Success Story: Tawnya

What were your goals when you started Weigh and Win?

My initial goal when I signed up, was to get back down to my wedding weight.  I lost about 27 lbs before my wedding, only to gain 35 lbs in the year that followed.  So, I gained it all back, plus 8 lbs.  That was the pattern in a decade of weight loss let downs.  I would lose 10 and gain 15. Lose 15 and gain 25. Lose 20 and gain 30. Lose 30 and gain 40.  I had reached 199.9 lbs before I lost the 27 lbs for the wedding.  I told myself I’d never let myself get to 200 lbs.  In late 2012 when I did my FitZero weigh in at work I was 208 lbs.  Reality sunk in, and I couldn’t bear to let it get worse.  I didn’t want to feel any more uncomfortable, defeated, or discouraged than I already did.  Once I lost some weight, rather than just having maintained it, I found the motivation to try and work at getting back down to my wedding weight, because I knew I could get there, since I had done it just a year before.  It was an achievable goal.  I am happy to report that I lost 25 more pounds than I had initially hoped to. 

Why has Weigh and Win worked for you?

One of the things I like most about Weigh and Win, (aside from the cash rewards, of course) is that it is a one year program.  It gives you time to lose the weight without feeling pressured, to lose it in a healthy way, and settle into the lifestyle change that comes with it all.  It’s not some sort of fad or “miracle” diet.  It’s not some sort of pre-packaged meals program.  It’s not a “lose 20 lbs in 3 wks” program.  Those are the kinds of weight loss programs that are rarely sustainable.  Those are the kinds of programs that can lead to a weight loss history like mine, meaning, lose some, and gain back even more than you lost.  Weigh and Win makes the reality known that you are indeed going to have to work for what you want, but that it is so worth it, and that it is sustainable weight loss, and a manageable lifestyle. 

I was already very aware of what I needed to be doing, intellectually and conceptually, to yield healthy weight loss. I’ve known it for years.  My roadblock, though, has always been finding and keeping the motivation to actually eat well and exercise.  I love food…the flavor, color, texture, variety.  I made very little sacrifice this year in terms of food.  I still enjoyed it, a lot.  And, I’m starting to get better at not feeling guilty if I indulge a little from time to time, because, I have found the balance.  I know that I may need to work out a little harder, or eat a little bit lighter the rest of the day or week, but that there is no food that is off limits.  For me personally, nothing is forbidden. There are no restrictions… Just balance, moderation, smarter choices, smaller portions, and personal awareness.  I have found what works for me. 

Additionally, I truly appreciate that the program goes into a second year.  It allows you to keep moving forward if you still have goals to reach, and if you are where you want to be, it helps you to be mindful of maintaining all the hard work you put into the first year.  My real celebration will be in another year, when I have maintained my weight loss.  I’ve lost weight many times.  I’ve never kept it off.  I can’t let my guard down. I can’t get complacent.  And I don’t want to ever have to do this again.  It is really easy to gain weight.  It is not so easy to lose.  I am confident that this is it for me.  That I’ve finally got it in the bag.  It is really cool that Weigh and Win is willing to see you through your maintenance phase instead of just cutting you loose. 

Do you have any tips or advice for new Weigh and Win participants?

I highly recommend that new participants take waist/hip measurements etc.  I failed to take measurements in the beginning and found myself getting discouraged at times when I plateaued, or even gained weight.  Muscle weighs more than fat, and as you build muscle, you may actually gain weight from time to time.  There were times that I plateaued for over a month, but during that month my clothes were fitting looser.  I was trading fat for muscle, so my body composition was changing, but the scale wasn’t moving.  If I had been keeping track of my measurements, I would have had the satisfaction of seeing the results in numbers.  Also, there does get to be a point in your journey where the pounds on the scale don’t matter as much as how you feel.  It can be easy to obsess about the pounds, especially in the end, when the weight loss slows down.  I found myself at the end of my journey obsessing so much that the stress it caused me was working against me.  I was only 3 lbs away from my 30% goal at one point, and I was initially bummed that I didn’t make that last mark.  I had to continually remind myself to look at how far I had come, rather than focusing on that last 3lbs that just didn’t want to come off by a certain date. 

