Healthy Living

Biggest losers become big winners as pounds go away


Contestant Cindy Shealey, before and after.

Editor’s note: Recently The Newnan Times-Herald’s sports section featured a story about the Biggest Loser Contest at MOAB Fighting Concepts. Today's story shares more about how the contestants lost the weight.

March 1, 2013, became a day that will live in infamy for Cowetans Cody Ainsworth, Samantha Brazie, Cindy Shealey and Chris Stansell. All were fed up with being overweight and decided to sign up for the Biggest Loser Contest sponsored by MOAB Fighting Concepts, a mixed martial arts gym in Newnan owned by Tim and Christy Stout. Training involves cardio kickboxing, regular kickboxing, boxing and mixed martial arts. The contest required that the four – and other participants – take at least three classes per week, through the end of May. 

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• Cody Ainsworth, a cosmetologist who lives with her parents in Coweta County, just turned 23. She has struggled with weight for as long as she can remember. Growing up with a family who was “all about sweets,” a few months ago Ainsworth found herself at 221. She recalled how good she felt three years ago when she’d lost 78 pounds and kept it off for two years. Through a rough period in her life, however, she had regained 45 pounds and knew she needed to do something. As she pondered the “how” of all this, her best friend, Kelly Putnam, told her about the Biggest Loser Contest that Putnam’s husband, Dexter, had heard about. Ainsworth and Putnam signed up together and got instantly motivated. The friends started working out three times a week together, which not only made it easier but kept each other excited about getting into shape. Weigh-ins were required each visit, and if one had a “bad weigh-in,” the other would encourage her and be her “cheerleader.” They really enjoyed the regular kickboxing classes, and as they began shedding pounds were advised to portion control their meals. Ainsworth started cutting back on her food intake and made better choices regarding her “trouble area of sweets.” She was surprised to find that eating fruit and small Quaker chewy bars with chocolate – 90 calories – satisfied her sweet tooth. That was a huge hurdle. Next, Ainsworth began to cut back on eating out because she would usually end up eating the wrong things. As she began eating healthily, chicken, turkey, green beans, corn and peas were a large part of her focus. She is taking it slowly and has lost 15 pounds since March and now weighs 206. Ainsworth is determined to get back to her weight of 175 from three years ago. She looks forward to wearing those clothes that she saved and thanks her mom, Jill Ainsworth, for being a big encouragement in her life. Finding a way to eat without feeling deprived makes Cody Ainsworth feel like a winner every day. 

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• Samantha Brazie is married with four children, age 34, and works for Progressive Heating and Air in Newnan as a business development manager. Amazingly, in January 2012, she made a New Year’s Resolution that she followed through on and has lost 140 pounds since then. How did she go from struggling since age 16 with weight gain to finally finding a plan that she could live with? It started with good friends Carole Ann Fields and Tina Prudeaux encouraging her to join them at MOAB, as they were having great experiences there. When she first signed up for the cardio kickboxing class a year-and-a-half ago, she admitted, “I couldn’t do 90 percent of what the others did, but they modified the class for me. It is very intimidating when you are overweight, but they were willing to work with me and not make it impossible.” Scott and Janice Martino, a married couple who had been enjoying the class for several months, took her under their wing. “The Marinos were a huge help and motivating factor for me," she said. After a few months in the program, last year she decided to use personal training with the Biggest Loser Contest – with Healthy Lives Chiropractic – and won a cruise. She and husband Keith wasted no time and enjoyed a fabulous vacation, cruising to Cozumel, Mexico and Progreso in the Yucatan. Shortly thereafter, however, she felt a lack of motivation. Brazie still attended classes, but her heart wasn’t in it. She fell back into previous bad habits and regained some of the weight. This lasted for several months, until last June. Brazie realized she needed accountability and reached out to trainer Christy Stout, who had her weigh in on a weekly basis, in addition to exercising. Right from the start, nutrition became a focus and her eating habits changed. As she began eliminating fast foods, preparing food ahead of time, planning meals, her motivation returned. Brazie joined this year’s Biggest Loser Contest and focused on drinking a gallon of water daily, limiting other drinks – except for Almond Milk, and including protein at every meal. As an added benefit, these healthy habits affected her entire family and changed the way they look at food. During the contest, Brazie and family moved, so she was unable to continue participating in the contest, but keeps up with exercise and nutritional eating. “If any of our family decides on junk food, it will be an exception, not something we do all the time,” she said proudly. 

