BIGGEST LOSER - Larry Thuilliez, an academic computer tech from Christopher, won Rend Lake College's first-ever Biggest Loser Challenge by beating 33 fellow employees and losing 34 pounds - one pound for each contestant! He is pictured above, holding his spoils with Registrar Vickie Schulte (RIGHT) and Reference Librarian Beth Mandrell, coordinators of RLC's Biggest Loser Challenge. The real payoff for Thuilliez was the improvement in his health. "The difference is amazing," he said. CLICK HERE for a larger image.
INA, Ill. – More than 30 pounds lighter and $200 richer, Rend Lake College’s first Biggest Loser is Larry Thuilliez.
The academic computer technician was one of 34 employees at the college who took part in its first Biggest Loser challenge this Spring. The group lost a whopping 291 pounds all together, with the average contestant losing eight pounds.
Thuilliez, a 58-year-old resident of Christopher, lost 34 pounds over the eight weeks by tightening the belt on his diet and adding in some exercise. His motivation, he said, was a combination of competition and striving for wellness. He wasn’t alone, on or off campus. His wife of 39 years, Carolyn, joined him in his regiment and lost 13 pounds.
“We just watched everything we ate and exercised,” he said. “We ate a lot of celery, green beans and grilled chicken. I think I’m growing feathers! Whatever we ate, we looked at the health aspect of it.”
His victory was a slim one. Second place went to Christina Hutcheson, director of adult education and family literacy, who lost 11.42 percent to Thuilliez’s 12.89. The contest was based on the highest percentage of weight lost, rather than total pounds lost.
The real victory for Thuilliez wasn’t measured in dollar bills or waist size. It was the numbers associated with his cholesterol and blood pressure, he said. His cholesterol was at the high end of the optimum range and he takes medicine for his blood pressure. Now, after some recent tests, his cholesterol is down around the low end and he thinks he may be able to pitch the pills.
“I was getting to the point where I couldn’t do anything without being out of breath. Now, my energy level is way better and I feel better. The difference is amazing.”
For the first time in years, Thuilliez is able to wear his wedding ring. And it’s little milestones like that which will remind him of the benefits and have motivated him to try and win again.
The next round of RLC’s Biggest Loser challenge is already underway, according to competition coordinators Vickie Schulte and Beth Mandrell. Schulte is the college’s registrar and Mandrell is the reference librarian at RLC.
Thuilliez wasn’t the only loser to win. Through entrance and penalty fees, the group as a whole raised more than $400 – $150 of which was matched by the college. Thuilliez split the $430 pot, leaving the group with about $350. Schulte and Mandrell are deciding what to do with the money. Some ideas include purchasing a Wii and Wii Fit game for students to use on campus, combining the funds with future Biggest Loser pots, or buying something else. Whatever it is used for, Mandrell and Schulte emphasized that it will be for the students.