Leadville residents shed more than a ton in weight loss challenge

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LEADVILLE, Colo. -- Being a loser isn't such a bad thing anymore.

Just ask residents of the small mountain town of Leadville.

About 200 of its 2,500 residents signed on for a weight-loss challenge, called "get the lead out,” and together shed more than a ton.

In a town that once found its fortune in silver, residents now mine the good fortune of weight loss.

"It was 2,357 pounds lost altogether," says Karen Rinehart of the town’s newspaper, Herald Democrat.

She came up with the idea to gain advertising sales, but it led to a community losing weight.

The biggest losers became winners by percentage of weight loss.

Each week the newspaper printed the names of the teams leading the competition. The eventual coed team winners, the Mamas and Papas, often dominated the list.

"They didn't publish individual names. Thank god," says Diane Smith, part of the winning team.

Co-workers Smith and Susan Estes partnered up with their husbands.

Smith lost 23 pounds, Estes 35.

And Estes’ husband lost 75 pounds--the most of anyone.

"The secret?" chuckles Estes.

As you might guess, dropping weight is not easy.

"Perseverance. That's all I can say. Just trying to stick with it even when you want bad foods, when you’re craving them so badly," she says.

"It comes down to calories in and how much you burn. It comes down to that. Every day you're consciously eating. You're making choices," says Smith.

With so many residents began making good choices, the town's only grocery store had to change.

"We’ve expanded our produce section by 10-11 feet and added at least 25-feet wide. We added that much organic produce to the store," says Safeway manager Craig Holtet.

The town that once extracted silver has turned into one extracting a healthier lifestyle.

“It was amazing how it brought the community together. There was so much excitement," says Smith.

In total, 196 people signed up for the challenge, but 33 of them dropped out.

The town is talking about doing it again next year.


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