A newsmaker you should know: Driven competitor wins weight loss challenge

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Losing was the only option for Rhonda Yost of New Brighton when Truckload Carriers Association's announced its second Trucking's Weight Loss Showdown.

Motivated by a determination to drop pounds -- and the chance to win $2,500 -- Ms. Yost said she was in it to win it.

"I'm very competitive and I really did push myself with that goal in mind," she said.

This determination and drive helped her lose 22.8 percent of her body weight, earning her the top honor for individuals and $2,500 from the sponsor of the individual portion of the competition, Cline Wood Agency of Leawood, Kan.

Erb Transport of New Hamburg, Ontario, won the company portion of the contest.

Ms. Yost, 41, and the other showdown winners will be recognized for their achievements at the association's Recruitment and Retention Conference Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday in Nashville, Tenn.

The showdown is a competition managed by Lindora Clinic, a personalized weight management company. Teams of drivers and staff from six carriers began the challenge during National Truck Driver Appreciation and Wellness Week in September to determine which individual and which company could achieve the greatest percentages of weight loss.

Over 10 weeks, participants followed the Lean for Life program, which is based on a moderate-carbohydrate, low-fat, moderate-protein menu plan coupled with exercise, nutrition education and lifestyle changes. Competitors received weekly phone calls from Lindora's coaches, who educated them on nutrition and behavior changes, helped boost their morale, and recorded their weight loss.

The showdown is one of many ways that Ms. Yost said the association is encouraging their drivers to live a healthier lifestyle with all of the constraints that they have on the road. When the company decided to include office workers in this initiative, Ms. Yost, who is the executive director of lease purchase for PGT Trucking Inc., said she was excited.

Having struggled with her weight all of her life, she lost 120 pounds at one point only to gain half of it back after she tore a muscle. Subconsciously, she said was afraid of re-injuring herself and was looking for some type of motivation to get back on the weight loss track again.

"I had the extra motivation when this program came up. I wanted to get involved with it thinking that I just needed something to push me past what my hang-up was," she said. "That's what did it."

A little friendly competition fueled Ms. Yost's efforts as well. Throughout the 10 weeks, the association would send weekly emails announcing names of the first-place teams and individuals. An employee with a trucking company in Canada held the top position until the last week, when Ms. Yost pulled out and took the honor.

Ultimately, though, Ms. Yost said her success came from lifestyle changes that she learned through the Lean for Life program.

"Not only did it teach you to eat the way that you should, it taught you how to think the way you should," she said. "I'm pretty confident this time around that I'm going to keep it off."

Ms. Yost said she learned how to control what she ate and understand the importance of incorporating exercise into her daily life.

This often proved to be challenging because the competition ran through the holidays, but Ms. Yost said she would prepare herself by eating before events where food would be present and could potentially offset her goals.

"That tells you right there how much you change your thinking," she said. "It was very challenging, but I did make it through both Thanksgiving and Christmas without having any issues."

Since the competition ended in December, Ms. Yost has dropped another 14 pounds and is at the lowest weight she has been as an adult.

Her goal is to lose 15 more pounds, which will finally remove her from the category of being overweight.

"I feel great," she said. "I'm excited about summer and buying new clothes."


Shannon M. Nass, freelance writer: suburbanliving@post-gazette.com.


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