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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Weight loss leader has shed 64 pounds

When you hear stories of people losing 64, 55 and 43 pounds within five months, it usually means you're watching an infomercial.

But such stories also are about your neighbors in Northbrook, Glenview and Highland Park, who are the last three contestants in the local "Move It and Lose It Now" program, akin to the contest featured on television's "The Biggest Loser" reality show.

The local contest, sponsored by Sylvia Orizaba, owner of Body Empowered Fitness Studios in Northbrook and Highland Park, started with 11 contestants Feb. 1. It will end with a weigh-in July 31, which will reveal the person who has managed to shed the highest percentage of his or her own body weight.

The winner will receive a lifetime of free personal training sessions at Body Empowered Fitness.

In the lead

Northbrook's John Fitzpatrick is the front runner: He's lost 64 pounds.

The senior portfolio manager for Allstate tells a story that many people can relate to: He weighed 200 pounds in high school, 225 pounds at the age of 40 and 275 at age 45.

Although he's just 11 pounds from his high school weight, he's working harder than ever to get there. "It isn't coming off as easily" as the first two months, Fitzpatrick said. "I've definitely hit a plateau, and now I've got to work out harder at the gym."

"If I win I can get tortured even more" by the trainers, Fitzpatrick joked.

Running second

David Allen, a professional musician who works odd hours performing in Chicago bars and nightclubs, was leading after losing 39 pounds during the first two months of the competition. He is still in the running, after taking off 16 more pounds. Allen, who started at 300 pounds, concurred that it's getting hard to shed weight.

"The last month was a little frustrating because I reached a plateau and I was only moving a few pounds," Allen said.

Allen is perplexed how Fitzpatrick raced ahead of him.

"I don't know if he's been cutting off limbs or what," Allen joked.

"I was always leery about it being a race," Allen said. "Doctors always tell you to lose it slowly but surely, and that's what I'm looking to do.

"I starting to go from contest mode to the rest of my life mode," in how he thinks about the contest, Allen added.

If he doesn't win, Allen said he's thinking of splitting is workouts between the studio and a regular health club.

"I'm so thankful they're allowing me to use this as a springboard to change my life," Allen said. "I love working with the trainers, but sometimes I like to put my music on and work out alone."

45 pounds lighter

Highland Park's Robert Suszek, 41, is in third place after losing 45 pounds. He lost 20 pounds during the first two months and another 25 pounds since. He began the contest at 390 pounds.

"I have a bad back and two bum knees. Not carrying a 50-pound weight all the time is great," said Suszek, who works as a salesman.

"My wife says I don't snore as much when I sleep," Suszek said.

"I have four children and I want to be around for them," Suszek said. "My oldest said 'dad, I can wrap my arms around your whole body now.' "

"He looks awesome," wife Angela said. "It definitely shows in his personality. He has a lot more energy and he sleeps better."

Orizaba said it's no secret why these three finalists are still in the competition.

"They've worked the hardest and they've been able to put in the time."

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