We say it every year, to every person who finishes the Fitness Challenge: There are no losers in this challenge.

The 2017 Fitness Challenge is no different in that regard.

The challenge started with six, but finished with just four competitors. For 13 weeks the remaining four worked to build healthy lifestyle habits. With the help from personal trainers from Anytime Fitness and Husker Health, the challengers learned to eat healthier and exercise in an efficient way.

The results show in many ways. Everyone lost weight, is several inches thinner and can squeeze into smaller clothing than they could 13 weeks earlier. Just as important: Activity levels are higher, parents are able to do more with their children and self-confidence is higher than it has been in quite some time.

It’s harder to measure self-esteem, quality of life or even quality of parenting. While we tend to focus on the tangibles (pounds lost, inches lost, etc.) the truth is that happiness is not measured in mere inches and pounds.

A surefire way to tell the 2017 Fitness Challenge was successful? Smiles.

Ask the challengers about their progress, how their life is different or what their improved health means to their families and the first thing you’ll notice is a big smile on their face.

That’s the mark of success.

While this is the last week of the Fitness Challenge for 2017 in the Beatrice Daily Sun, each of the four finalists know that their challenge isn’t ending. They will each move forward with their own goals and challenges, but they now have the tools and the know-how to be successful.

A special thanks to our sponsors: Anytime Fitness, Husker Rehab, Southeast Community College, Elder Jewelry, Joyride Bicycles and the Beatrice Daily Sun. The Fitness Challenge would not be possible without them.

And there would be no Fitness Challenge without this year’s trainers Bryan Seibel, Tyson Parks and Dylan Warford who graciously gave their time and expertise to tailor plans to each of the challengers.

Lastly, a bit of thanks for everyone who has followed the challengers this year, offered them words of encouragement or helped to hold them accountable throughout this process. When this challenge started many years ago one of the most surprising and most satisfying pieces was how much community support followed and how truly helpful that support proved to be for each of the challengers.

As this is a contest, a “winner” must be named. Each year the Fitness Challenge determines a winner based on percentage of starting weight lost throughout the 13-week challenge. For the first time in Fitness Challenge history we have a tie for the top spot. Both Taylor McCabe and Patrick Ethridge lost 11 percent of their starting weight. The duo will share a handful of prizes from Fitness Challenge sponsors. Christine Loos finished with a 7 percent loss and Courtney Ethridge was close behind with a 5 percent loss.

At its core, the Fitness Challenge takes regular people off the street from various walks of life and gives them the tools to improve their fitness and ultimately boost their quality of life.

If nothing else, Fitness Challenge has proven that it’s never too late to improve your health and no matter your current ailments or weight, there is ALWAYS room for improvement if you’re willing to learn and put in the work.

If you do that, you truly cannot lose.

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