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ADA — After 84 days of weight loss, Ada Evening News City Editor Randy Mitchell emerged as the winner of the 2010 AEN ‘Greatest Loser Contest.’

Mitchell, the 74th person to enter the contest, coincidentally won with a total of 74 pounds lost, only edging out second place finisher M.S. Morgan by a margin of 1.8 pounds.

“It was definitely close,” Mitchell said. “He had me worried. I figured he would save the best for last, so I gave it everything I had in the final week.”

Indeed Morgan did save the best for last, losing a whopping 13.3 pounds in the final week compared to Mitchell’s 10.2 pounds lost.

Mitchell said losing that much weight was one of the hardest things he’s ever done.

“I think the toughest thing about it was, unlike other bad habits, you can’t just stop eating,” he said. “Eating food isn’t a bad thing, it’s overeating that gets you.”

Asked his secret of success, Mitchell said, “A gradual reduction of calories and plenty of exercise for the most part. I was eating healthier foods which were lower in fat.

“I went from about 5,000 calories a day to 2,400 at the start, then to 1,200 a day at the end,” he continued. The amount at the end is really not what you need for the long term, so I’ve increased it to 2,400 now that the contest is over and that should keep me losing weight slowly for good.”

He said he started with walking for 30 minutes a day, then increased to hiking up and down hills for about an hour each day.

“I started a weight lifting routine to gain muscle,” Mitchell said. “To sustain muscle, the body must burn fat and that’s really the ultimate goal in weight loss.”

For the first-place-finish, Mitchell received an Ashley recliner courtesy of Rhynes and Rhodes Furniture and a one-year-membership to Gym 210, each prize valued at over $500, a Wii Fit courtesy of Ada Walmart ($100 value) and a Skin Clinic skin care basket valued at $250.

“I’ll give the skin care basket to my daughter,” Mitchell said. “She’ll love it.”

Morgan received a one-year-membership to Gym 210, a $100 gift certificate for Rhynes and Rhodes Furniture, four one-week breakfast programs courtesy of The Daily Shake, and a gift basket from Ada Vision, courtesy of Courtney Bratton, O.D.

Mitchell said he’s received praise from friends and family.

“It’s nice when people who’ve only seen me as overweight comment on the weight loss,” he said.

“It’s much better than the reaction I would get from people I hadn’t seen since I was young and thin. I could tell they were shocked but didn’t want to ask what happened.”

Mitchell said the fight will continue with a goal of getting below the 200 pound mark and staying there.

“I went from a 30-inch-waist in my early 20s to a 46-inch-waist this January,” he said. “I’m at a 38-inch-waist now with a goal of 32. It will be an ongoing battle I’m sure.”

I appreciate my family, friends and co-workers who wished me well and even kept me on the straight and narrow during the contest,” Mitchell said.

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