I’d also like to share that there was one other thing that I really had to hone in on this year.  It was that I was doing this for my health and wellbeing, and that physical appearance was just an added bonus.  The majority of people embarking on a weight loss journey have issues with body image to begin with.  I know it may be easier said than done, but try not to focus so much on how you look, but rather, how you feel.  How’s your energy? How’s your mood?  How are your clothes fitting?  What kinds of things have gotten easier for you to do?  Our society puts so much emphasis on looks.  I didn’t “love” myself anymore when I was 130 lbs, than I did at 208 lbs.  Self-love comes from within.  I still have stretch marks, I still have cellulite, I have flabby skin.  Sure, people tell me I “look” great. And, I appreciate it so very much. But, for me, it’s about feeling great that matters.  I strongly encourage anyone struggling with poor body image and self-esteem,  to seek support.  There can be much deeper reasons for your struggles to lose weight and keep it off, that go above and beyond eating too much and moving too little.  There is a very mental piece to this journey, and if that is neglected, it may only be that much harder of one.  

Earth Day: Protect the Environment and Your Health


Every year on April 22 we celebrate Earth Day and the importance of protecting our environment. Maybe you started recycling or swapped plastic water bottles for a reusable one in the past few years. This year, celebrate Earth Day by improving your health and the Earth. Here are six things you can do:

Bike or Walk Instead of Driving

With warmer weather here, take the opportunity to enjoy more time outdoors and consider walking or biking instead of driving. Try bike commuting or taking public transportation to work once a week or walking to a nearby restaurant or store instead of always driving. This will cut back on emissions (better for Earth) and help you burn extra calories (better for you).

Plant a Garden

Home grown vegetables taste better. Consider planting a small outdoor garden, and then you’ll have access to delicious and healthy vegetable right in your backyard.

Eat Local Produce

Don’t have a green thumb? Visit a Farmer’s Market or make a point to buy local produce available at the grocery store. Food in the U.S. travels an average of 1,500 miles to get your plate. This uses a large amount of natural resources and contributes to pollution. Buying local produce (or growing your own) means your food will travel a shorter distance to get to your plate.

Go Meatless on Mondays

Reducing the amount of meat you consume can help lower your risk for preventable diseases like diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease and cancer. The effect on the environment can be huge. It is estimated that nearly one-fifth of man-made greenhouse gases come from the meat industry and as much as 1,800 to 2,500 gallons of water go into a single pound of beef! If a four–person family skips meat one day a week for an entire year, it’s like taking your car off the road for almost three months, according to the Environmental Working Group.

Eat Safe Seafood

Seafood is a great low-calorie, high-protein food source. Many types of seafood are also high in heart healthy omega-3. However, you want to make sure the seafood you’re eating is healthy for you and the environment. Make a point to eat seafood that is low in mercury and doesn’t have environmental problems like overfishing. Visit to help guide your seafood purchases.

Waste Less Food

Nearly one-third of food production for human consumption is wasted or lost. That is 1.3 billion tons of food wasted every year.  Not only are we wasting  food, we’re wasting the energy used to produce, grow and transport that food. Help cut back on food waste by freezing leftovers, making more trips to the grocery store and cooking appropriate portions.

Written by: Jillian Tongate, Marketing Manager

Hunting for a Healthier Easter

The best approach for a healthier Easter:  shift your focus to the meaning of Easter and the nonfood traditions behind the holiday. Then, once you’re looking at the bigger picture — not just candy-filled Easter baskets — you can figure out how to get the best out of your “Easter Eggs.”

Plan for Sweets

Make smarter choices elsewhere in the day to allow for a small splurge later. Remember, Easter is only one day so try to only indulge on those chocolate eggs on Sunday and not ruin the rest of the week! Some chocolate can be good for you but try buying small, individually wrapped chocolate eggs and avoid the giant chocolate bunnies, no matter how cute they are.

