Published 12:00 am Monday, August 8, 2005

Two women lose over 30 pounds each in St. John competition



LAPLACE — There is nothing unusual about someone deciding to try and lose weight.

But when you are willing to go public, as in the front page of the local paper, there is a whole new level of courage involved.

Such was the case for two local women who six months ago agreed to take part in L’Observateur’s “Biggest Loser” weight loss challenge.

Answering a request by this newspaper for local people willing to publicly tell about their weight loss attempt every week for six months, two women were chosen for the competition.

This past week at Shannon’s Fitness Center in LaPlace, the two women showed up for their final weigh-in to determine who would be the big winner, and to reveal their identities to the public.

Stepping on the scale and showing a loss of 37 pounds, going from 197 pounds to 160 pounds, was 48-year-old Debbie Labit, who went by the name “Glennis” in the weekly stories carried in L’Observateur.

And also finishing the six month competition with ever so close of a winning effort was 22-year-old Michelle Young, who lost 32 pounds. Going by the name “Lisa” in the story, she began the competition weighing 194 pounds, and is now at 162.

Labit received gift certificates from Salon Menage, Curves and Wal-Mart, as well as a check for $200 from L’Observateur for winning the competition.

While Young did not expect to get any prize, L’Observateur still gave her a check for $170 for such a good effort.

“I thought that they both did such a good job that we wanted to give them both something,” L’Observateur Publisher Kevin Chiri said. “My idea was to give them each $5 for every pound they lost, and we threw in a couple of extra bucks.

(See Winners, Page 3A)

(From Page 1A)

I’m sure they’ll be eating somewhere very healthy with the money.”

At the end of the competition, both women seemed to have the same feeling about just what it took to be so successful, and what they would advise others.

“It’s all about balance in the way you eat and live,” Labit said. “For me, my way of life is completely changed now. For that matter, and this is really true, I actually get sick feeling when I even see a donut now.”

Young tried some fad diet during the six months, but eventually went back to a sensible way of eating as well.

“There is no secret, no magic pill to losing weight,” she said. “I’ve tried all the different fads. It comes down to being sensible every time you consider eating something, and I even found that making myself be weighed every week was important. I knew I couldn’t hide from how I was doing.”

Both women showed a big change in their clothes size as well. Labit went from a size 18 to a 12, and sometimes can wear a 10, while Young has gone from a size 18 to a 10.

“I still want to lose 25 more pounds,” Young said. “But I know it will be harder doing it all alone. I’m relieved this is finally over since it got to be a lot of pressure since I knew I could be embarrassed in the paper if I didn’t stick with it.”

And Labit added that the reaction from others has added to her satisfaction.

“I feel more confident now, and even wear my hair differently because of how I feel,” she said. “I was constantly getting people asking me how I was doing it, and it just feels good to be in this kind of health.”

Young, who has battled serious weight problems her whole life, weighing as much as 260 pounds as a teenager, said she especially has received encouragement all along from her husband.

“Even when I was that big my husband always told me I was beautiful,” she said. “He’ll never know how much that meant to me. But of course now he still says I’m beautiful, and I have to admit my self esteem is just a lot better now that I’ve dropped the weight.”