A few days later was the final day of the twelfth competition. Prizes were being issued to people who'd signed up for the next contest, so Johnny convinced me to go.
I hate these things, with the pep rallies, the cheer leaders, the hoo-hah. But as I've made clear, I'm a huge cheapskate, and my love of free stuff outweighs my dislike of hoo-hah. Besides, I was curious about how much weight I'd have to lose to win the 500 bucks.
Thirty-eight pounds. Fifteen pounds. Twenty-three pounds. Forty-six pounds. Wow! These folks were racking up some big numbers. But no problem. I could beat that without even working up a sweat.
Then I heard something that really caught my attention: The 500 dollars was for the winner at this gym. But there were 10 gyms in this competition, and the overall winner would be awarded five grand! Five thousand dollars? Well howdy doody and kick me in the calf.
I chose my "prize" -- a month of boot camp -- and for the next several days, waited to hear the final number from the 10-gym competition. Would the 46 pounds be the winning number? Is it possible someone else would get up to 50, 55 pounds? Maybe even 60 or 65?
When I went in the following Monday the numbers were posted. The winner had lost 111 pounds, 42 percent of his body weight. In 90 days. The runner-up had lost a disappointing 110 pounds, or 41 percent. The next-biggest loser lost 40 percent of her body weight, 67 pounds. On the list of top 20 losers there were seven people who'd lost better than 80 pounds in 90 days.
I did the math. To lose 43 percent of my current body weight, I'd end up weighing less than 130 pounds. That's too skinny. I was 180 in college, 170 when I got married. Nah. I didn't even want to get my weight down into the 120s.
But I wanted that five thousand dollars. Oh, the places I'd go!
My dear cousin, whom I love better than myself, has a debilitating disease that will likely have her wheelchair bound in a few years. I've been thinking for some time that she really, really needs to go on a cruise. We all need to go together, the two of us and our husbands. Five grand would just about cover that cost.
But the 120s? I'd have to get an arm amputated to weigh that little. I'm not sure I love cruising with my cousin better than I love my arm.
There was only one alternative: Between that day, and our weigh-in at the end of May, if I wanted to lose 43 percent of my body weight and still come in above the 135 mark, I'd have to gain 17 pounds. Gain. Yup. You read it right.
I was on a crusade to gain weight. I wanted that five grand.