Break an Egg

One of the big heart myths is that eggs contain harmful cholesterol. However, eggs aren’t a problem unless they are fried in oil or loaded  up with cheese. For a filling and healthy start to your day try a boiled, poached or scrambled egg loaded with fresh vegetables.

Don’t Come to Dinner Hungry

Try snacking on some of those colorful hard-boiled eggs you may have made earlier — one large egg has around 76 calories. It’s a filling and nutritious option before the big meal.

Slow Down

When has there ever been a shortage of food or drinks at holiday events? Eat and drink slowly and allow your brain to catch up to your stomach.

Be Active

Plan fun activities with your family and friends to stay active and motivated over the weekend: go for a walk, run, swim, bike ride, kick a ball around, whatever you like… just move that body and enjoy the time spent together!

Rethink the Easter Basket

Nontraditional gifts such as jewelry, books, and clothing are even more appreciated than those sugary little peeps.  Who wouldn’t love seeing a Fitbit in their Easter basket?!

Consider Making Healthy Meal Substitutions

Try serving chocolate covered strawberries instead of a carrot cake or even steamed carrots instead of honey glazed carrots.  Add in more vegetables and make sure to savor every bite!

Written by: Rachel Corcoran, Weigh and Win Health Coach

5 Strategies to Overcome Emotional Eating

Emotional eating is using food to fill an emotional need rather than to fulfill a physical hunger.

People often say they have “fallen off the wagon”, meaning they made positive lifestyle changes and then life got in the way and they slipped back into their unhealthy routines. This situation seems to be common, however, there is actually no such thing as “falling off the wagon,” simply because there is no wagon to begin with.

Everyone has their struggles and their bad days. It’s important to know that health is not a destination that you arrive at; it’s a journey and a lifestyle that you consciously work for every day. Try to make small improvements and learn from your mistakes to become the healthiest version of yourself.

Emotional Hunger v. Physical Hunger

(click on image to view larger)

Emotional V. Hunger



Strategy 1: Set up a Healthy Home Environment

Emotional eating is often automatic and mindless. If you plan ahead and prepare a healthy home environment, you are setting yourself up for success. Next time you are in an emotional state, you will be less likely to reach for the comfort of food.

Three things to help you set up a healthy home environment:
Clean out your fridge or pantry

If you don’t have unhealthy foods in your house, then you’ve created a buffer for emotional eating.

Rearrange your fridge and pantry

Behavioral studies have shown that foods in visible sight or at eye level are more likely to be eaten. Keep your “treats” hidden away in a drawer and the healthy options front and center.

Portion out your food

Did you know eating from a smaller diameter plate will give you different brain reactions? For example, switching from an 8 inch plate to a 4 in plate might be a helpful tip to control overeating. Also, portion out food that comes from a bag, like chips or nuts, and put them in a smaller bowl when eating.


Strategy 2: Identify Triggers & Bad Eating Habits

What situations or feelings make you reach for the comfort of food? Are you eating comfort foods at a certain time of day or after certain interactions?

Two tips to help you identify your triggers and bad eating habits:
Think about the why

Next time you feel yourself reaching for food for a reason other than physical hunger, stop and think about the reason WHY you are reaching for that food. Is it because you had a stressful day at work? Is it because you had a fight with a friend?

Common emotional triggers are stress, comfort after a bad day, anxiety and depression.

Keep a food and mood journal

Log what you’re eating and what your emotions were. Tracking these instances and identifying triggers are an important step for changing unhealthy behaviors.  A food journal is meant to be temporary. Once you’ve identified your bad eating habits and improve upon them, feel free to ditch the journal and eat in a natural and healthy way.


Strategy 3: Pause When Cravings Hit

When you find yourself craving something, take time to pause and think about it and give yourself the opportunity to make a different decision. When you have a specific craving, ask yourself “Am I hungry? Or am I actually bored or stressed?”

Think back to the emotional triggers you have identified. Then ask yourself another question: Is there a better way to address whatever emotion I am feeling, instead of turning to food.

Two things to help yourself during a moment of craving:
Take a breather

Wait five minutes instead of immediately indulging. If you need to, set a timer. Tell yourself to wait and see if you still want that food after you have time to clear your mind and think rationally.

