Tightening the belt | CraigDailyPress.com

Tightening the belt

Largest Loser competition introduces new rules

Bridget Manley

Rules for a local weight loss competition will tighten this spring to keep the losers winning.

After an earlier competition with a high dropout rate, officials for Craig’s Largest Loser are enforcing stricter rules and more frequent weigh-ins to keep competitors accountable to their teammates and themselves.

The event, which is sponsored by The Memorial Hospital, uses team support to nudge people toward shedding unwanted pounds, TMH registered dietician Arin Koonce said.

The competition was inspired by the popularity of the NBC television show “The Biggest Loser,” said TMH service excellence officer Samantha Johnston.

Craig’s Largest Loser had its debut June 1 and ran until Aug. 31. Although initial response was strong, the program lost nearly half its competitors by the end.

“We had a pretty big fallout,” Koonce said.

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Nearly 200 people initially signed up for the competition, she said.

About 40 percent of those didn’t appear at the final weigh-in.

This time, the situation could be different.

To curb dropout rates, weigh-ins will be required every two weeks instead of once a month.

The reason?

“People can fall off the wagon if you give them a month,” Koonce said.

During the first competition, not all team members attended mandatory weigh-ins. Thanks to tighter rules, that habit also may change.

The price for missing a weigh-in is automatic disqualification. Teams who lose a member have one week to find a replacement.

Weigh-ins keep team members accountable to their weight-loss goals, Koonce said. Competition officials also are upping the ante by offering prizes such as day spa passes, gym memberships and gift cards to competitors who lose the highest percentage of body weight.

Prizes will be awarded to first- second- and third-place winners on each team. Event officials will also give awards to the male and female participants who lost the highest percentage of body weight.

To reduce attrition rates, team composition also will change.

Instead of offering three team divisions, event organizers will limit the teams to five members.

Competitors often stay more motivated in smaller groups than in larger ones, Koonce said.

Event officials are still encouraging co-workers to enroll together, yet friends and families also can form their own teams.

Company teams work well because members have support from the workplace – the place where they spend most of their time, Koonce said.

“Our hope is that people get (physically) active and involved (in the event) with co-workers and friends,” Johnston said.

This summer, a company team made up of City Market employees collectively lost the highest percentage of body weight.

Other motivational factors will come into play this time around.

Team members and the community at large can track one another’s progress online beginning Jan. 7.

The competition’s Web site, which has yet to be launched, will publish the results of mandatory weigh-ins. On the Web site, numbers will be assigned to each team member to protect their identities.

By allowing community members, including team members’ friends and family, to access the Web site, event organizers hope to keep team members motivated.

“I think it will encourage them,” Koonce said.

Registration Information

Registration deadline: Dec. 31

Cost: $125/team

Teams must have five members at all times

Call Amy Knights at 826-2511 or or Arin Koonce at 826-3287