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Lighten Up East Texas: 2016 Kicks off with a Bang

By Zairah Wooten

The fourth annual Lighten Up East Texas regional weight loss challenge launched on Monday, January 4th at Broadway Square Mall and will remain open through Monday, February 29th. Participants who are 18 years and older, and reside in an East Texas county, may register for free. Eligible counties and entry locations are listed at

Lighten Up East Texas first launched in 2013 and was created by the Fit City Tyler Coalition with a goal to create a healthier East Texas. The mission of Fit City Tyler is to help residents of Tyler and East Texas become more aware of the national and local epidemic of obesity and to give residents the tools and knowledge with which to fight against it. Fit City Tyler’s ultimate goal is to make Tyler and East Texas the fittest city and region in Texas, and then the nation.

Tyler Morning Telegraph took a lead in the Fit City Tyler Coalition along with NET Health and the City of Tyler. George Roberts, CEO of Northeast Texas Public Health District, and Dave Berry, former Editor of the “Tyler Morning Telegraph,” became the co-leaders of Fit City and continue to be the leaders today. A steering committee was created, consisting of the most active participants in the first Fit City meeting, and from there, the coalition evolved. George Roberts and Dave Berry continue to lead the steering committee (which plans and implements the Lighten Up East Texas Challenge) but Terrence Ates, Assistant Director of Community Outreach at NET Health, currently serves as the point person for the project. Terrence acts as the main contact for participants. He sends out reminders, coordinates off-site weigh-ins, and more.

“When we established Fit City Tyler in 2010, our mission statement was to ‘make Tyler a Fit City one step, one bite, and one health-conscious decision at a time,’” said Dave Berry, co-chair of Fit City Tyler. “We wanted East Texans to join us in a conversation about weight loss that was not about fad diets, unhealthy or radical weight loss. We wanted something that all would agree was a healthy way for adults (18 and older) to drop pounds and get healthy.”

Individuals and teams consisting of two or more participants can compete to lose weight and improve their health. For every five percent of weight that is lost – calculated from an official starting and final weight – the participant will receive an entry into the grand prize drawing of a brand new 2016 Hyundai Elantra, donated by Allen Samuels Tyler. Fit City Tyler did not want a “Biggest Loser” style weight loss campaign. Everyone on the steering committee agreed that radical weight loss is unhealthy and generally leads to health problems and often to gaining that weight back.

“We hoped that by offering good prizes for a healthy level of weight loss,” said Dave Berry, “we could get Tyler and East Texans actively involved and working toward a personal weight loss goal, and it worked.”

Other prizes include five $50 Brookshire’s gift cards, gym memberships to Trinity Mother Frances and ETMC Olympic Center, and as the weight loss challenge final draws near, additional grand prizes will be announced. Winning teams will also receive prizes that are awarded to each winning team member. In addition, everyone who registers will receive one new, reflective, drawstring backpack.

Prizes will be given to those who do not lose 5 percent or more. Residents who participate in the weigh-out period but do not lose 5 percent or more will be entered into a separate drawing. Weigh-outs will be held Monday, April 25th to Sunday, May 8th.

It is encouraged that participants take several “before” pictures on the day of the official registration for Lighten Up East Texas. Capture a full body photo of what you first looked like, then take on a weekly or monthly basis to track your progress. Share your “before” pictures with family members and trusted friends who can encourage and provide you emotional support on your journey. This system will document your personal change and can provide extra positivity and encouragement for yourself.

Along with Allen Samuels Tyler, several local businesses sponsor Lighten Up East Texas. Community sponsors include: Tyler Today Magazine, NET Health, Suddenlink Communications, Brookshire Grocery Company, and the “Tyler Paper,” City of Tyler, CBS-19 TV, 102.7/106.9 The Blaze, Trinity Mother Frances Hospitals and Clinics, Neighbors Emergency Center, Cigna Healthspring, The Tyler/Whitehouse YMCA, UT Health Northeast, East Texas Medical Center, Tyler Junior College, Jazzercise Tyler, the East Texas Food Bank, and Broadway Square Mall.

“We are pleased to partner with Fit City Tyler to help every person in our community to have an opportunity to be the healthiest they can be,” said Tyler Mayor Martin Heines.

Over 8,000 East Texas residents have participated in the first three years and lost a combined weight of 21,864 pounds. In 2015 alone, 2,325 residents participated and 7,837.45 pounds were shed within the community.

“My hope for the future is that we keep attracting new people and repeat participants who come back each year and continue to lose weight,” said Dave Berry. “We hear their stories, and they proudly show us their beginning weights and progress from earlier years. The car, they say, would be a nice reward, but their real reward is that they are making progress. It’s not just a contest for most of them; it’s the incentive they needed to reverse their own personal struggle with weight. And that’s success enough for me.”

For more info visit or contact Terrence Ates with NET Health.

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TJC offers Summer Activity, Athletic Camps for ages 3 and up

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From animation to athletics, horsemanship to robotics, and scuba to improv comedy, TJC has a summer camp to spark the imagination of any young explorer.

Registration is open for TJC Summer Camps for kids ages 3 and up. Camps begin Monday, June 4, and continue through mid-August.

“We’ve put together a great lineup of activity and athletic summer camps,” said Heath Stoner, director of TJC’s Ornelas Health & Physical Education Center. Stoner also oversees the college’s summer camps.

