Editor's note: In 2010, Times Columnist Philip Potempa competed in the Seattle Sutton Slim Down Challenge.
Sue Kiefer of Crown Point is ready for warm temperatures for more reasons than just an end to the long winter of 2014.
Since Christmas, her friends and family have been seeing less of her, literally.
Kiefer is the first place winner of the 2014 Seattle Sutton Slim Down Challenge after a loss of 58.4 pounds and 32.09 percent of her body weight in 15 weeks. She also lowered her blood pressure from 124/89 to 121/82.
And now, she says she has even more reason for the anticipation of warm weather, including enjoying her prize to travel with a guest to Riu Palace Riviera Maya in Maya Riviera, Mexico courtesy of Apple Vacations and Riu Resorts.
"This was something I wanted to do for myself and also for my family to both look and feel better, " said Kiefer, 52, who started the contest at a weight of 182.
Combined, the 10 contestants, all from Northwest Indiana, lost a total of 467 pounds.
The second-place winner, Tim Kreke, 62, whose starting weight was 264, is also from Crown Point and lost a total of 80.2 pounds and 30.38 percent of his body weight. He also reduced his blood pressure from 174/97 to 140/76, and his total cholesterol dropped 52 points along with his triglycerides went from 118 to 43. He won $1,000.
The third-place winner is Dr. Michael Perez, 46, from Munster, who lost a total of 72.2 pounds and 28.20 percent of his body weight. He lowered his blood pressure from 130/94 to 100/79, and his total cholesterol went from 237 to 174 along with is LDL dropped from 184 to 99. His starting weight was 256. For his prize, he and a guest will be pampered with a Couples' Serendipity Spa Package at The Retreat at Serendipity Province Spa.
The 2014 three-month contest from Seattle Sutton's Healthy Eating marked the fifth year the Chicagoland claim-to-fame healthy prepared and packaged meal franchise has sponsored a Slim Down Contest to help participants lose weight, learn about portion-control and healthy menu planning while also vying for prizes.
While the first four contests were focused on Chicago and the suburbs, this year's contest targeted 10 lucky residents in Northwest Indiana's Lake and Porter counties to lose weight and improve their health.
Last October, interested participants looking to make a lifestyle change were invited to submit their stories and a photo of themselves at seattlesutton.com to be considered for the competition, which launched Jan. 13 at the Seattle Sutton Healthy Eating location at 620 W 81st Ave. and concluded Monday, April 28.
Each of the 10 chosen contestants received 21 provided meals per week from Seattle Sutton's famed kitchens for a total of 315 meals throughout the 15-week challenge. The meals consist of freshly prepared breakfast, lunch and dinner items, amounting to an allowance of 1,200 calories per day. Contestants were told to add 2 glasses of fat-free (skim) milk each day and a minimum of eight glasses of water per day.
Contestants also had blood work completed at no cost, courtesy of IN THE FIELD Health Services, once at the beginning of the contest and once at the end, to measure fasting blood sugar, total cholesterol and triglycerides, as well as had their blood pressure recorded. Contestants weighed in each week at their Lake and Porter Counties’'distributor locations when they picked up their SSHE meals. Contestants were closely monitored each week when they picked up their SSHE meals at their nearest distributor location.
"I'm overjoyed for our 10 contestants, not just because of their weight loss but also for their regained health. Regaining good health is not easy, but now that it has been achieved I hope it will set forth a new healthier lifestyle that they embrace and enjoy for years to come," said Seattle Sutton, RN, BSN, Founder of Seattle Sutton’s Healthy Eating.
There are Seattle Sutton centers throughout Northwest Indiana, from Chesterton and Valparaiso to Highland, Merrillville and St. John, in addition to others.
The family owned company based in Ottawa, Ill., is headed by the 82-year old registered nurse Sutton, who founded the company in 1985 with her late physician husband, in hopes of helping to improve people's eating habits and overall health by providing the healthiest meals possible prepared and provided clients coast-to-coast with more than 80 million meals to date.