February 19, 2010

Sixteen in the running for ‘Healthiest Loser’ title

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- The quest to become Saluki’s Healthiest Loser 2010 is on. Sixteen Southern Illinois University Carbondale students have committed themselves to healthier lifestyles and when the competition ends in April, one contestant will claim nice prizes.

Although the contest is similar to the popular television reality show, “The Biggest Loser,” this competition is not just about losing weight but rather the goal is helping contestants change their lives for the better. The program includes medical screenings, fitness assessments, weekly fitness and nutrition education seminars, diet analysis and numerous sessions with a certified personal trainer. Training sessions began earlier this month. One group trains early in the morning three days a week while the other trains in the evenings.

The contestants are learning how to eat and live for better health. Along the way, they earn points for improving lean muscle mass, dropping inches, increasing flexibility and lifting power, decreasing their body fat percentage and working out.

There are weekly team challenges too, set for Feb. 22 through March 29 (excluding March 8). The first challenge -- the details are a surprise, of course -- will be at 8 p.m., Monday, Feb. 22, on Court 4 at the Student Recreation Center. Each challenge is at the center at 8 p.m.

Saluki’s Healthiest Loser wraps up with post testing April 5 and the Saluki’s Healthiest Loser award banquet, tentatively slated for April 8.

The Student Health Center is teaming with the Student Recreation Center to make the event a success. Sponsors also include Banterra Bank, SIH (Southern Illinois Healthcare) and Sprehe Family Foundation. Attitude Designs is providing T-shirts for contestants.

This year’s top three finishers will get Banterra Bank “Training 4 Life Scholarships”. Each of the three winners gets three 30-minute massages along with sessions with a personal trainer at the Student Recreation Center. First prize is 16 sessions, with 12 for second place and eight for third place.

“This year, all of the goals and rewards are geared toward rewarding and continuing healthy lifestyles,” said Lynn Thompson-Cundiff, assistant director-fitness at the center.

The contestants for the 2010 Saluki’s Healthiest Loser program, listed by hometown along with their major and year, are:



Beecher City

• Charlee Forson, master’s, educational psychology.


• Lisa Furby, senior, mechanical engineering.

• Sarisa Hall, senior, accounting.

• Shaunay Jenkins, freshman, healthcare management.

• Marilynn Ross, graduate, educational administration.

• Catherine Shaw, master’s, workforce education and development.


• Justin Zurlinden, junior, architectural studies.


• Angela Blakely, junior, psychology.

Elk Grove Village

• Eric Hoffman, senior, mechanical engineering.


• Alexis Ferracane, junior, workforce education and development.


• Katherine Breen, senior, healthcare management.


• Samantha Sellers, master’s, micobiology and biochemical molecular biology



Lake Alfred

• Diana Way Akers, senior, elementary education and guidance counseling.




• Nastassia Jones, doctorate, microbiology and biochemical molecular biology.



St. Paul

• Olivia Hoskins, doctorate, clinical child psychology.


New York


• Bambi LaCroix, senior, medical education preparation.

Bridget Harrison of Goreville was the winner of the inaugural Saluki’s Healthiest Loser contest in 2009. She racked up 269 points and lost 22 pounds while improving her stamina and overall health and fitness. She won a $500 book scholarship. For more information about the 2010 Saluki’s Healthiest Loser competition, contact the SIUC Student Recreation Center at 618/453-1277.