This past weekend the city of Wichita, KS made one big move in stepping off the fattest cities list, and the Biggest Loser Club took one big step in helping them. During this season, and as I’ve mentioned here before, Biggest Loser Club has a creative approach to helping this country shed one million pounds- through its Biggest Loser Million Pound Match-up. As part of the promotion, the show is visiting five of the fattest cities in the country- and Wichita was included.
As part of the tour, hundreds and hundreds of people gathered in line at the local mall to sign up for the program, meet area nutritionists and fitness trainers to help them get started on the right foot. Similar to this season’s Biggest Loser: Couples, everyone needed to have a partner. While most people arrived as a duo, some teams were made in line between strangers. Sherry and Kim from Wichita made small talk during the lengthy wait and ended up partnering. Sherry said she didn’t have anyone, but a friend encouraged her to attend in case she did find that someone.
More alluring than learning your BMI and getting a free Biggest Loser water bottle, was meeting recent season four contestants Julie Haddon and Jim Germanakos. Julie took second place while Jim was the first person sent home from the black team; however, Jim did end up being the biggest “at home” loser. The total amount of weight he lost actually would have put him in first place had he been able to stay, and Julie says had she been given another month, she could have beat season four winner Bill Germanakos (Jim’s twin brother).
These two super-stars gave me a little time before the event kicked off on Saturday. They’re super-stars because as we sat in the food court talking, people kept slowly walking by to make sure it was them. One woman’s husband stopped and politely interrupted saying his wife was going to freak out if she didn’t get to say hi. Julie and Jim got up to say hello and talked for a few minutes. I later asked Julie if she’s enjoying her fifteen minutes, to which she replied “Oh girl! This is so much fun! But I’m just a regular person like everyone in this line. I just want to be a mom.” Next month, that fun-loving regular gal is speaking to Congress about health, weight and fitness in America.
They were both incredibly down-to-earth, sweet, funny and they looked fantastic! We talked about their experience on and off the show and how their lives have changed. I asked Jim how he and twin brother Bill would have done as a team on this couple’s season. “We would have done just as well because our competitive nature is strong. As a team, we like to believe we’re unbeatable.”
Jim wanted to make certain that everyone knew that his brother Bill did not win $250,000 at the finale- he actually won $249,999 because of a bet he’d lost to Jim. Since Jim actually lost more weight than Bill, he had to pony up the first buck of his winnings. These two recently launched a new site, Biggest Loser Twins, where you can keep up with them and learn more about their story.
Since returning home, they each say they’ve put on a few pounds, but that it’s perfectly healthy. Julie says she’s in better shape now than she was at the finale last month, and Jim has put on weight per his doctor’s instruction because he’d managed to lose too much. Now the challenge is introducing their new lifestyle to their families.
“I came home and literally had a panic attack,” says Julie of her return from the show. “I had changed, but nothing in my environment had. It scared the willies out of me. I needed to set up my home and environment for success or I would not prosper and end up back to where I was.” She said her husband did more whining than her seven-year old, who has not objected to removing chocolate chip cookie dough, Cheetos, processed sugars and carbonated drinks from the house. And while Jillian made them eat completely organic at the Biggest Loser ranch, she says it’s not something she can afford to do all the time back home- so she does everything she can to introduce as healthy a life as possible. “I don’t want my family eating this stuff.”
Jim on the other hand doesn’t appear to have the same support system in his home as Julie. He tried to clear out the house when he returned, but his son went shopping for the first time by himself after that. “He brought back all the pop and frosted flakes,” said Jim. “My house is full of food, everywhere I turn.” So he relies on himself to be strong and maintain that thinner and healthier physique.
Julie says part of staying on track is having a goal. “If you don’t have a goal, you’ll flounder.” So their hoping they’ll receive an invitation to this season’s finale, looking good for that is the goal right now. Jim said “the biggest reason to go back is to look good. There are so many haters, but we’ll show them.” I asked if it were like looking good for your high school reunion or running into an ex-boyfriend/girlfriend and they both excitedly shouted “Yes!”.
It was certainly fun to have a chance to meet and chat with these two Biggest Losers. The crowd that had driven from across the state of Kansas to meet them were also excited. Jodi, from Manhattan, KS (the “little apple”) said she’d already signed up for Million Pound Match-up online, but came so that she could meet Julie and Jim. And Shari Munson, the woman from the food court, she and her family of four had driven an hour and a half from Windam to be at the event. The show had helped her realize that losing weight was something “she has to do” and she felt very encouraged by watching the show. She said her family is starting to get behind her to offer that full-house support that Julie has- but her husband reminded that health food is too expensive for their small income. He added “anything with health on the package gets to charge extra.”
If you don’t live in Wichita, KS and missed the event- you might have an opportunity as soon as next weekend. The remaining schedule looks like this:
Phoenix, AZ – January 26-27
Houston, TX – February 2-3
Miami, FL – February 9-10
January 21st, 2008