December 10, 2009

‘Healthiest Loser’ competition starts in January

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- For Southern Illinois University Carbondale students who are determined to make their lives better in 2010, the Saluki’s Healthiest Loser competition may be just the jump-start they’re looking for.

Although similar to the popular television reality show, the Saluki contest, which starts in January, focuses totally on creating healthier lifestyles. Any full-time undergraduate or graduate student with a body mass index of 25 or greater who is willing to make the commitment of time and energy can enter the spring competition.

“The value of the program is that it provides participants with an entirely new outlook on life. We give them the tools to make a lifestyle change; it’s a journey, a new beginning. It makes a difference not only in their lives, but also for everyone involved. I saw people this spring for who they really are and want to be and they will always cherish the impact this program had on their lives,” said Britney Hall, a personal trainer who worked with the program in 2009 and will again in 2010. Hall, of Murphysboro, is a graduate student in the kinesiology department.

Those selected to compete in the 10-week program will all get a medical screening, pre-program and post-program fitness assessments, weekly fitness or nutrition education seminars, three-day diet recall analysis and a total of 30 sessions with a certified personal trainer. They’ll also participate in bi-weekly team challenges.

It’s not just about losing weight. Rather, it’s a lifestyle, fitness and wellness program created so participants can improve their physical health, make healthy lifestyle changes, increase physical activity levels, get fit, and have fun. There’s a $50 entry fee but the program offers benefits worth hundreds of dollars, including personal training, group workouts of all kinds, consultations with nutritionists and counselors and much more.

A scale won’t determine the winner. There’s a point system and contestants acquire points for gaining lean muscle mass, cropping inches around the waist, increasing flexibility and lifting ability, decreasing their body fat percentage, doing work-outs and more.

Applications and more information are online at Applications are due Dec. 18. Organizers are now gathering sponsors and plans call for weekly challenge prizes and book scholarships for winners along with T-shirts for all participants.

Bridget Harrison of Goreville was the winner of the inaugural Saluki’s Healthiest Loser contest during the spring 2009 semester. Earning 269 points on the road to a $500 book scholarship, she lost 22 pounds and increased her stamina while improving her overall health and self-esteem, she said at the time. In all, by the end of the competition, the 2009 contestants were able to do 535 more crunches, 265 more bench presses and improved their sit and reach test results by 71.5 inches over their pre-contest tests.

For more information about the 2010 Saluki’s Healthiest Loser by participating or becoming a sponsor, contact the SIUC Student Recreation Center at 618/453-1277.