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Leet Township community fitness group welcomes 'losers'

Kristina Serafini | Sewickley Herald
Traci Wolfson of Freedom walks along the track at the Sewickley Valley YMCA Friday, Jan. 25, 2013. Wolfson is one of the founders of a free community weight loss group, which meet in the Leetsdale Borough community room Tuesdays from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.

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By Joanne Barron
Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013, 9:01 p.m.

After 20 years of trying and failing, Tami McQuaid had a dream about how to make her dreams come true.

The Leet Township 50-something woman joined many different programs over the years to lose weight, and while she always lost the pounds, she inevitably gained them all back and more.

“I was literally down on my knees praying to God. I knew I just had to do it this time,” she said.

That same night, she dreamed she started a free community weight-loss group. She told her husband about it. He loved the idea.

After that, she gathered some friends who also were excited about the idea, and they named the group Winning Losers 101.

They met for three Tuesdays before opening the group up to the public for the first time last month. The next meeting will be held from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Leetsdale Borough building, 373 Beaver St. The group plans to continue meeting each Tuesday.

Meetings will feature guest speakers who will talk about different ways of losing weight, give tips about making smart food choices and tell their success stories.

McQuaid said when she joined other weight-loss programs, she succeeded at first, but it didn't last because she did not have any support from others. This group, she said, will supply that support.

She also got tired of all the money she had to pay to continue to be involved with various programs. This group takes care of that problem, too, because it's free, she said.

And, when people commit to one specific weight loss program, they have to follow that program's requirements, many times buying only the program's food or supplements.

In Winning Losers 101, participants will hear about numerous ideas to try, and they can choose the best plan for themselves. Members are welcome to share their own ideas, recipes and exercise tips as well as discuss their problems, inspirations or motivations. But, it's OK to stay quiet, too, McQuaid said.

“I can't believe all the great ideas I've already gotten from just six of us meeting,” McQuaid said.

A scale will be available, but no one is required to weigh-in, and members won't be scolded if they can't attend a few meetings.

“No one I've asked to join or to speak has said no, so I think it's a real community need,” McQuaid said.

McQuaid put out the word on Facebook and it wasn't long before six people said they would be interested in attending. She also began calling people she knew to pass the word along.

In addition to McQuaid, other founders of the group include Leetsdale residents Lucy Persuit, Barb Herman, Nancy Martin, Melissa Turner and Paula Scimio. McQuaid's sister, Traci Wolfson of Freedom, also is a founder.

Through Facebook, McQuaid talked with Alyssa Cammarata Chance, who has lost 125 pounds and soon will speak with the group. Laura Pasqueal Skinger, owner of Bellevue Curves and a Zumba instructor who lost 265 pounds, also will speak at one of the meetings.

For more information, email winninglosers101@gmail. com or visit their Facebook group.

Joanne Barron is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-324-1406 or

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