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Fifth year of Biggest Loser contest begins in Florence

FLORENCE, S.C. – Individuals from all over the Pee Dee gathered Tuesday at the McLeod Health & Fitness Center to start the fifth year of the Florence’s Biggest Loser competition.

Some of the individuals in attendance had been through the competition before and were eager to join the competition again.

“I decided to participate again this year because the accountability that a team, a trainer and the whole program provides really makes it fun and effective,” contestant Windy Sitton said. “I have made some wonderful friendships and learned so much about myself.”

For some individuals, this is their first year in the competition.

“The biggest thing for me is developing a healthier lifestyle,” contestant Clem Coleman said. “I need help on eating healthier and getting to the gym, and I’m hoping Biggest Loser will be the program that finally makes the habits stick.”

Florence’s Biggest Loser was started by the United Way of Florence County in 2014 to serve not only as a fundraiser for the nonprofit but also as a way to address the high rates of obesity and weight-related health problems in Florence County. Through partnerships with the McLeod Health & Fitness Center and the Morning News, plus sponsorships from Health Facilities Federal Credit Union, PGBA LLC and Community Broadcasters, the United Way of Florence County is able to provide contestants with 10 weeks of nutrition, fitness, accountability and more to help them develop a healthy lifestyle.

During Tuesday’s opening event, contestants were able to meet their personal trainers and their teammates. Then they were provided with more information about their 10-week gym memberships, competition rules and the competition’s four grand prizes.

Each week, the contestants will be required to weigh in at the United Way of Florence County. At the end of the 10 weeks, the contestant who has the largest percentage of weight loss will be awarded the title of 2018’s Florence’s Biggest Loser Weight-Loss Winner and receive $500 courtesy of Health Facilities Federal Credit Union.

The contestants also will have their measurements recorded throughout the competition, and the contestant with the largest percentage of inches lost also will receive $500 courtesy of Health Facilities Federal Credit Union and win the title of 2018 Florence’s Biggest Loser Inches-Lost Winner.

A six-month gym membership courtesy of McLeod Health & Fitness Center and the 2018 Fan-Favorite Award also will be awarded to the contestant who collects the most votes, and a shopping spree valued at $200 courtesy of Belk of Florence and the 2018 True Grit Award will be awarded to the contestant who shows the most heart and perseverance throughout the competition.

Along with meeting their training team and learning more about the competition, the contestants also had their first nutrition class with registered dietitian and nutritionist Lindsay Fraser. Fraser advised the contestants to set themselves up for success during the competition by creating a plan.

For their plans, Fraser showed the contestants what foods they should be incorporating into their diets and how to determine how much food they were eating for each meal. She even provided a sample meal plan for the contestants to use and build off of.

A list of the 2018 Florence’s Biggest Loser contestants is in the accompanying box. If you see anyone you know, make sure you show them they have your support and help them win a six-month membership by voting for them as the 2018 Fan-Favorite contestant. Voting for contestants will open Friday at burnandlearnflorence.com and will close at noon on March 29. Each vote costs $1, and all of the funds raised through the votes will be added to the United Way of Florence County’s annual campaign.

If you were not able to participate in this year’s competition but still want to start living healthier in 2018, make sure you check out the following resources throughout the competition.

>> Morning News: Read the Morning News or visit scnow.com every Monday, Wednesday and Sunday for recipes, workouts and other healthy living tips from McLeod Health & Fitness Center professionals and the 2018 Florence’s Biggest Loser contestants.

>> Burn & Learn E-Newsletter: Subscribe to the Burn & Learn E-Newsletter and have fitness, nutrition and wellness information delivered to your inbox for free every month. Everyone is welcome to subscribe by going to burnandlearnflorence.com.

>> Ask Lindsay: Are you looking to start healthy eating habits but do not know where to start? Or are you unsure what the best nutrition options are for you and your specific diet? All you have to do is ask registered dietitian and nutritionist Lindsay Fraser. You can submit your questions for Lindsay by emailing rbaggett@uwflorence.org with the subject line “Ask Lindsay.”

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