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Weight loss challenge accepted

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In the first week of a Pine River Community Education six-week weight loss challenge, the 14 challengers have shown promise.

In week one alone the group lost 44 pounds collectively.

The challenge, led by Kyle Wood and Luke Popham, discourages calorie counting and focuses on ratios and rules of thumb to keep it simple. This simplicity is designed to make it easier for participants.

“If I had to count calories and everything I think I would just go insane,” said Meg Henley of Pine River.

Henley has a goal of losing 40 pounds.

For some participants, accountability is also a driving force in completing these challenges. Though participants are not competing or answering to one another, Cindy Liane of Pine River thinks the group effort is helping her keep on task in her goal of losing 12 pounds.

“I’ve made this commitment. It’s easier to not keep your commitments to yourself. But if you’ve made them outside, it’s easier to stick to, it seems like. It’s funny because I’ve never done it before. So this has been interesting,” Liane said.

Participants do weigh in every week and pay for every pound gained, but they are not treated worse for any backsliding.

The weight loss challenge adopts a high protein, low carbohydrate model. Though participants don’t count calories or carbs, they are taught how to estimate protein content in foods by comparing each chicken breast or other protein source to the size of their open or closed hand. Participants were also given guidelines of foods to avoid. Other rules of thumb include avoiding white-colored foods like white bread, treating green vegetables as “free” food for combating late-night hunger, and maintaining a high metabolism by eating early in the morning and at regular intervals through the day.

Liane said she has not always eaten as often as she should, and this new challenge has had a surprising impact.

“I’ve eaten more this last week than I usually eat. I was a little perturbed this morning when I woke up and I was like, ‘I’m hungry. I’m not usually hungry.’ So I ate and dropped four pounds this week,” Liane said.

Jim Hanke of Pine River joined the challenge with the ultimate goal of losing 12 pounds. He is already one third of the way there. This is not his first weight loss challenge.

“I did one at Pequot Tool when I was working there. I did lose some weight, but I gained a little bit of it back. I’m looking for something I can maintain once I get to my goal. That is as hard as losing weight. Plus, you have to have a diet you’re happy with,” Hanke said.

Hanke hopes the skills he learns will help him lose 30 pounds later and keep it off.

“This whole thing isn’t about a short-term program. It’s about a lifestyle change so you can reach your ultimate goal and maintain that weight,” Hanke said.

The success and continuation of this way of living depends highly on the participant’s ability to stick with it.

“I lost five pounds this week, so I think it’s pretty good so far,” Henley said.

Hanke, Liane and Henley were at the top of the group for weight loss for the first week of the challenge. The six-week weight loss challenge runs from Jan. 13 to Feb. 17.

Travis Grimler can be reached at Follow him on Facebook.