Courtesy photo Eric Marshall shows off his new look after losing 47 pounds and trimming his body fat by 20 percent.
published: Sunday, April 28, 2013
Being a loser can be good for you
By SAMANTHA GHOLAR
SEBRING - Since its inception just over a year ago, the Highlands County YMCA Biggest Loser Challenge has become more than just a weight loss campaign but a way to change a person's life for the better.
Eric Marshall was named the Biggest Loser for this year's challenge put on by YMCA Program Director and fitness instructor Laura VanFleet.
VanFleet has challenged dozens of individuals over the past 18 months with lifestyle changes and healthier choices, and Marshall has definitely exceeded VanFleet's expectations, as well as his own.
During VanFleet's third Biggest Loser Challenge, Marshall's efforts and dedicated attitude to become a healthier man paid off.
Marshall had lost 47 pounds and a total of 20 percent of his body fat at the end of the challenge in early April.
The accomplishment wasn't an easy one. In fact, it almost didn't get started.
"I got an e-mail from the Sebring Chamber of Commerce about the Biggest Loser Challenge. I saw it and kind of just set it aside. It was in the back of my mind for a while, but I actually waited until the very last minute to sign up. I wasn't going to do it," Marshall said.
After completing his first 5K run on day one of the Challenge, Marshall discovered a confidence and drive in himself that hadn't ever emerged before. Marshall said completing the run felt good and he was surprised at his completion time of 37.9 minutes.
Marshall began his journey on the Biggest Loser Challenge at 227 pounds with approximately 27 percent body fat. Marshall is a type 1 diabetic, diagnosed when he was 13. At the time Marshall started his challenge, his metabolic age was 44 and he was using more than 100 units of insulin a day.
"When I saw my metabolic age I just thought 'Wow. I'm only 29,'" Marshall said.
The ah-ha moment put Marshall in an even higher gear, giving him the motivation he needed to go at the challenge with everything he had.
VanFleet created a diverse series of workouts that were both fun and physically challenging for the 15 participants.
"Oh, she kept it interesting. There was a broad range of activities. We didn't ever know what we were getting into. She just told us where to meet up and what to wear," Marshall said. "There was never a dull moment."
Marshall admits balancing a tough training regimen, early workout hours and a full-time job was a difficult task, but he managed to stick with it, despite the fact that the first four weeks of the challenge were "really brutal."
"His transformation was a jaw-dropper for sure," VanFleet said. "The percentage of weight loss was great. The second-place winner wasn't even really close to what he lost. He is the Biggest Loser poster boy."
The last challenge for the 13-week project was a second 5K run, which Marshall had no problem finishing. His new time was 24.4 minutes.
Marshall lost a total of 47 pounds over the course of the Biggest Loser Challenge. His current metabolic age is now 19 years old.
"Getting healthy for myself has becoming addicting. I'm very active now. If you want to change, you have to try to want to change and you have to stay dedicated. If you don't, it's just not going to work. You can't give up. I didn't know doing something just for myself, just to better myself, would inspire so many other people, but I'm glad it has," Marshall said.
Marshall received a $250 check, a one-year family membership to the YMCA, a gift basket full of Everglades Seasoning goodies, personal training sessions with VanFleet and many other items for his accomplishment. Marshall has also been featured on the NBC Biggest Loser website, www.nbc.com/the-biggest-loser/.
The next Biggest Loser Challenge will take place later in the year. VanFleet is launching a Biggest Loser Boot Camp, which will last only six weeks rather than 13, on May 28. For more information on becoming a member of the Biggest Loser Challenge, contact the Highlands County YMCA at 382-9622 or visit www.highlandsymca.org/.
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