Blount Countian Scott Bolin doesn’t mind being big. What he does mind is his extra weight holding him back.
The former U.S. Marine is one of eight east Tennesseans selected to participate in the Covenant Health Biggest Winner Weight Loss Challenge. Bolin says it’s modeled, in part, after the “Biggest Loser” show on TV. Contestants battle to see who can lose the most weight over a period of time, and improve overall health.
There are several differences between the network program and the local contest. The contestants in east Tennessee aren’t being kept on a ranch. They have to lose weight with all the every day temptations and obstacles that real life brings. Everything from business lunches to family get-togethers to just finding time to exercise.
Another difference is that the Biggest Winner contest ends with a real and tangible finish line. In addition to making a commitment to take part in a medically-supervised diet and exercise program, the team members had to promise to participate in the 2011 Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon. In addition to Bolin, Kelsey Godfrey of Townsend also represents Blount County on the team.
Bolin, who has run two half marathons in the past, says that’s what got him interested in the weight loss challenge in the first place. He had already decided he wanted to lose weight, and he knew from past experience that running and having a finish line as a goal would work for him.
“I had applied for the team last year and was keeping an eye out for this year’s registration to come out,” Bolin says. He had no idea at the time that this year’s team would include a weight loss challenge.
“I knew I needed help with my journey and when I read what all this consisted of I knew it was for me,” says Bolin.
While Bolin applied for the team without giving it much thought, he found himself more anxious to get on the team as the days progressed.
“I’ve wanted to do this more than I’ve wanted to do anything in a long time,” Bolin says. “I must be crazy. I mean, who would want their weight out there for everyone to see?”
But Bolin figures the benefits of being on the team outweigh the public pressure. Members of the team are getting advice from experts at Fort Sanders Health and Fitness Center, Covenant Therapy Centers, and Covenant Weight Management Center.
“I’m seeing a difference already,” he says.
Bolin attended Greenback High School before going joining the U.S. Marines and going to college. He says he’s always been heavy for his height, but as long as he was physically active, the weight never mattered. That all changed last year.
“I tried to walk up stairs at my home and had to stop midway and take a breath,” Bolin recalls. “Then and there I promised myself that I would regain my fitness.”
He started an aggressive exercise plan, working out at Dotson Memorial Baptist Church, in the same building where he teaches Sunday School. The same building where his class members regularly offer him everything from breakfast casseroles to cinnamon rolls.
One of the first things Bolin did was find someone who could help him stay on track at the church and keep his mind focused on the fitness goal.
“I asked a dear friend of mine (Kent Johnson) who happens to be an excellent trainer and motivator to help me, and he has.”
However, Bolin says his diet has been his Achilles heel. He never could figure out what to eat to properly fuel his body at this age and stage of life. At 47 years old, he knew he couldn’t eat the same way he did when he was in the Marines.
The Covenant Weight Management Center pairs participants in its programs with a registered dietician, which has helped. For example, when Bolin struggled with a lack of energy on the treadmill, he was able to go to both the dietician and his coach for advice.
Bolin says his go-to weapon in this competition is variety, “I love to change my routines and keep it lively while working out. I get the most out of weightlifting. Even when my body is sore, I know I accomplished something.”
Bolin says his coworkers at Fort Loudoun Medical Center have been great about cheering him on. He’s become the “Campus Champion” for the marathon, encouraging employees at the medical center to sign up for the full marathon, half marathon, team relay, or 5k. He also wants to encourage his friends and family to follow his lead.
“I hope to inspire my teenage daughter by being a much more disciplined example on how to maintain my health and fitness despite me being a big man,” Bolin says. “I want to let others know that it is a serious life time commitment. I have been given such a valuable gift and opportunity; I just don’t see how I could keep it all to myself.
This the first year that Covenant Health has put together a marathon team in conjunction with a weight loss competition. Eight people were chosen from applications to fight for the title. The team is rounded out by representatives from the media. The winner will be determined not only by weight loss, but by overall improvement in health and well being. Their progress will be reported on www.knoxvillemarathon.com and on WBIR’s “Live at Five at Four.”
“We’ll be checking everything from blood pressure to body mass index to cholesterol,” says coach Missy Kane. “Being fit is about much more than a number on the scales.”
More than two-thirds of Americans are now obese or overweight, with Tennessee consistently being named as one of the most obese states in the nation.
Researchers in the medical profession say being overweight can contribute to a variety of health problems including diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and gallbladder problems. Obesity is also said to be partly to blame for the increase in osteoarthritis. Losing just 10 to 20 pounds can be a step toward changing, improving, or even saving - a life.
The Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon is April 3, 2011 and features a full marathon, half marathon, team relay, and 5k. Team members have to make a commitment to participate in one of the events.
In addition to Scott Bolin and Kelsey Godfrey, the 2011 Covenant Health Marathon Team and participants of the Biggest Winner Weight Loss Challenge include Wyatt Hall of Knoxville, David Taylor of Knoxville, Janet Wille of Knoxville, Kim Robards and Pam Johnson of Knoxville. Media team members include Eric Foxx and Julie Morris of WBIR and Katharine Capito, WIVK.