Losing Weight, Gaining Exercise Options

Carla Peck with former Biggest Loser Contestant Jesse Atkins, at an awards ceremony for Hennepin County.


Carla Peck wins one of four Snap Fitness memberships during statewide weight loss competition.

BURNSVILLE – Through the Biggest Loser Minnesota Challenge, Carla Peck started exercising more and paying close attention to eating healthy food. Those efforts paid off in more ways than one. Not only did she lose seven pounds during the statewide weight loss competition, Peck won a one-year membership to Snap Fitness. Four participants who placed in the top 1,000 in the weight loss, nutrition, or exercise categories earned that prize.

“The membership to Snap Fitness will enhance what I’ve already been doing,” says Peck, who plans to add weight lifting at the gym to her regular walking regime. “The free Snap membership will really make it easier to keep up with my exercise goals for the next year … by encouraging me to keep active, taking time out from the work day to work out, and the weight loss I’ve already had.” She has lost a total of 20 pounds since January 2010 and is continuing toward her long-term weight loss goal.

A member of Hennepin County’s Slender Offenders team, Peck earned nearly 7,000 nutrition points — the highest on her team at an average of eight healthy choices each day. “I used the Minnesota Challenge and friendly competition with my team to help keep me accountable on exercise and nutrition,” Peck says. “It was the push I needed to stay on track during this long winter.”

The Biggest Loser Minnesota Challenge grand prize went to JoAnn Buck of Burnsville. Buck, who works at the University of Minnesota Pediatric Urology Clinic, won a trip to Los Angeles for The Biggest Loser Season 11 Finale.

During the recently completed Challenge, 22,000 Minnesotans participated in the free, statewide wellness competition with their coworkers, friends, and family. They lost a total of 76,048 pounds, earned 27,749,925 nutrition points, and exercised 383,807 hours — the time it would take to walk around the earth 46 times.

Sponsored by the Alliance for a Healthier Minnesota, the Challenge’s overall goal is to create a fun community activity that encourages Minnesotans to eat better and move more. They could accomplish that goal by participating in one, two or three of the Challenge’s categories: nutrition, exercise and weight loss.

“This isn’t about rapid or sudden weight loss,” says Tom Mason, president of the Alliance for a Healthier Minnesota. “It’s about workplaces and communities establishing a culture that encourages people to take charge of their own health, choosing healthier lifestyle behaviors that can be maintained long-term.”

Open to all Minnesotans, this free statewide competition featured 14 divisions each made up of tens —or even hundreds — of smaller teams. Some dedicated challengers competed as individuals.

During the competition, Peck went on lunchtime walks with co-workers and monitored her progress with the Challenge’s tracking program. She also took advantage of Hennepin County’s wellness program, HealthWorks, including getting low-salt and low-fat recipes from the county dietician and obtaining fresh produce through its community supported agriculture (CSA) program.

Other secrets to Peck’s success include snacking on Cutie oranges in the afternoons and allowing herself some chocolate, as long as she was exercising and eating right. “I think everything in moderation is the best way to go!” she adds.

While all Minnesota Challenge participants made progress towards healthier exercise and nutrition habits, some of them dropped as much as 20 percent of their body weight. And the top 100 performers in the weight loss category lost an average of 37 pounds each.

Nearly one-third of Minnesota Challenge participants came from small- and medium-sized employers and chambers of commerce from across the state. This Business/Chamber division, made up of 7,500 participants on hundreds of small business teams, placed in the top three in the final rankings of all three competition categories. Research has shown that when businesses support their employees’ wellness, they employ healthier workers and see a big impact on their bottom line. The CDC reports that more than 75 percent of employer health care costs and productivity losses are related to employee lifestyle choices.

The Minnesota Challenge is the second wellness competition offered by the Alliance for a Healthier Minnesota. During summer 2010, with the help of General Mills, the Alliance developed a relationship with NBC’s Biggest Loser. A pilot wellness competition called the Biggest Loser Summer Challenge brought 10,000 employees of Alliance member companies together to shed more than 37,000 pounds, exercise 16 million minutes and earn millions of nutrition points by making healthy food choices. The Alliance for a Healthier Minnesota’s Biggest Loser Challenge competitions are web-based and powered by RedBrick Health.

About Alliance for a Healthier Minnesota

The Alliance for a Healthier Minnesota is a public-private partnership that includes a group of Minnesota companies joined together to create fun, engaging and informative events and competitions to help Minnesotans get and stay healthy. Members of the Alliance include Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, Cargill, General Mills, Medica, Medtronic, The Midwest Dairy Association, Target and UnitedHealth Group, along with the Minnesota Department of Health’s Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP). Learn more at HealthierMN.com.



Carla Peck with former Biggest Loser Contestant Jesse Atkins, at an awards ceremony for Hennepin County.


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