Think past the craving

How will you feel after you give into your craving? Will you feel better? Will you feel worse? Will it address your problem or the emotion you’re feeling? Most likely, the answer will be no.



Strategy 4: Find a New Outlet Besides Food

Once you’ve identified what is causing you to eat emotionally, finding a different outlet for that emotion is the next step.

A few things to try:
Find an alternative activity to eating

Find a physical alternative to eating. Try going for a walk, working out, reading a book, playing  a game with your children, or some other fulfilling hobby.

Get outside

Studies have shown that as little as five minutes of nature can improve your mood and boost your self-esteem. Get outside, take a walk and breathe in the fresh air.

Talk about it

Holding in feelings of stress or anxiety is only going to make you feel more stressed or anxious. When you’re distressed, find someone you can talk to about your emotions, whether that is a spouse, a friend, a co-worker or a pet. Talking about it and venting can be a powerful emotional release.


Strategy 5: Improve Overall Health & Well Being

If you’re well-rested and healthy, it will be easier to handle day-to-day obstacles that may otherwise have derailed you from your health goals.

Focus on what you’re doing to improve your overall health.

Healthy Foods = Healthy You

Maintain a well-balanced diet of lean proteins, vegetables, quality carbohydrates and healthy fats. Keep your body hydrated with water and not sugary drinks.

Stay active

Make daily exercise a priority. Staying active doesn’t mean spending hours at the gym. You can incorporate activity into your day: take the stairs, go for a walk, play with your kids. Exercise releases endorphin and can be a powerful mood booster and increase your overall energy levels.

Stay well rested

When you’re sleeping, your body is repairing itself. When you’re not well rested, you feel sluggish and tired and are less likely to stick to your health routines.

Daily Decompress

Find your “me” time to relax and decompress. Set aside even just 10-15 minutes a day to relax and do something you enjoy, whether that’s going for a walk, meditating, reading a book or watching a TV show.

Make meaningful connections

Studies have shown people with strong social connections live longer, so maybe laughter is one of the best forms of medicine after all! Make time for friends and family and spend time together in a meaningful way.


Public Health Awareness Week: Get Out Ahead!

Did you know that 7 out of 10 deaths in the US are directly related to preventable diseases such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and cancer? Specifically, 9 out of every 10 cases of type 2 diabetes are directly related to lifestyle choices.

There are countless ways we can reduce our risk and it starts with the simple choices we make every day in regards to our activity & eating patterns. Think about what has worked for you in the past & use those successes to set a goal for today and the future. Here are a couple of suggestions on how to get going…

1)      Find a partner

Whether it be your spouse, children, parents, grandkids, neighbor or puppy dog, exercise with them. You can create your own culture of health by making fitness something you do together regularly. Don’t forget, children are recommended to get 60 minutes of exercise each and every day. Adults are recommended to get 30 minutes of moderate exercise, 5 days per week. Help those you care about meet (or beat) those guidelines.

2)      Schedule time for movement

Sitting all day is unhealthy and at the same time, most of us spend our workdays slouched in front of a computer screen. Pencil exercise breaks into your calendar (think stretches, arm circles, tricep dips or, gulp, lunges and even squats). Try to stand instead of sit at work or host walking meetings/breaks during the day. And don’t forget about those beloved stairs – they add built-in workouts to your day.

3)      Find your joy

If you don’t like running like your marathon-addict friend, it’s simple: find an activity or hobby that brings YOU happiness. It’s the key to long-term success! Gardening in your backyard or a stroll through the park? Team kickball or fitness classes? Favor the activities that bring you the most enjoyment.

4)      Get outdoors and walk

Yes, walking is enough! Putting one foot in front of the other will lead to improvements in mental and physical health. Pump those arms and pick up the pace. In Colorado, we are lucky to have over 300 days a year of sunny, blue sky days. So step outside and enjoy the warmth of the sun on your skin. Plus, being outside is an instant, 100% all-natural pick-me-up. Give it a try!

