PRESS RELEASE - MARCH 31, 2014

Biggest Loser weight loss winners

ASCC-ASCRF Announces “Biggest Loser”

March 31, 2014

By James Kneubuhl, ASCC Press Officer

The American Samoa College Research Foundation (ASCRF) Student Organization at the American Samoa Community College (ASCC) has announced the winners in this semester’s “Biggest Loser” competition. In recognition of Healthy Weight Awareness Month earlier this year, the ASCRF launched the “Biggest Loser” competition in late January to encourage ASCC students to become familiar with the many factors in achieving and maintaining a healthy body weight. 34 individuals entered the competition to see who could lose the most weight over the next two months, with the winners emerging as James Maae in the individual category, and Avea Lotoaso and Manu Thomas taking top honors in the couple category.

While the idea for the “Biggest Loser” competition came from its television namesake, the ASCC version incorporated the expertise of the fitness and nutrition specialists of its Community & Natural Resources (CNR) division to make the process of weight loss much more than simply a matter of weighing-in at the beginning and at the end. The first weigh-in took place in late January at CNR, and the contestants learned how their weight corresponded to their Body Fat Percentage and Body Mass Index.

Following the initial weigh-in, the competitors were invited to two workshops given by CNR staff members Ursula Te’o-Martin, Exercise Physiologist; Travis Fleming, Community Nutritionist and Registered Dietitian; and Ryan Taifane, Fitness Specialist. The first was a Nutrition workshop where Fleming discussed the different food groups, portion control, and the importance of a healthy diet to compliment an exercise program. Next, Te’o-Martin and Taifane offered a workshop on Exercise vs. Physical Activity, which addressed the five components of fitness: cardiovascular endurance, muscular strength, muscular endurance, flexibility and body composition. “We also conducted equipment orientation for the students in the Wellness Center so they would be informed on how to use the various cardiovascular equipment safe and effectively,” said Te’o-Martin.

With each contestant left to apply the knowledge from the workshops and follow their personal discipline, the ASCRF held the second round of weigh-ins last week to determine the contest winners, with Maae awarded a $50 cash prize and a $10 Movie Gift Card. Winning couple Lotoaso and Thomas split a $100 cash prize and a $20 Movie Gift Card between them. “Most of the competitors stated that the competition opened their eyes to the types of food being consumed,” reflected winner Maae. “I think everyone who participated is more conscious of observing their own food intake and more aware of the amount of servings that the body really needs.”

For Te’o-Martin, the competition provided an opportunity to promote awareness of exercising safely. “Many people join a ‘Biggest Loser’ type competition and then are left on their own to figure out how to lose weight, which can be risky,” she said. “Individuals need to be mindful that everyone is different and what works for one person may not work for another, especially when it comes to medical issues and concerns. The key is to understand the importance of engaging in a safe and effective exercise program. Make sure your exercises are not contraindicated, and you will not get injured or risk of hurting yourself due to overexertion and/or physical limitations. Also, select an exercise program that will maximize the results of your time and effort.”

Although Te’o-Martin described the Exercise Program at the CNR Wellness Center as “still under construction”, she and Taifane have done extensive community outreach to promote fitness. “We try to accommodate any requests CNR partners such as agencies, villages, churches, or schools who ask for an exercise session or workshop,” she said. “The exercise sessions are always specific for the group setting. My background is in a variety of exercise formats, and we welcome community requests as these allow us to collaborate, build relationships and find out what motivates and interests different people when it comes to physical activity and exercise.”

On behalf of the ASCRF, Director Mrs. Matesina Willis thanked their CNR partners and congratulated the competition winners. “We would like to hold another ‘Biggest Loser’ competition in the future,” she said, “and possibly get our ASCC faculty and staff involved as well.” Willis credits ASCRF Administrative Assistant Tiare Tupua for coordinating the competition and the ASCRF Ambassadors for their promoting the event.