FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) - With the new year only four days away, it's time again for the competition that's all about winning big ... by losing the most.
The Florence United Way is making the motto "New Year, New Me!" a reality with the annual United Way Biggest Loser competition in January.
This is the fifth year for the competition. There has been 292 contestants who have lost more than 5,200 pounds combined.
The competition has also raised over $74,000 for Florence United Way's 17 partnering nonprofits.
Rachel Baggett, marketing director for United Way's Biggest Loser, said while the competition started as a fundraiser for nonprofits, it's become life-changing for many contestants.
"They still come to us and they are like, 'You know what? I can breathe better. I'm not getting winded when I walk up the stairs or I can play with my kids longer than I can play with them before,' or 'I just feel better,'" Baggett said. "So even if you're not losing a record amount of inches or record amount of weight, everyone steps away from the competition feeling better, feeling healthier."
One of those people was 65-year-old Stella Miller, a contestant in last year's competition.
Miller said before the Biggest Loser, she was nervous about what to expect. This year, she's ready for more.
"They made it fun, they made it interesting," Miller said. "They challenged me to reach inside myself and pull out the person that was in there, trying to make the improvement in my life."
During the competition, Miller dropped 17 pounds and a total of nine inches from her waist, earning her a spot in the top 20 for both categories.
Miller said the challenge left her ready to take on new ones.
"I didn't know how to swim. I took swim lessons and got a chance to snorkel in the Caribbean this last year. Never would have happened," she said.
Another thing she gained during the competition was other contestants turning into life-long friends.
"I made a lot of really good acquaintances, made good friends, got a chance to go ahead and see people," Miller said. "I think all of us step outside of our norm and into a whole new type of comfort zone."
Come January, Miller is going back for round two. She admits she hasn't maintained the weight loss like she wants to and needs that extra motivation.
"I want to go ahead and get myself back into something that's a positive thing for myself and if it's positive for me, then it's going to be positive for everybody else," Miller said. "It's going to take care of my family. It's going to take care of the work that I do."
While the competition is all about losing pounds, Miller said people gain something more valuable.
"Even if you're retired like I am, you need to have something to look forward to, something that's going to make you say, 'OK, I'm going to try this. 'OK, I'm going to do this,' and that positive aspect, I think, is the most important thing you get out of it," Miller said.
The competition is 10 weeks long, from Jan. 20 to April 2. There are still 20 spots left.
Those who are interested can click here. Registration ends Jan. 10, or when all the spots are filled.