Airman wins by losing

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Timothy Moore
  • 355th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
In April 2012, Staff Sgt. Jennifer Whitus, 355th Medical Support Squadron noncommissioned officer in charge of the Uniformed Business Office, weighed almost 250 pounds. A year later, she has lost almost 100 pounds.

Whitus started her weight-loss journey after she had her third child in April 2012.

"Right after having the baby, I started doing Weight Watchers," Whitus said. "I even did the Biggest Loser meal plan."

Whitus was not pleased with her progress from April to September. However, Whitus did not give up on losing weight and instead enrolled in D-M's Win by Losing challenge in September 2012.

Win by Losing is a program run by the Benko Sports and Fitness Center here, which is modeled after Biggest Loser. The program runs from September to December each year and has been around since 2010.

Participants are divided into teams based on how many people sign up.

"A lot of the times the teams pick a captain, and that captain keeps in touch with everybody on the team," said Cesar Vinueza, 355th Force Support Squadron fitness center director. "They will send emails to each other, encouraging them, saying, 'Are we going to meet today?' or 'Can we exercise today?'"

Vinueza says team members also have the option to work out on their own, since the program is self-directed.

However, each member is still held accountable to the team as the teams' overall body weight loss percentages are calculated as opposed to the individual's percentage.

Whitus joined the program after reading an email sent out by Vinueza.

"It was kind of humbling, because, as a military person, you don't want to admit you have a weight issue," Whitus said. "But from the email, I figured that was a good way to keep yourself accountable."

Whitus and her team did hold each other accountable. By the end of the program in December, Whitus weighed in at 174 pounds; but she, and some of her teammates, did not stop there.

"After I got done with Win by Losing, my team and I kept going (to workout) with each other," Whitus said. "We kept each other accountable and started doing other weight-loss challenges."

The support and accountability came from more than just Whitus' teammates.

"The gym staff was so good," Whitus said. "They didn't make you feel like that was a big weight (when you weighed in). They would be like, "'Oh hey! You lost three pounds!'"

Whitus said she went to the gym to work out on her own before. Now, she even knows some of the "muscularly" guys and high-fives them when they see each other.

Whitus' journey has not just been about physical training. Before the Win by Losing challenge officially began, she and her team went to the Health and Wellness Center here.

"Right before and right after the challenge, we went over to the HAWC and did the Bod Pod," Whitus said. "We have been holding each other accountable to go over there periodically to check our body fat percentage."

Whitus has used the HAWC and its staff to plan workouts and align her diet with her weight-loss goals.

Whitus has received so much support that she started a Facebook page, Miss Priss Fitness, where she encourages and is encouraged by others to reach personal weight-loss goals.

"There is a huge community of weight-loss support and motivational weight-loss pages," Whitus said. "It's not anybody famous. It's just people showing, 'This is what I do,' 'This is how many times I worked out today' or 'How many times are you going to work out today?' It's just that type of motivation to keep people going."

Though she gets, and gives, motivation through her page, Whitus still gets motivation in person. She and Vinueza both spoke of how when they run into each other in the gym, he always asks where she is in relation to her weight-loss goal.

Though she is not at her own goal yet, Whitus is eager to motivate others. She will even be helping with the 2013 Win by Losing challenge.

Vinueza speaks highly of Whitus' capacity and willingness to motivate others toward their goals.

"I've been doing fitness for a long time," Vinueza said. "In my time, dealing with fitness, sports, PT testing and things like that, there is always a champion. There is always a person that excels. Even though those people don't show their face every time, I'm very happy and very proud of Jennifer for all of her accomplishments. She is my champion. She is our champion."

Whitus' Facebook page can be found at For more information about the Win by Losing challenge and other physical-training and weight-loss challenges offered by the Benko Fitness Center, call 228-0022.