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Cowboy Challenge helps 22 employees improve health

STILLWATER —  Emma Ellis and 21 others jump started a healthier lifestyle this fall by taking part in the Cowboy Challenge. The 10-week program offers Oklahoma State University employees guidance and expertise from the wellness department staff and personal trainers.

Participants worked in three teams with a coach who helped them stay on track. They competed in weekly challenges, met with a registered dietician, kept a food log and attended exercise sessions with a personal trainer. The winning team won Fitbits and the top male and female each won a 60-minute massage.

Ellis’s team won the challenge. After 10 weeks of nutrition counseling, specialized exercise and motivation from her teammates, Ellis went from a size 22 to a size 14.

“The weight started falling off,” Ellis said. “As it progressed, it got easier and easier.”

Before registering for the Cowboy Challenge, she hadn’t been to the gym in years, had bad eating habits and barely drank any water throughout the day.

The victories weren’t just weight loss. The coaches said participants reported sleeping better, feeling more confident, drinking more water and being more active with their families.

“You get a lot of camaraderie,” fitness specialist Eric Conchola said. “They pushed each other to achieve limits they never thought was possible before.”

Ellis said she now eats more vegetables, drinks more water and has registered for small group personal training to continue. “The minute you start feeling good about yourself, everybody else notices it,” she said.

To apply for the spring Cowboy Challenge go to:


K.S. McNutt

Kathryn McNutt covers higher education for The Oklahoman and NewsOK. Since joining the staff in August 2000, she also has worked as the Breaking News editor, Metro editor and assistant Local editor. A native of Oklahoma City, she graduated from... Read more ›