Ole Exercisers Top Wellness Competition

Many St. Olaf College employees are enthusiastic about working out, and they demonstrated that passion to Minnesota by winning first place in exercise for the Colleges and Universities Division. Accustomed to participating in a spring walking program, college staff instead directed their energy to exercising and tracking their accomplishments through the 2011 Biggest Loser Minnesota Challenge.

“I think people probably worked out a little more during the challenge,” says Jennie Moberg, captain for St. Olaf’s Information and Instructional Technologies team, who says tracking her exercise helped her stay focused on fitness. “It’s easier to get motivated when you have that visual graph to compare your exercise level from week to week.”
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A Powerful Combo: Getting Healthy and Giving Back

For Seagate Technology, the 2011 Biggest Loser Minnesota Challenge was both a wellness competition and an exercise in team-building and philanthropy. The disk-drive manufacturer used the contest to encourage employees to focus on healthy behaviors while also giving back to the community. Seagate saw great results: the company’s nine teams lost a total of 1,346 pounds.

“When employees participate in physical activity and wellness practice, the impact on employee health, attitude, and camaraderie is obvious,” says David Brown, chief technologist and a member of the site’s executive management team. “We are proud of our success in the Biggest Loser Minnesota Challenge and will continue to support healthy behaviors at our worksite.”
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Oh, Snap! Four Weight Losers Win Free Gym Memberships


White Bear Lake woman earns a one-year Snap Fitness membership by exercising, eating right, and losing weight during statewide competition.

WHITE BEAR LAKE – A broken ankle and a sweet tooth didn’t stop Cindi Rulli from making great strides toward meeting her health and fitness goals during the Biggest Loser Minnesota Challenge. Now Rulli will have a new tool to continue her healthy lifestyle: she won one of four free memberships to Snap Fitness by placing in the top 1,000 in the weight loss, nutrition, or exercise categories of the statewide competition.

The Biggest Loser Minnesota Challenge “was a great experience, and I look forward to using my membership,” says Rulli, who runs, inline skates, and horseback rides to stay fit. During the competition, she lost 11 pounds or 8 percent of her body weight. “I’m feeling healthy, and it’s fun to buy clothes in small sizes.”
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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.”
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40 Pounds Down, He’s Dreaming Big Dreams

Matthew Bayer after losing 40 pounds in the Biggest Loser Minnesota Challenge. Congratulations, Matthew!


College employee discovers the secret to his weight loss success through the Biggest Loser Minnesota Challenge.

APPLE VALLEY – Matthew Bayer of Apple Valley often dreamt of a career in law enforcement, but his weight repeatedly held him back. Thanks to the Biggest Loser Minnesota Challenge and the support of his family member teammates, he’s on his way to putting that dream in reach. Bayer lost 40 pounds during the wellness competition, earning a spot as one of the Top 50 weight losers in the state.

“My goal is to be healthy and fit enough to do law enforcement work. That’s a huge motivator for me that I do not think will ever leave,” says Bayer, 31, a safety coordinator at St. Catherine University in St. Paul. “Even though I have lost a good amount of weight just in the first three to four months, I have a long way to go.”

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Losing Weight and Winning, Landscape Structures Style

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


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.
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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.
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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.”
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He’s a Prize-Winning Weight Loser


Cory Marquart of Morris earns a one-year gym membership by focusing on fitness during statewide wellness competition.

MORRIS – Cory Marquart never wants to let down his team, whether he is volunteering as a member of the Morris Fire Department or participating in the Biggest Loser Minnesota Challenge. That loyalty motivated him to exercise for 3,600 hours during the health and wellness competition and won him a free year-long membership to Snap Fitness. The prize was part of the Challenge, which attracted 22,000 participants across Minnesota.

“I have been working out for a while now, and sometimes getting excited to go work out can be hard,” says Marquart, an engineer at the University of Minnesota–Morris’s Renewable Energy Center. “I knew that I could help my team out, and I didn’t want to let the team down.”
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Well-Rounded Wellness Guides Strong Performance

Normandale Community College was a force to be reckoned with during the Biggest Loser Minnesota Challenge. Two of its four teams placed in the top five of the Colleges and Universities Division, including one team that won third place in exercise and another that captured third place in nutrition. Along the way, employees got inspired to exercise more, eat healthier, and lose weight.

“We are all glad we did it. We developed some good habits that we are endeavoring to maintain,” says Michael Berndt, captain of team ASPIRE, which won the Division’s third place in nutrition and fifth place in exercise. Tracking exercise, nutrition, and weight during the competition “made us more conscious of the choices we were making, so when those decisions came up we were less likely to choose poorly.”
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