<img src=http://www.toledoblade.com/assets/gif/weblink_icon.gif> <font color=red> <b>JOIN</font color=red></b> the <a href=" http://www.toledoblade.com/challenge" target="_blank "><b> Toledo-area weight-loss effort</b></a>
How many Ben Konops can fit inside an Andrew Z?
A little more than two, according to the Toledo scale inside the Summit Street YMCA.
Such is the weight difference between the Lucas County commissioner's 160-pound frame and that of Andrew Zepeda, the recently appointed Weight Loss Czar and morning host for WVKS-FM (92.5) KISS-FM, who yesterday set the scale teetering between 328 and 329 pounds during the kickoff event for the county's Million Pound Challenge.
"This thing is broken, Bob. This thing is obviously broken," Mr. Zepeda balked at the moment of truth, later blaming his big number on cake and ice cream. "It was a bad weekend - a birthday weekend."
It was a comical start to a serious challenge. The county has teamed with the YMCA and JCC of Greater Toledo and other sponsors to inspire metro-area residents to collectively lose 1 million pounds before year's end.
Andrew Zepeda's tailor made the robes that County Commissioner Ben Konop removes as Robert Alexander of the YMCA, left, watches.
The objective is to help people improve their lives and health, because obesity is a contributor to many ailments, including Type II diabetes, high cholesterol, and blood pressure.
A county health assessment report in 2007 found 70 percent of Lucas County adults were overweight or obese.
Free and confidential weigh-ins will be held through the week at all 11 area YMCA and JCC branches and in the food court at Westfield Franklin Park. The mall is open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.
Participants will receive information on weight-loss strategies and be in the running for several monthly giveaways: free YMCA memberships, Mud Hens and Detroit Pistons tickets, $50 restaurant certificates, and athletic club memberships.
Participants can track their progress through a private login at The Blade's Web site, toledoblade.com/challenge, because The Blade is a challenge sponsor.
"We here in metropolitan Toledo have a great opportunity to get on the scale, weigh in, and see if we can meet Commissioner Konop's and Andrew Z's challenge to lose pounds," said Robert Alexander, president and chief executive officer of the YMCA and JCC of Greater Toledo. "So let's get busy, get active, and have a lot of fun."
Mr. Zepeda, now 40 years old, will give participants encouragement through his morning radio show as he continues to narrate his own weight-loss battle. He peaked at 405 pounds before lap-band surgery in January, 2008, and since has lost more than 75 pounds through diet and exercise.
However, he appears to have put a little weight back on in the month since he was appointed czar. He reported his weight as 325 pounds shortly after the holidays.
Mr. Zepeda Monday also modeled his official Weight Loss Czar outfit: a sleeveless mumu adorned with lava-red sparkles and black and gold flames.
In place of a coat, he wore a dark gray cape with a flipped whale-tail collar.
He told onlookers the outfit was custom made by his tailor.
"A lot of people say I wouldn't take this seriously," Mr. Zepeda said of his czardom. "Obviously I take it seriously, or I wouldn't be wearing this outfit."
Contact JC Reindl at: