Losing Makes Hughey A Winner


ST. LOUIS — Jerry Hughey, assistant director of Maryville University’s physical plant, is one of 12 contestants who have been given the opportunity to earn the title of “Biggest Loser” for KSDK Channel 5’s Show Me Saint Louis challenge. (Click on www.stlbiggestloser.com.) Yet, for Hughey, entering the competition was about more than losing weight or winning a trip to Cancun. It was about life or death.

“If I didn’t make a change, doctors said I would be facing health issues by March,” said Hughey. “The biggest thing for me was getting my health under control. Weight loss is its own reward.” Hughey weighed 387 pounds at the beginning of the program and has lost 33 pounds in four weeks. On Tuesday’s program, it was announced that he has shed 11 pounds over the past two weeks, earning him the title of “Biggest Loser” for that time period .

After seeing the advertisement for the local contest on the national program, Hughey signed up along with 500 other applicants. Of the 500 entrants, only 20 were asked back for an interview. The field of applicants was narrowed down to 12 finalists: six women and six men, including Hughey. Hughey won over the show’s producers after telling them about his role as Maryville’s Santa Claus. “I guess they wanted Santa Claus to slim down this year,” he said. It was a very quick process, says Hughey. “I applied online on Saturday night and then, bingo,” he remarked. “Monday morning, I got a call to go down to the studio on Wednesday, and was on TV that Friday morning.”

Participants are provided with a trainer, weekly food supplies, and a one-year gym membership to help them achieve their weight loss goals. Every two weeks, competitors have to weigh in. The two male and two female contestants who have lost the least percentage of weight become candidates for elimination. Viewers cast the final decision through an interactive voting procedure held online.

Like the national version of “Biggest Loser,” Hughey is tackling a grueling exercise regime, heart-pounding challenges, and of course, temptations. “You can’t even imagine the intensity,” said Hughey. “Actually performing the routines for over an hour and a half is completely different from watching it on TV.” Currently, Hughey follows a cross-training program that has him alternating between strength training and cardio for 90 minutes, five to six times a week. It has only been three weeks and Hughey is already seeing results. As a whole, the men’s team has lost 114 pounds. Hughey says the one major difference between the national and local versions of the competition is the freedom.

“If you’ve seen the national show, you’ll notice that the only time contestants have access to sugary foods or other desserts were at challenges,” said Hughey. “But here, we have temptations that you wouldn’t have on the show. Here you got the stress of driving by restaurants, picking the kids up, and going to work.”

The Biggest Loser segment airs at 3 p.m., every Tuesday, and every other Wednesday and Friday, on KSDK Channel 5. Winners will be announced on April 9.

Maryville University is a private institution offering approximately 50 undergraduate, seven master¹s and two doctoral degree programs to 3,422 students. Ranked by U.S. News and World Report as one of America¹s Best Colleges, Maryville University prepares its students for successful and meaningful careers. Among Maryville¹s most recent graduates, 94 percent are employed or attending graduate school. Approximately 15,000 alumni work and live in the St. Louis region.