They've had to spend hours in the gym and learned to like steel-cut oats. They've been pinched, measured and paraded in public, in newspaper pages and online.
For the six people selected to take part, the official part of the Times Colonist Health Club Challenge may be finished, but the work of maintaining new, healthier lives has just begun.
Tania Bonfield admits the exposure in the Times Colonist and online in blogs has been uncomfortable at times. Bonfield has had people approach her in the supermarket to check out the food in her cart.
"But I was ready for this," Bonfield said after a final weigh-in and measurement last week. "I was ready to be exposed and a bit raw at times."
The overwhelming majority of comments have been supportive, to the point where Bonfield says she has become a little uncomfortable with being called "courageous."
Challengers were selected in January, chosen from 350 applicants based on 150-word submissions. A further 300 signed up for the At-Home Challenge, following fitness and nutrition tips in the pages of the Time Colonist or online.
The participants embarked on a fitness program co-ordinated by the Pacific Institute for Sport Excellence from its headquarters on Interurban Road, next to Camosun College.
For the six challengers, the program started with measurements, weigh-ins, metabolic testing, diet counselling and emotional counselling and moved on to 12 weeks of workouts with personal trainers, a package worth more than $3,000 each.
This year's Times Colonist Health Club Challenge also moved into the community. Programs were co-ordinated by PISE, but training mostly took place at community fitness centres: Juan de Fuca Recreation Centre, Oak Bay Recreation, G.R. Pearkes Recreation and Crystal Pool and Fitness.
Andrea Carey, director of operations and community engagement at PISE, said taking the training segments into the community worked well, with all the challengers getting a consistent fitness experience.
Carey said it demonstrates that fitness opportunities are close at hand.
"There are lots of great places in Greater Victoria to get fit and make sustainable lifestyle choices," Carey said. "Your local recreation centre is a great option."
While pleased with the participants' progress, Carey says the true measure of success is whether they stay on track with a healthier lifestyle. "My goal is, a year from now, we are still telling a story of how great these people are doing."
Dennis Guevin said he is already looking at the long term. A one-time offensive lineman with the B.C. Lions - a career that included a Grey Cup in 1985 - Guevin said he is now thinking about his health 10 years from now.
"I am 52 years old now, so what is my life going to be like when I'm 62? What's going to be my quality of life if I still weigh 375?
"My health issues are probably going to be even worse," he said. "It's a big wake-up call.
"But the message I've bought is, 'No matter how stuck I have been over the past few years, I can do this,' " Guevin said. "I can do this and I can keep doing it."
KEVIN DEAN, 51 PLUMBER SAANICH
In 2003, Dean faced down an alcohol addiction. Four years later, he kicked a pack-a-day cigarette habit.
But ice cream became his new indulgence and his weight reached 235, a concern for someone with diabetes in his family.
During the challenge, Dean lost 17 pounds and saw a 40 per cent drop in his body fat. His pants are down to a 34-inch waist, from 38 at the start of the challenge three months ago. Perhaps most important, Dean has been able to take to the ice with a hockey stick and puck for the first time in years. "It's definitely getting better. Each game is not as bad as the last."
ASHLEIGH TRIPLETT, 28 ESTHETICIAN SAANICH
There is no turning back now for Triplett. She has continued with her gym membership at the Pacific Institute for Sport Excellence and has even signed up for a boot camp. But the loss of 33 pounds - down from 300 pounds at the start - tells only a small part of her story.
"It's life-changing, too," said Triplett. "I now feel like a completely different person."
TANIA BONFIELD, 38 ADMINISTRATIVE SPECIALIST COLWOOD
Bonfield lost 35 pounds from a starting point of 270, but her trainer did some extra calculations, taking into account weight gained in muscle, and determined Bonfield has actually lost 49 pounds of body fat.
She is now in a nearconstant state of surprise as she finds herself fitting differently in clothes, her car, a plane seat and her husband's arms. And she wants to keep those surprises coming.
"A year from now, six months from now, I'm going to be somewhere where I'm really proud to be."
LOIS KIRKUP, 50 TIMES COLONIST WEB JOURNALIST VICTORIA
A relative newcomer to Victoria, Kirkup signed up for the Times Colonist Health Club Challenge as a way to take the progress to the web with a regular blog.
But for her, the TC Health Club Challenge was always about becoming physically fit than losing weight.
So while she can report a five-pound weight loss, she's even happier with the increase in energy that now allows her to run upstairs.
DENNIS GUEVIN, 52 REAL ESTATE AGENT VICTORIA
Guevin has always been a big man. It helped him keep his spot as an offensive lineman for the B.C. Lions for five years.
But after football ended and a new life in Victoria began, his weight climbed to 370 pounds. Now, after the challenge, his weight has dropped by 23 pounds and his percentage of body fat has gone from 34.4 to 27.5.
"I might even be down to one chin now," said Guevin, laughing.
JILL WILLIAMS, 62 GRANDMOTHER OAK BAY
A retired clerical worker, Williams now serves as a nanny for her two grandsons. She couldn't attend the final assessments because she was in Calgary for the arrival of a third grandson.
Williams weighed just under 140 pounds at the start of the challenge, and a few weeks from the end, she was reporting a loss of 12 pounds.
But most importantly, she said she's seen an enormous boost in energy.
© Copyright 2013