PITTSFIELD, Maine — Bodies of many shapes and sizes belonging to people with a range of motivations gathered Friday to begin the four-month Pittsfield’s Biggest Winner competition.
Between now and April 15, the 60 or so participants will change their diets, exercise and coax each other along to see who can undergo the greatest personal transformation. Though cash prizes await the victors, anyone who sheds weight or improves his or her health is a winner, said organizer Susie Furrow. Furrow told the Bangor Daily News this week that the program was launched primarily for teachers and staff from Maine Central Institute and SAD 53, but that additional community members have joined.
The Biggest Winner competition is inspired by the television show “The Biggest Loser,” in which obese participants compete to see who can lose the most weight. Pittsfield is not the only place where the NBC television show is being imitated. More than 400 people in Washington County are undergoing a similar program, according to a story in Friday’s BDN.
During the Biggest Winner kickoff on Friday afternoon, the participants cycled through several stations to be measured and prodded — resulting in numbers they hope to see improve in the next four months.
Elaine Brown, a teacher of English as a Second Language at MCI, said she has tried to lose weight before but “always did it the wrong way.”
“This is a good idea,” she said. “I have a lot of people who will help support me here on campus.”
The participants have been divided into teams that are responsible for supporting their teammates. They will have access to personal trainers and reduced-rate exercise programs.
John Dean, MCI’s director of student affairs, said his involvement in the Biggest Winner competition is the next chapter in a two-year effort of losing weight. Beginning in 2009, he shed 75 pounds, though he admits about 20 pounds have come back.
“When I learned about this program, I knew it was something I wanted to take advantage” of, said Dean.
MCI science teacher Jessica Talbot said she’s looking forward to returning to her pre-maternal shape.
“I just had a baby,” she said. “I’ve got a few pregnancy luxury pounds to lose.”
For Terri Hall, there was a simpler motivation: “It’s time.”