Like many of us, Maureen Roth made a resolution to lose weight this year. The 56-year-old went to the gym six times a week, weighed herself every Tuesday, cut out fats and sweets, and limited carbs. It’s a typical story, but one with a twist: Roth did it all publicly—sweating on the treadmill, grunting through the plank position and watching the dreaded numbers on the scale, all as part of KSDK’s Lose A Ton Challenge, the TV station’s St. Louis version of Biggest Loser.
Roth first heard about the contest in December. “Normally, I’m not one to enter a lot of contests, but I’m always up for something to help me lose weight,” she says. As soon as she saw the promotion for Lose A Ton, she sent the producers an e-mail, telling them she was a breast cancer survivor, and that she thought it was important that someone middle-aged be represented on the show. “There is a real need for women as they get older to understand how to deal with their weight,” Roth says.
In about a week, she became one of 20 semi-finalists chosen from among 300 entrants, and shortly after that, Roth was selected as one of 12 contestants.
Roth’s history with weight has been a battle of ups and downs. She was always trim until her 30s, she says, when she started to gain weight, culminating at 189 pounds before the show started. “With each child, it seemed like I lost the baby weight, but there was a little extra that I carried along,” she says. “I wasn’t good at taking care of myself, which I think is something a lot of women my generation encounter.”
Roth says she’s tried Weight Watchers about eight times, and while she had success, the pounds tended to creep back on. The difference with the Lose A Ton Challenge was the opportunity to work with a personal trainer. Every Monday, Roth and the other contestants met at the gym to work out, running on a treadmill at an increasingly difficult pace or following the complex aerobics routine of a trainer. Weigh-ins took place every other Tuesday, and Roth committed to working out six days a week with her personal trainer. “When I’d worked out in the past in the gym, I’d barely try and I’d say, OK, that’s enough,” she says. But just when she thought she was done with her trainer, he would ask for 10 more repetitions or 10 more minutes.
Having a trainer and a public forum for her weight loss meant she had to be accountable, Roth says. During the first 12 days of the contest, she lost an impressive 10 pounds. “I didn’t starve or run a marathon, but I did work as hard as I have ever worked and ate as healthy as I have ever eaten,” she wrote on her blog. “I was on cloud 9!”
About a month into the contest, Roth was served with her own personal challenge when she fractured her foot. She didn’t let that stop her, however—she continued to work out on the bike and in the pool.
But at the next weigh-in, Roth found out that she had lost only three more pounds—putting her among the bottom two contestants in percentage weight lost, and meaning she was up for elimination based on KSDK’s web votes. Roth got the fewest votes, so she became an ‘at-home contestant.’ But she hasn’t stopped training—She’s still going to a personal trainer (although she pays for it now) and just got her boot off March 18. Although her foot was still swollen, she was back on the elliptical the next day.
The final Lose A Ton weigh-in will be aired live Friday, April 30. Roth is still working hard, but now, she says, her concern is putting those practices to work—day after day after day. “That’s probably the scariest part to me: Once I get to my goal (weight), then what do I do?” Roth says. She hopes to lose a total of 35 pounds—and keep them off. She’d also like to keep in touch with the other contestants, maybe getting together now and then for fitness events. In fact, she says, she’s already asked them to join her for a 5K in May. “I don’t want to go through this again,” she says.
Roth is also continuing to write her blog (theweightisover-maureen.blogspot.com). “This is my journey, but I really wanted it to be more. I wanted it to be a journey for breast cancer survivors, and for anybody out there fighting this who knows what it’s like to be overweight.”