With each Florence’s Biggest Loser program, the United Way of Florence County and program partners, the McLeod Health and Fitness Center and the Morning News, want to help individuals in the Pee Dee create healthy habits and live overall healthier lives. For those individuals who were not able to participate in the program, the Morning News will be sharing information on how to live healthier in every Sunday, Monday, and Wednesday edition of the paper. For each Monday edition, we will ask the current Florence’s Biggest Loser contestants to share their experiences, advice, and stories as they go through the program.

For the first week’s question, we asked the contestants what motivated them to sign up for this year’s Florence’s Biggest Loser program.

Christopher Gainey >>> “I signed up for Florence’s Biggest Loser, most notably, for seeing my kids grow up through pictures without me being present because I was unable to participate in the activities they were doing. I hid my struggles with my weight behind my personality and I allowed my struggles to become so debilitating that I couldn't successfully tie my shoes without becoming out of breath. It became painfully obvious that a life change was needed. I can't hide or lie anymore about my weight and I believe the best is yet to come for me and my family from joining this program.”

Krystal Ayler >>> “I signed up because I am at a point in my life where I can travel more and see more of the world. Losing some of this weight will make my adventures far less taxing on my body. I hope to be able to actually hike and jog on the beaches.”

Kenny Segarra >>> “I decided to do Florence’s Biggest Loser again this year because while I had good results last year, I am not satisfied. I now have a whole different mentality and a game plan to get to my goal weight in 2019. Hopefully my transformation will encourage others to do the same and not settle for being obese or overweight, but to rather live a healthy LIFESTYLE!”

Crystal Grant >>> “I chose to join the Florence’s Biggest Loser for a few different reasons. One, I have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and other health issues that I could really benefit from losing the weight. Two, I just want to look, feel, and sleep better. Three, I've considered weight loss surgery and it's so dangerous, so I was hoping to find a healthier way to get the weight off and get in shape.”

Ryan Nance >>> “I signed up for Florence’s Biggest Loser to lose weight of course, but I wanted to take these ten weeks and instill a healthier lifestyle for myself for the long run instead of going back to my normal habits. I’m somewhat of the new face in town as the new Head Golf Pro at the Country Club of South Carolina so I thought this would be a great opportunity to branch out and network a little more outside of the golf course!”

Melinda Fuller >>> “I have been struggling with my weight and health issues for several years. Going to the gym is intimidating; it feels like you have to know how to work all this equipment or do all the right moves to join a class, so it was very overwhelming. This competition gives me the opportunity to learn everything I can about health and fitness with a lot of support. I have a trainer and a team to work out with every week, dietitians advising me about eating habits, and others cheering me on so I am really excited about participating in this program!”

Scott Baldwin >>> “I wanted to get back into shape and for me, the best way to start that process was to be around people that were trying to do the same thing. I think it is a fun way to lose weight because you and your team are competing for a common goal. Lastly, I think it is great for the community to have a local event like the Florence’s Biggest Loser.”

Khadija Williams >>> “I joined this year’s Florence’s Biggest Loser for two reasons. My first reason is that my friend asked me to join with her because this will be her third time around. My second reason is my weight has fluctuated over the years and then I started to gain. I want to change my way of living by changing my diet and exercise. Sometimes you need help and a partner who’s seeking the same to motivate you.”

Travis Copeland >>> “Gerald Griffin (my former baseball coach at FMU) has always encouraged me to be a better person and to be healthy! A couple of weeks ago he asked me, ‘Have you signed up yet?’, so I made the commitment and here I am. My goal is to lose 38 pounds. I’m up to the challenge.”