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Published: Monday, 2/26/2007

WTOL diet contest gets big response

Just about everyone has fought the battle of the bulge.

You know the routine you lose weight, feel good about yourself, then it all comes back.

Suddenly, you weigh more than you did before you started exercising and dieting.

Forget the South Beach Diet, you feel like a beach ball.

The folks at WTOL-TV, Channel 11, have decided to try to whip four viewers into shape.

The CBS affiliate s ultimate goal during its Weigh in to Win contest is to slim down its contestants while improving their health and lifestyle.

Channel 11, which is looking to bulk up its ratings during the nine-month promotion that ends in October, has participated in fantasy weddings and several other popular contests in the past.

But this is the station s first foray into what essentially amounts to a body makeover.

We had no idea how many people would respond, but we knew weight was an issue with a lot of people, news director Mitch Jacob said. We had them go online last month and register on wtol.com.

We had more than 700 people sign up and we ended up interviewing more 318 people on camera. We narrowed the list to 10 and then to four.

The rules were strict.

All participants had to have a personal goal of losing a minimum of 50 pounds. They had to exhibit enthusiasm for participating in a rigorous weight loss program. They had to have personal experiences regarding earlier attempts at weight loss. And they had to do a blog and use a confession cam to videotape their weight-loss experience.

Perhaps the toughest rule of all? Put up with possible humiliation when a two-minute taping is shown during the news or posted on Channel 11 s Web site.

The thing we discovered pretty quickly is that most people don t care if people see them on TV, they just want to get healthy, assistant news director Andi Roman said.

The four finalists are:

• DaVonn Thompson, a 26-year-old mother of three, who lives in South Toledo. She wants to lose 100 of her 283 pounds.

• Jeff White, 36, a father of three from south Toledo. He weighs 342 pounds and has his sights set on 270.

• Mary Brandt, 46, a mother of four from West Toledo. She weighs 226 and hopes to get down to 145.

• Keith Pomerson, 53, a father of four from Genoa. He weighs 395 pounds and would like to shed 150 of them.

The foursome will receive plenty of help to try to achieve their desired goals.

Each contestant received four prizes worth an estimated $3,500 in value from local business. They have been working with Mercy Health Partners weight loss center once a week and will have a personal fitness trainer three other days. They also are supplied with food and a strict diet.

If they complete the Weigh in to Win program they will receive a $500 local shopping spree, as well as a cosmetic makeover. They re all going to be winners, if they stick with it, Jacob said.

The ultimate goal for the quartet is to lose weight and feel great.



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