When Losers Become Winners

When three Queen Anne’s County senior centers competed in a “Biggest Loser” contest this spring, everyone turned out to be a winner. Grasonville, Centreville and Kent Island senior centers started the 12-week-long contest on April 2, declaring winners last Wednesday.


Thirty-two seniors lost a combined 81 pounds during the contest with Centreville’s participants losing the most at a total weight loss of 60 pounds.  Centreville Senior Center also had the largest number of participants. “Centreville participants were very enthusiastic,” says Certified Personal Trainer Cindy Drummond, “as the contest has never been held at that center before.”


This is the second Biggest Loser contest for the seniors. The first contest was offered two years ago at Grasonville Senior Center only. Ann Martin, Senior Center Manager at the Grasonville Center initiated the program. Ann says she learned about the program through a senior association workshop. 


Cindy, who had already been working on fitness with the seniors, organized this year’s contest, expanding Ann’s initial program information. Contestants ages 60 to 97 year’s old earned points for specific activities and challenges. The goals of the contest were to encourage positive lifestyle and behavioral changes in diet and exercise, combine physical activity and nutrition to improve overall health, and provide a supportive and fun environment while promoting healthy activity.


Each week contestants received challenges such as refraining from fried foods, avoiding salt, or drinking daily-recommended amounts of water. Additionally, participants were required to keep track of their points. Points were assessed based on activities performed by the seniors. For instance, walking for 10 minutes earned two points.


“It took a few of them a while to keep track,” says Cindy, “but they came around.” Cindy says a points system helps individuals pay more attention to what they are eating and how much they are engaging in physical activity.


Cindy stressed that the contest was not just about losing weight, but about learning to live a healthy lifestyle. She recommended healthy food choices and provided nutritional information such as examples of protein-rich foods. “I taught them the value of food, but not what to eat,” she stressed. “A dietician is the only one who can do that.”


Winners were chosen based on who earned the most points and who lost the most weight; also, there were separate divisions for males versus females. Cindy says they were all winners. “Their knowledge base has grown about the importance of leading a healthy lifestyle, their confidence has grown and they seem very proud of themselves.”


One participant, Alvin Lane, 85, actually gained 10 pounds, but says he gained so much muscle that his skin now fits. Alvin increased his physical and social activities and regained a positive outlook on life thanks to the contest.


Four senior centers operate in Queen Anne’s County serving persons over age 60. Recreational and educational programs are provided. Activities include arts, music, meals, health and fitness programs, parties, dances, bingo, trips, guest speakers, line dance classes, computer classes and other educational programs. Transportation to the centers is available. Centers operate Monday through Friday.


For more information on the senior centers, call the Queen Anne’s County Department of aging at 410-758-0848