Lighten Up East Texas - It's Back: Weight-loss challenge returns in time for resolutions

Published on Saturday, 4 January 2014 17:28 - Written by By Coshandra Dillard

Lighten Up East Texas, a weight loss contest that urges East Texans to lose at least 5 percent of their body weight, is back. The contest is one of a few initiatives established by the Fit City Challenge Coalition.

The 2014 event will resemble last year’s challenge but with some new twists.

“The new spin is that we’re starting it after the New Year so it ties in with people’s New Year’s resolutions,” said Terrence Ates, coalition member and community transformation grant project coordinator at Northeast Texas Public Health District. “So if you start in January and finish in May, you’ll have a healthier lifestyle going into the summer.”

The five-month challenge will kick off at 5 p.m. Friday at Broadway Square Mall, and then from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. There, East Texans can weigh-in and get registered for the contest.

Also new this year is the location. Booths will be set up at Broadway Square Mall on Friday and Saturday.

“Having it at the mall allows us to reach people who may not have even known about LUET,” Ates said.

Weigh-in locations and booths will be set up in five places throughout the mall, including the carpeted areas in front of J.C. Penney, Sears and center court.

Entrants who visit booths for health assessments and information will be eligible for door prizes, donated by businesses within the mall. There will be a follow-up wellness fair on Feb. 1 at the mall, which also will present another opportunity to weigh in.

Additional weighing in locations and times are posted at .

A randomly selected entrant will win a car, with taxes already paid by the sponsorship. A 2014 Dodge Dart is donated by Allen Samuels Tyler.

“People didn’t believe it until they saw it,” he said.

Sara McShan, of Nacogdoches, is proof of that. She was overwhelmed when it was announced that she was the grand-prize winner of a 2013 Dodge Dart during Lighten Up East Texas' Lighten Up and Play, an event last year. 

Mrs. McShan, 63, dropped 14 pounds, representing about a 5 percent weight loss. She was one of the top 10 entrants eligible for the drawing of the grand prize.

She would go on to lose another five pounds, but she also gained five back over the holidays.

Mrs. McShan aims to lose another 20 pounds and will put sign up for the challenge again this year.

She began her weight-loss journey by participating in Curves Complete, which includes an exercise plan, nutrition counseling and an online program for meal planning and motivation.

She credits exercising four times a week and eating whole foods as the key to her 14-pound weight loss.

“I already had made some changes or I was in the process of making some changes as far as portions and the types of food,” she said.

To get back on track and for the contest, she’ll return to those habits.

“I have to make myself go back to the way that I know is healthier and is effective,” she said. “It worked for me the last time so I’m going to go back and do the same thing again.”

For others thinking about registering for the contest, she said it begins in the mind.

“No. 1, you have to make sure you want to do it,” Mrs. McShan said. “You do it for yourself. You don’t do it for anyone else. And it has to be both exercise and food. You have to a food plan and you have to get away from your high sweets, high carbs, and exercise.”

Mrs. McShan was among several participants from Nacogdoches who found success in the contest last year. Most were in teams. This year, teams are limited to a minimum of two and maximum of five people.

Organizers hope to either recruit 5,210 East Texans into its newest weight loss challenge or garner a combined weight loss of 5,210 pounds.

The 5-2-1-0 represents another initiative of the Fit City Challenge, which encourages East Texas children to eat five servings of fruits and vegetables, limit screen time to two hours, get one hour of physical activity and drink zero sugary beverages each day.



Kick-off event/initial weigh-ins: 5 to 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday at Broadway Square Mall

Weighing-in period: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Jan. 10 through March 31, various locations

Weighing-out period: May 19 through May 31, various locations

Visit: or for more information on rules, weighing-in locations and updates.



Allen Samuels Tyler

Brookshire’s Grocery Company

Northeast Texas Public Health District (NET Health)

Tyler Morning Telegraph



44,321.65: Pounds lost throughout the contest

3,197: People who weighed in for the contest.

578: People weighing out, with a return rate of 18.08 percent

473: People, representing 81.8 percent of those weighing out, who recorded a weight loss