The Times
  • Losing weight not a lost cause in Dolgeville competition

  • Depression. Diabetes. High blood pressure. Stroke.

    The words themselves aren’t harmful, but the maladies culminated at the same time for Tammy Hart in the summer of 2011.

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  • Depression. Diabetes. High blood pressure. Stroke.
    The words themselves aren’t harmful, but the maladies culminated at the same time for Tammy Hart in the summer of 2011.
    Her children pleaded with her: Do something about your weight. Her grandchildren asked their Nana, “Why can’t you play with us?” Walking up one flight of stairs would wind her as if she’d run 10 miles.
    Hart, a year ago, was nearly 300 pounds and doctors said if she didn’t do anything about her weight immediately, she’d have a heart attack.
    “You become unhealthy and you think you have nothing,” said Hart, now 27.
    That’s when her daughter signed her up for Dolgeville’s Biggest Loser competition in January of this year. Five months later and 60 pounds lighter, her competition ended. Now, Hart is now helping the current season of to-be-healthy hopefuls.
    There are currently 44 Biggest Losers — up from last year’s group of 30. Split into teams, the members exercise at least twice a week together and their weight is documented. At the end of the five-month program, the individuals and teams that lose the most combined weight win cash prizes.
    But the money is just an extra incentive to lead a healthier life, said Bart Murnion, the program coordinator.
    Murnion, a recent transplant from the Air Force to Dolgeville, started Stoney Creek Fitness, the central hub of the program, in July 2011. He said his Biggest Loser competition is not so much a focus on losing weight, but on becoming healthier and breaking unhealthy habits to stay on track.
    One of the first activities this year’s group took on was a 21-day challenge — curbing the addictions that brought them to the program, be it junk food, soda or behavior.
    “Their testimonies were very encouraging,” said Murnion, 52. “They’d say, ‘I had no idea I was addicted to diet soda until you told me I couldn’t have it.’”
    Through his program, he said he’s gotten people to quit smoking, stop taking that obligatory can of soda with lunch.
    Jessica Lyle, 30, of Fairfield, said eating lazily was her downfall.
    “Before the program, it was basically eating anything out of a can or a fast food place. Sadly, that’s where my life got to,” she said.
    In the first month or so of the program, the team captain has lost about 15 pounds. Lyle said she’s begun to cook more at home, opting for fresher, healthier options.
    But it’s not all food. Murnion puts the contestants through an hour of non-stop exercise twice a week. He said he tries to arrange a bigger challenge once a month — September ushered a two-mile run, up-and downhill.
    Lyle said it’s not always easy.
    Page 2 of 2 - “Some people might take it as, well not being rude, but a little brutal,” she said of Murnion’s coaching style. “But it’s what we need.”
    His military background is what makes him an intense motivator, Murnion said.
    The biggest obstacle in the program for each contestant, however, is themselves.
    Since her season, Hart said she’s never felt better about herself. Though she won tenth place in her season, she said the admiration on her family’s faces made her feel like she was in first.
    “The hardest part was overcoming the fear of everybody looking at you and thinking to yourself, ‘Oh they’re looking at me, I’m fat.’ Overcoming that is a great experience,” Hart said.

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