I wrote a story for the Daily News today about the 50 Million Pound Challenge, a free weight-loss program conceived by Dr. Ian Smith, a Chicago native and host of "Celebrity Fit Club" on VH1.
It's a very cool idea, promoting teamwork (an online community shares ideas and inspiration) and healthy living, all for free. In tough economic times, the Jenny Craigs or Weight Watchers programs seem a little less necessary. And for many people suffering from obesity, one of the problems is the high cost of healthy foods. Programs like this make it easier to live healthier.
Smith and three Chicagoans who have had great success with the program were filming commercials in downtown Chicago this week. On Tuesday, they shot at the Water Tower. On Wednesday, at Millennium Park. And yesterday, they were at Union Station.
The commercials, which will air in July, were hidden camera operations. At Union Station, Marilyn Winters, who lost 117 pounds, was asking for help lifting her bag. Which weight 117 pounds. She then took the opportunity to tell people about her success with the Challenge. She, by the way, is now training for the Chicago Marathon.
I wanted to point out a few things I couldn't include in the story, mostly about Craig Nash, who lost 200 pounds with the 50 Million Pound Challenge program.
Nash weighed 420 pounds two years ago. After being told he needed to buy an extra airplane seat, he got his butt in gear. He sold his car and started walking from his Hyde Park home to work, downtown. That's 60-some blocks.
He rarely takes the elevator to his 12th floor office. He bikes 200-250 miles a week (see him in the photo, showing off his former pants).
Talk about an about face. I left Union Station feeling like I had a lot of work to do. After all, if this rain ever goes away, it's beach season.