Meet the 2012 Fit Challenge contestants

Sandusky Register Staff
Jan 3, 2012


Three area residents have stepped up to the challenge of losing weight and getting healthy in 2012. Meet them here, and watch for blogs on their progress every Tuesday at


Craig Wessels: I’m a 48-year-old Navy veteran and high school teacher.    To be completely frank, I am terrified of turning 49 in June. While it may seem melodramatic, it scares me to death. I lost my grandfather at 69, my father at 59, and in my mind, I’m convinced that this year doesn’t look good. I don’t drink or smoke, as those things led to their deaths.    I am 5 feet 9 inches tall, and the last time I was on the scale I weighed 350 pounds. I know I weigh more today.    As a teacher, husband and father of two, there is a great demand on my time. These time crunches have led me to develop very poor eating habits, in which I KNOW I am overeating, and yet, I feel completely powerless to stop.    It seems as though I’ve tried to turn my digestive system into an episode of “Hoarders.” If I get it out of the house, no one else will eat it. Couple that with hypothyroidism that renders my thyroid relatively useless, and you have a man who is desperate to change his ways, but doesn’t know where to start.    Having done some stand-up comedy in the past, I have a good sense of humor. I have recently begun focusing my humor in a very self-deprecating fashion, constantly poking fun at myself in front of my family, my co-workers, and now, even my students. While I am laughing about it, what I really want to do is scream for help.    I would love an opportunity to participate in this challenge. I’ve coached kids for close to 20 years. Now I need someone to be my coach. My wife, my kids and my students deserve a healthier me. Thanks.

Carla (Manos) Ontko: Please select me for FIT Challenge 2012. I weigh 235 pounds, and I am a 56-year-old female.    I have four children who are grown, but I had one of the children eight years later; I had three children in three years. That was the start of my weight gain.    I didn’t have the chance to lose the extra baby weight before I was pregnant again. I am not telling you this as an excuse, but this was my life. Years later, when the youngest of the three was 6 years old, I went through a divorce. Again, lots of stressors with no time for me. I couldn’t see the value in taking time to take care of me when I had to do so much for others.    Well, here I am years later and morbidly obese. My youngest child is now 23 years old, and it’s time I take care of myself. I have already started dieting and exercising on my own. But the value of working with a trainer at a gym, and with nutritional guidance, would be invaluable to me and my health!    I have high blood pressure, high cholesterol and sometimes problems with my back and knees. I’ve carried the 10-pound bag of potatoes in the house and imagined carrying five of those bags around my body all day, and I couldn’t do it. But that’s what I literally am doing to my body.    My doctor has talked to me about losing weight in the past, but I wasn’t ready. I am up for it now and looking forward to this challenge as an incentive to reach my goal of better health.

Derek Grant: I am 21 years old and I have been overweight since the fourth grade. I’m currently a college student at BGSU Firelands. The reason why I want to do the FIT Challenge is to improve my health.    When I was in the seventh grade, I was diagnosed with diabetes. It was a struggle for me to lose the weight; then at the age of 17 I was diagnosed with gynecomastia, the abnormal development of large mammary glands resulting in breast enlargement; I had to correct the problem.    While in junior high and high school, I was put on a low-carb diet and exercised with a relative of mine and and lost weight, which helped to decrease my blood sugar levels. But I still ended up picking up all the weight I lost.    I feel that I am struggling to lose this weight now. My mother has diabetes, an enlarged heart and has high blood pressure. The diseases run on both sides of my family. I do not want to be put on medication or shots for either of these medical conditions, and I am at high risk as of right now.    I feel that I will not be able to perform my maximum potential or ever be in a relationship because I don’t feel good about myself. So, I have not been in a relationship. I am also tired of people calling me fat, lazy and making fun of me because I am overweight.    If I become a contestant of the FIT Challenge I will be able to prove to myself, and to all those who have made fun of me for years, that I can be thin and gain confidence in myself. I am ready for the challenges ahead.


Phil Packer

SR, I wish you had a "quit smoking" challenge too.


Best of luck to all three of you!!!


 Good luck to you three!!!

I agree with Phil Packer - that is something that you guys should think about SR.  A quit smoking challenge would be just as popular as the Get Fit Challenge is.  I would like to take part in a Quit Smoking challenge. :-)

Captain Gutz

How about a "Quit Blogging" challenge?


Best      2   All 3 of       you.        Especially you Carla.     You are honest about your weight.    Hope you folks go the distance   & reap the joy of getting fit.          GOOD LUCK !!!


Best      2   All 3 of       you.        Especially you Carla.     You are honest about your weight.    Hope you folks go the distance   & reap the joy of getting fit.          GOOD LUCK !!!


good luck to all three of you. if you drink any alcoholic beverages, you must stop or at least cut way back. your body burns the alcohol first before it burns fats and carbs. eat salads to fill you up.


If you need something like this to lose weight you've already set yourself up for failure. With that said you might be better off addressing your psychlogical issues first.

Lena Chis

 good luck to you all!!

team derek