They’re big losers, but very happy.
Collectively, members of Smackdown have dropped more than 700 pounds since February.
The group, which began as Biggest Loser, named after the popular TV program, has exceeded all expectations both in growth of the group and pounds dropped.
It began in a Salmon Arm home, where sisters-in-law Tracy and Christine Gaberel pondered the idea of a local weight-loss competition to spur them on in their own quest.
What they came up with is a contest that began with friends, family members and coworkers. Every member pays $10, which goes into a prize pot for the winners of each two-month “round,” with round five just under way.
“Christine beat me in round one; she lost 21.8 pounds and I lost 21.4,” laughs Tracy, who notes the sisters-in-law dropped more than 100 pounds in nine months. “But I got her back this round. I edged her out for points.”
While the first few rounds were judged solely on percentage of body weight lost, the Gaberels have added a new element.
Every half-hour of exercise earns one point, and every “no-no” such as a candy bar, costs a point.
“I think a key to our success has been our Facebook page. It has become the forum on which we support each other,” says Tracy. “We weigh in once a week and then post the standings to help stay focused and competitive.”
Tracy enters the data in an Excel spreadsheet and posts the percentage of weight lost on a members’-only Facebook page.
A photo album contains pictures that help motivate the women to remain focused on their weight-loss goals – old photos of themselves, a wedding dress or clothes that are now too big.
“A few of us have declaration documents to share why we need this change, or a personal mission statement,” Tracy says.
Shared too are successes, frustrations, winning strategies, news articles, motivational statements, recipes and health/exercise tips.
“We have people in different stages of their journey, so if one of us feels stuck, there are others who have been there to provide advice or support,” Tracy says. “Yes it’s a contest, but we feel it is more important to support and help each other make permanent lifestyle changes.”
Tracy says portion control, calorie counting and “exercise, exercise, exercise” are an integral part of her weight-loss.
“Calorie counting was an eye opener because I didn’t realize what was in some of the foods I considered healthy,” she says, noting she reached her initial goal weight but changed the numbers when she realized she wanted to lose more. “I’ve been a big girl my whole life. I’m 5’10” tall.”
But while she’s continuing her quest, Tracy is already basking in admiring questions: “Did you have a procedure? What program did you use?”
Among her favourites is one from her dad, who saw her recently while driving his car and said to his wife, “Some chick is waving at you,” Tracy laughs. “My mom said “that’s Tracy.”
And the little group has gone beyond city limits with members in Victoria, Nanaimo and 100 Mile House.
Tracy is ready to share her knowledge with those hoping to set up similar groups.
Several members have reached their goals but remain with the group to maintain their own commitment and help others do the same. And the thought of winning a $100 share of the prize pot helps too.