These 90-day losers wind up winning in the end
Koli Palu puts those wishing to lose weight through grueling regimen that usually nets big-time results
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By Mira Brody  August 17, 2012 12:00 am

When it comes to weight loss, Koli Palu knows it is not only about exercise and nutrition but also the unhealthy mental baggage that comes with being overweight as well. Graduates of NBC reality show “The Biggest Loser,” Palu, 31, and his girlfriend, Ashley Johnson are hosting the year’s third 90-Day Challenge, a three-month practice created to establish a healthier body and mind.

Starting Aug. 27 at the University of Sports in Rohnert Park, those who sign up are subject to four workouts a week with a regular weigh-in and measurements along with nutritional education. With sponsors such as Fleet Feet Athletic Wear, Tierra Farms and local nutritionist Dr. Cheryl Forberg, participants are eased in from a basic level and guided on healthy meal planning and organic grocery shopping.

Providing the tools
“In essence, we are trying to give people the tools to make a lifestyle change,” says Palu, “90-days is not long-lasting, but it gets people motivated.”

Being a challenge, there are prizes for highest weight loss such as an extended gym membership, free training sessions, food boxes from Tierra Farms and Fleet Feet gift cards. The most prominent success stories are usually among the women; last session a 60-year-old woman lost 35 inches off her waist; over 19 percent of her body fat. Some transformations are immediate as some contestants are finally able to discard blood pressure and cholesterol medication and even the use of insulin for the first time in years. Most of all, though, it is the heightened spirits driving people to not give up as most did not have a regular workout friend, a key element in keeping such a life-altering routine.

All about accountability
“Here, they can build a good fitness support group. They work out together and hold each other accountable to continue to lose weight.”

A veteran of obesity since his time on the Biggest Loser, Palu has gained new insight in his daily life, especially when it comes to meals. By eating out less and learning how to prepare organic vegetables, he actually appreciates it more then before. Also, working out in the morning is important, otherwise it gets put off and therefore less likely to occur.

A challenge of the mind
The 90-Day Challenge is not much different then dieting when it comes to the nutrition and calorie burning aspect, but it is the mental state of those struggling that most other routines ignore.

“I’m a huge believer in gym workouts and learning basic nutrition, but the difference here is that I have been there before,” Palu said. Most gym trainers you find have been skinny and fit their whole lives. “I’ve lost it and gained it back. We are on the mental side of weight loss. Our office door is always open and if they want to talk, we are there for them.”

Improved self-esteem
Before the show, Palu says he lacked self worth, which led him to have no qualms about destroying his body. As the show progressed, however, he passed such mental roadblocks and found the weight came of that much faster.

“I was able to let go of the mental baggage and let go of the negative conversations I’d have with myself about my weight.”

Limited spots are still available for those interested in joining the challenge with prices starting at $399. Registration forms can be found on the University of Sports Web site It often takes personal experience in order to reach those most in need and with Palu’s past behind him, those in serious need of some healthy modifications in their daily life can guarantee they will not walk away unchanged.

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