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Pounds check out in resort workers’ weight-loss contest

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Roberta Mondirin, left, and Zedrik Dana lost the most weight in a competition for employees of the JW Marriott Ihilani Resort & Spa.

Roberta Mondirin lost 25 pounds by cutting her food intake in half. She says that was the key factor in her winning the "Associate Biggest Loser" contest for employees of the JW Marriott Ihilani Resort & Spa at Ko Olina.

"We started eating mostly fruits and vegetables and more fish and chicken. I definitely watched portion size," she said.

Zedrik Dana, the top male winner, lost 38 pounds.

Mondirin, 51, said she found it easier to change habits with her husband, Larry, on board. He works at the resort as well, and finished second for male employees, with a 36-pound weight loss.

"Our weakness was eating too much. We’ve cut everything in half and gradually are learning to eat right," she said. "Our bad habit was eating when we were not hungry."

While not denying herself treats, the Waianae woman says she has learned to practice moderation in her diet.

"I love ice cream. Now I eat a half-cup instead of a whole pint of Haagen-Dazs," she said.

Because Mondirin’s job as a housekeeper involves physical tasks, she said she didn’t need a lot of extra exercise to lose weight. "I need to haul a heavy laundry cart every day and do lots of walking. I’m only 4 feet 11," she said.

Mondirin had started a diet prior to the hotel program, but "the contest really pushed me harder."

The couple also have adopted a more active lifestyle at home. "We are paddleboarding and doing other fun activities to stay active," she said.

Sixty Ihilani employees participated in the company-sponsored "Associate Biggest Loser" contest. The final weigh-in on June 25 named the top male and female "associates" – or workers – who lost the most weight during the 12-week program. Both winners won a weekend getaway for two to Kauai.

Employees at the resort learned about healthful living and had access to a 24-hour fitness facility, yoga classes and nutrition sessions led by HMSA.

Dana, 23, of Nanakuli, attributed his success to both changes in his diet and exercise routines.

"I took a lot of salt out my diet and lessened my carbs. I limited myself to 1,500 calories a day," he said. "I also try to eat five small meals and do a lot of weight training at the fitness center followed by a half-hour of cardio."

Dana works as a buffet runner at the resort’s Ushio-Tei restaurant. He said he had always done some upper-body weight training but never mixed in cardio or dietary changes.

Because of his work schedule, he was unable to take advantage of the nutrition classes offered to employees.

"I’ve researched lots of things on the Internet and got some advice from my cousin, who is a dietitian," he said. "I’d hit a plateau, so I cut out salt and started dropping pounds. The contest gave me an incentive and lots of motivation."

Dana said that before the contest he spent a lot of time yo-yo dieting, which was ineffective. He’s hoping to lose 15 more pounds and is making full use of the healthful choices available at the resort’s employee cafeteria.

"I eat lots of salad and fruits," he said. "All of the things that I’ve learned now I can continue."


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