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March to a different weight
By Dalia Wheatt
Published August 3, 2007
A surprise awaits the contestants on "Fat March" when they learn they will not be living in a mansion to lose the weight, but will be expected to walk over 570 miles, camping along the way.
Shea Carpenter of Indian Rocks Beach jumped at the chance to join the contestants of Fat March.
Shea Carpenter had tried all the fad diets - Slim-Fast, AdvoCare, Fen-Phen. When two popular Fen-Phen drugs went off the market in 1997, she kept continued taking the third.
"So then I just did Phen," joked Carpenter, 27, a make-up and special-effects artist in Indian Rocks Beach. The former college softball player had gained about 80 pounds since her days at New York's Stony Brook University, bringing her 5-foot-7 frame to 280 pounds.
"I never wanted to be the be the biggest person in the make-up trailer, taking up the most room," Carpenter said.
So when ABC went looking for 12 people to compete in a weight-loss show called Fat March, Carpenter jumped at the chance to slim down safely. Beginning at the starting line for the Boston Marathon and finishing in Washington D.C., the contestants walked nearly 600 miles as they shed pounds and vied for a collective prize of $1.2-million.
Carpenter recently chatted with tbt*.
Were you at all offended by the title, Fat March?
I was caught off-guard by the title the first time that I heard it, but I think that it's pretty catchy, and it kinda goes with the whole theme of Ugly Betty or things like that.
What's your favorite healthy snack?
My new fixation is protein shakes. Those are like my snacks because it almost makes me feel like I'm eating ice cream.
What was your favorite ice cream flavor?
Honestly, any kind of ice cream worked for me, but I guess I'd go with butter pecan. But you put me in an ice cream shop and it's kinda like alcohol; I'll take what you give me. (laughs)
What's something that you have been looking forward to doing now that you're in better shape?
I'm looking forward to going bathing suit shopping and going to the beach. I live on the beach, and I rarely went before. Being that that's part of my lifestyle, I want to be able to enjoy that. I enjoy getting up every day and doing two cardios a day and just doing healthy, fun fitness-type of things. My lifestyle is definitely changing because of the show.
Have you had to buy any smaller clothes yet?
Of course I had to buy smaller clothes! That was the best part.
What was your first purchase in a smaller size?
I actually went out and got a bathing suit. I went down to one of the surf shops down on John's Pass and just went in there and had a heyday 'cause it felt so good to actually get a size and not have to go to the total plus-size every time. I looked over there, but I could also go in the normal size and do extra-larges and stuff - you know, 'cause you wanna see if you get lucky. (laughs)
You sound like one of those perky gym-rat types. Did you ever think you would be that way, and did you used to be annoyed by people like that?
(laughs) I hope I don't ever come off like that, because that's not what I am because I've been where so many overweight people have been. That's who I am. It just came to a point where you make a change in your life. You make a decision on what you want to do and where you want to be. And for me, I just want to be healthier. I don't want to be big and beautiful. I just want to be beautiful. That's it.
Any weight-loss advice?
Just making little, baby-step changes in your life to start the process. And then increase it as you go. If you go to Taco Bell three times a day, go once. And then eventually, you won't go there at all. Walk to the mailbox and get your mail, maybe? Things like that. Or if you live next to a quick shop that's two blocks away, why drive? ... If you're not a gym person, you could just go walking. That's kind of the point of the whole show.
Premieres 9 p.m. Monday on ABC. Tune in Sept. 10 to find out who won the $1.2-million prize.