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With a few weeks left, contestants go for the win
By Kent McDill | Daily Herald Correspondent

Jan Vitullo with trainer Ryan Le Breux of Push Fitness for Fittest Loser competition.


Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

Mike Anderson of Palatine works out at Push Fitness in Schaumburg going into his eight week.


Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

Fittest Loser contestant Wendy Kreiser at Push Fitness in Schaumburg.


Bill Zars | Staff Photographer

Contestant Deb Mirabelli at Push Fitness in Schaumburg.


Bill Zars | Staff Photographer

Contestant Frank Valenti at Push Fitness in Schaumburg.


Bill Zars | Staff Photographer

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Published: 4/19/2010 12:01 AM

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Heading into the home stretch of the Fittest Loser competition, five suburban men and women know they have to make the most of the remaining weeks of intensive physical training - and push for a victory.

The five are competing to lose the most weight, as a percentage of their starting weights, during a 12-week workout and diet regimen provided by Push Fitness of Schaumburg.

Now in the second half of the three-month contest, the competitors and their trainers are strategizing to get the best possible results.

This week, we asked trainers whether they have surprises in the works to help the newly fit and limber contestants bump up the weight loss as they approach the finish.

Josh Steckler, working with Mike Anderson of Palatine

Anderson's weight: 344 pounds

Weight lost: 34 pounds

"As we get into the second half of the contest, and as Mike continues to improve his fitness, I've been progressing the workouts so Mike is always being challenged.

"He's performing exercises now that he could have never attempted when the contest began. I do have a few surprise exercises for Mike during the final weeks - mainly to show him how far he's come in such a short period of time.

"Mike's diet will be changed slightly during the final week to strictly limit sodium, sugar, and unnecessary calories so we can maximize weight loss."

Michelle Amsden, working with Wendy Kreiser of Streamwood

Kreiser's weight: 331 pounds

Weight lost: 16 pounds

"Now that Wendy has become quite used to the vigorous training, my plan is for her to start taking it up a notch with cardio on her own.

"My plan is for Wendy to start swimming and jogging on the days that she is not training with me. These are two great exercises for fast weight loss."

Steve Amsden, working with Deb Mirabelli of Berwyn

Mirabelli's weight: 217 pounds

Weight lost: 19 pounds

"I always have surprises and tricks up my sleeve to continue pushing Deb past her normal limits and keep her body wondering and trying to adapt to what is in store.

"Deb is now in phenomenal shape and has been training harder and more dynamic than either of us thought possible. We will use every modality of training in the upcoming weeks, including kettle bell training, outdoor cross training, cardio intervals, medicine ball training, as well as plyometric training.

"As far as looking ahead to greater weight loss, we are boosting her metabolism higher every day, increasing the intensity in her training, and adjusting her nutrition constantly."

Mark Trapp, working with Frank Valenti of Bartlett

Valenti's weight: 264 pounds

Weight lost: 31 pounds

"From an exercise standpoint, not too much is going to change. The only thing that will change will be the added resistance, using heavier weights, trying to develop more muscle.

"Any time you can add more muscle, the more fat you are going to burn. The last week we are changing up his diet. I have a very specific diet that we'll hope to push it through to win it at the end."

Ryan LeBreux, working with Jan Vitullo of Lombard

Vitullo's weight: 207 pounds

Weight lost: 25 pounds

"I've been warning Jan about these final weeks since the beginning. The first eight weeks are meant to prepare her for these final four.

"She has made amazing improvements on her balance, core strength, and overall coordination, so now I can throw the good stuff at her. We will be doing more advanced exercises working multiple muscle groups and core simultaneously, shorten the rest times between exercises, and A LOT more boxing.

"Her body will be going through a lot, so it's key she keeps a clear head and focuses on the big picture. Of course I want her to win the competition but this is also my last opportunity to make sure this is a lifestyle she plans on sticking with. "