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Biggest Loser Challenge Ends for Minnesota Firefighters

The summer rolls on and with the passing of the Fourth of July begins to let us know that summer is heading towards its peak. The North Saint Paul, MN, Fire Department completed its "Biggest Loser" competition with the final test for the leaders, surviving the long Fourth of July weekend.

If you recall, the 19 competitors began back on May 4 and had 13 survive to the final weigh-in. Combined, the competitor's lost an amazing 106.5 pounds over the three months. The winner walked away with four tickets to a Minnesota Twins baseball game and $40.

The first place competitor lost an amazing 23 pounds or 9.7 percent over the three months! The second place finisher lost 19 pounds or 6.5 percent and third place slid in with a loss of 11.5 pounds or 5.5 percent. Some look at the 23 pounds as being too fast of a weight loss, but a weight loss of one to two pounds per week, is safe. More than that and it becomes dangerous.

Looking at the top three finishers, they averaged about one to two pounds per week. Again, it is important to remember that we typically do not put on the "extra pounds" rapidly. It sneaks up on an individual over a year or two before you begin to notice it. So it only makes sense that if you want to lose the weight, it will take time and commitment. The top finishers all had some things in common. First, they all changed their diet to some extent with most replacing refined sugars with fresh fruits and vegetables. The so called "junk" foods were ditched as well, but most all the competitors were challenged with weekend BBQs, parties, and other events that tempted them. Remember though, preferably a cheat meal is better than a cheat day. If you do end up with a cheat day, get up the next day and get back on your fueling plan or diet and do not dwell on the little set back, because they happen to all of us.

Second, all the finishers added some form of cardio sessions into their weekly workouts which does help to burn fat and calories. Lastly, they all added some form of resistance training or weight training. One thing to remember about resistance training is that it just does not build muscle, but it also burns fat and calories. If you think about the major compound movements and the amount of and number of muscles involved in the deadlift or squat, you begin to understand why resistance training can also burn calories.

As not only the top three finishers, but all of the competitors that finished the competition look back over the last three months they realize the challenges they faced and the accomplishments they made. It doesn't matter if they lost five pounds or 23 pounds. What matters is they all took a first step towards their individual goals, be it weight loss, to get in shape, or the first step towards an overall healthier lifestyle. What really matters is they all took that first step!

In August, we'll look at TRX straps and their place in a fitness program. Until then, be safe and hydrate!

SCOTT TOMEK MA, EMT-P has been a paramedic for 25 years with 23 of those at Lakeview Hospital EMS in Stillwater, MN. He is a faculty member with the Century College Paramedic Program and wrote the curriculum for and served as the interim director of their public safety degree program. He is a frequent contributor to EMS World Magazine, a frequent presenter at EMS conferences in the Midwest and an educational consultant to fire and EMS services. View all of Scott's articles and podcasts hereHe can be reached at scott.tomek@century.edu.

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