By: Matthew Blair
Usually a trip to the doctor’s office ends with a prescription and a follow up appointment. Jennifer Lynn Coleman got life altering news.
In 2009, Coleman weighed over 400 pounds when she began having medical issues. She consulted a doctor to find out what was wrong and when the results came back, it was worse than she imagined. Coleman was diagnosed with cancer.
The cancer was found early enough in stage one that she only needed surgery to remove it. Coleman was told once it was removed, it was unlikely she would need chemo and radiation.
“This was my ah-hah moment, as I like to call it. I told myself then, that I had been given a second chance at life and I damn well better do something with it,” Coleman said.
That’s exactly what she did.
Being overweight almost her entire life, she wanted to make a change. In December 2010, a friend suggested to her to try this new thing called “Quinte’s Biggest Loser,” a fundraiser for the Belleville General Hospital and a friendly weight loss competition. By the end of the first competition, she had lost 15 pounds. Since then it’s been a long trip to becoming healthy.
“I thought to myself, why stop there, so I kept training and changed my diet. I would go to the gym two or three days a week. Then I went a solid three days a week. Then I went to five days. Now it’s five or six. I do cardio every day,” said Coleman.
Since the competition started in 2011, she lost 100 pounds. With those results, she once again signed up for the 2013, and second annual Quintes Biggest Loser competition. Last year, Belleville General Hopsital raised almost $40 000 and helped motivate nearly 200 people who took part in the competiiton. Each individual is required to raise a minimum of $100 in donations in order to qualify for the grand prize. There are also weight advantages for the top three fundraisers. So far they’ve had three weight ins and are coming up on their last one.
This year’s competition brought many faces to the gym. Beverly Carleton, a contestant in this year’s contest, said she’s been through both physical and emotional pain until joining.
“ I’ve had problems with my weight most of my life,” said Carleton.
“A few years ago I experienced some serious health issues due to both a car accident and then a serious fall, to the point I was walking with a walker and cane. Then I decided at that time that no matter how much it hurt or how much adversity I was to face, that it was time to get fit and healthy.”
Carleton lost 100 of 260 pounds in a seven month frame. Eventually she watched as the scale went back to over 200 and knew something had to be done.
“I had gotten some news about an ultrasound I had done and found out that I now have fatty liver disease, on top of other health issues. A consequence of a high fat diet which has left me not feeling the best for months. After the weight went back up, my daughter called and said lets do the biggest loser challenge.”
Jennifer Gunsolus, another competitor this year, has also struggled with weight. In 2007 she lost 50 pounds but two years later gained it all back after becoming pregnant. She said her son has been her motivation to get healthy again.
“Shortly after Christmas my one and a half-year-old son and I were driving past a familiar fast-food restaurant, and he started to whine and point and complain. I realized that was what he wanted. He wanted to go there and eat that food. It struck me that my bad habits were setting a not-so-great example for him.”
Gunsolus isn’t the first one to use family as motivation. Last year’s winner Matt Tweedy also said his son is the reason he’s changed his life around.
“I have a three year old son Braydon who has kept me motivated over the past year to make healthy changes so I will be around for him and to teach him healthy living. watching him grow up and run around I really wanted to be an active parent, to be able coach his football team or whatever he decides he is going to do,” Said Tweedy.
“The life I was living wouldn’t of let me do these things with my son.”
Tweedy started the competition at 376 pounds January 9 2012. He quit smoking in June 2011 after going through a pack of cigerattes a day. He won the event In March 2012. He weighed 313 pounds. Today he now weighs 268 pounds.
Thanks to this competition, Tweedy is now running in marathons.
“Last year I couldn’t walk a half of a kilometre with my son. Now I am doing half marathons and looking at bigger things in the future. I completed the county half marathon in October in two hours and 36 minutes,” he said.
The 2013 competiiton will end after the fourth and final weight in on March 19 2013.