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Toledo, Ohio & Lake Erie

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Two Oregonians took first and second place in 13abc’s Extreme Weight Loss Challenge, the results for which were announced live from Super Fitness in Toledo May 20.

Robert Michael Ray, owner of Oregon Village Apartments, took first place in the contest by losing 114 pounds over the course of the six­month challenge, which included monthly group challenges and weigh­ins for the five competitors.

“I had to do it for health reasons,” he said. “If I didn’t lose over 100 pounds the doctor said I wouldn’t see 50, and I’m 47 now. I came to Super Fitness to join and they had the challenge going at the same time.”

526extreme-weight-loss-phot
Robert Michael Ray (right) and Carrie Grindle (center), both of 
Oregon, placed first and second in 13abc's annual Extreme 
Weight Loss Challenge, hosted by Kelly Heidbreder. (Photo by 
Chris Selmek)

Ray was 321 pounds when he started the competition, but is down to only 207 now thanks to an intensive exercise routine designed by his friend and personal trainer, Brandon Welever.

“Weeks after he joined he gym I suggested he give the competition a shot,” said Welever. “The number-one thing is nutrition, but when he was in the gym, I was taking him through a very intensive cardio regimen. If he was doing the same routine over and over again then eventually he would plateau and wouldn’t see any improvement, which is why we had to go through a variety of workouts to keep losing weight.”

“He’s happier, healthier, and he moves a lot more now,” said Ray’s wife, Pam, who provided support and motivation throughout the competition. “He also uses less medication. At one point he was on 16 pills a day, but now he’s down to four.”

Ray started by doing cardio and weight training five or six days a week, but did mostly cardio at the end, which he plans to continue now that the contest is over. He says winning was never the objective for him, because he knew he was doing it for himself and his health.

“I’ve seen it so many times where people get to a certain point and then they want to quit, and sometimes they do, and other times they push through,” said Welever. “Honestly, though, Rob has been on it the whole time. A few weeks into our training he said to me ‘every time I think of quitting, I remember why I started.’”

Carrie Grindle, a paraprofessional for Toledo Public Schools who also lives in Oregon, took second place in the competition with a similar cardio routine and lots of Herbal Life shakes.

“I didn’t like the way I looked or how I felt,” she said. “We went to Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes last year, and people older than me and my age were passing me up and I had to stop and rest. I wanted to change my life so that I could be around for my children.

“I mainly did treadmill for about an hour a day or walking,” she continued. “I also help coach a free fit camp in Northwood two or three days a week, and I would walk for an hour while my daughter was in gymnastics. I used to sit there and watch, but I thought that I might as well use that time to do something for myself.”

Both Ray and Grindle won Arc trainers that will help them continue their workouts, as well as tickets to Cedar Point, a number of valuable gift certificates, and the opportunity to throw the flag at Toledo Speedway June 13 and hang out with Action News host Kelly Heidbreder.

“As a group, they lost 775 pounds, and that is an amazing achievement,” said Heidbreder. When we presented the awards, we wanted them standing in front of their “before” pictures so they could really see how much they lost and what an accomplishment that is.”

Ray was most excited about the opportunity to help coach the contestants of next year’s competition, which will begin in October. This is the fifth year for the Extreme Weight Loss Challenge, which Heidbreder hosts with the help of an extreme exercise trainer, an extreme nutritionist and an extreme chef.

She says she looks forward to the personal relationships she develops with each contestant.

“I’m the one who has to help motivate them to do their best,” she said. “We’re with each other once a month for the challenges, but we communicate by Facebook every week. We try to come up with something challenging for all age groups. They come out many times with tears on their faces because they never thought they could do that many pushups or run a 5K, and that, more than anything else is what keeps me coming back each year.”

Bill Cosby

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