Heavy competition

Heavy competition

By Julia Gall

Corrections: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated Jose De La Rosa’s major, along with several details of the competition.

With determination on his face, Jose De La Rosa pulls hard on the cables of a rowing machine at the Marino Center.

While typically a stranger to the gym, the senior finance and accounting major is adopting a healthier lifestyle as part of his participation in the Resident Student Association’s (RSA) “NU’s Biggest Loser” weight-loss competition. For 11 weeks, De La Rosa and nine other contestants will compete for points in various physical challenges, as well as dieting and working out weekly. The winner will receive a new wardrobe to suit his or her new physique, among other prizes.

But the 217-pound De La Rosa said winning isn’t what’s most important.

“I think it’s more a desire to lose weight than win a competition,” he said. Encouraged by friends to enter the competition, he said he thinks he was chosen because of the “substance” he put into the application.

As part of a New Year’s resolution to become healthier, De La Rosa said he already began making changes in diet and exercise before entering the competition. However, the program helps him stay focused.

“It was hard to put the gym into my daily routine,” he said.

His weekly schedule now involves working out at the Marino Center every day, including two group fitness workouts each week with all contestants in the competition. De La Rosa’s trainers, Ashley Penfield and Blake Sama, have come up with different stages of exercising properly.

“Before the program I’d overwork myself and then would go home and be too tired,” he said, explaining why he didn’t hit the gym before.

Specifically catered to each contestant, the trainers have slightly different routines for everyone.

“They took our heart rate with EKGs to see what we could handle,” De La Rosa said. “They’re training me how to pace myself so I don’t overwork [my body].”

Yesterday De La Rosa competed in the “Iditarod,” which is co-sponsored by RSA and Campus Recreation and includes rowing for 2,000 meters, biking for two miles and running a mile on the treadmill at a 5 percent incline. The 10 contestants were split into two teams.

“I’m not that confident, but I know I can hold my own,” he said before the competition. “I’m confident with all my teammates. We’re there for each other, and that’s the main part.”

With all this exercise an appetite is sure to build up, but De La Rosa is enforcing a new diet along with his new fitness routine, which includes incorporating food like salad and wheat bread.

Before the competition, De La Rosa said he would frequent Qdoba.

“I would get a burrito and then the three-cheese nachos and then sleep for hours afterward,” he said.

De La Rosa now dines at the cafeteria more often, as it offers more variety and healthier options.

Before the contest he was drawn to the dining hall’s less healthy options, he said.

“[At the cafeteria] I would look at the salad bar and then go straight for the fattier stuff, like burgers,” he said.

Smith Anderson, RSA’s vice president for programming, said De La Rosa’s “sincerity” was one of the qualities that stood out from the other applicants.

“I think that he really has got his heart into [the program] and he thinks that his competition is going to change his life and put him in the place he wants to be before he graduates,” he said.

De La Rosa has lost 10 pounds in the past four weeks. Yet there are still personal challenges he is facing while in the program.

“The hardest part is doing what the trainers tell me to do – I try to go beyond [the instruction],” he said. “I’m trying to run, but I still have to walk.”

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