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What makes a good Fittest Loser? The trainers talk
By Kent McDill | Daily Herald Correspondent

Deb Mirabelli works with trainer Steve Amsden at Push Fitness in Schaumburg.


Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

Trainers Steve Amsden, from left, Ryan LeBreaux, Michelle Amsden, Joshua Steckler and Mark Trapp coach the Fittest Loser contestants.


Bills Zars | Staff Photographer

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Published: 5/3/2010 12:06 AM

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Five suburban men and women competing to be named Fittest Loser are in their last weeks of training and dieting.

The title will go to the one who loses the most weight, as a percentage of starting weight, in the 12-week contest sponsored by Push Fitness of Schaumburg.

Each contestant has spent a lot of time with his or her coach at Push Fitness, forming a team and a relationship that comes from a lot of intense work.

What makes the contestants so successful? We asked the trainers.

Josh Steckler, working with Mike Anderson of Palatine

Anderson's weight: 333

Weight lost: 45 pounds

"One thing I have found particularly enjoyable about Mike is that he is completely honest with himself. He has never made excuses or tried to plead his case if he didn't follow my rules. His attitude has also completely changed since we started the contest. I sensed a lot of anger and frustration in Mike when we began training, but now with all the positive changes he has made, he is almost like a different person."

Michelle Amsden, working with Wendy Kreiser of Streamwood

Kreiser's weight: 325

Weight lost: 22 pounds

"Determination is what comes to mind when I think of Wendy. There have been times when we have weighed in and the scale didn't move much but she still kept a great attitude and stayed motivated. There were times when I felt if I were in her shoes I would feel frustrated, but she remained determined."

Steve Amsden, working with Deb Mirabelli of Berwyn

Mirabelli's weight: 213

Weight lost: 23 pounds

"The characteristic that has impressed me the most about Deb is her perseverance. She has had multiple illnesses and setbacks as well as being under substantial stress in her home life. Still, with all these trials Deb has kept her eye on the prize."

Mark Trapp, working with Frank Valenti of Bartlett

Valenti's weight: 255

Weight lost: 40 pounds

"What is unique about Frank is he has the ability to consistently be positive. Some people have to be reminded to be positive and to keep a positive state of mind, but Frank has the ability to always be positive, not just with himself but talking up the other contestants to try to get them to do well. Even with our clients who are not in the contest, he is encouraging them to get healthy."

Ryan LeBreux, working with Jan Vitullo of Lombard

Vitullo's weight: 202

Weight lost: 30 pounds

"Jan has made my job very easy the past 10 weeks. She does everything I tell her both inside and outside of the gym. I would say her most obvious personality trait that has affected her progress in this competition is her drive for perfection. She is very stubborn, but in a good way. There are no excuses for her and she doesn't quit for even a second. Sometimes I have to remind her the importance of rest and recovery, because she goes nonstop! Overall, she is very competitive. This past week we found out she virtually has no thyroid (function). Her doctor was shocked to find out she has lost any weight at all. Rather than using it as an excuse, she is more driven to win the competition than before."