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Weight-Loss Role Models: Fat to Fit 2011 Winners

Meet three women who embody the spirit of the Challenge

The 2011 Fat to Fit Challenge ended on July 9th, and over the course of the eight-week program, members lost a collective 921 pounds — nearly half a ton. This is a solid achievement, and I thank everyone who helped make the Challenge inspirational and fun.

a tape measure as a belt in a pair of jeans

Photo by Jamie Grill/Aurora

Slimming down is just one part of the Fat to Fit healthy living program.

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Although the contest is over, you can still join and participate in the community. I'll continue to offer coaching advice and tips, and we will periodically introduce informal challenges to keep ourselves on track.

We've selected the three winners of the Challenge, each of whom will receive a prize, per the 2011 Weight Loss Challenge Official Contest Rules. Being a role model for the community, facing and overcoming challenges and capturing the theme of Fat to Fit were the criteria for selecting the winners. The first place winner receives $2,000; the second place winner receives $1,000 and the third-place winner receives $500.

Meet Barbara Bauer, Susan Kopczyk and Sue Wittrock, our three winners — and outstanding role models for the community. Learn more about them and how they embody the spirit of the Fat to Fit program.

Third Place: Sue Wittrock, 58, Mankato, Minn.

Sue is pre-diabetic, with a family history of the disease, and joined the Fat to Fit community this year "just wanting to lose some weight" — which she has: seven pounds since June. Despite struggling with her own challenges (she's acknowledged that she's a food addict), she's given others lots of advice and encouragement and become a role model for many in the community. 

"I love that this whole program focuses on getting healthier, not [simply] on weight loss. The program highlighted that excess weight is a symptom of unhealthy living and that it has an emotional component. During the eight weeks, we received lots to think about. Carole's guidance kept us on track, and she was not afraid to 'redirect' us when needed. Most of us want to continue with the online community and our fitness journeys," says Sue. "We have made new friends and have much more to learn."

Next: Fat to Fit's second place winner. >>

Second Place: Susan Kopczyk, 69, Yorktown, Va.

A Fat to Fit member for almost a year, Susan started her weight loss and fitness program to increase strength and balance and maintain lung function (she has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). "I need the accountability I find at Fat to Fit because if I don't have someone to report to, it's so easy to fall back into the dieting mentality," she says.

Susan's highest weight was 356 pounds. Today, she weighs in at 146 pounds, and she reported an eight-pound weight loss during the Challenge. Susan has eased into a regular exercise routine and attends water aerobics and water zumba classes at her local YWCA. On at least three days a week, she does strength training and cardio. "I never thought I'd enjoy exercise so much. I wasted more than 60 years avoiding something I really enjoy! It took me about a year to get to this point, little by little. This past May I walked my first 5K and next year I plan to do a half marathon. As a side benefit, my blood pressure is lower, and I've made a lot of new friends."

She offers the following advice to others: "No one is ever too old to start making lifestyle changes that will help with weight loss or maintenance."

Next: Fat to Fit's first place winner. >>

First Place: Barbara Bauer, age 63, Collinsville, Ill.

A member of Fat to Fit since February 2010, Barbara says she adopted a healthier lifestyle to decrease her risk for diabetes and heart conditions, and to set a good example for her grandchildren. Barb lost nearly four pounds during the Challenge, but most importantly, she is no longer on a diet. "I'm on a healthier eating plan," she says. She recently received good news: Her blood sugar levels have decreased and are now below the pre-diabetes range. Her cholesterol and blood pressure measures have moved into the healthy ranges as well. Plus, she's brought her family into the healthy living fold and reports that her grandchildren often join her at the gym.

Members of the Fat to Fit community can always count on Barb to post helpful tips and notes of encouragement and support. She openly shares insights into her own behavior with the hope that they may be useful to others in the community. Barb keeps a journal, exercises five times a week, makes healthy food choices, gets enough rest and meditates.

"Without support and encouragement from family, friends and my Fat to Fit friends, I would not be continuing this journey. I'd be where I was before — on my way to becoming more and more unhealthy. I am more convinced than ever that this is not something anyone can accomplish by himself/herself. We need each other," she says.