'Gwinnett Losing It!' applauds first year

LAWRENCEVILLE -- In its inaugural year, a Gwinnett-based health initiative has helped locals shed the equivalent of three late-career Shaquille O'Neals.

Participants and leaders with "Gwinnett's Losing It!", a 12-week weight-loss contest sponsored by Lawrenceville's Start with the Inside, regaled the fact that contestants have dropped 1,100 pounds since the program launched in January. As with other rounds, 20 participants are being selected for the first contest of 2012, which kicks off Jan. 9.

Officials say the majority of participants have shed 20 pounds or more.

The competitions focus on physical workouts, nutrition and emotional well-being while raising awareness about the healthiest ways to shed weight and keep it off, said Sandi Porter, who founded Start with the Inside after a battle with her own weight. A similar contest spurred her to finally drop the pounds and ultimately become a physical trainer.

"It's not about taking a pill, doing crazy workouts or drinking a shake three times a day," Porter said. "It's about common sense exercise and nutrition."

During the 12-week process, the participants attend weekly teleconference calls, have a weekly weigh-in and meet once a month as a group for a workout activity. Participants also get monthly reports tracking their progress through measurements, photos, body fat percentage and other metrics. At the end of the weight-loss rainbow lay prizes and cash.

While it is a contest, the ultimate goal is to achieve a life-changing experience, Porter said.

"If you don't have those three things working together, you're not going to have lasting success in where you want to be," she told the Daily Post earlier this year. "A lot of people are so used to quick fixes, they lose a bunch of weight and they gain it all back."

The program -- which includes meetings, video conferences and workouts with Start With the Inside trainers -- is $199.

For more information, visit www.startwiththeinside.com or search "Gwinnett's Losing It" on Facebook.