ARARAT - The Biggest Loser: Challenge Australia will hit television screens across the country Sunday night in what has almost been a year in the making.
News first broke in February 2013 that the hit weight loss show would turn the spot light on Ararat in the ninth series of the program following a report from 2012 claiming a large percentage of residents were overweight.
Sunday night's first episode will in fact reveal that 68 per cent of the town's population is overweight or obese, with a combined body weight of 901,062kg.
The next three months will see viewers around Australia tuning in to see whether Ararat can shed the fat and achieve its goal of losing 26,000kg to fall under the national average.
The premiere episode on Network Ten at 6.30pm is expected to draw public feedback of varying degrees, with both the positive and negative behaviours of the town to be featured.
Promos of The Biggest Loser's first episode, which have been airing on Ten over the summer, highlight the community spirit and willingness of the town to make a change as hundreds of residents march down Barkly Street, led by former mayor Ian Wilson.
However, in the newest 'sneak peak' released on Wednesday the community is seen in a state of shock as a whopping eight tonnes of actual fat is dumped out the front of the Ararat Performing Arts Centre to represent the equivalent of what the community has been consuming in just one month.
Current Ararat Rural City mayor Paul Hooper has acknowledged that the initial episodes may see Ararat 'painted in a bad light', but he has urged the community to stick together and encouraged everyone to head along to the Alexandra Gardens to mark Sunday night's launch.
"The event will mark a celebration of the hard work that our community have undertaken so far and provide a reminder that there is still more work to do," he said.
"We have seen a marked increase in the number of people up and about in the municipality and we want to ensure this continues on long after The Biggest Loser has gone."
A large screen will be set up to enable the community to watch the first show together, while activities will kick off from 5pm.
Those attending will have the opportunity to walk laps of the lake together, do a short workout and gain advice and ideas from a personal trainer on getting active.
Some of the contestants who feature on The Biggest Loser will also attend the event to chat about their experiences.
Cr Hooper said pebbles will also be available for those who want to enter the next big Ararat Challenge, which will commence on February 3.
"The pebbles proved to be a great motivator for people in the last challenge to compete either openly or secretly with themselves and others in the town, and the kiosks enabled people to weigh in and check key health data on a regular basis," he said.
"For this reason we are pleased to announce that there are another 500 pebbles available to the Ararat community."
This year pebbles will be distributed through the Ararat Regional Library Service with a kiosk available at both the library and the YMCA for people to undertake their regular self progress checks.
Those who register for a pebble will directly receive information on challenge activities that will be occurring throughout the year. The program will include food, nutrition, and physical based activities.
Cr Hooper said some of the activities and inspiring guest speakers that will be shown on the ninth series of the television program will be available in Ararat throughout the year.
Residents will have two weeks to collect and set up their pebbles from this Sunday before the challenge officially kicks off in February, however if there are still pebbles left they will be available for people to continue to apply until they are all gone.
Pebbles normally retail at $90 but the Ararat community is able to receive one for free thanks to a subsidised rate from Alere and funding from Healthy Together Grampians Goldfields.
To pre-register for a pebble send your contact details to email: email@example.com or SMS 0400 587 403. Also 'like' the Healthy Together Grampians Goldfields page on Facebook to keep up to date on various events.
For more information regarding Community Challenge activities contact Angela Hunt, Manager Community Development and Client Services on 5355 0251 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON SUNDAY NIGHT'S FIRST EPISODE WITH US...
The Ararat Advertiser is calling for Ararat residents to give us feedback on our Facebook page following The Biggest Loser's premiere episode Sunday night at 6.30pm. The top comments will be included in a Special Feature in Tuesday's edition. To be part of the public forum click here and 'like' our page.