'Biggest losers' claim top spots
By MONICA PRYTS Allied News Staff writer
Jun 13, 2016
For two George Junior Republic employees, being the “biggest losers” made them the winners of a weight loss contest they joined at the school.
It was a great team effort that helped them reach their goals, said husband and wife Matt and Erica Lynn, who lost the highest percentage of their body weight. Lynn lost 67.2 pounds, or 25.13 percent, and Mrs. Lynn, 29.7 pounds, or 16.49 percent.
Twenty-one men and women who work at the Pine Township school participated in the 12-week program, their own version of NBC’s “The Biggest Loser.” Top prizes went to one man, one woman, and one of two teams. The Lynns, who lost a total of 96.9 pounds combined, were also on the winning team.
“It was amazing,” Amy Whenry said of the results – participants lost more than 630 pounds all together.
Whenry organized the contest with the help of colleagues Bonnie Weber and Peggy Beatty. Weigh-ins were held every Wednesday, and the final results were kept a secret until Wednesday night, May 25, when most group members gathered at Rudy’s Restaurant in Findley Township to celebrate their accomplishments.
Whenry, who has worked at George Junior for 27 years as an administrative secretary, organized a similar program about 12 years ago, and it was more successful this time around. She is happy to report she lost 24 pounds.
Many of the participants used mobile applications to count calories and track exercise, and they had to follow a few rules that held them accountable for their diet and physical activities – reporting a weight gain or failure to turn in a menu resulted in a 50-cent penalty at weigh-in.
Members also paid dues, and that combined with the penalty fees was divided among the three winners.
The Lynns, who have been married for almost five years, enjoy trying new recipes and working out together, especially running. Lynn had to scale back a little due to recent back surgery for a pinched nerve and herniated disk, but he kept pushing along, and had to buy smaller clothes.
“It’s not a sprint; it’s a marathon,” Mrs. Lynn said of their weight loss journey. She is a social worker for George Junior, and Lynn is the treatment team coordinator.
“Everybody was excited for everybody,” Whenry said of the mutual support over the course of the contest.
Kristen Jeffries came in second place for the women, losing 38.5 pounds, or 16.04 percent. There were no hard feelings; she presented Mrs. Lynn with a king-sized chocolate bar to thank her for helping motivate her to do well.
Whenry singled out John Principe as an MVP of sorts. He came in second for the men’s group, losing 64.3 pounds and 21.21 percent of his body weight.
Whenry had approached him earlier this year about joining the group. He had never tried to lose weight before and wasn’t sure where to start, but he soon caught on and learned to count calories.
“I was most impressed by him,” she said.
Principe, who works in the school’s transportation department, said he was a little hesitant at first. But once he figured out how to track his progress with a mobile app, he was excited to lose weight and eat better.
His main exercise is walking, and he visit a few different spots like the park and Grove City College.
“I had to switch it up,” he said of changing the scenery. He also credits his friends and family with keeping him motivated.
Don Iskat, who works as a therapist at George Junior, has type 2 diabetes and had triple bypass surgery two years ago. By joining the weight loss group, he started seeing the pounds come off within the first two weeks.
“I was able to walk more,” he said.
His knees feel better, he is more active, he pays closer attention to his diet, and his waist size went from 46 to 38 – he had to buy new pants.
“It was something I prayed about,” Iskat said of getting healthier.
Keeping track of everything was a lot of work, but Whenry is already preparing to start up the contest again this month.
It begins today, June 1, and goes through the end of August, and any George Junior employee is welcome to join.
She and the rest of the group appreciate George Junior’s support.
For each participant, the school donated Sheetz gift cards and a certificate to walk in the George Junior Race for Vocational Education 5K and Kids Fun Run being held Sept. 17; the event supports the renovation and expansion of the William Gladden Career and Technical Center.