The first place winner was Elsa Puga with a total weight loss of 42.4 pounds and 17.6 percent body fat.
Puga credits her weight loss to a lot of walking and a lot of Zumba. By the end of the contest, Puga was doing five hours of Zumba a week and in addition was walking six to seven hours a week. Puga said when she started the event with her daughter, that her daughter had some doubts about her ability to complete the contest. Elsa was determined to prove her daughter wrong.
When she started the contest, she had high cholesterol, high blood pressure and was diabetic. By the time she finished, she had blown her doctors away with the progress she made.
“I shocked my doctors. They couldn’t believe it,” she said.
Due to her drastic weight loss, she was able to stop taking some of her medications.
Puga’s weight loss was not totally due to exercise.
“I changed a lot of my habits,” she said.
She changed her diet, started practicing portion control and started drinking water.
Second place with a total weight loss of 39.6 pounds was Alexis Cantrell.
Cantrell credits part of her motivation to keep with the program to her family.
“I had a lot of support,” she said.
The rest of the motivation was seeing what she was doing was working. She lost 15 pounds in the first 10 days.
Like the other contestants, she did not just work out, she also had to change her eating habits.
“I had to learn to listen to my body and eat when I was hungry and not just out of boredom,” she said.
As the primary cook in her household, she made everyone eat what she ate and that was also a help to her. She said that she learned you could still eat good food and be healthy.
“I learned for health you don’t have to sacrifice flavor — just use better ingredients,” Cantrell said.
The third place winner was Gracie Botello, who lost 26 pounds.
“I was determined to change,” Botello said. “It wasn’t just about losing weight, it was about eating right.”
To help her with the weight loss, Botello starting cutting back on the carbs and soda, walking and taking Zumba classes.
“You have to be determined and have willpower,” Botello said. “You have to want to do it for yourself.”
Now that the contest is over, all three winners hope to continue with their weight loss.
Anna Marie Silvas, board member of Be Well, Be Fit, was very pleased with the results of the biggest loser contest. The contest was the first thing that the committee has organized to promote its goals.
“The goal was to create awareness of obesity, diabetes and create a healthier community,” Silvas said. “I feel like we have started something that will go on for a long time.”
She said she was very proud of everyone who participated.
Christina Rowland is the regional editor at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 119, or at regional@mySouTex.com.