Fort Smith’s losers name their biggest and best

Fort Smith’s losers name their biggest and best
Fort Smith’s Biggest Loser participants gathered at PWK high school last week for a wrap-up potluck to celebrate the winners of the weight-loss competition. Beckie Linaker came in first place, followed closely by Melody Jones. Third place went to Barbara Brake. “I wasn’t doing this to be the winner, I just wanted to be a loser,” Linaker said after accepting her award of two round-trip tickets to Edmonton.Photo: Maria Church.

Of all the losers in Fort Smith’s latest Biggest Loser weight-loss competition, Beckie Linaker was named the biggest, and she couldn’t be happier.

“I wasn’t doing this to be the winner, I just wanted to be a loser,” she said with a big smile after accepting her first-place prize of two round-trip tickets to Edmonton last week.

Linaker lost 11.27 per cent of her initial weight recorded eight weeks ago when the Biggest Loser weight-loss competition began in the community.

“You’re all winners. You’re all making me very, very proud,” Jared Tam, Fort Smith’s dietitian, told a crowd of around 40 who gathered to celebrate the end of the competition with a potluck dinner at PWK high school on Tuesday.

The competition started out with more than 100 people signed up, but as challenges became more grueling and will powers were tested, numbers dwindled to around 30.

Still, everyone should feel like a winner, Tam said. He calculated a collective 545.6 pounds were lost since the competition began.

Linaker was closely followed by runner up Melody Jones, who lost 11.01 per cent of her initial weight. Third place went to Barbara Brake, who lost 8.35 per cent.

A self-described Coke-aholic, Linaker said she had several lifestyle hurdles to overcome when the competition began, but, according to Tam, she was completely dedicated to his program.

Each week, when Tam gave the competitors a new challenge, Linaker would not only complete the challenge, but continue it throughout the competition.

“If the challenge was to not eat after supper, then I didn’t eat after supper the whole time,” she said.

Another big change for Linaker was surrendering her car keys and walking to work.

“The first couple days was, ‘Ah, I’m going to be late!’ But then after a while it was good. I don’t miss it. In fact, I really like walking,” she said.

For Linaker, the Biggest Loser competition wasn’t a temporary weight-loss program; she was in it for the long haul. To accomplish that, she had to change the way she looked at pop and other sweets.

“I didn’t want to say I quit, because I want it to be a lifestyle change, not a punishment. If I wanted a pop, I could have one; I just don’t want one now,” she said.

Tam kept her on the straight and narrow with his guidance and encouragement, Linaker said. Now that the competition is over, she has a new incentive to not only keep the weight off, but lose even more.

“I’ve had my eye on a diamond necklace and when I told my husband, he said, ‘You deserve it,’ but I said, ‘No, I want it when I lose another 10 pounds,’” she said.

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