Incirlik's Biggest Loser: Meeting the contestants

INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey -- More than 50 people are signed up to participate in the Fall 2011 Biggest Loser program to lose weight and increase their fitness level. The program, a local spin-off of NBCs "The Biggest Loser" television show, will last until Dec. 9.

Contestants are allotted points for attending various fitness-related events, fitness center classes, weekly weigh-ins and Health and Wellness Center informational courses. The HAWC awards contestants at various point milestones with prizes such as T-shirts, water bottles and towels.

Meet three contestants who will be followed during the 14-week challenge:

Staff Sgt. Neil Kozak, 39th Communications Squadron
Age: 26
Weight at initial weigh-in: 180 pounds
Reason for participating: Motivation and free T-shirts

Profile: I'm not necessarily trying to lose weight, which doesn't make sense because this is The Biggest Loser; but I just want to get more in shape - maybe lose a ½ inch or an inch off my waist or lose 10 to 15 pounds if I'm lucky.

This is a good incentive to participate in some of the base's fitness events. Sometimes I'll say I want to do them but just end up sitting in my dorm.

I don't think there's any chance for me to win - well maybe because it's based off a percentage rather than total weight lost.

Strategy and goals: Naturally, I'm going to stick to a diet that I've been pretty inconsistent with; and when I don't have events to participate in, I'll run on my own on top of squadron (physical training).

As for my diet, I'll go on the best diet I can get out of the chow hall, which isn't very good. The main line doesn't have many healthy options, and I'm going to get tired of eating wraps every day since that seems to be my best healthy option.

Physically, I'll try to do at least something every day. I have squadron PT Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Tuesday and Thursday, I'll do some running and light strength training.

Weight History: I have tried and successfully lost weight twice. One time in 2007, that was the biggest I had been in my life. I got to Germany and was drinking a lot of German beer and eating a lot of delicious German food. I went from 210 pounds to 180 pounds and maintained that weight fairly well. Then I put on some weight and was at about 200-205 pounds. That was right before I deployed to Afghanistan. Once I got to Afghanistan, I went on a pretty strict diet and lost most of that weight pretty fast. Other attempts have been half-(hearted), and then I gave up.

There's no question about it that this has affected me. It's not so much that I'm self-conscious when I'm overweight, it's that I have a lot more confidence when I'm in shape and have energy. I was definitely the fat kid when I got to Ramstein (Air Base, Germany). I was not comfortable with myself at all. People would joke and I would play along. Eventually it affected me enough to where it motivated me.

The challenge: It's like a roller coaster ride for eating healthy. I'll eat perfect for two weeks, then once I eat that first greasy meal I don't want to go back to eating well. I just want that last piece of cheesecake before I start eating healthy again.


Master Sgt. Terrie Weary, 39th Logistics Readiness Squadron
Age: 34
Weight at initial weigh-in: 196
Reason for participating: To get "me" back

Profile: I want to get me back to me, who I was, and be happy with me. I'd like to get back into my clothes because I'm cheap and don't want to buy new stuff, but that would be about 20 pounds.

I'm doing this for motivation. I've given myself goals. I have this addiction to electronics. I want an iPad; and if I make my goals, I get the iPad I want.

I don't think I really have a chance to win. I have less body percentage to lose than others might. It's OK if I don't win as long as I reach my own goals.

Strategy and goals: I cut out the sweets in my house and bought healthy snacks from the commissary. I'm going to the market to get fresh fruit. I'll be working out more often. I love running, so I want to get back to that every day. I love running long distance because I don't run fast.

Because of my work schedule, the classes don't really fit into my time frame. The 5 a.m. Bootcamp class would be nice, but the (Child Development Center) isn't open. I have a 2 year old.

Now my (10-year-old) son is at the age where I think he's starting to pay attention to girls, and he's started to stay on me (with doing P90) because he wants abs. That was his statement to me, "I want abs." He's like, "Mom, it's afternoon, you said we'd do it!"

Weight history: Before I got here, I was deployed and had become pretty fit. When I got back from my deployment, I was having some issues and I got divorced. Within a month I deployed, went home, got divorced and PCSd here to Incirlik.

At the beginning of this year I realized how it affected me. I put on weight. Having good friends here was good for me. They said, "You're coping by eating everything." I just hit my one-year anniversary of my divorce, so I decided to get back on track.

I never had an issue with weight before, so that's why it's such a problem with me now. Realizing I've let something affect me the way it did, I saw that I needed to get back on track.

The challenge: I have a 2 year old who I've been using as an excuse; so this will be about stepping out of my comfort zone with working out.

Elizabeth Edwards, 39th Air Base Wing
Age: 44
Weight at initial weigh-in: 175
Reason for participating: It's just one more tool to use to stay fit.

Profile: I'm a Reservist, so I still have to maintain the fitness standards. As I've gotten older it's getting harder and harder and harder.

What I like is I can make the activities into family activities -- like the Breast Cancer Awareness 5K, I can take my boys with me; or the commissary tour, I can take them so they can learn, too.

I'm not trying to win. I'm doing it to keep me on track and keep me accountable.

Strategy and goals: Definitely just basic fitness, and maybe some weight loss. (Lt. Col. Tonney Kaw-Uh, 39th Air Base Wing inspector general) has really convinced me to stop worrying about the number and maintain a healthy lifestyle. I work out at lunch and he tells me what to do. I'm going to keep working with him at lunch as long as he'll let me.

One thing I hope to do is participate in the recommended activities, but also incorporate family fitness. I'll go to any of the classes that are feasible for my work schedule and the events that can be good family events.

I have been (eating better) since May. Colonel Kaw-Uh is a pusher of smaller meals throughout the day; and he gives different resources for why I should eat certain things and what benefits they have. So there aren't many (nutritional) changes I'm making for the contest.

Weight history: I failed the (fitness assessment) because of pushups in April. It was the first time I'd tested with the (fitness assessment cell); and in a 14-year career that's the first time I'd failed. I don't want that to happen again.

Colonel Kaw-Uh totally helped me get an excellent, a 92.3. If I could turn it around and gain the strength for pushups, anyone can. I was having thoughts like this was going to ruin my career. In three months, I passed.

Because I'm 44 and a single mother of 6-year-old twins, I have to stay active. Since my pregnancy with the twins, I've had weight issues. Having a twin pregnancy at 37, my body changed so much. I gained about 100 pounds while I was pregnant. I went through in-vitro fertilization with the drugs and the hormones, and the side effect was weight gain.

Since then, I've lost about 70 pounds. It has never been a struggle before, but it's has been since then. At this age, maybe if I were 20 or so it would be a different story.

The challenge: I do have a huge sweet tooth; so staying away from the cookies and the ice cream isn't easy. This program will help me stay away from the sweets because I'll remember that I'm doing it and that I should not have them.