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October 2005 Issue
On challenges, healthy competition . . . and reinventing yourself . . .
by Rossana S. Tarantini
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So, there I was reading an online message board I participate in and all of a sudden I found myself enmeshed in a competition.

The board is a conglomerate of members of the BBW Ontario online community I’ve spoken of here before as well as other women, and men, who have variously found it through either other BBW friendly activities or word of mouth. It’s a great group of people. A real mixed bag as to age, ethnicity or persuasion, and while we sometimes have our tenser moments, we are definitely a “family”, dysfunctional maybe, but a family nonetheless.

So back to my challenge. One of our members, whose handle is VivaLaDave, has recently lost a lot of weight. He’s had many of the members of the board in his corner, encouraging him along the way. And he’s done extremely well. About two weeks ago, he started a thread on the board and called it “The Biggest Loser”. I didn’t know it, but the title was a reference to some TV program. We all know I don’t watch TV much so that part went right over my head. I almost didn’t read it but then thought “why not?” and went ahead.

I won’t quote him here but the gist of his post was that a community the size of ours should be able to form a support group of those who wanted to lose weight. With a bit of a twist. Anyone who wanted to participate (and it is open to anyone) contributes $20.00 to a pot that is held by our Gatekeeper (Cammy). In addition to the pot, there are some gifts that have also been donated by various members of the community who are business owners etc. At the end of a set period of time, in our case three months, the one of us who has lost the most, wins the pot and whatever other gifts have been donated. At this point (mid-September) the pot sits at around $200.00 and is still growing, as well, it includes free passes for Plus Size Planet, Toronto’s first and only BBW night club, and a personal income tax consultation and preparation. A nice prize package so far.

Some of the guidelines were that weigh in for starting had to be accomplished before the end of September. Some of us are merely taking a photograph of the scale, some are having a doctor weigh us in and note it on a scrip pad for authenticity, others are using other health professionals or weight management clubs they already belong to. For those that were leery of letting the whole community know their weight, it was determined that the Gatekeeper would be the only person who needed to know. Anyone who had no trouble with it, was free to tell. At the end of the three months (sometime in January), a final weigh in result was also to be notified to the Gatekeeper. Then the Gatekeeper would compare numbers and come up with the total amount lost on the part of each participant and declare a loser. Well, okay, a winner, but since losing is the goal, loser seems more appropriate.

To help us stay on track along the way, the owner/moderator of the board, Jackson, started a separate offshoot board where all participants can “blog” our passage. Here we can post a daily snippet of what we’re doing, how we’re doing, and why we’re doing. Or, like me, we can blog whenever we’re lucky enough to remember. All participants are free to read any of the blogs and comment, cheer lead, praise, encourage or pat on the back. It’s been up and running for about a week now and the positive reinforcement it’s already giving is amazing. As time goes on, it can only get better. The emphasis is on support. The emphasis on doing it healthy. The emphasis is on doing it slowly and doing it well. A lot of emphases for sure. But this is a group of people who are determined to accomplish something. The prize at the end of it all??? Better health. Sure, there’s the tangible prizes as well, but in most of our minds, that’s secondary to the accomplishment we’ll feel by having “done it”!!!

So, I weigh in on Wednesday, Sept 14th. By the time you read this, I’ll have been part of Dave’s Challenge for almost two weeks.

It’s interesting that I took up this challenge. I’ve spent the last few years in a happy place in my life. I’m happy with myself and more or less happy with what’s going on in my life as well. Unfortunately, my blood sugar has skyrocketed. In itself it’s not anything that can’t be dealt with, but it came coupled with the news that my blood pressure was 195 over 120 and that my aching arthritic knees were now in the early stages of Degenerative Osteoarthritis. Time to make some serious changes.

Follow along with me then, the journey of the next few months. I’ll keep you posted on my own progress and with their permission, the progress of some of my fellow Challenge-ites. The focus of the next couple of months of columns will become the making of healthy changes to lifestyle. We’ll experiment together on ways to make our favourite foods more healthy. Along the way, we’ll have fun, and once we arrive, we’ll have achieved not only a weight loss, but a new way of life that will be healthier and better for us.

As always, I invite your comments, but in this case, I also invite your success stories. The more we see the successful side of this weight loss elevator so many of us have found ourselves on, the easier it will be to stay focused on the goal.

Till next month, TTFN!!!



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