Four tons lost in local weight-loss competition |

Four tons lost in local weight-loss competition

by Susie Vasquez

Over the past two months, a group of western Nevadans made an elephant disappear.

In the area’s first Great American Weight Loss Challenge, participants lost a total of 8,288 pounds, about the same weight as a 9-foot-tall cow elephant.

Sponsored by a number of local entities, including Health Smart and the Nevada Appeal, the weight-loss contest included 1,790 people from Carson City, Dayton, Douglas and Washoe counties and Lake Tahoe.

Divided into 10-person teams, participants lost an average of 4.7 pounds per person during the effort that ended Nov. 19.

Tammy Tersteege was part of Team 93, otherwise known as “Three Slims and the Diet Divas.” The group was honored for its innovative and creative weight-loss methods.

“Team members provided a lot of motivation. We e-mailed each other a lot,” she said. “We reminded each other to go to weigh-ins and, together we kept an upbeat, positive attitude. I thought it was great.”

An office manager with the Bureau of Family Health Services, Tersteege said her team did pretty much what everyone else did – worked out at Nevada Fitness and watched what it ate.

Together, team members lost 20.6 pounds, a bit below the 4.7-pound average. The contest may be over, but Tersteege vows to keep losing weight. She wants to lose 25 pounds by her 40th birthday in March.

“I didn’t get down to the gym as often as I should have, but I have to say I feel much better about myself,” she said. “I have a lot more energy. It makes you hold your head high and feel proud.”

HealthSmart, a nonprofit dedicated to raising the standard of wellness in Carson City, organized the event. The project was the brainchild of Richard Linkul, director of marketing and business development for Carson-Tahoe Hospital.

“We wanted to increase the awareness of what HealthSmart is all about – facilitating wellness,” he said.

The event had no budget or funding, and organizers were hoping to get somewhere close to their goal of 1,000 teams. Participants were charged $50 per team and $5 per team member.

Organizers were thrilled when the expected number of participants almost doubled, but even at that, the event will probably just break even, said Linkul.

He is already talking about next year’s event.

“We want to acquire some grant money for next year,” he said. “Our biggest cost was labor, but we’re hoping to streamline the process using technology, to collapse that figure.”

Other event sponsors included Nevada Fitness, KRNV News 4 and radio stations Sunny, Alice and River.

Contact Susie Vasquez at 881-1212 or