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Kobe Bryant Inspires Weight Loss Champ

Darlene Gardner, winner of Fit Foods 4 Life's 28-Day Charity Weightloss Challenge, gets an unexpected push in the gym from the Lakers' Superstar Kobe Bryant.

He may go down in history as a Hall-of-Fame basketball player, but Lakers Guard Kobe Bryant is also pretty good cheerleader.

A Newport Beach woman who dropped 17 pounds while raising money for cancer patients found an unexpected supporter in the NBA superstar. It all started when Darlene Gardner bumped into the Lakers’ guard at the gym.

Gardner, 48, was one of three contestants who competed in the Fit Foods 4 Life 28-Day Charity Weightloss Challenge. The owner of Antonia's Boutique in Newport Beach, Gardner lost 17 pounds, raising $50 per pound she shed for the Don't Worry, Be Happy Foundation and earning the championship title in the weight-loss competition. Bryant, himself a five-time NBA champion, threw his support behind Gardner.

"He was high-fiving me in the gym every time I saw him," Gardner told Patch.

Along with helping motivate Gardner to shed the weight, Bryant also lent his support to the Don't Worry, Be Happy Foundation, which supports cancer patients who cannot afford treatments through donations and sales of their T-shirts. Bryant wore the shirt and posted a picture of himself wearing it on his Facebook page.

"He put the shirt on and took a picture with me. I heard he doesn't take pictures for anyone. So I was blown away at that," Gardner said. "He's a nice guy." 

Consuelo Rodriguez, 55, and Cristina Lopez, 25, also took part in the weight loss challenge. Equinox Gym gave the three contestants a free month membership with access to their trainers. Even with all the perks, they said it wasn't easy.

"It was gruesome," Gardner said. "I got four trainers four days a week. Lot of working out, but everyone should do this. You have nothing to lose except a few pounds."

Lopez weighed in at second place. She lost 14 pounds right in time for her wedding next summer.

"We did a lot of circuit training, a lot of fun dance classes to mix it up. I had Fit Foods for breakfast, lunch and dinner," Lopez said. "My fiancé is like 'you are so skinny.' It's going to be really fun to go wedding dress shopping now."

Rodriguez did a lot of weight resistance training and lost 13 pounds. She said the experience was life-changing.

"It's surprising. The results happen real quickly," Rodriguez said. "I want to continue doing weight training and walking around the bay and kayaking around the harbor."

Overall Fit Foods 4 Life donated a total of $1,625 to the Don't Worry Be Happy Foundation, The American Diabetes Association and The American Heart Association thanks to the commitments of Gardner, Lopez and Rodriguez.

If you are interested in joining the weight loss challenge, stop by Fit Foods 4 Life to sign-up. Fit Foods 4 Life is located at 2043 Westcliff Drive in Newport Beach. For more information, call 949-722-3663 or visit fitfoods4life.com.

Linda Boulton October 08, 2012 at 10:30 PM
Is there a similar program for kids. My 11 year old grandson is weighing in at 150 lbs. I sure could use some help. Linda
Darlene October 09, 2012 at 12:08 AM
Hi Linda, If I can make a suggestion, contact Fit Food for Life in Newport Beach or I think they have one in Costa Mesa. They have nutritionists that can plan a menu for him & can advise him on portion control. The food is really good and it was pretty convenient. The second part is the hardest & that getting him active. The more active he is, the easier it will be for him to loose weight. The WMCA has great program for kids. Good Luck!!! Darlene
Charles October 09, 2012 at 09:43 PM
People aren't overweight because they lack advice on portion control. They aren't overweight because they lack menus "provided by nutritionists". Being overweight has practically nothing to do with education or money. Anyone can lose weight, but keeping it off is achieved by maybe 1 in 20 people. It's 69 times easier to lose 17 pounds in a month than it is to keep five pounds off for a year. But desperate overweight people will purchase "Fit Food for Life" products in the hopes that "Maybe this will work". Similarly, thin people aren't thin because they work out and overweight people are fat because they don't. [Ever notice that every overweight person at the gym pretty much stays overweight no matter how much he works out?] While exercising is no doubt an important component of good health, it won't make you thinner unless you're willing to be hungry. For every five calories you burn working out, you get six calories hungrier. It's almost easier to lose weight if you don't work out. Overweight people are destined to be miserable the rest of their lives: either fat and miserable or hungry and miserable. One solution for them is weight loss surgery which does actually work but it isn't cheap.

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