Biggest Loser Challenge coming to counties in southwest MinnesotaLUVERNE — Barely two weeks into the new year, the snow, frigid temperatures and realization that winter is only about half over are making it a challenge to get motivated and moving for many Minnesotans. The Alliance for a Healthier Minnesota realizes that, and has now introduced a state-wide Biggest Loser Challenge.
By: Julie Buntjer, Worthington Daily Globe
LUVERNE — Barely two weeks into the new year, the snow, frigid temperatures and realization that winter is only about half over are making it a challenge to get motivated and moving for many Minnesotans.
The Alliance for a Healthier Minnesota realizes that, and has now introduced a state-wide Biggest Loser Challenge.
Sign-up has already begun for the 12-week program, which officially kicks off Jan. 24. The online program makes it easy for people to work at their own pace, take a team approach or make this a community-wide effort.
Krissi Thier, community health organizer for Nobles-Rock Community Health Services (NRCHS), is coordinating the challenge in Nobles and Rock counties. While people have the option of registering online, NRCHS is working with Luverne Community Education to get people signed up. By joining with NRCHS, participants can pay a minimal fee, receive a Biggest Loser T-shirt and qualify for prize giveaways at the end of the 12-week program.
The competition is free for those who choose not to get a T-shirt and qualify for prizes, and people can register online at http://competeforhealth.org. Online registrations must be completed by 11 p.m. Jan. 23, or participants may call Luverne Community Ed, (507) 283-4724, by the end of the business day on Jan. 21.
Thier said participants can compete in weight loss, exercise, nutrition or all three categories. The program ends April 15.
“This is all going to be on the honor system,” she said. “(Participants) go in and submit their weight and their weekly exercise (information). It isn’t just going to the gym and working out for an hour — it can be hanging out with the kids, doing yard work and shoveling.”
Each participant will have his or her own secure page on the website that contains confidential information on weight, exercise and nutritional habits.
For the nutrition aspect of the program, the Alliance for a Healthier Minnesota website includes a database of information on different foods and the nutritional values for them.
“It’s mainly a friendly competition,” said Thier, adding that there are 14 divisions in which people can compete, including family, business and community.
“We are asking that everyone signs up in the community division,” Thier said, adding that they are encouraging teams of eight to 10 individuals, although they can range from a team of one to 20.
This is the second Biggest Loser challenge coordinated by the Alliance — the first was a pilot project conducted from May to September 2010 that included 10,000 employees from Alliance members such as Blue Cross Blue Shield, General Mills, Medica, Medtronic, Target, UnitedHealth Group and the Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP). At the end of the 12-week pilot program, participants lost a combined total of more than 37,000 pounds and exercised 16.5 million minutes.
In the past, NRCHS has worked with Luverne Community Ed to offer a Shape-Up Challenge, which Thier said has also been a success. Now, with the statewide initiative, she’s hoping even more people get involved.
Bonnie Frederickson, SHIP Coordinator with Co-Jax (Cottonwood-Jackson) Community Health Services, said she has been working to encourage people in those counties to register online and take part in the free program.
“It’s really a good opportunity,” Frederickson said. “This is free — that’s the neat thing. All these companies have come together to make this happen.
“They expanded this program based on the first go-around last year, and they know it can work,” she added. “What I like about this competition is it does bring up awareness of obesity and the importance to eat healthy and move more.”
In Cottonwood and Jackson counties, Frederickson said the Biggest Loser Challenge information has been taken into the schools and worksites to encourage participation among all age groups.
“With SHIP, we want to make sure the behavior continues after these contests,” she said.
“We’re looking for long-lasting changes.”