2018 MARICOPA WEIGHT LOSS CHALLENGE CHANGES LIVES

From left to right – Vannessa Belland, Councilwoman Nancy Smith, Mayor Christian Price, Matthew Reiter, Anthony DeCarlo, Sabra Hernandez, and Councilman Henry Wade

by Matthew Reiter, Fitness Coordinator, City of Maricopa Community Services

The 2018 City of Maricopa Weight Loss Challenge was a tremendous community success! We had more than 500 participants, and over half of them have experienced a huge amount of life-changing success and a substantial amount of weight loss. Contestants entered for free, and the requirement was to post a workout picture and meal picture once a week. At the end of 30 days, they qualified for four different tiers, and were awarded these prizes at the celebration and potluck party held Saturday, March 3. There were also five grand-prize winners that were awarded based on their story and non-scale victories.

We had a huge amount of success, and I feel it is amazing watching the effect of community members – who don’t even know each other – cheer each other on and inspire one another! It was the type of community event a personal trainer and a public health advocate would only dream of! The program utilized the Whole30 approach, which resulted in weight loss, increased muscle mass and improved health (read more about it on the next page).

It was amazing watching all the support when people had tough days. It was movaing and inspiring. I can’t begin to tell you the amount of non-scale victories we have accomplished. I feel this entire city is going to be proud of what they have accomplished as a community.

I look forward to watching this city join together and support each other as we move to a healthier and happy future!

One of my favorite quotes sums up this challenge:

“If you want to run fast, go alone, and if you want to run far, go together.” – Ancient African Proverb

This was just the first step toward what the City of Maricopa is capable of when it comes to health and fitness. I look forward to even more!


Facebook testimonials from early final weigh-ins:

“Went to weigh in this morning, 18 lbs lighter, wearing pants I could not wear for four years. Nice, let’s rock Maricopa!” – Councilman Henry Wade

“As the last week approaches, I have found out a few things about myself: I can resist temptation; I am stronger than I knew; and I am determined when I need to be.” – Claudia

“Completed final weigh-in this morning. I had a drop of 7.2 pounds, which included a gain of 1.8 pounds in muscle. I dropped from 34.7percent body fat to 28.3 percent (6.4 percent) Yay! Today I did eat out with my hubby for cheat meal (a sub from Firehouse), but I’m fine with waiting another 30 days for my next cheat. I took a pic in this dress, because 40 days ago I had back fat sticking out, and when I walked, the skirt would creep up because it was so tight on my hips. I’m wearing it to an event in a few weeks, because I’m comfortable in it finally. I know I have more body fat to lose and more muscle to gain but this month has shown me what I thought I couldn’t do. Being 50 ain’t so bad after all. Woo hoo!”  – Janice

“Had my final weigh-in this morning. I’m very happy with my results. I was told at the beginning that it’s almost impossible to increase your muscle mass in 30 days. So me being me, I said, ‘challenge accepted.’ So therefore my approach to this challenge was not weight loss, but rather lowering my body fat percentage by increasing my muscle mass. I worked out twice a day five-six days a week and watched and counted everything thing I ate. So in total, I lost 5 pounds, 2 percent body fat and increased my muscle mass by 1/2 pound! I’m a very happy girl.” – Brandi


Excerpts From Winning Contestant Essays

Anthony DeCarlo

“It’s so sad that things had to get so bad, before waking up! I only hope and pray that this never happens to anyone else! It’s not just about the weight; it’s about the entire health of an individual.

Weight loss and a good body are good by-products of a healthy state of mind and function. I was further inspired this weekend when one of my children stepped up to a huge challenge and overcame obstacles to achieve success!”


