensure that there was no chemical imbalance that would prevent the contestants from taking part, such as thyroid or blood glucose problems. We have therefore created a base line from which to work on and will be able to monitor and deal with any complications as they progress. We believe that everyone taking part is extremely motivated and should therefore see changes in themselves over the period.”
Carol Wilhelm works at Cayman Health, the laboratories that will process the tests, and who have generously donated CI$3,800 as a 50 per cent discount towards the cost of processing the screenings. She says that blood glucose, triglycerides and cholesterol readings will all be carefully checked.
“We would expect to see an improvement in the readings of all three as the contestants progress,” she states.
Contestants will also get a free consultation with the Wellness Centre’s Rayle Roberts, who will delve into the psychological side of why the contestants are overweight and how the subconscious can play a part in these thoughts.
Exercise is crucial
Ernest Ebanks from Body Sculptor took part in the training of the WOW contestants last year and is excited about putting this year’s contestants through their paces. He will be supervising work outs, tracking their weight and body fat and is supervising contestants in taking part in his Boot Camp sessions, which are already designed for effective weight loss and therefore perfect for the WOW contest. Indeed, anyone can sign up for Ernest’s Boot Camp and get similar results. Ernest’s Boot Camp has become something of a highlight of his exercise programme for his clientele and the WOW contestants will therefore find themselves being encouraged to take part in this strenuous work out four times a week.
Ernest says: “Boot Camp is a series of exercises that takes place usually outdoors, either at Camana Bay at the International School’s playing field and at St Ignatius School’s playing field. The space allows us the flexibility to really put contestants through their paces with exercises that focus on calisthenics, obstacle courses, strength, conditioning and fat burning exercises.”
Ernest says that even before the programme officially kicked off at the end of August contestants were already attending Boot Camp to get a head start on the competition.
“Contestants need to undertake a minimum of four to five training sessions a week, each session lasting an hour, for them to see serious results,” he says. “If they follow the plan they should see an improvement and weight loss within the first four weeks. And I have structured the boot camps to ensure that there is no time to stand around and chat! After a sufficient recovery time contestants will be working out sufficiently so they see results!”
Even so, Ernest says that not all exercise needs to be terribly strenuous, a simple fairly brisk walk is sufficient. He also recommends consuming sufficient water to keep hydrated, particularly when working out.
Eating for health
Nutritionist Chad Collins will be monitoring the contestants’ diet throughout the programme. He states: “The contestants will be following calculated meal plans and eating guidelines that are based on various factors and will be adjusted as they progress through the programme. The nice thing about my plan is it is a very healthy way of losing weight, eating normal foods and focusing on key strategies that enhance metabolism rather than impose starvation. The eating plan is well laid out and easy to understand and does not feel overly restrictive.”
Chad says the contestants are even allowed a treat meal a week, every week and confirms that he meets with the group every two weeks, with support in-between via e-mail, phone and text.
WOW contestant set to win
Andrea Myles is a WOW contestant with the motivation, spirit and determination to win the WOW contest. At 42, Andrea, carries two times what her body weight should be and is acutely aware that being overweight reduces her chances of conception, should she wish to have a child in the next few years.
“My doctor recommended that I lose weight and to be honest it scared me that my weight might prevent me from conceiving,” she confirms.
Andrea says she has been on various diets over the years, losing pounds and then gaining the weight back on again. “I never actually follow a diet through to the end so I’m really looking forward to taking part in this programme,” Andrea says. “The support that we are all receiving makes me feel very safe and secure. It’s great to know that you are not alone and there are individuals around you who really want to see you succeed. I’m very excited about taking part and really hope that I can eventually motivate others into losing weight as well.”
Suzy Soto, Chairman of the Cayman Heart Fund is passionate about helping people to get fit and lose weight. She says: “Some people desperately want to lose weight and be fit and healthy but they find it hard to accomplish this task. They need family support and assistance with underlying causes that may have caused the excess weight, such as certain health issues or underlying feelings, which may be misunderstood. It is my belief that their best help will be from a complete assessment of metabolism with a team of professionals able to detect physical health issues, and who can pinpoint what nutrients are lacking, and generally how to improve health and fitness. It is a struggle that most of us face at one time or another. “
Follow the progress of the WOW mentors and contestants in future editions of the Journal and by viewing online at www.caymanactive.com/wow