The Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe celebrated the success of its first ever Mille Lacs Band Weight Loss Challenge with a banquet on Friday, June 6. Organized by Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin, the weight loss challenge helped the 150 participating Band members collectively lose nearly 1,500 pounds.
In her 2014 State of the Band address, Chief Executive Benjamin called on Mille Lacs Band members to improve their health in order to “live the good life.” The challenge spanned 16 weeks and included regular weigh-ins, fitness and nutrition assessments, cooking classes and meal planning.
“I am so proud of all of the Band members who stepped up and participated in this challenge,” said Benjamin. “By committing to better health, you have given yourselves the gift of health and that’s priceless. By taking care of ourselves and our bodies, we show respect to ourselves and our Creator.”
The weight loss challenge is part of the Mille Lacs Band’s overall commitment to improving the health and well-being of its members. Decreasing obesity, heart disease and diabetes will help Band members live healthier, more fulfilling lives while helping decrease healthcare costs for the Band.
Jim Ingle, fitness coordinator for the Mille Lacs Band, helped organize the weight loss challenge and was thrilled with the success of the program.
“We could not have asked for better results from the weight loss challenge,” Ingle said. “We’ve had Band members who have decreased or completely cut their need for insulin in addition to the fantastic amount of weight that they’ve lost. We hope to see even more Band members participate in the next round.”
At the awards banquet, Band members gathered to celebrate their success. Bobby Anderson and his wife Heidi Krone lost a combined total of 132 pounds and were awarded first place prize of $5,000. “I did this for my family and my kids and I’m so grateful to Chief Executive Benjamin for giving us this opportunity to get healthier as a family,” said Anderson.
Mary Meyer, who came in second, lost a total of 30 pounds and was awarded $3,000. Crystal and Joe Wechert came in third, winning $2,000. The Wecherts lost a combined total of 63 pounds.
A second weight loss challenge will begin in a few months and organizers plan to incorporate feedback from participants in the first round to make the challenge even more effective.