Medical Resident Dominates the Colleges and Universities Division


The Biggest Loser Minnesota Challenge inspires 22,000 Minnesotans to lose 76,048 pounds.

BROOKLYN PARK – John Paul Pham of Brooklyn Park knew that when he became a doctor, his patients would turn to him for advice on getting and staying healthy. Hearing about the Biggest Loser Minnesota Challenge, he thought it would be the perfect way to get fit while also training for a marathon. Along the way to meeting those goals Pham, an alumnus of the University of Minnesota, captured first place in the Colleges and Universities Division, winning both the nutrition and weight loss category, dropping nine percent of his body weight and earning 15,545 points for minutes and intensity of exercise.

“I wanted to be a better role model for my future patients,” says Pham, who is heading to California for his medical residency. Though he struggled to balance eating less while exercising more, Pham mastered some new strategies for success during the competition. “I eventually learned to eat half of my food at the restaurant and box half for a later meal.”

Pham stayed motivated by training for Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth this summer and by continuing to think about those future patients who might need his weight loss and fitness advice. His current recommendations? Stay accountable to yourself by writing down everything you eat, track your weight at the same time each day, and start slowly with exercise until you start feeling more energetic.

In this year’s Biggest Loser Minnesota Challenge, 22,000 Minnesotans lost 76,048 pounds during the twelve-week wellness competition. Minnesotans also earned 27,749,925 nutrition points and exercised 383,807 hours — the time it would take to walk around the earth 46 times.

The overall goal of Alliance for a Healthier Minnesota competitions are to create a fun community activity to encourage 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. Most participants teamed up with family, friends and coworkers, and some dedicated challengers competed as individuals.

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. Read more success stories.

In addition to teams from the Colleges and Universities Division, nearly one-third of Minnesota Challenge participants came from small- and medium-sized businesses and chambers of commerce from across the state. This Business/Chamber division, made up of 7,500 participants on hundreds of 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.

Participants logged their last round of activities Friday, April 15. Those who placed in the top 1,000 participants in each category were entered into a prize drawing. JoAnn Buck of Burnsville won the competition’s grand prize drawing, a trip to see The Biggest Loser Season 11 finale in Los Angeles, California. Four other lucky participants received a free one-year membership to Snap Fitness. The fitness membership winners were Captain Kate Jones of the McLeod County Jail, Cory Marquart of the University of Minnesota Morris, Cindi Rulli of White Bear Lake Public Schools and Carla Peck of Burnsville, an employee of Hennepin County.

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 the Alliance for a Healthier Minnesota.


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