By ELIZABETH SCHAFER, Associate Editor
Sweet Sweet Victory!
That’s what Mid Michigan Community College’s assistant professor of biology and chemistry is thinking. After an astonishing weight loss of 111 pounds in 15 weeks, Jeff Percha looks and feels better than ever.
It all started back in January, inspired by the television show, The Biggest Loser. Mt. Pleasant’s Morey Courts started its own version of the contest with a $10,000 prize at the end of the tunnel. “Slim to Win” begins.
Having already lost 15 pounds from November 2011, come January 2012, Percha was ready for a challenge. In the beginning, he was among 882 contestants. After the initial weigh in on Jan. 11, the next one would be about a month away on Feb. 8, when it would then be narrowed down to 10 remaining contestants. Nine men and one woman made the cut.
When the 10 were chosen in February, they were given a physical with blood work and access to a dietitian and personal trainer. They also received free time at the Morey Courts fitness center, so they could work out freely. Each contestant would begin a routine diet and also would start working out twice daily. Percha was on a 900 calorie a day diet. Having only made the second cut by one pound, he knew he would have to work hard.
Percha says that all the contestants formed a strong bond with one another and became very inspiring to each other as well.
“I never felt like it was a competition. Everyone gave me a tremendous amount of support and it was great to get to know all the finalists,” Percha says.
After two months of strenuous training, the final weigh-in took place April 22. It was determined that Percha, who had lost almost 35 percent of his original body weight, was the winner. He received the $10,000 prize and an annual pass to Morey Courts. Second place went to Doug Carey of Mt. Pleasant who was awarded $2,500.
Toward the end of the contest, Percha says he was working out twice daily for 2-3 hours at a time.
“I’m going to bank it, maybe pay some bills.” Percha says about what he may do with the prize money. Percha has a target weight in mind; when he reaches it he says he will go from there. However, for right now, he is not stopping going to the gym anytime soon. In August, all the original 882 contestants, including Percha, will be eligible for a second round contest. The winner of that contest will receive $3,000.
Percha looks great, but has to admit he has had a couple good meals since the contest ended. “At times it was really tough,” he admits, recalling the contest’s hardest moments like before a weigh-in. Still, no fast food since November 2011 is a feat all its own, especially when teaching a full load of classes daily.