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Boxing her way to weight loss
By Kent McDill | Daily Herald Correspondent

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


Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

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


Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

LeBreux puts Vitullo through the paces with hand weights indoors, above, and a large tire outdoors, top photo, at Push Fitness in Schaumburg.


Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

Jan Vitullo says "ow" in between smiles does a punching session with weights at Push Fitness in Schaumburg.


Bill Zars | Staff Photographer

Vitullo ended her workouts by donning the boxing gloves. She now has a pair at home to use.


Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

Jan Vitullo hugs her trainer, Ryan LeBreux, as she learns she is the winner in the 2010 Fittest Loser Challenge in Schaumburg.


Bill Zars | Staff Photographer

Contestant Jan Vitullo at Push Fitness in Schaumburg.


Bill Zars | Staff Photographer

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Published: 6/3/2010 11:09 AM

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Jan Vitullo discovered a new method for weight loss: beating on her boyfriend.

It worked.

Vitullo, 50, won the Daily Herald/Push Fitness Fittest Loser Challenge, a three-month competition among five contestants to see who could lose the most weight, based on percentage of body weight. Vitullo, a hairdresser from Lombard, lost 47 pounds, 20.3 percent of her original weight of 232 pounds. On the final weigh-in, Vitullo weighed 185 pounds.

"This was about the accomplishment,'' Vitullo said. "This was about me doing something.

"I'm stronger all the way around, mentally as well as physically,'' she said. "I was always a person with a lot of confidence in most things I did, but I lacked confidence in this area. For the first time, I have confidence I can make exercise and this diet a part of my life."

Vitullo worked out three times a week for three months with her trainer, Ryan LeBreux, who discovered a technique that really hit home with Vitullo.

"I adore him," Vitullo said. "He really pushed me. He knew the exercises I liked and the ones I hated. We finished every session with boxing, which I really enjoyed. I actually went out and bought my own boxing gloves and do it at home now." Tony Uhlich, Vitullo's boyfriend, was her boxing partner at home.

"She got boxing gloves for herself and a (boxing) mitt for me," Uhlich said. "Ryan is big into mixed martial arts, and she really liked the boxing part. I got to play punching bag. It's all fine and good, except when you are on the receiving end.

"I thought it showed immense dedication for her to follow the diet and do the exercises,'' he said. "She was highly motivated due to her competitiveness. She actually cooked separately for me the things I would normally eat, while she had small portions from other food groups for her diet."

LeBreux clearly enjoyed his time with Vitullo.

"She was amazing," LeBreux said. "She made the 12 weeks together very easy. I wish all of my clients were as easy to work with as her.

"She had a lot of motivation,'' he said. "She was disciplined. Everything I told her she followed through with."

Vitullo's greatest concern going into the competition was her smoking habit, which was a pack-a-day habit back in January.

"I can't get past one a day, but I'm working on it,'' Vitullo said.

"I was hoping she could cut it out all together by the end of the competition,'' LeBreux said. "She would be totally open about it. If she smoked she knew she would be punished, and I would have her run stairs or do push-ups."

On week 10 of the competition, after a visit to her physician, she discovered her thyroid glands were not working at all. At the same time, she found out she had a gluten intolerance that caused her to feel bloated every time she ate wheat.

"I was eating whole wheat bread, which is the worst possible thing," Vitullo said. "We got rid of all the glutens and got on thyroid medication. It all came together after that."

Vitullo wants to lose another 30 pounds. "I'm definitely going to keep with the program as far as the diet is concerned,'' Vitullo said. "It is the only one I have ever done that actually worked."

"I have a feeling the diet will stick; it's just a matter of maintaining a workout regimen,'' Uhlich said.

And, that's where the boxing mitts come in.