Thursday, March 21, 2013
Who will be the Lowcountry’s Largest Loser? Over the next three months, 12 local residents who are struggling with weight problems will see who has the most success slimming down as part of the Lowcountry’s Largest Loser contest, collaboration between Trident Health, Coastal Carolina Bariatric Center, Pivotal Fitness and WCBD-TV, Channel 2. All 12 contestants are receiving support from Summerville Medical Center dietician Lauri Watson and the staff of Coastal Carolina Bariatric Center, where weigh-ins will be held each week. Plus, Pivotal Fitness is providing each contestant with one personal trainer session per week, and Channel 2 is posting updates on air and online. “The contest is a really fantastic way to raise awareness of the effect obesity is having in our community, and particularly because it personifies it,” says Dr. Neil McDevitt with Coastal Carolina Bariatric. “All of these people have personal stories about how they have become obese and why they want to get healthy.” Located on the Summerville Medical Center campus, Coastal Carolina Bariatric specializes in weight-loss surgery, yet requires that patients also commit to significant long-term changes in diet, exercise and lifestyle beforehand. In some cases, patients achieve early success with those changes and opt to lose the weight without surgery. The Lowcountry’s Largest Loser contest focuses on diet and exercise and does not involve surgery. Each week, the contestant who loses the least percentage of body weight will be eliminated from winning the grand prize. Yet everyone will continue to receive weight-loss support until the contest ends May 20. At that point, the winner will receive a $1,500 Carnival Cruise gift card and a free year’s membership to Pivotal Fitness. Organizers say the contest inspires a feeling of camaraderie among the contestants, in spite of the big-ticket prizes. “They are competing against each other, but at the same time you can tell they are really there to help each other as well,” says Bob Behanian, Trident Health public relations and marketing director. Trident Health and Channel 2 launched the first Lowcountry’s Largest Loser Contest in 2011. For 2013, they received several hundred entries from the community with many compelling stories. In the end, they chose the following contestants: Lewis Doscher, Daniel Berry, Jane Barcott, Justin Seagle, Lisa Huff, Brandy Gaskins, Shawn Matticks, Kirk Giles, Brandy Gibson, Brenda Connolly, Nikki Bowie and BJ Strickland. Strickland, who lives in Summerville, weighed 246 pounds when she submitted her entry form. She says she “ballooned up” after giving birth to two children and undergoing several operations, including brain surgery. Every time she got back to the gym, she seemed to suffer a setback, including a torn rotator cup and an ankle injury that required a ligament replacement. More than anything else, she hopes the contest will help her get healthy and lose weight. “I’m much more focused on that than the cruise part of it.” The substitute preschool teacher also has some upcoming events to motivate her, including a family trip to Disney World, which she would like to enjoy without worrying whether she can fit comfortably on the rides, and her 20-year high school reunion in Arkansas. “I was a cheerleader in high school, on the tennis team, and I played softball,” she says. “I definitely did not look like this in high school.” To contact Coastal Carolina Bariatric Center, please call 843-875-8994.