Tena Dugan

“Non-scale victories are the best part of my journey! The most exciting was to try on a pair of size 10 jeans and have them fit. The biggest and the best is how I feel. I can walk anywhere without being winded. I can finally run without stopping to walk. My skin is better. I crave veggies! This challenge has helped me to exercise more consistently and to come back to Copper Sky. I have more defined muscle tone (my kids are embarrassed because I like to flex). I have not been sick, and crave exercise now. I truly have a healthier relationship with food, and Whole30 helps me see how foods affect my body and how I feel. I have higher energy levels. I find myself drawn to the folks with likeminded health and fitness goals, and have a new community and friends. Finally, it is so nice to hear, ‘You look amazing!’ from so many people.”


Rachel Luna

“The first week of January I told myself that I needed to make a change, but was unsure how to start. I started cleaning up my Facebook feed to clear out that “clutter.” This allowed me to see on January 6th, a post that Matt had put up regarding this challenge. I started reading all about Whole30 and everything just clicked, and I realized that this is what I needed to do. The next day. I did my weigh-in and ordered two of the Whole30 books. Once they arrived, I started my journey that Wednesday. Everyone I talked to told me that I was crazy limiting my diet like that and cutting so much out. I just kept telling myself that I need to get to the end to see which foods are truly causing some of my health concerns. This challenge has helped me so much in going back to just the basic food groups and eliminating all the common problem food groups. I learned that I have an allergy to coconut. I have already learned a lot in the last week during my introduction phase. I know that both dairy and gluten are part of the problem. So thankful for this challenge!”


Lorraine Comer

“My weight loss goal in the beginning, before the challenge, was to lose weight and get healthy, and during the challenge, it made me push more to go for a weight loss goal. When I started my weight loss goal I weighed 300 pounds, and when I went in on Feb. 7 2018 for my final weigh-in, I weighed 276.8. It has taught me how to manage my eating habits and to exercise as best as I could, for I do have some health issues, but those health issues are now under control and I can do more. I cut out all junk food and soda, and I drink water only. The challenge has impacted my life to show me that I can do anything if I put my mind to it. I believe by the end of this year to the end of next year I will accomplish my goal. Thank you, Maricopa.”


Idee Sodimu, J.D.

“My weight loss goal, at the beginning of my journey, was to lose about 25 pounds. You could imagine my excitement when I heard about the weight loss challenge. I thought this will be great to get me started and have a group/ support to keep me honest. I knew the first challenge would be my diet. I even got the recipe for cabbage soup and loved it. I realized it really was mind over matter and I could achieve my goal if I stayed consistent.”


Nikki Ruggles

“When I signed up to be part of the weight loss challenge, I was sick and tired of being a failure. I’ve done dozens of dietary plans, and even had gastric bypass surgery. Here I was addicted to sugar, in chronic pain and so exhausted I could barely drag through a day of work. Ten minutes on a treadmill, maybe. Enter Whole30! Hmmm…tame my sugar dragon? Reduce chronic pain? Sleep better? On top of that, I don’t have to count calories. I’m sold. Who knew that just making a few changes on my plate could do all this! And anyone can be a success with this program! For the first time ever, I saw a program that would deal with emotional and psychological issues that were making me fail.”


Kyle Hilsinger

“A little over five years ago I got a diagnosis from a sports medicine doctor that changed my life. After a couple years of dealing with ruptured disks in my lower back, knee pain, back pain and foot pain, my doctor finally told me, “We’ve done what we can do, and not to sound harsh, but the real problem is you’re fat.” That’s when I finally accepted the fact that I needed to do something about my weight. I was about 250 pounds at my heaviest. Over the course of the next five years, my weight fluctuated between 150 lbs and 190 lbs. The weight loss challenge really got me back into my fitness mindset and helped me jump back into my workout routine and diet. My next goal is to have visible abs by summer.”


Rosemarie and Annastacia Patterson (mother and daughter)

“Annastacia lost 5 pounds, and I lost almost 8 pounds. When we found out what we actually lost, we were both excited. We celebrated our loss as if we won a million dollars. This challenge has gotten us motivated again to work out. We have worked on our eating habits. We drink less diet soda, and we eat fewer processed foods. We have a long way to go, but we plan on continuing. Thank you for your support. I hope this challenge will help others to continue also.”


