In my last post I asked burn the fat blog readers to answer the question, “why is finishing the year FIT and STRONG and absolute MUST! (not a “should”). I offered some great prizes to the people who posted the best answers. Choosing the winners of this “WHY I MUST” blog essay contest was no easy feat. The judges read 228 blog post entries and deliberated for two days to pick an overall winner, the 2nd place winners and the 3rd place winners. Let me tell you, these contest entries have a lot to teach you about the powerful motivational forces that drive people. Inspirational too…


What you see in the photograph to your right is 89 pages of blog contest entries (comments), printed out, 3-hole punched and placed in a 3-ring binder. yes, 89 pages (that’s 228 entries in this blog contest!

Yes, we read every single one of them…

All l I can say is WOW!

Some of these essays were so heartfelt and emotional, they nearly brought tears to my eyes. (One of them almost brought tears of laughter to my eyes… as you’ll see in a moment.)

It was not easy to pick all the winners. I showed you the photo above so you know just how much we had to read and why the decision on picking the all the winners was so difficult.

In fact, we couldnt just pick ONE overall winner.

Burn The Fat Blog reader and Blog contest entrant Matthew S. wrote a post that jumped out at all three of us (judges) as the top pick.

However Donna had an entry that we also agreed could easily have been the winner. The tough decision was that Donna’s post was clever and funny.

It was a tough decision because with the exception of Donna’s entry, ALL the other entries were very serious. We had people literally saying they MUST burn the fat and get healthy or they were going to DIE – and they meant that literally.

We just couldnt award first prize to a humorous entry with a clear conscience when this is such a serious matter as health… and LIFE.

Or could we?

Actually, when I thought about it, of course we could. We decided they were BOTH going to win the overall award! That’s right. We’ve chosen TWO overall winners – Mattew and Donna!

And now, here are the winning essays.

Donna, you didn’t title yours. So I’ve taken the liberty of titling it myself. I hope you approve, since I know you poets are picky about your words:

Ode To The Holiday Challenge

Tom has presented a challenge today
having to do with how much I weigh.
Where should I be on New Year’s Day?
With how much of my health am I willing to pay?

I know I’ve procastinated far too much.
2009 I’ve let be my crutch.
I continue to eat near all that I touch.
My health is suffering because of such.

Tom is asking”Has it become now a must?”
If not now, my pants just may bust.
So it seems at this time to be only just
to take out my sneaks and blow off the dust.

I don’t want to be an old fat hen
who isn’t atrractive to any old men.
So if not now, I must ask when.
My answer is certainly 2010!

If I don’t do it now, the when?
I choose to be healthier in 2010.

Donna. You are a winner! You get a one year membership to the Burn The Fat Inner Circle ($119 value), a free copy of the Burn The Fat ebook (deluxe edition) and if you already have it, we will send it to a friend of your choice, and a free personally autographed copy of The Body Fat solution hard cover book.

Donna, you are a winner because you have shown us that achieving health and fitness can be FUN! Why shouldn’t it be? Why not have a laugh as we BURN AWAY THAT FAT?

I want everyone who is taking the Holiday fitness challenge this year to realize that they can transform their bodies during the holidays while enjoying a few good meals, spending time with friends and family and having a blast . This time of the year should be FUN and FESTIVE…. AND… FIT!!!! Donna’s contest entry – her poem – embodies this sentiment perfectly. Donna, congratulations and thank you.

Email us at and include your email to collect your ebook and membership and your full postal shipping address for the book.

And now, here is overall winner number two…

Matthew S. I want you to know that picking the whole list of winners was tough, but all three judges unanimously voted you the winner. When it comes to having some powerful reasons why you MUST finish 2009 strong and start the new year strong, you “GET IT.”

Not only that, you have inspired us all and you have shared tremendously valuable lessons here in your essay. I hope thousands of people read your essay because if they can GET IT too, then thousands of people are going to change their health, their bodies and their lives too… just like YOU ARE!

And here’s the winning essay #2 by Matthew S.

