Columbia Slimdown Challenge Helps Family Make Lifestyle Change

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COLUMBIA - The Columbia Slimdown Challenge encouraged one family to lose 60 pounds collectively, so far. The challenge is now in its 10th week. The family is currently in 3rd place out of 656 teams.

The challenge lasts 12 weeks and those participating have lost a total of 21,150 pounds.  The competitors are competing for a series of grand prizes. However the team in 3rd, made up of one mother, two daughters and a family friend, said they don't need the prizes to feel like winners.

Natalie Fitzsimmons, 33, asked her mother, Jackie Quick, and her sister, Rachel Lawson, 32, to join her in the challenge when she noticed herself putting on weight.  Fitzsimmons said she gained most of the weight when she was studying to become a certified public accountant.  She started going on walks with Lawson.  The two run 5ks periodically, saying the peer pressure helps motivate them on days they don't feel like exercising. Fitzsimmons has lost 27 pounds. 

Quick sometimes joins her daughters on the walks, but prefers to exercise at the ARC.  She does water aerobics, free weights and power walks.

The team weighs in every week at one of the seven official kiosks set up throughout the city.  The kiosks are at all three HyVee locations, the ARC, two Wilson's Fitness locations and at University Hospital.  The weight is then uploaded directly to the competition website which calculates the percent lost and ranks the teams. There are weekly prizes like sessions with a dietitian, personal trainer, or gift cards to restaurants.

When the challenge ends the ladies said they think the simple lifestyle changes they've made because of this competition will stick.

"I really love to snack when cooking dinner. I like cauliflower so what I do is I cut up some cauliflower and put it in a bowl and that is my snack. I'm eating cauliflower, which is good for me, instead of the bag of chips that I used to do. So that's one way that I can fulfill the snacking and I satisfy myself but I'm doing it healthy now," said Fitzsimmons.

This is the first Slimdown Challenge held in Columbia.  The Tiger Institute got the idea from a similar challenge held in Kansas City.