Losing it – Dateline Diet

Original Article published By John Larson

NBC News updated 1/5/2004 4:42:50 PM ET 2004-01-05T21:42:50

If you made a New Year”s resolution to lose weight and already you”ve blown it, here is some inspiration to help get you back on track. A y

ear ago, we met six members of the class of 1978, all wanting to shed pounds before their 25th high school reunion this past fall. We offered to help them. Each was given a radically different weight loss plan. Which diet was most effective? Which classmate had the most heads turning at the big reunion? Dateline went along to find out.

Think back 25 years. Can you remember your high school fight song? These folks can. Sort of, so their fight song is a little rusty. But high school is very much on their minds these days. Their 25th class reunion is just ten months away.

And that got us thinking. Since a 25th high school reunion is such a rite of passage, a time many might worry how they measure up — who”s done well, who hasn”t, who looks great, who doesn”t — we wondered if there was anyone approaching their 25th who might want to lose a few pounds.

So we sent a letter to the class of 1978 at Quincy High School in Massachusetts, a

blue collar suburb of Boston, looking for volunteers. They had to have at least 30 pounds to lose, and be willing to let Dateline follow their ups and downs of weight loss all the way to their reunion. For many of them, it would turn out to be, one of the greatest challenges of their lives.

Our volunteers could pick one of six weight loss methods — from Atkins, Weight Watchers or SlimFast to intense exercise, having your own famous weight loss guru — even hypnosis. The idea was to see how well the competing diets work and who can lose the most.

We ended up with six volunteers: one of the toughest guys on the Quincy football team; former high school class secretary; a soft spoken ladies man who almost everyone liked; the homecoming queen; and perhaps the finest athlete Quincy high ever had, everyone knew him as Gio.

Five were all popular back in high school. But not our sixth. Eleanor Talbot was one of the brainier girls, best viagra alternative president of the math club. She has never known what”s it”s like to be thin and she”s taken the brunt of cruel jokes even by one of our dieters. But now everyone is in the same boat — middle aged and overweight.

For the Dateline Diet Challenge, class secretary, Lynn Frank chose to lose weight with what we

call intense exercise. Although she”s never done anything athletic in her life, she agreed to train for a marathon, that”s right, the Maui Marathon nine months down the road. she”s the mother of seven children. Four girls, three boys. seven good reasons she believes for her to try something totally outside her comfort zone.

Lynn: “I just see something going on in kids today, there”s just such a lack of motivation and then I think about myself, I do the same thing day in and day out, I”m never challenged I”ve got it down to a science you know, I”m as complacent as they are.”

Back in high school, “Gio” was voted most popular and was a three-sport superstar. He even tried out for the New York Giants. He stayed in shape working construction and exercising until two years ago when a back injury cost him his job and all but immobilized him.

Gio: “It”s been terrible. To have your kids come home and see you on the couch and not provide for your family is just– I can”t take it no more.”

To kill time while waiting for approval for surgery, Gio started eating. To his family”s horror he ballooned up to 250. So the high school”s greatest athlete faces his 25 reunion unemployed, injured and overweight. For our diet challenge, Gio picked the Slimmest diet and its six daily eating occasions that include low fat food, shakes, snack and meal bars.

Along with Gio, Kathy Wynters was voted most popular back in high school, and she was homecoming queen but Kathy says she”s almost never felt comfortable with her weight.

John Larson: “You weren”t thin when you were Homecoming Queen?”

Kathy: “No.”

Kathy is an active mother of two, works part time and has a busy social life. She”s so high powered her husband has a nickname for her: the force.

Larson: “What is it, even for The Force, that”s so hard about this weight thing?

Kathy: “It”s been the lowest priority. It”s been– everything else came first.”

In our diet challenge, Kathy chose Weight Watchers, where food is given a point value based on its calorie fat and fiber content. The goal is to stay within your daily point range and attend meetings. and this year, mom comes first.

Next, the ladies man back in high school: Marc Merlis. When Marc”s wife saw Dateline”s letter she quickly picked up the phone and turned in her husband. And for good reason. His wife is worried. Marc is a baker by trade with a weakness for food. His weight is serious problem. His father died of heart disease at 50 and now Marc”s cholesterol and blood pressure are dangerously high. So Marc has agreed to let a hypnotherapist help him focus on his weight and more importantly, his health.

Marc: “I remember how I felt when my father died. I was 20, you know? I would hate to have my kids go through that.”

The same goes for math whiz Eleanor Talbot. Married with no children, Eleanor is a meterologist who also lost her father to heart disease at 50.

Eleanor: “We”re getting to that point in our lives that we”re where our parents were, and when we lost our parents. And it”s a scary thing.”

Dateline NBC

“After” the diets. Do you recognize them? We offered Eleanor a chance to work one on one with a nationally recognized weight loss coach, Jorge Cruise, author of the best seller “Eight Minutes in the Morning” and “Real Shapes Real Sizes.” With Jorge, Eleanor hopes she”ll gain insight into why she”s so heavy and how she can turn things around.

Larson: “And you think you gotta down deep to find an answer to this?
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