Largest Loser III: Plans chief makes plan of his own
By Valerie Mullett, 341st Space Wing Public Affairs Office
/ Published February 21, 2008
MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont. -- (Editor's Note: This is the first in a three-part series on the Largest Loser program at Malmstrom. Part two will again feature Jerry Kain and his progress with the program; part three will recap the entire third season)
The third season of the Largest Loser, a program designed to help Team Malmstrom members lose weight and gain an education to help them maintain their weight loss, got underway Jan. 14. Beginning with initial assessments which included recording body fat percentage, weight, and abdominal circumference, participants were sent on a journey to achieve their specific goals. Along the way, there would be required steps to take - keeping a food journal and exercise log as well as attending specific classroom training - in order to make them eligible for the grand prize at the end of the competition.
Six weeks into the program, many participants are still going strong, even if all are not still eligible for the prize.
"Kelley [Suggs] is tracking participation for prize eligibility. I am tracking the participants that start and finish the program in order to collect the necessary data," said Kirk Clark, exercise physiologist with the Health and Wellness Center here.
He said he is more concerned with people seeing the program through, start to finish, than if someone misses one of the required classes.
"The difference between the two - there are certain criteria that have to be met to win the prize at the end," said Kelley Suggs, health education and program director at the HAWC. "We do this to add structure to the program and encourage goal setting."
The two agree, though, that even if their record keeping strategies are for different reasons, the ultimate goal of both is the same.
"In the end, the prize is their health," they said.
One person also in agreement and working hard to attain that ultimate prize of better health is Jerry Kain, chief of plans for the 341st Space Wing.
He joined the program for three specific reasons.
"I personally realized I had gained too much weight and had to do something about it," said Mr. Kain. "The second reason is a financial one. My life insurance company was offering me a substantial discount in my monthly premiums if I lost weight. Financial gain is a huge stimulus."
The third reason was the winner from season two's Largest Loser, Pete Woelkers.
"I have been extremely impressed with what Pete has accomplished. He has been a terrific role model," he said.
Mr. Woelkers lost 45 pounds during the season two competition and continues on his weight-loss trek today, aiming at a total loss of 110 pounds.
While Mr. Kain doesn't aim to lose quite as much weight, he does hope to be successful in the same ways Mr. Woelkers has been.
"The first few weeks have not been that difficult, really," Mr. Kain said. "I have an established routine and I have been following it. It's not that I have been hungry, but the first few days, I did dream about food. Now, I am very conscientious about my food choices and I don't eat anything after 7 p.m."
These are the first things taught by HAWC staff members to new participants in the initial two classes -Exercise 101 and Nutrition 101 - establishing a regular exercise routine and being honest about food intake. The staff also offers them one-on-one assistance and Mrs. Suggs sends out a biweekly motivational e-mail.
"We are here to help them succeed and that is the message we hope to hammer home," Mr. Clark said.
"Someone from the HAWC staff works on the program at some point every day, whether it is answering e-mail questions, entering data, preparing for a class or giving assistance with exercise programs, the staff dedicates a lot of time and effort to it [helping the participants succeed]," Mrs. Suggs added.
Equipping participants with the necessary tools then standing back to watch them put the tools to work for them is equally rewarding for both.
"I told Jerry at his initial assessment I felt the area he could win in was weight loss," Mr. Clark said. "He has always been a disciplined exerciser, so bringing in the other element of successful weight loss has given him motivation."
Mr. Kain received his second assessment Feb. 14. He has lost 18 pounds since starting the program.
"Keeping a food log and being honest about how many calories I am consuming has been the most useful tool in helping me succeed," he said. "In all honesty, it was embarrassing to me at the initial assessment to see how much weight I had put on. It's like anything else people might have problems with. You have to first acknowledge it exists and then take the measures to correct it."
Mr. Kain, in all likelihood, will make it through the program and achieve his pre-set weight loss targets.
"Having the second assessment was a relief for me because it proved the dieting is working and I can see the results. It keeps me motivated to continue on to my goal."