“TJC camps offer great opportunities for kids to gain skills to succeed in sports and learn about other cultures through art, science and technology,” he said, “but they’re also often a kid’s first opportunity to spend time on a college campus. Ultimately, we hope our campers are inspired to pursue a college career someday.”

The camps are operated at several locations on the TJC campus, including the Center for Earth & Space Science Education at TJC, Wagstaff and Gentry gyms, the Ornelas HPE Center, art department, science labs, swimming pool and gymnasiums.

TJC offers more than 60 activity camps, including: App Attack; Aquatic Camp; Babysitting Basic Training Bootcamp; Broadway Camp; Camp Illusion; Chess Camp; Code Breakers; Cookie, Cupcakes & Games; Comic Book Creation; CSI; Cultural Arts from Around the World; Dance Intensive for Beginners; Digital Storytellers; Disc Golf; English/Western Horsemanship; Explorers of the Kingdoms of East Texas; Exploring our World of Chemistry; Family Astronomy Camp; French Foil Fencing; Frozen Dance Camp; Game Labs; Improv Comedy; Incredible Stuff; Introduction to High Tech Health Careers; Jazz/Hip Hop Dance Camp; Jewelry Camp; LEGO Comics: Design Your Own Adventure; LEGO WeDo: Robotics for Younger Kids; Little Pony Express; Make Your First 3D Video Game; Make Your First Video Game; Minecraft Animators; Minecraft Designers; Minecraft Modders; Open Water Scuba; Pencil, Ink and Charcoal; Petite Picassos Art Camp; Printmaking Workshop; Robotics Camp; Scratch Jr.: Coding & Games for Kids; Space Camp; Slime Kaboom; Star Wars Stop Animation; Surveying & Mapping; Table Tennis; The Finishing Touch; Video Game Animation; Video Game History; Virtual Reality; Watercolor & Acrylic Painting; and Wood Works.

Athletic camps, run entirely by TJC coaching staff and players, include: baseball, basketball, football, soccer, softball, tennis and volleyball.

For details, or to register online, go to

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East Texans Learn to “Live Healthy”

This Month at Integrative Health Matters:

Integrative Health Matters offers a healthy alternative to losing weight. The public has opportunities to visit Integrative Health Matters at any of these classes:

  • Every Wednesday (12:15-1:15pm) – Mindful Movements; (5:15-6:15pm) – “Just Breathe” Meditation
  • June 1st (10-11am) – Functional Food Friday: Eating Healthy on a Budget
  • June 12th (6-7:30pm) – Kitchen Talk: Mediterranean Diet Lifestyle
  • June 15th (10-11am) – Functional Food Friday: Meal Prepping
  • June 22nd (10-11am) – Functional Food Friday: Acid, Alkaline & Food Combining
  • June 26th (6-7:30pm) – Kitchen Talk: Plant Based Eating
  • June 29th (10-11am) – Functional Food Friday: Bone Broth

Cooking classes offered twice monthly are in-depth health and cooking presentations. These “Kitchen Talks” invite the public into the IHM instructional kitchen to learn to cook tasty and nutritious meals and create a healthy home environment.

Integrative Health Matters is located at 419 WSW Loop 323 #400 in Tyler, next to La Madeleine. For information about Integrative Health Matters, contact (903)595-8077 or visit

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Around East Texas

July 4th: Freedom Fighters 5K Race and more races!

To be listed here is free! Send us info for your event go HERE.

To add a walk, run, or biking event, please send to, It is always free to list any event.

July 4th – Freedom Fighter 5K will be held at Bergfeld Park. Registration is currently open at

September 22nd – Pineywoods Ultra – Run through deep East Texas pine forests on a scenic course underneath towering pines. This diverse, single track course, almost entirely underneath a canopy of 100-foot tall pine timber, will keep you captivated as you navigate rolling hills through rooty and pine needle conditioned trails. Enjoy a post race refreshing swim in the 64-acre spring-fed lake while you rest and recover. As home to the forest race in our eco series, you won’t want to miss this unique chance to run with deer through the deep piney wood forests of Eastern Texas. This is a 5k, 10k, 25k, 50k, and 100k. Wind through deep green pine forests on rooty single track while chasing deer and other wildlife. Enjoy the dizzying and majestic pine canopy above as you are shaded on your adventure. Register at 

September 29th – ZERO Prostate Cancer Run/Walk features a 5K run/walk, 1 mile walk, Kids’ Superhero Dash for Dad, and virtual Snooze for Dudes program. ZERO is proud to partner with Urology Tyler, PA to end prostate cancer. Stick around for the family-friendly post-race celebration. Run/walk participants will receive tech shirts, free food and prizes, and the opportunity to connect with others who are impacted by prostate cancer. To register, go to

October 13th – 2018 Corkscrew Half will be held at Kiepersol Winery, 3933 FM 344 in Bullard. Register by e-mailing

November 10th – Salute to Service 5K will be held in Whitehouse. More details to come.

December 2nd – 2018 Tyler Half Marathon & 5K – This event will give athletes a tour unlike any other through the Rose City of Tyler, Texas. The event will start and finish from TB Butler Fountain Square in the center of downtown Tyler, Texas. More information can be found at and be sure to follow The Tyler Half Marathon & 5K on

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