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Ton of Fun focuses on more than just weight loss

Published: Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014 11:20 a.m. CDT

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ELMHURST – With the new year’s rush of inspiration gone and all of those heart-shaped chocolates breaking down wills, members of the Ton of Fun Weight Loss Challenge haven’t given up on their health goals.

“We’ve got a really great group of people participating,” said Jillian Wiederer, training program coordinator from Fleet Feet, Inc.

Fleet Feet Sports Elmhurst started the 12-week program with 80 participants Jan. 2 with the goal to lose a ton of weight, or 2,000 pounds, among all participants in the Chicago area. The Elmhurst store also is the frontrunner in a contest with the Bloomington store to see which store’s team can lose the biggest percentage of its body weight.

About half way through the program, the Elmhurst Fleet Feet Sports team has lost a total of 396 pounds, or 2.5 percent of its combined body weight.

“It’s more about getting healthier than losing weight,” Kendra Pasek of Westchester said.

She and her husband Andy have been doing the program together after Andy, who works in Elmhurst, heard of the challenge. While there are a gift certificates for those who lose a certain percentage of their body weight at defined benchmarks, participants share motivation, recipes and workouts on a private Facebook page.

“I would just say that it’s a great community,” Andy Pasek said.

Each participant set individual goals. In addition to the community aspect, Fleet Feet hosts a weigh-in every Thursday and then gives participants tips or activities to help accomplish their goals. From a tour of Whole Foods with shopping advice to Pilates and talks by nutrition experts, the challenge encourages healthy living.

Fleet Feet Sports Elmhurst owner Ashley Wells explained the program is designed to welcome people. Through weekly programs and newsletters, Wells hopes individuals are able to find support for their personal weight and nutritional goals.

“It really helps with this really horrible winter,” Joan Nippon of Elmhurst said about the programming.

Knippen really wanted to cut aspartame and sugar out of her diet. A leader for the Komen Race for the Cure, Knippen values her health and felt she should get back to the good habits she’s let go over time.

“I volunteer full time in an industry that focuses on health,” Knippen said.

Knippen said with a busy schedule it’s always easy to heat up a frozen dinner when on the run, but Ton of Fun is motivating her to eat more fruits and vegetables. The weekly weigh-ins and the Facebook page keep her accountable. When she sees someone else in the group post their workout or what they made for dinner, she’s reminded to follow suit.

“It is all stuff that I really knew before, but I’ve just gotten off track,” Knippen said.

Both Knippen and the Paseks also are training for May races. Knippen will run the Fleet Feet Sports Soldier Field 10 Mile, and the Paseks are preparing for the Tough Mudder.

The Paseks have turned their Thursday night visits to Fleet Feet into more than just a weigh-in.

“We’ve been using it as a date night,” Kendra Pasek said.

After the weigh-in, they usually have a healthy meal out or buy groceries to cook at home while Kendra’s parents watch their children.

For Wiederer, the reward is working with each person on individual challenges, whether it’s coming up with a plan for what to eat at lunch or what exercises they may want to try.

“It’s really awesome to weigh people, type in their numbers and see the weight that they’ve lost,” Wiederer said.

In addition to holding her accountable, the Ton of Fun program is accessible, Knippen said.

“There’s no reason why anybody can’t do this.”

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