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Weight loss challenges gaining fans among area businesses

Someone once said, "The difference between try and triumph is just a little umph!"

Many area dieters are finding that umph in the ever-growing number of weight loss challenges.

"They're great, I'm in a couple right now," said Detroit Lakes woman Michele Wilkens.

Wilkens is far from alone. The popularity of weight loss challenges is gaining. (Pardon the pun)

Stacy Heinlein is a personal wellness coach with DL Fusion, and she says the challenges have become so popular, she's had to turn people away.

"Last time we had like 35 people signed up, but more and more people kept coming in, so we had to ask them to come back for the next challenge," said Heinlein.

Here's how it works:

If somebody is interested in losing weight, they sign up for the challenge, paying a fee to do so. ($29 for DL Fusion's challenge)

The money is then pooled together for a cash pot to be awarded to whomever loses the biggest percentage of body weight by the end of the challenge, which is usually six to eight weeks long.

"Our biggest loser last time won almost $400, which was 50 percent of the pot; the second place winner gets 30 percent and third place gets 20 percent", said Heinlein.

Participants in the DL Fusion challenges meet once a week on Mondays to weigh in and discuss a health topic of the week.

They hold their challenges every eight weeks, with their next set to begin May 16.

While Michele Wilkens is busy participating in the DL Fusion challenge, she is also running one at M State.

"I started one up there for faculty and staff because I wanted to inspire and motivate them before summer comes."

Wilkens says she's lost 15 pounds so far since starting her first challenge in January.

Although she has a goal of 100 pounds, she says she is taking it one step at a time and believes these challenges are her key to success.

"I've met so many people doing this, and we all just feed off each other as far as motivation; we'll see each other around town and give the thumbs up or just say something encouraging."

And while dangling a money pot in front of participants may also be encouraging, Wilkens believes the real motivator is better health.

"Everybody is kind of a winner," she laughs.

One upcoming weight loss challenge has a different winner in mind, though.

Weum Chiropractic and Anytime Fitness are joining forces to conduct a weight loss challenge where the money raised will go towards the Lakes Crisis Center instead of participants.

"To join the challenge, it's $100, unless you are a member of Anytime Fitness or a patient of Weum Chiropractic, then it's $75, and all the money raised will go to the Lakes Crisis Center as they open up their new shelter," said Dr. Sara Skadsem of Weum Chiropractic, adding, "But we have been getting area businesses to sponsor cash and prizes for the winners, too."

Anytime Fitness is co-sponsoring the event, providing the perk of a free place to work out for participants.

For those wanting a little group support, Skadsem says they will also take team entries.

"If people want to get a group together at work or something, they can do that; then we take the average of the group's weight loss and use that."

And because this challenge is for charity, participation fees are tax deductible.

So, is Michele Wilkens entering this challenge too?

"I am," she laughs, "Well, I have been going to Weum Chiropractic for a while now because I got in a car accident, and that's the reason I haven't been able to work out.

"Now, because of their help, I am able to, so I signed up," said Wilkens, adding, "It's helpful and inspirational."

To sign up for the Weum Chiropractic & Anytime Fitness Challenge, call 847-9235 or stop by their location at 1225 Washington Ave. in Detroit Lakes.

To sign up for the DL Fusion challenge, call 844-3910 or stop by their location at 1150 Washington Avenue Detroit Lakes.