Losing Weight and Winning, Landscape Structures Style

Landscape Structures team at their final weigh-in for the Minnesota Challenge.

LOSING WEIGHT AND WINNING, LANDSCAPE STRUCTURES STYLE

Six company employees ranked in the top 50 statewide for weight loss during the Biggest Loser Minnesota Challenge.

DELANO – As a designer of large-scale playground equipment, Landscape Structures, Inc., has strongly emphasized employee wellness during its 40-year history. It’s no stranger to weight loss competitions, so joining this year’s statewide Biggest Loser Minnesota Challenge was a no-brainer. This time the staff really rose to the task: six employees ranked in the top 50 for pounds of weight loss statewide, including the first, second, and sixth place finishers, shedding as much as 60 pounds.

“We wanted to see how we can do as a company compared to the rest of Minnesota. It was so successful here and people really came together and supported each other. It was amazing to see,” says Holly Williams, human resources and wellness program manager at Landscape Structures, which has an onsite nurse and personal trainer.

The company offered $500 each to its top female and male weight losers, in addition to other prizes for honorable mentions. Those incentives, as well as side bets and competition among co-workers, kept Dan Isaacs exercising vigorously and eating better on his way to shedding 57 pounds. He placed second statewide in individual weight loss. “Much like the real Biggest Loser on television, alliances were built, secrets were shared, and rivalries were created,” says Isaacs, a custom products engineer. “We really fed off each other’s results, which is why I believe I lost so much weight.”

In the 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 Challenge’s overall goal was 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. 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.

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.

Participants logged their last round of activities Friday, April 15. Those who placed in the a 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 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, The Midwest Dairy Association, Target, UnitedHealth Group and the Minnesota Department of Health’s Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP). Learn more at HealthierMN.com.

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