Doing Good While Losing Weight


Capt. Kate Jones of the McLeod County Jail gets motivated to help area food banks while participating in a statewide wellness competition.

GLENCOE – Kate Jones already was quite active, cross-country skiing and doing aerobics, but she joined the Biggest Loser Minnesota Challenge to keep herself motivated and help others through its food drive.

Jones is thrilled that the Minnesota Alliance team raised the nearly 60,000 pounds of donations to food banks through the Pound for Pound Challenge. For every pound of weight participants pledged to lose, a pound of groceries got delivered to local food banks.

During the statewide wellness competition, she gained inspiration by “being able to be a part of something bigger than myself. The knowledge that a portion of our results would be able to benefit our local food shelves was a huge motivator for me,” says Jones, who is administrator of the McLeod County Jail. “The Challenge was an awesome way to involve so many people.”


In return for her hard work, Jones ended up winning one of four free memberships to Snap Fitness by placing in the top 1,000 in the Challenge’s weight loss, nutrition, or exercise categories. “I was absolutely dumbstruck when I won the membership,” she says. “I had been a member of Snap for a few years and had just canceled my membership a couple months earlier for budget reasons. Personally, I think it’s good karma.”


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 features 14 divisions, each made up of tens —or even hundreds — of smaller teams. Some dedicated challengers competed as individuals.


Jones learned a lot about nutrition during the competition and found that the tracking program helped her stay focused on her goals. She earned 7,780 exercise points, 6,690 nutrition points, and lost 4 percent of her body weight, or five pounds, during the Challenge. In addition, she noticed lasting changes at work, with co-workers joining gyms, working out together, and opting for healthier food.


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 businesses 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.


Participants in the Challenge were encouraged to join the MN Alliance team in the Pound for Pound Challenge to make a difference in their communities while improving their own health and wellness. For every pound of weight participants pledged to lose, a pound of groceries will be delivered to their local Feeding America food bank. A pledge to maintain their healthy weight results in a five-pound grocery donation.


About Alliance for a Healthier Minnesota

The Alliance for a Healthier Minnesota is 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, Midwest Dairy Association, Target, UnitedHealth Group and the Minnesota Department of Health’s Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP). Learn more at





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