EAGLE RIVER - The Eagle River YMCA sponsors a program called "Y-Weight" every year.
Participants have trainers to teach them about good nutrition and exercise.
They also have each other for support... and a little competition.
Sounds a lot like The Biggest Loser, except the point of this program is slow, steady weight loss that lasts.
"I got into the program because I wanted to change for me." said winner of Y-Weight Competition, Debbie Heller.
Changing for the better are these people's goals.
"I didn't like who I looked like, what was taking place," Heller said.
"So I wanted to feel happy with myself and when you're happy with yourself it kind of leaps over into every aspect of your life."
"During this past year my husband became ill and had lost a lot of weight," Y-Weight competitor, Bonnie Kegley said.
"I was very proud of him and pleased with the progress he had made and decided I needed to do something as well."
But it's not an easy task when you're first starting out.
"You have to change the eating. You have to change the exercising," said Y-Weight competitor Dave Sadenwasser.
"You have to change the portion control and you really have to change the way you think and the way you go about everything. It's a total commitment of every asset."
Even though this was a competition to see who would lose the most weight, Heller says it wasn't about winning.
"It was about doing something for us. And that was the big difference," Heller said.
"You have to change too and want to change for yourself. You can't do it for somebody else or you ultimately aren't going to succeed."
You may not be doing it for somebody else, but having somebody else's support is important.
"You're going to build your friendships. Certain people are going to click with other people and I've seen friendships being built here that I think will last a lifetime," said personal trainer, Mandy Rottier.
"It's so important to build those friendships with people that are also on that healthy lifestyle journey."
The YMCA of Eagle River runs the 10 week program once a year.
But they are looking into expanding it for the summer time.
RHINELANDER - If you never met Monica Bartishofski, you would have loved her smile.
“Oh it was contagious, you couldn’t not smile when Monica greeted you into the store,” says Patti Pazera, Rhinelander Trigs Employee.
These are the aisles Monica used to walk during her days bagging groceries for the people of Rhinelander.
“You always knew if it was going on close to 1:00 in the afternoon, and we would go here comes Monica and we’d always just see her bright smiling face,” says Anne Cline, Rhinelander Trigs Employee. “She’d come and visit us before her shift and she just enjoyed coming down and seeing us girls.”
Monica was killed in a car accident on Valentines Day.
“It was Valentines Day when she had her accident,” says Cline.
“At first it didn’t hit me you know it didn’t comprehend and then I’m checking out a customer and of course we’re busy and the tears start coming down,”says Christa Stolzman, Rhinelander Trigs Employee.
“We all just stood there in shock and the day stopped for a bit,” says Cline.
“I had to apologize to my customers because I had tears in my eyes and I said I’m sorry I don’t mean to be crying but we just lost Monica and I tell you what, a lot of those customers couldn’t believe it and they teared up with me,” says Stolzman.
“After her accident customers were all coming up saying how they missed her smile that it always made even if they were having a bad day it made it a good day whenever they came in and saw Monica,” says Pazera.
Monica’s coworkers decided to raise money in memory of Monica. They sold carnations for donations and raised over $2,700 toward Special Olympics.
Monica Bartishofski worked here inside the Rhinelander Trigs for 17 years but it was her commitment to the special Olympics that coworkers, friends, and family will remember most.
“You could call her Monica “Special Olympics” Bartishofski,” says Tony Bartishofski, Monica’s dad. “She always had a good time bowling. She was really outgoing, bubbly.”
Monica lived life to the fullest.
“You just remember her with her smiling face, her laugh was just you know a great laugh that she had and just bright eyed always happy to be at work,” says Stolzman. “So I think that would be a good way of remembering her.”
ROTHSCHILD - Wisconsin farms play a key role in our economy, but today's farm owners aren't getting any younger.
One apprentice program hopes to change that.
The Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship program is building and preparing the next generation of farmers. It gives young farmers hands-on training and a path to a career in dairy farming.
"There's a lot of farms that are going to be transitioned and transferred in the next decade or so, and what we really need is somebody to be able to take these farms over," says program director Joe Tomandl. "We don't have that training program in place, and that's what the dairy grazing apprenticeship is about."
A recent government census of American agriculture found the average age of a farmer is 58 years old. Leaders believe the apprentice program has already seen success with new farmers over the past few years.
"We have a number of new producers just in the last four years in Marathon and Lincoln counties now running their own dairy farms using managed grazing techniques," says Paul Daigle of the Marathon County Conservation, Planning, & Zoning Department. "It's still a struggle no matter what, but it offers a profitable way to get into farming today."
Cattle farmers met at the 20th Annual Winter Grazing Conference today in Rothschild.
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