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Big winners in chamber's contest also are the biggest losers
By Ron Skrabacz | Daily Herald Columnist
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Published: 4/30/2008 12:11 AM

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The losses might not have been dramatic as the NBC version of "The Biggest Loser," but try to tell that to Rebecca Tybor.

Tybor lost 12.5 percent of her body weight to win the first Glendale Heights Chamber of Commerce Biggest Loser competition, which ran January through March. For someone who used to teach aerobic classes six days a week, it was a chance to get her old self back.

"I really do feel a lot better," Tybor said. "Everybody notices and they say, 'Oh my gosh!' when they see me. I really don't see it myself, but I know my clothes fit a lot better. I'm breathing a lot better. I'm living a healthier life, and it's a change of lifestyle for me now that I want to keep up."

Tybor was one of a dozen competitors in an event designed to raise funds for the chamber's "Business Crusade to Fight Youth Obesity" campaign.

Coupled with a 5K walk on April 5 at Camera Park, the chamber raised nearly $4,300, to be shared by 10 schools in Glendale Heights. It will most likely become an annual event, according to new chamber president Keith Knautz.

"I don't think there's any doubt," Knautz said. "From the chamber board meeting we just had, I think we're all very much on board with the cause."

The schools will be able to use the money for such things as before- and after-school programs or fitness equipment. The Biggest Loser contestants had to raise a minimum of $250 to participate, while almost 400 walkers accounted for the rest of the funds raised.

"What a fantastic cause, and to see that the community came out and supported it so well," Knautz said. "I think it says a lot for both the community and for the business community in their support. It was a very broad-based support for the program. Not everyone was a chamber member, and that's OK. We're looking to be involved with the community and to do positive things with them."

One of the businesses that supported the event was Cardinal Fitness in Glendale Heights. They offered a personal trainer for the 12 competitors, as well as opening their facility to them for unlimited usage. They also donated a one-year membership as the prize for being the Biggest Loser.

"That was very kind of them to offer that," Tybor said. "Now I have another year to go, so I'm pretty psyched up about it. I'm really happy that I had that opportunity going there."

Although Tybor, 49, visited Cardinal Fitness three times a week during the contest, she believes her new approach to eating gave her the edge. She made drastic cuts in many areas, including almost all sweets.

"I really looked at the portion sizes," she said. "I started looking at the boxes and the bags. I started feeling better, actually, because I used to eat just once a day."

Another contestant was Lisa Harris, director of Integrated Wellness Solutions. She was also a contest co-organizer along with Emily Johnson.

While her company was offering free nutritional information, Harris was able to lose about 20 pounds during the three months. Besides the personal gratification from the weight loss, Harris was pleased with the contest's success, as well as the participation in the 5K walk, considering it was a first-time event.

"I always shoot really high and I hope for the best," she said. "There are some things I would do a little bit different next year. Remarkably, the day went off without a hitch. It was beautiful and everybody was calm. It went really well."

Knautz also noted that television actually had a positive impact where this event was concerned.

"It's amazing how 'The Biggest Loser' the television program has brought so much to the forefront of this," he said.

"It really makes it easy for these types of programs to be run and operated. It's very inspirational, and there's not a lot of shows on TV that are like that."

For details on the Glendale Heights Chamber of Commerce's Biggest Loser contest, visit www.ghccbiggestloser.com.