“I have so many reasons why finishing 2009 strong is an absolute must. At 6′ 5” I weigh in at an overweight 240 lbs. The last time I was this heavy was before I decided to test to become a firefighter. Then I was 245! Although 240 doesn’t sound heavy for someone my height, I am over 20% body fat.

The first reason that finishing 2009 strong is a must is because the people I am sworn to protect depend on me being in good enough shape to help them when they call. Doing my job (paramedic/firefighter) is hard enough when in good shape; being in poor shape is a recipe for disaster. Each year more firefighters die of strokes and heart attacks than almost all the other causes combined. With a history of high cholesterol, being out of shape makes me a ticking time bomb.

The second reason that finsihing 2009 strong is a must is because those around me who wear the same uniform as me may depend on me to save their lives one day. I could never live with myself if I knew that a brother or sister firefighter died because I wasn’t in shape enough to get to them in time!!

The last four (and most important) reasons I must finish 2009 strong are my wife and three young boys, ages 7, 5 and 3. I am the only source of income for them as my wife has chosen to stop working as a nurse and pour her life into them! If I were to injure myself to the point I couldn’t go back to work, or worse if I were to die, I don’t know what they would do. I can’t imagine not spending the next several decades watching my children grow and start families of their own and spending as much time as I can with my lovely wife!

Today is the day for me to start because none of us knows what tomorrow will bring. I must be physically prepared for whatever comes my way!”

Matthew, you are a winner! You get a one year membership to the Burn The Fat Inner Circle ($119 value), a free copy of the Burn The Fat ebook (deluxe edition) and if you already have it, we will send it to a friend of your choice, and a free personally autographed copy of The Body Fat solution hard cover book.

Matthew, I stood on a pier on the Hudson river in Hoboken New Jersey on september 11th, 2001 watching what was happening on the other side – with my own eyes. I have an appreciation for your profession like you cannot believe.

Just the other day I was talking with someone who had taken the firefighters test and he was telling me how tough it was. You have to be fit!

You teach us all how health and fitness can literally be a matter of life and death in MORE than one way. We all salute you. Congratulations and thank you!

Email us at and include your email to collect your ebook and membership and your postal shipping address for the book.

By the way Donna and Matthew, will you be entering our 50-day Burn The Fat Holiday Fitness Challenge? You’re now membe
rs of our inner circle so you are automatically entered, if you choose. It’s up to you, but if you do… you might win again.


The winners of our Holiday challenge fitness contest will receive a 6 days/5 nights Caribbean vacation for two in Negril, Jamaica, right along the famous 7-mile beach. White sands, Palm trees. Crystal clear turquoise-blue water. You and a companion. Whatddya say?

A round of applause everyone please….Come on, lets hear it for our winners!

Everyone… train hard and expect success!

Tom Venuto

PS. One last thing. We are on the final days our Burn The Fat Holiday Challenge Contest registration. There’s still time to enter. Wednesday, November 25 is the final deadline for entry – midnight PST – and DO NOT wait til last minute, because you must start day one of the challenge, inluding posting your before photos by thanksgiving day November 26th. For more details visit “contest central” at:

And now, here are our runners up

Our Three 2nd prize winners:

Bill R (posted nov 18th, 2009 10:00 pm): Bill’s goal is to shed 100 lbs in the next 24 months and his list of musts was long, including to live to 100 like his grandmother, to see his 5 children to grow up and pursue their careers and dreams, and to kick addictions, while maintaining his 3 businesses and activities such as pewee football coach and cub scout leader. Bill, you’ve got the “MUST” to drive you to sucessfully reach that goal. Congratulations, you’e a winner.

Adrienne (posted nov 18th, 2009 10:55 pm): Adrienne’s must is because “they” say it can’t be done.. and her list of “they’s” was long – not just the crowds of naysayers but even her own doctors. Adrienne defies what they say she can’t do, be or achieve. That’s the spirit! Congrats, you’re a winner

David F (posted nov 19th, 2009 6:02 am). David’s must: because it’s impossible to overstate the importance of momentum. Each week’s effort flows from the previous week. String together a half a dozen good weeks and you not only get excited, you get momentum that carries you forward… in this case, through the new year. Finish 2009 strong and you start 2010 strong. We couldnt agree more David. Congrats youre a winner too.

