They put five average women on five different weight loss plans for the next eight weeks. They include Slim-Fast, Weight Watchers, The Zone, Atkins and one diet plan devised by one of the women. Our five volunteers are co-workers at the Kinry Road elementary school in Wappingers Falls, N.Y.
"I don't weigh myself, I don't look in mirrors," says teaching assistant Georgia Butor-Pavelock. "When you avoid looking at yourself, then you know there's a problem. I'm definitely a volume eater. I don't eat breakfast, I don't eat lunch. But when I go home, watch out! That refrigerator is going to be empty by the time I get done."
Butor-Pavelock is 5 feet 8 inches tall and weighs 262 pounds. She hopes to lose 125 pounds using Slim-Fast.
"I'm psyched to get going," says Butor-Pavelock. "It's going to be easy. With shakes, that's it. I don't have to worry about making special food."
"I remember back when I was 8 years old and I started putting on weight," says Lucretia Cortright, an academic intervention specialist. "At 22, I weighed close to 300 pounds. I never got on a scale because I was too scared to. I'm an emotional eater. Which my emotions go wild, I eat."
Cortright is 5 feet 6 inches tall and currently weighs 223 pounds. She will try Weight Watchers.
"I think I'm going to do well," says Cortright. "I think Weight Watchers is everyday food. It's very easy to count the points and I think I'm going to succeed. And do it."
Cortright says she will be getting married and she has a wedding dress that just barely fits. Her goal is to fit into it and, maybe, have it altered down.
"I gained 60 pounds with my first child and I didn't lose that," says Chris DePaz, a teacher's assistant. "With my second son, learning from the first, I gained 25 pounds. I lost 28 the day after I had him. I think I'm a very good eater. If somebody gave me a vegetable dish, I would eat that over having a steak."
DePaz says she was diagnosed with adult onset asthma, which cause her to avoid an abundant amount of activities because she was afraid exercise could cause an attack.
DePaz stands at 5 feet 5 inches tall and weighs 192 pounds. She will follow the Atkins plan.
"I don't consider myself obese. But I certainly consider myself overweight, and I think that I'm right with a large number of Americans who want to lose 10, 15, 20 pounds," says Betsy Solomon, a fifth grade teacher. "One of my best days is in [an older] picture. I felt healthy. I was happy. I felt good about myself. I felt good about the world. And I'd really like to wear that dress again."
She weighs 153 pounds. "I'm 5 feet 3 inches [tall]. I think an awful lot of women in America want to lose about that amount of weight," says Solomon. "I've lost a lot of weight, and I've gained the 15 pounds back. And I'm just afraid if I don't lose it, I'm going to end up back where I started — 183. Which is pretty round."
"I don't think there's a diet out there that I haven't tried," says Marge Variano, the school's principal. "I'm a leapfrog dieter. I go on a diet, I stick on it for a couple of weeks, and I'm a perpetual weigher. I go on the scale at least once a day."
She says she wants to lose 25 pounds of her current 178 pounds. Variano will be put on The Zone diet.
"I think I'm going to do very well. It is a balanced diet. It is nutritionally based. I feel I'll do a good job on the zone diet," she says.
Variano got the group from Kinry Road Elementary School together to participate in The Early Show's Weight Off series.
"We've had a diet group at school. We've been working for a little while," says Variano. "We wanted to be good role models for the students. As you know, childhood obesity is on the rise, and we wanted to show children we were doing the same as they should do: eat healthy, exercise."
All five women say their goal of weight loss is not a competition. And they intend to support each other through the next eight weeks.