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• Cindy Shealey not only has lost 27 pounds in three months, but has “found a way to eat without feeling deprived. I never feel hungry anymore.” A managing partner, Shealey is a builder of custom homes and extreme renovations for The Aldrich Group in Newnan. For years she battled with her weight, having tried every diet and program in the book, but could never find her niche. In mid-February, one of her clients, local chiropractor Katherine Davis, apologized when meeting Shealey in the work showroom wearing dirty, sweaty clothes, but she had just left her workout. When Shealey asked Davis about her workout, she told her that they should work out together and motivate one another. Shealey thought for about two seconds before replying, “Are you serious? Since I recently hit age 50, everything has gotten harder. I think you’ve hit me with the right thing at the right time.” She signed up with personal trainer Christy Stout at MOAB and started working out twice weekly, attending classes with Katie Davis. After a few weeks, she was encouraged to join the Biggest Loser Contest. At first Shealey wasn’t sure she wanted to make that big a commitment, but then threw all caution to the wind and decided, “What the heck? I need to do it right and have the willpower to stick with it.” She told her fiancé, Stuart Aldrich, about her plans, but he waited awhile to see if she really would persevere and stick with it. Joining up, she upped the ante to work out at least three times weekly, twice with the personal trainer and at least once more for cardio kickboxing. Shealey began seeing some weight loss, but not as quickly as she would have liked, so she talked to her trainer about her eating habits. She was eating way too many carbs and needed more protein in her diet, especially since she was building muscle. Amazingly, she found that 1200 calories daily was not enough and if she wanted to kick her metabolism into a higher gear, she needed to consume 1400 calories daily. “I was also encouraged to eat breakfast within one hour of awakening and to eat healthily. I truly thought the plan was crazy, but took her at her word. I started losing faster and having more consistent energy throughout each day.” Shealey gave up wine – “the hardest part” – and consumed two vegetables with every meal, finding that she was never hungry. It even became a struggle to consume as many as 1400 calories daily. Finishing only three pounds shy of her 30-pound goal, she feels fantastic. Although the Biggest Loser Contest ended, her new lifestyle has not. “This exercise and eating program is a gift in itself," she said with a smile. "I am not stopping here. It is something I can do forever.” 

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• Chris Stansell, 45, is five-feet, nine-inches tall. He weighed in at 227 pounds 12 weeks before the contest began. A divorced father of three and a physician’s assistant from Sharpsburg, he wanted to get down to at least 190 pounds. Chelsea, his 18-year-old daughter who recently graduated from East Coweta High School, was already cardio kickboxing and encouraged her dad to join her in classes at MOAB. Sign up he did, not only for exercise but for the Biggest Loser Contest. His two sons joined him, and they worked out as a family. His 17-year-old son, Christian, found that he enjoyed Jiu Jitsu classes, and younger son, Cody, 12, started Kid’s Grappling classes, similar to wrestling. Not only was Stansell to participate in at least three classes per week, but if he was to take getting into shape seriously, he needed to modify his diet. One of the biggest challenges he faced was giving up chocolate milk, his favorite, to almond soy milk, but when he discovered that soy milk had only 50 calories versus 200 calories from chocolate, he figured it was a no-brainer. Now the only "dairy" Stansell drinks is almond soy milk, and he loves it. He listened to advice from his trainer: salads for lunch, protein steaks, lean meats, vegetables such as green beans and broccoli, no bread, pasta or rice. He found that he enjoyed eating mostly salad and chicken breast and started “feeling great and no longer had cravings.” Stansell hit a plateau after three to four weeks and needed to change something, so he began eating less and combined more exercises to “jump-start the body.” And taking it a step further, he gave up soft drinks and tried to drink a gallon of water daily. The more lifestyle changes he made with his exercise and diet, the better he felt. Cardio kickboxing morning classes, as well as evening ones, became his favorite form of exercise. Occasionally, he’d hit both in one day. His trainer recommended a palm-full of almonds at different times during the day if he had cravings for unhealthy foods. Stansell says trainer Christy Stout “kicks our butt.” He felt that the best prize he could win was his great amount of weight loss, having someone to help him, and friendly competition with others in the program. How has life changed for Stansell? “Walking up a flight or two of stairs now is a piece of cake.” To his regimen he has added protein shakes, Carbmaster yogurt, running three to four miles weekly and walking two miles daily. “When people tell you that you can’t do something, you have to prove them wrong,” he said. Although his goal was to get his weight down to 190 pounds, he has greatly surpassed that by losing 56 pounds and is now a very healthy 171. 

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On June 8, each participant found out if he/she was the winner in the Biggest Loser Contest. Since different people have different weight issues, the MOAB contestants were measured by the percentage of their weight loss, not in pounds. For example, if someone weighed 200 pounds and lost 20 pounds, then that person had lost 10 percent of their body weight. The common thread among these four seems to be: “Not How Much – But How To.” Obviously, Shealey, Ainsworth and Brazie are all winners, even if they didn’t place as No. 1 in the “Biggest Loser” Contest. Congratulations, however, go to Chris Stansell, who was the Biggest Loser.

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