Former Addicts Inspired to Drop Pounds "Biggest Loser" Style

The Salvation Army is pushing its rehab participants to go the extra mile to achieve physical fitness

By Brent Solomon
|  Thursday, Oct 21, 2010  |  Updated 3:50 PM EDT
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Drug Abusers Become Biggest Losers

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THE BIGGEST LOSER -- Episode 801 -- Pictured: (l-r) Liz, Danny -- NBC Photo: Chris Haston

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Drug Abusers Become Biggest Losers

Men at a South Florida Salvation Army rehab center are trading in drug addiction for fitness.
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Inspired by NBC’s "The Biggest Loser," the Salvation Army's new program is all about encouraging its rehab participants to trade bad addictions for healthy ones. And if only the strong survive, Sam Tompkins is in it to win it.

"I've been addicted to crack cocaine a really long time, and it really beat me down," he said.

While a part of The Salvation Army's drug rehab program, he started packing on the pounds.

"When I came in here I was wearing a 36 waist. I'm at a 44 now," Tompkins admitted.

It’s why he and other rehab participants are taking control not only of their addiction but also of their overall health.

"We do a good job here with our program focusing on the mind and the soul, but we wanted to add that element of the body, and the guys said we’re trading one addiction for another, we’re giving up our drugs but were gaining food as our addiction and we want to do something about it," said Captain Jay Ward.

Each week, the guys weigh in to see whose losing the most. As a group, they've already lost nearly 60 pounds in three weeks.

"My mom died being overweight at 48 and I didn't want to die like that," said Steve Neira. He's lost 20 pounds already, now weighing in at 455 pounds. He has his eyes on the prize.

"To get down to my normal weight. It's going to take a while but start slowly and work my way towards it," he said.

They're learning to trade in danishes for fruit and sugary soda for juice and water.

"Each week it motivates me to lose more," Neira added.

It’s all to determine who will be the biggest loser.

"I'm definitely not giving up. I'd like to be able to go into the store and be able to get some pants without them not having my size," Tompkins said.

The program will wrap up in six months for the final weigh in. The winner will get a trophy and new clothes to fit his new body.

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