It’s all about losing in ‘Biggest Winner’

Posted Jan. 11, 2011, at 10:33 p.m.

PITTSFIELD, Maine — When Maine Central Institute health and wellness teacher Susie Furrow sent out a call for people looking to lose weight, she was unsure whether she’d find any interest.

Then in her e-mail in box came a surprise: 50 people who want to compete in the Pittsfield area’s “Biggest Winner” competition. Between the kickoff this Friday and April 15, they’ll compete to see who can shed the most pounds. There’s still time to join the competition, and the top three finishers will win cash prizes.

Modeled loosely on a television show called “Biggest Loser,” in which overweight people transform their bodies on the air, the “Biggest Winner” will become an annual event if interest remains as high as it is this year, said Furrow. The focus of the competition will be making big-picture changes that encompass more than just diet and exercise, and the teams the participants are divided among have little to do with competition.

“It’s about changing our lifestyle,” said Furrow. “The competitors will be working together to help keep each other accountable.”

The project began as an outgrowth of Maine Central Institute’s theme for the year: health and wellness. Furrow hatched the idea during a conference last fall hosted by the Maine Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance.

Participants who pay a $10 fee, which funds the cash prizes, will participate in weekly weigh-ins and free blood pressure and cholesterol screenings by Sebasticook Valley Hospital. Mickey T’s Fitness Center in Pittsfield will offer reduced rates on some services, including an aerobics class, said Furrow. Personal trainers will be available to monitor participants’ exercise programs and progress.

“We want this to be a positive experience,” she said. “Our goal is to have people make positive lifestyle changes that will last forever and not just win a title.”

But Furrow, who is a competitor herself, has her eye on the prize.

“I do have an interest in everyone’s health and well-being,” she said, “but I’m hoping to be the winner.”

To register for the “Biggest Winner” competition, call 487-5915 by the end of the day Thursday. An opening ceremony will take place at 3:15 p.m. Friday in the Maine Central Institute dining hall.

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