5)      Everything in moderation including moderation

If you miss a day of exercise, don’t worry about it and hop back on the bandwagon. But be sure to check yourself for excuses too. Unmotivated after a long, hard day? Challenge yourself to only 5 minutes of exercise…I bet after you reach 5 minutes, you’ll be glad you started.

Remember: something is always better than nothing. What are you waiting for? Get up, get moving, get ahead!


Written by: Kayla Harris, MS
Workforce Health Consultant, Kaiser Permanente

Tips for Managing Stress

Stress is a part of almost everyone’s life. In fact, 35% of Americans said their stress has increased in the past year and 62% say their job is the main point of stress. Chronic stress can have an impact on your physical and mental health. It can lower your immunity, cause sleeplessness and headaches, and make you feel anxious and angry. The negative effects and feelings associated with stress can pile up, so learning to cope and deal with it is important.

5 Tips for Managing Stress

1. Learn to Say No
A healthy work-life balance is important. Learn to say no to things in your personal and professional life. An overloaded schedule is a sure-fire way to increase stress.

2. Manage Your Time Better
When you’re running behind for an appointment or a deadline is looming your stress levels are going to sky-rocket. Learn to manage your time, plan ahead and stay focused on one thing at a time.

3. Stay Positive
Next time you feel stressed and negativity starts to take hold, pause and take a moment to think about all the good things in your life.

4. Learn to Move On
Things that are out of our control, like the actions of other people, can be a huge cause of stress. While you can’t control everything or everyone, you can control how you react.

5. Find a Healthy Outlet
Find a way to unwind and let go of your stress at the end of the day. For some that’s running or yoga, others it’s taking a hot bath or meditating. Talking about your feelings, laughing at a funny movie, and getting outdoors are all healthy outlet options. Find an outlet that works for you.

Written by: Jillian Tongate, Marketing Manager

Staying Healthy at a Baseball Game

Healthy Day at Coors Field

Happy Opening Day! In addition to the fresh air, cheering, and the excitement of the game – ballpark food and beer are a part of the experience. Just because you’re at a game doesn’t mean you have to toss your healthy habits aside nor does it mean you have to deny yourself a treat. Here are a few ways to make your next game a healthier experience. Go Rockies!

  • Avoid the Nachos
    You’re looking at more than 1,200 plus calories! If it’s your favorite item, try sharing the order with a group of friends.
  • Buy Me Some Peanuts and Cracker Jacks
    Buttery popcorn isn’t your best option.  Go for a box of Cracker Jacks, which has only about 120 calories compared to over 1,000 for popcorn.
  • Swap the Burger for Chicken
    Once you add the cheese and toppings, the calorie-count can sky-rocket. Opt for a leaner protein and eat the grilled chicken sandwich instead.
  • A Healthier Dog
    It’s the toppings that are a nutrition killer. I’m looking at you Rockies Bacon Blue Dog. Select a regular size hot dog and toppings like relish and onions. Ketchup can be high in sugar, so reach for the mustard instead.
  • Load Up On Vegetables
    There are plenty of vegetarian options throughout Coors Field like wraps, sandwiches, salads, and veggie dogs and burgers.  Check out In Field Greens for a make your own salad. Remember to skip the cheese and select a non-creamy dressing.
  • Limit Your Beverage Intake
    Whether it is beer or soda, try to limit yourself to only one or two beverages.
  • Pack a Lunch
    Did you know you can bring your own food into Coors Field? Pack a healthy picnic lunch or snack, plus bottles of water.

Add More Activity Into Your Game Day

  • Bike to the Game
    Avoid the parking hassle and burn extra calories by biking to the game. Utilize the bike lanes throughout Denver, take the Cherry Creek Bike Path, or rent a bike from one of the many B-Cycle stations.
  • Take a Lap
    Check out the newly built Rooftop. With 38,000 square feet to explore, you’ll be sure to burn some calories walking around.
  • 7th Inning Stretch
    Avoid sitting the whole game and take your own 7th inning stretch by standing up, stretching and moving around. Walk to the purple row of seats on the top deck and reach a mile high!

Written By: Jillian Tongate, Marketing Manager