At Kean University, students are given many opportunities to improve socially, academically or physically. Moreover, Gourmet Dining at Kean hosts the Biggest Loser Competition to allow students to partake on a life changing journey. The competition is not just based at Kean but is hosted across 16 other participating campuses.
The following campuses participated in the challenge:
- New Jersey Institute of Technology
- New Jersey City University
- Bergen Community College
- Bloomfield College
- Caldwell University
- Fairleigh Dickinson University (Metropolitan and Florham campuses)
- Seton Hall
- Rutgers Newark
- Rider University
- Monmouth University
- Rowan University
- Stevens Institute of Tech
- Manhattan College
However, this year was different because of the situations that arose from this challenge. Within the 10 years of this challenge, Gourmet Dining has never seen two grand prize winners. Kean University shared the grand prize with a Rider University student.
Gourmet Dining credits this achievement to the exceptional efforts made by them and the students who participated along the journey.
Here are a list of the winners for this year's Biggest Loser Challenge:
- Grand Prize Winner: Takiera Gordon
- First Place Winner: Kathy Derenzy
- Second Place Winner: Gerald Davis
- Third Place Winner: Victoria Baxter
These hardworking students earned Kean a weight loss total of 40.4 percent body weight. Gordon lost 15.1 percent, Derenzy lost 14.8 percent, Davis lost 6.8 percent and Baxter lost 3.7 percent. Gordon received a grand prize of $500, Derenzy won $200, Davis won $125 and Baxter won $75. Aside from the students, a separate competition was held for Gourmet Dining employees as well with Chef Bernie Wazinski losing 2.8 percent body weight.
Furthermore, there were rules that participants had to follow such as:
- One may not join if their body mass index is below 19 or upon losing weight one would drop into an unhealthy weight category.
- Participants must attend all three weigh-ins to measure progress and retool goals as needed.
- No fad diets, unhealthy eating plans or supplements are allowed and use of these can get one disqualified.
- To win one of the three on campus prizes one must lose the most weight by percentage of body weight lost.
Jennifer Bostedo, registered dietitian nutritionist and corporate dietitian of Gourmet Dining, spoke about the importance of using the resources provided at Kean.
"Their biggest resources are provided on campus [such as] free registered dietitian services, gym and fitness class access," Bostedo said. "I use everything at my disposal to give Biggest Losers a fighting chance at success—nutrition assessment, body fat assessment, intake and exercise recommendations...technology suggestions to implement, plan and evaluate their efforts before they get on the scale. I use the free, no equipment, no excuses route! Even a healthy tour of the dining hall has been offered with cooking tips for students who are interested."
Bostedo also advised participants to customize their goals and the achievements they wish to see completed.
"Goals are set individually [so] challengers had custom challenges we set together. An example might be to hit 25 or 36 grams of fiber per day via fruit, vegetables and whole grains. All contestants were invited to two physical challenges as well. A 30-day squat, lunge, push-up challenge in the first half and then a 30-day plank challenge in the second half," Bostedo said.
When talking about the success of the winners, Bostedo attributed their achievement to their dedication toward this challenge.
"Their success wasn't accidental or trendy. They put in the hard work of changing lifestyle habits that were weighing them down, by adding more vigorous exercise and strength training for the women. [They also] were watching portions, eliminating empty calories, knowing how many calories were consumed and building a better plate to include veggies in larger quantities," Bostedo said.
For more information on health and fitness resources or activities like this one, visit Gourmet Dining on the Kean website.