Editor's note: In 2010, Columnist Philip Potempa competed in the Seattle Sutton Slim Down Challenge.
Michael and Linda Adams believe husband and wife competition can be a healthy motivation for positive change.
The Crown Point newlyweds are among the10 contestants who were selected to shed pounds at the start of 2014 during a three-month contest from Seattle Sutton's Healthy Eating.
This is 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. The individual who loses the most weight will be named the grand prize winner and will be awarded a trip for two to Riviera Maya, Mexico, valued at $2,500.
"This is something we want to do not only for ourselves, but for each other," said Linda, 46, who said her family's health history includes heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure.
Husband Michael, 52, will be facing added daily temptation because of his popular and appetizing business.
"I run a hot dog stand in Crown Point," Michael said.
"So will power will be important for me during the next three months of the contest."
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 concludes April 28.
Each of the 10 chosen contestants are receiving 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 breakfasts, lunches and dinner items, amounting to an allowance of 1,200 calories per day. Contestants are told to add two glasses of fat-free (skim) milk each day and a minimum of eight glasses of water per day.
The contestant who loses the most weight based on percentage of body weight wins the three-night trip for two to RIU Palace Riviera Maya, Mexico from Apple Vacations. The second place prize is a $1,000 cash prize from SSHE, and the third place prize is couples' spa treatments from Serendipity Province Spa, valued at $540.
When Seattle Sutton launched her first Slim Down Challenge in 2010, she had a pool of more than 3,000 potential contenders who applied for the inaugural contest.
There are Seattle Sutton centers throughout Northwest Indiana, from Chesterton and Valparaiso to Highland, Merrillville and St. John, in addition to others.
To date, Seattle Sutton has helped the 39 people from the previous four contests shed 1,722 pounds. In 2010, the initial 10 contestants lost a total of 372 pounds in 14 weeks. In 2012, nine LaSalle County, Ill. residents lost a total of 510 pounds in 15 weeks. And, in the summer of 2012, 10 DuPage County, Ill. contestants lost 355 pounds in 15 weeks. Last year, 10 Peoria-Tri County residents lost a combined weight of 485 pounds in 15 weeks.
"I am so happy to help these 10 finalists begin a new, healthier lifestyle through providing them with our freshly prepared, portion and calorie-controlled meals,” said Seattle Sutton, RN, BSN, and founder of Seattle Sutton's Healthy Eating.
"Making a positive lifestyle choice, such as changing one's eating habits is an important step in achieving improved overall health. Good health is a person's greatest asset in life, without it, nothing else matters."
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.
Contestants are also having blood lab work completed, once at the beginning of the contest and once at the end, to measure cholesterol, triglycerides and fasting blood sugar, as well have their blood pressure taken. Lab services are free as part of the contest, provided by IN THE FIELD Health Services. Contestants will be weighed each week at their Lake and Porter Counties distributor locations when they pick up their SSHE meals.