Dozens of people in the Los Angeles suburban communities of Beverly Hills and Bel Air lost a combined 620 pounds during a six-week weight-loss campaign sponsored by the local Chabad House.

The first ever Project Lose-It, a combined effort between Chabad-Lubavitch of Bel Air, the Rochelle & Richard Maize Foundation and the Luxe Hotel, finished last week shy of its 1,000 pound goal. But Rabbi Chaim Mentz stressed that what was more important was that the community members who participated emerged from the experience a little bit more healthy from when they started.


"They engaged in activities like community walks, personalized nutritional counseling, yoga and pilates classes and health seminars," said the co-director of the Chabad community center, which plans on offering the program again next January. "This program brought people together to work on meeting their personal goals. [Many] are motivated to continue exercising."

It "has been a terrific opportunity for me to take the time to [focus on] myself and my health and well-being," said participant Ginny Kahn. "Along the way, there have been numerous other benefits like enjoying walks with my husband and daughter."

Mentz mentored the participants in understanding how the body and soul work together based on the teachings of the first Chabad Rebbe, Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi.

"Understanding addiction according to Chabad philosophy has opened new channels in the community," said the rabbi.

Mentz added that the program has gotten more people interested in the center's offerings.

"It has exposed many of them to Judaism," he said of the weight-loss drive.

Instructors in the program included fitness author LaReine Chabut, dietician Robyn L. Goldberg and pilates expert Michelle Cerandos. Mentz provided a spiritual focus for the six-week course.

"Our health is the greatest gift of all," said participant Estela Mejia, "and without it everything else doesn't really matter."