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Lori Gebhard (left) and Shannon Mehls (right) with JA Counter & Associates in New Richmond present checks to two of the winners in the "2013 Lose Weight in 8" challenge. Adam Snegosky (center left) and Josh Pals (center right) were part of the "Wii Not Fit 2" team that took the top $1,000 prize. The two team members missing from the picture are Anthony Rubis and Charles Sowa.

Losing 67 lbs. in 8 weeks!

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The completion of the second annual "Lose Weight in 8" challenge proves that a little motivation can help participants shed a few pounds.

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A total of 248 people participated in this year's eight-week weight loss program, sponsored by JA Counter & Associates, HealthPartners and the New Richmond Vitality Initiative. The participants competed in four-person teams and 62 teams were registered.

According to Julie Bauermeister, marketing and events coordinator for JA Counter, the total weight loss of all participants combined was 1,903 pounds. That translates into about eight pounds lost per person, which was the goal of the community-wide challenge.

This year's winning team was "Wii Not Fit 2," whose four members lost a combined 212 pounds. Adam Snegosky, Hammond, was the top individual loser during the eight weeks, dropping 67 pounds (or about 25 percent of his total body weight). The next closest loser was teammate Josh Pals, River Falls, who lost 64 pounds (about 23 percent of his body weight).

The winning team is made up of four friends who play recreational softball in the summer. The other two members of the winning group are Anthony Rubis, Hammond, and Charles Sowa, River Falls.

Snegosky said the foursome had talked about losing weight in the past, but the $1,000 top prize in the challenge was the type of motivation they needed to actually follow through.

"We needed something to give us a kick start," said Snegosky, who weighed 267 pounds in January and is now at 200 pounds.

Pals, who went from 278 pounds to 214 in eight weeks, said his two sons were an additional motivation to lose weight.

"I needed to have more energy to keep up with them," he admitted.

Pals said he watched what he ate during the challenge -- consuming a lot of raw vegetables and eating only lean proteins.

"You had to have your meals planned for the week, so you knew you were getting enough calories ... but not too many," he explained.

Pals said he also worked his way up to six or seven miles of elliptical and treadmill exercise every day.

"We both really appreciate the help we got from our wives," he said. "It was a team effort."

"It was a lifestyle change for the whole family," Snegosky added.

Snegosky said also he watched what he ate and exercised in order to lose weight.

"Portion control was the biggest thing," he said, noting that he made sure not to eat too much at any meal.

He also stuck to a strict exercise schedule at Snap Fitness in Roberts during the challenge. "I was there two or three times a day the last few weeks," he admitted. "I felt like I lived there some days."

Rubis said he joined the team because he thought the challenge would be an easy way to make some money.

"Boy, was I wrong," he said.

Even though losing weight was a challenge at times, Rubis said it was worth the effort. He said he feels healthier and he has a bunch more energy.

"I dominate my over-40 recreational basketball league now," he joked.

Now that the team has gathered their winner's check, Snegosky said he was excited by the results.

"I'm looking forward to playing softball this summer," he said. "When you're 60 pounds lighter, it'll be easier on the body."

And Pals said he reached his ultimate goal, which was to have more energy for all that life throws at him.

Drawing

To give all the successful participants a chance to take home a check, everyone who lost the minimum of eight pounds during the challenge were registered in a random drawing.

Donald Rondeau, who competed as part of the New Richmond Frontier Ag & Turf team, was the winner of $250. He dropped exactly eight pounds during the program.

"I needed to lose weight and this was a good way to get started," he said.

Rondeau admitted that he likes to eat, so the weight loss effort wasn't easy. To curb his hunger, Rondeau said he would eat healthy snacks like apples or almonds. He also drank a lot more water.

At mealtime, Rondeau said he ate a lot more salads.

"Instead of all the meat and potatoes that we're used to," he said with a laugh.

Having a team to compete with helped motivate him, Rondeau admitted. He said the Frontier group used its UPS scale to keep track of their progress.

"It was a lot easier with the group," he said. "We had fun with it."

New rules

Bauermeister said this year's challenge went smoother than last year's first-time "Lose Weight in 8." Participants were required to weigh-in and weigh-out at official sites around the region. Four-person teams were also required (last year smaller teams were allowed.)

Weekly deadlines for reporting weight were required as well to keep the competition fair, Bauermeister said.

Also new this year is a "maintenance challenge." For people who keep the weight off for six months, a special drawing will be held for another cash prize.

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