The biggest losers of this year’s Highlands Ranch Community Association weight-loss competition take a bit of offense at the word “loser.” In fact, all three of them would much prefer to be called winners. After all, that is what each of them is.
The competition, which spanned Jan. 14-March 10, may now be in the rearview, but all three of them have taken what they’ve learned and lost and kept up with their commitments to become healthier.
Leslie Cuevas, a former college softball player who tipped the scales at an all-time high of 298 not long after being diagnosed with a nervous system disorder known as dysautonomia last summer, moved to Highlands Ranch from Nashville, Tenn., with her family in December.
Already on a mission to lose weight, she contacted the HRCA about available programs and learned of the competition — which included eight sessions with a personal trainer. She slimmed down 17.2 pounds during the eight-week window, but said the competition was much more about what she gained than what she lost.
“Having a personal trainer really raised my confidence,” said Cuevas, who now weighs 205 and has a goal of getting down to 150. “I tried a lot of stuff I wouldn’t have done before. I’ve run four 5Ks already in 2013. I had never run one before.”
Cuevas, 39, hasn’t been south of 200 since 1996 when she was still playing college ball. She continues to stay fit by hiking with her family, walking her dog, and yoga.
“The weight loss is really cool, but it is secondary to being healthy and being confident in my body again,” Cuevas said. “I was so sick last year. I couldn’t walk much more than 20 yards from my house without getting dizzy. To think I have gone from that to being able to hike and do a 5K is just amazing.”
Also finding motivation from having a personal trainer, husband and wife Jeff and Erica Hoffmeister combined to drop 22 pounds, breaking out of what they called a “winter slump” en route to the team title in the eight-week competition.
“We had been sitting around all winter so it was just a chance to kind of get going and kick-start us into spring and get going on our exercise plan,” said Jeff, 42, who went from a lifetime max of 193 down to 177. “I thought I was on the path to a heart attack.
“I think the workout side was huge, no workout was ever the same, but learning to eat healthy really made all the difference. Once you start to feel good about yourself, you just want to keep doing (what it takes).”