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Biggest Winner Initiative loses over 520 lbs

"The Biggest Winner Initiative, a spinoff of the Biggest Loser Program started locally in 2009 by the ASNOC, started as a collective effort to incite action and excitement for wellness among a group of friends, the initial challenge organized by Val Tuilefano, Ipu Lefiti and Ala Poasa has since expanded into a group that encourages healthy weight loss as a means of acquiring a healthier lifestyle and achieving a more brilliant quality of life." said Biggest Winner Initiative Communications Coordinator Josie Malepeai Lealasola. 

The Biggest Winner Initiative (BWI), now a partnership between the American Samoa National Olympic Committee (ASNOC), Women and Sports, the American Samoa Diabetes Coalition and TJ's gym offers a myriad of events, activities and motivational weekly messages via email as a means of encouraging healthy weight loss throughout their 8 to 12 week challenges.  What a started in 2010 with 40 participants and has steadily gained momentum and has now reached over 200 participants in two short years and four challenges. 

When asked about the changes and accomplishments BWI has made over its two year span, Val Tuilefano said "As a past participant of the ASNOC's Biggest Loser program, a pet project of the late ASNOC President Ben Solaita, I've come to appreciate what we are capable of if we are provided a supportive environment in which to thrive!  It's what inspired us to start BWI and what I've come to appreciate about the programs is that the changes we help people to achieve have a trickle down affect into their families and the ripples of change that these types of challenges generate don't stop with the 200+ participants, their families and friends are very much affected as well.  Maybe they don't go from a size 18 to a size 6, but each challenge I see more and more people adopt changes that are lifelong!  With each person comes a unique change and it's that seed that we've planted of an alternative view to health and wellness that leaves the lasting affects for our Winners."

With the help of the ASNOC's Women and Sports Committee the BWI was able to offer courses in HOT HULA, Nordic Walking and most recently a cooking demonstration by Chef Sualua Tupolo of the American Samoa Culinary Academy and all free of charge for challenge participants, with some events open to the general public.  "For Women and Sports the motivation to get involved with BWI was to propel awareness and partner with a group that genuinely aligns with our goals for promoting health and wellness in our community and for women!" shared Salaia Gabbard, Chairwoman for the ASNOC's Women and Sports Committee. 

"This challenge we were able to offer some very unique activities that support education as well as promote these lifelong changes.  We were fortunate to receive support from TJ's Gym that made space available for our meetings and whose staff managed four of our biweekly weigh-ins" said Lealasola.  "It's amazing that we continue to receive support from Samoans all over the globe, Tua Brown, a local girl turned Aussie contacted me in the past to offer support, and in preparation for her most recent trip to American Samoa to visit family, she again asked if there was anything she could do to help the BWI mission.  Brown, a certified health and wellness professional in Queensland, Australia, taught a one hour Circuit Training giving our participants exposure to a workout routine that combines cardiovascular fitness and resistance training."

Another Certified Exercise and Health Professional, Ursula Te'o-Martin, a certified Master HOT HULA Instructor, offered introductory courses to HOT HULA, a fun, new and exciting dance workout that provides a total body workout in 60 minutes.  Inspired by the dances of the Pacific Islands, HOT HULA incorporates easy to perform dance movements set to the sounds of traditional Polynesian drum beats fused with funky Reggae music, resulting in a modern, hip fitness workout that all ages can enjoy.

The most recent addition to the BWI collaborative partnership has been the American Samoa Diabetes Coalition (ASDC) which added to the richness of activities by hosting a walk for one hour for all 12 weeks of the most recent challenge.  ASDC Secretary Sia Figiel coordinated the walk while the Coordinator for the Department of Health's Diabetes Prevention and Control Program, Dr Faiese Roby, offered free blood pressure and blood glucose readings to participants and the general public.

In the spirit of friendly competition 65 participants enrolled as individuals, teams of two or teams of 5 to try and lose the highest percent of weight over a twelve week period and the winners for this challenge were announced on Saturday, December 10th.  The Teams and prizes for the 12 week challenge were as follows:

Category         Team                           Prize                  %             LBs Lost

Individual         Blue Machine         $575.00             13.42%         42.6 lbs

Team of 2         Green Machine     $800.00            12.62 %        82.6 lbs

Team of 5         GPF                          $250.00             9.75 %        132 lbs

BWI Top Male and Top Female honors are awarded to the male and female participants with the highest number of pounds lost during the challenge, winners receive a $50 cash prize and a month's membership to ZUMBA classes offered at TJ's Gym.  Fuifui Petelo secured Top Male honors with a total of 54 pounds lost, while Georgina Laupola lost a total of 37 pounds!  Congratulations to all our Winners! 

"The prizes are based solely on the number of people registered in each category, and registration was $25 per person.  The Biggest Winner Initiative is a non-profit venture and all off the funds collected through registration fees are put right back into the program for prize monies, all of the organizing committee members are volunteers and are involved in the challenge because they believe in promoting health and wellness in American Samoa" explained Lealasola.   

If you are interested in joining the next Biggest Winner Initiative Weight Loss Challenge as a participant, a committee member or a sponsor please contact Josie at or leave a message at 258-7067.

Source: Biggest Winner media release