Michael Elwell wins St. Thomas’ first Weight-Loss Challenge

Michael Elwell, who from time to time has helped out with “Santa Claus duties,” doesn’t quite look the part any longer, but he’s not complaining. “Besides,” he said, “I can always stuff a pillow under my shirt.”

Elwell, who works in the University Physical Plant Department, won the “UST Weight-Loss Challenge.”

Michael Elwell

While individual statistics weren’t released at the Weight-Loss Challenge awards ceremony held in the John R. Roach Center for the Liberal Arts at noon Wednesday, Elwell said he has lost more than 100 pounds since he began trimming down in November.

Some of those pounds were lost during the eight-week Weight-Loss Challenge that was sponsored by the university’s Human Resources Department to encourage good eating habits and regular exercise.

Laurie Dimond of the Theology Department placed second and Sandy Prince-Black of the College of Business was third.

They were among 16 employees who started the challenge on March 13. Collectively, the group lost 220 pounds.

The winners, though, were not determined by who lost the most weight, but who lost the highest percentage of body fat. As a group, the contestants dropped an averaged of 7.1 percent. Fifteen of the 16 contestants stuck with the program for all eight weeks. One employee had to drop out because of an injury not related to the challenge.

Also attending the ceremony Wednesday were trainers from LifeTime Fitness from Eagan and Woodbury. They provided personal training and nutrition coaching.

Peter Ronza, the compensation and benefits manager for Human Resources, who helped organize the challenge, said another challenge is being considered for fall semester.