Jessica Stevenson

“My journey started on Jan. 1, 2018 with the mindset of this being my New Year’s resolution and the start of a better me. I had to continue to tell myself not to give up, because this was something that was needed as well as wanted. You never know how hard something is until you actually have to do it, and boy I tell you, giving up all the things that make me smile was the hardest step to take. So, I said goodbye to all the yummy and filling starchy carbs, and I may even have dropped some tears for all the sweets and candies that I loved so much. This step was by far the hardest for me – to completely change the way I’m used to eating and to realize that it is only harming you, no matter how good it tastes.”


Janice Baltazar

“I’m a non-athletic 50-year-old woman with a pear-shaped body, who has never been into sports. The non-scale victories are the best part of this challenge. Here we go:

  • My clothes fit better.
  • I’m happy with my waist again.
  • I’ve developed a new relationship with food.
  • I’ve learned to appreciate cooking with non-processed foods.
  • I don’t think of food all the time anymore.
  • I met some fantastic people on the way, and I’m feeling more a part of the community.
  • I have more energy.
  • I’ve been saving a ton of money by not eating out or buying to-go food.
  • My outlook is much more positive.”

Sabra Hernandez

Joining the 30-day challenge was a huge step for me. I have always been ashamed for being overweight. I joined this challenge to encourage myself to realize that losing weight, dieting, living healthier and working out is not a bad thing. This whole time, my 7-year-old daughter has been watching me struggle and stress, but she should be watching me push and strive. I joined for her to see that changing your way of living is not a bad thing! This past 30 or so days has inspired me to share my stories with others and try and help them and support them like one of my close friends did for me.

Mentally, I believe I am stronger. The words of encouragement have been so beyond helpful. The advice I have received will help me throughout the rest of my journey. I am doing this so I can live a long, healthy life, be an amazing mother of three and be the best example I can.”


Bobbie Jo Asher

“My weight was out of control, and I was slowly killing myself. I was up to 450 pounds, completely miserable and feeling utterly hopeless. I knew if I didn’t do something soon I was going to die. I found a surgeon I felt comfortable with and decided to have gastric sleeve surgery. Unfortunately, before they could operate I needed to lose 70 pounds. On June 5, 2017, I cut all toxins out of my diet and committed to eating extremely clean and Ketogenic diet so I could lose the weight necessary to have my procedure. The more pounds I shed, the more I was able to move. I started going to the gym very regularly and with the help of InBody scans found that I was not only losing fat but I was gaining muscle. I have stayed the course and as the months have passed have lost more and more fat. I have never felt better.

I was very excited to learn that Copper Sky was hosting a weight loss challenge. I know I’m not losing as generously as I was in the early stages of my journey, but it was definitely a good kick in the pants to keep on keeping on. I have shared my story and connected with many Copper Sky members and challenge participants along the way in hopes they’ll realize if I can do it, they can do it too. My husband and I have enjoyed working out together throughout the challenge and encourage each other every day to stay the course. I have lost a total of 125 pounds so far, have increased muscle mass in all areas and have dramatically reduced my body fat. I still have a long way to go, but I am loving the journey.”


What is WHOLE30?

Why We Chose This Program

a. “Think of Whole30 like pushing the ‘reset’ button with your health, your habits, and your relationship with food. Our premise is simple: certain food groups could be having a negative impact on your body composition, health, and quality of life without you even realizing it.”

b. We wanted to offer a tool that empowers you to regain control over your relationship with food and educates you about how our food affects your body, emotions, and mental well-being. I personally have done many programs like this, but this one had the most comprehensive online support, associated reading materials and a large amount of success within the nutrition community with a wide variety of populations. We have had a huge amount of success with this program with Copper Sky members and City of Maricopa employees.

For more information, visit whole30.com