And now our third prize winners:

Sandra M (posted November 20, 2009 2:43 pm). Sandra’s musts include “I want to have the energy to laugh at the hard stuff in life, the energy to play with the fun stuff and the energy to live every day to its fullest potential. A nursing student, she will play her part in reducing the cost on the health care system by taking care of her own health. And, quoting Gandhi, she will set the example for her children by “being the change” she wants to see in them. Congrats youre a winner

Dianna (posted November 19, 2009 4:19 pm). Dianna had a long list of musts. One of them was that mediocrity is not good enough, not for her, not for her children… it’s full throlle ahead the rest of the year and into 2010. Congrats Dianna, you’re a winner

Jeanne D. (posted November 19, 2009 3:47 pm). Jeanne’s big must is to be inspiring to others. She says she MUST use her own weight loss to be an inspiration to those who matter to her most, starting with her family, her new baby and her brother who is also successfully losing weight.

Chris S (posted November 19, 2009). Like many others in our MUST contest, chris posted a punch list of musts. #5 on his list: because he sees so many unprivileged people struggling just to make ends meet or even just to survive, that in comparison, it should be extremely easy for him to reach his modest fitness goals.

Kim P (posted november 19, 2009 2:27 pm). It’s a must for Kim because she wants to feel proud of herself (“amaze herself”, even) and because the only time winners do stuff is RIGHT NOW!

Sarah (posted november 18, 2009 9:40 pm). Sarah’s musts: (1) she wants to blow her husband’s mind with how good she looks. (2) she has recovered from a bone marrow transplant. She has spent her whole life loving and caring for others and then recovering from her procedure. now she says she must take the time to take care of herself and love herself.

Marilyn (posted november 12, 2009 3:16 pm). Marilyn says you have to put yourself first in order to help and inspire the people you love because you can’t give what you dont have. She wants to inspire others. She wants her three daughters to be proud of her. She wants her two granddaughters to have one hot grandma. She wants to look her best on her birthday so she can treat herself to a littleblack dress, and wear it to a nice dinner and theater in the city.

Bryan M (posted november 18, 2009). Bryan weighed 357 lbs at the start of 2009, with pre-diabetes, sleep apnea, hypertension and circulation problems. His doctor said change or die. His doctor suggested weight loss surgery, but Bryan said, “no way – weight loss surgery is the quick fix way out, but what I needed was to get off my butt, work hard and eat right.”He lost 54 lbs this year. Now he must finish the year strong and start the new one strong to lose 100 more pounds, to continue to gain his life back, and be there for his wife and kids.

Nina M (posted november 18th, 2009 11:18 am). Nina says he MUST change because her bad habits will become her kids bad habits some day if she doesn’t change and become a good role model now.

Keith (posted november 18th, 2009 11:32 am). Keith gave a whole top 10 list of reasons why he must finish 2009 strong through the holidays and start 2010 strong. Some included: “I’ve invested far too much work already to ever look back, my comittment to my fitness and health pays dividends in all areas – personal, professional, emotional, recreational and more, I just got married and my wife deserves the best husband possible (and I must turn heads on our delayed honeymoon in march), I need the constant reminder of my ability to continuously improve and if the odds are against you during the holidays, what better way to prove what Im made of.”

WINNERS: to collect your prizes, contact us at:

I’d like to extend my congratulations to the winners and my thanks to EVERYONE who participated. You’re all winners just because you’ve taken the holiday challenge and defined your MUSTS and your motivational REASONS WHY. I predict a lot of success for all of you and I will hope to hear from you in 2010 about your progress

ATTENTION ALL BURN THE FAT READERS: Last Chance! The Holiday Challenge 50-Day Transformation Contest Entry Deadline is Wednesday, November 25th, 2009 at Midnight .

Below is a picture of the EXACT beach you will be lying on in Negril, Jamaica if you are chosen as the winner of the Burn The Fat Holiday Challenge Transformation contest. Click on the photo below for contest details, rules and entry information!


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