Cohort 8 shapes up for South Africa trip

Larry Flory is Cohort 8's "Biggest Loser," and he has $160 to show for it.

What are some of the benefits of the Stetson Executive MBA program? Many of the students would follow the list of academic and networking advantages with some glowing commentary on the catered lunches and the breakroom that’s stocked with every imaginable savory and sweet treat.

As students in Cohort 8 embarked on their Executive MBA journey, they were bound and determined not to gain the “Freshman 15,” and they used the upcoming South Africa international trip as the catalyst to get in shape. The original goal was looking their best in the wetsuit they planned to wear when going on the optional shark dive in Cape Town during the South Africa adventure this month.

In the style of NBC’s The Biggest Loser, the students weighed themselves at the beginning of the program, dieted and exercised over a period of months, and measured their weight loss on a percentage basis. With 11 participants putting in $20 each, the person who came in third place would get his or her $20 back, second place would get $40, and the winner would get $160.

Through seven weigh-ins over the course of four months, the top 3 “losers” lost a combined 35 pounds, or 15.47% of their body weight. Just before the students went on their trip, they had their final weigh-in, and the winner of the competition was Larry Flory.

“My plan worked,” said Flory, who is a vice president at Disney’s Partners Federal Credit Union. “I casually mentioned to my classmates a ‘study’ that suggested that eating a pint of ice cream just before bed would actually speed up one’s metabolism and cause net weight loss. Apparently some believed it and went that route. I just can’t remember where I heard about that ‘study,’” Flory said with a smirk.

Flory was especially diligent in his weight loss efforts and took on the challenge with great competitive spirit. He regularly exercised before work and school, skipped dessert, and even weighed in on the final day in a lightweight running outfit to ensure the best possible results.

Flory lost 13.20 pounds of 6.19%. In second place was Ghaleb Abulola, an Orlando resident from Jeddah, who lost 12 pounds, or 4.74% of his body weight. And Raul Herrera, general manager at Disney’s Jiko restaurant, lost 9.80 pounds, or 4.54% of his body weight.

All 11 participants either lost weight or maintained their original “fighting weight.” It is a common Cohort 8 joke now about who can reach the third floor study group room the fastest by taking the stairs instead of the elevator.

In fact, a few of the students have signed up for the new Tinkerbell Half-Marathon at Disney World in winter 2012, committing to a healthier lifestyle long-term. The breakroom still has the sweet and savory snacks, but it now also contains Slim-Fast drinks, Special K bars, and Detour bars, as requested by the executive MBA students. Cohort 8 is determined to be smarter, stronger and healthier.

Congratulations on your weight loss, team, and good luck getting into those shark dive wetsuits!