John Randolph, winner of the 2008 Biggest Loser contest at RAF Mildenhall, receives a gym bag from Maj. Tammy Hinskton, commander of the 100th Services Squadron, last week.

John Randolph, winner of the 2008 Biggest Loser contest at RAF Mildenhall, receives a gym bag from Maj. Tammy Hinskton, commander of the 100th Services Squadron, last week. (Steve Doke / Courtesy of the 100th Services Squadron)

John Randolph made small changes that yielded big results.

By refraining from even the occasional glass of red wine, eating less sugar and switching to whole-wheat pasta (while eating less of it in general), Randolph lost 30 pounds in three months.

The achievement earned him this year’s “Biggest Loser” title at RAF Mildenhall last week.

Misti Link, who shed 34.5 pounds, took home the title for the women.

“It was amazing. I’ve lost almost 35 pounds so I’m going to slow down [losing weight]. But this was a starting point,” said Link, a stay-at-home mom. “I really learned you have to stick with it.”

Together, Randolph and Link beat out 184 other participants in the weight-loss contest sponsored by the 100th Services Squadron.

Males lost an average of 24 pounds, females lost an average of 22.5 pounds. The top five males shed a total of 125 pounds, the top five females dropped a total of 112 pounds.

Loosely based on the reality TV show with the same name, the “Biggest Loser” monitors participants’ weight loss and provides them with diet and exercise tips along with a dash of encouragement. They’re weighed at the beginning, middle and end of the three-month annual contest but are not subject to giant scales such as those used on the NBC show.

“A lot of these people just don’t know how to start [a weight loss program],” said Staff Sgt. Joseph Ogletree, director of intramural sports, who oversaw the contest. “There’s a lot of motivation for programs like this.”

Randolph, 100th Mission Support Group deputy, is the prime example.

“One reason I wanted to win, besides reaching my own [weight loss goal], was because it puts pressure on me to keep it off,” he said. “It would be embarrassing to have somebody come up and say ‘Hey, didn’t you win the ‘Biggest Loser’ contest?” and then be back at the same size you were when you started.”

But he also gained some valuable information about maximizing his workouts during the course of the contest, which started in January. Randolph, who retired from the Air Force in 2000, has always exercised regularly, though he had struggled for almost a decade to drop weight until now.

Along with tweaking his diet, the key to Randolph’s success, he said, was investing in a heart-rate monitor to ensure he’s reaching his target heart rate, which some experts contend is critical for weight loss.

“If you don’t work out in that zone you’re basically wasting your time,” he said.

But according to a story that ran in the New York Times this month, not all experts agree. While most tend to favor monitoring your heart rate, some say the formula for determining your maximum heart rate is flawed and that monitoring your ticker can distract from your workout.

Still, Randolph is sold on the heart-rate monitor, which consists of a band that goes around the chest and a watchlike device worn on the wrist.

“That’s been the most help overall,” he said.

His advice to others who want to lose big?

“Be dedicated and stick with it,” he said. “It’s easy to give up, but you’ve got to set a goal.”

The top five winners received an assortment of prizes, including water bottles and gym bags.

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