EXCHANGE: Family forms group to lose weight

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BELVIDERE, Ill. (AP) - One son couldn’t go to baseball games because of his weight and another couldn’t realize his dream of becoming a sworn law enforcer.

Obesity was getting the best of Sharon Thiltgen’s family when they came together last fall to lose weight.

“We just got tired of being fat,” said the 65-year-old mother of five and grandmother of 14.

She blames health problems and personal eating habits for her own weight, which was 223 pounds in September when she convinced her family to form Seddy’s Shredders.

They met regularly to weigh in and exercise. They also changed their diets to include more chicken, veggies and fruits. Between Sept. 7 and Feb. 15, the group of eight members, including Thiltgen, lost a total of 234 pounds.

Seddy’s Shedders now has its own Facebook page, and members have been reuniting at 10 a.m. Saturday in the basement of Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, 217 E. Hurlbut Ave., to find inspiration in each other’s weight-loss journeys.

Thiltgen’s sons - Fred Shondel, 43, and Bob Shondel, 37 - named the group: “Seddy” because that’s what their grandmother once called Fred, “Shredders” because Bob wants the gang to be known for virtually ripping off their burdensome pounds.

The older brother has lost about 70 pounds. He started at 512 pounds and dreams of fitting through the turnstiles at Major League Baseball games.

“I really don’t think I could lose 70 pounds by myself,” he said.

His brother lost seven pounds last week. But Bob Shondel, who weighed 428 pounds in September, still has nearly 150 pounds to lose before he can consider taking the physical agility test required to become a sheriff’s deputy. The younger Shondel brother recently underwent lap band surgery.

He has a smaller stomach limiting the amount of food the stomach can hold and helping him feel full more quickly. Plus, he joined a gym.

Unfortunately, there remains the constant challenge of passing by a McDonald’s drive-thru.

“Once you’re used to eating that kind of food, it’s hard to say no to it,” said Bob Shondel, who works as a security guard. However, “I’m not getting any younger. I have to do it now or else I’m not going to do it.”

The brothers take inspiration from reality show personality Chris Powell, who teaches lifestyle changes to obese individuals on the show, “Extreme Weight Loss.”

Rose Moore is the 52-year-old sister of Thiltgen, who invites inspirational speakers to join Seddy’s Shredders when the group meets on Saturdays. Rose gained weight when she lost her job in August and then underwent surgery because of cancer.

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