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Health and fitness: Local man wins 'do-groove' TV commercial spot

TJ Melcher of Bemidji is pleased that he is a loser - of about 100 pounds, that is.

"All through high school, I was overweight," Melcher said. "I wasn't huge, but I was always overweight and self-conscious about it."

Melcher, 33, and a member of the Bemidji Pioneer Circulation Department, said he joined the Army right after high school. He didn't pass the height and weight test, but did pass the body mass index tape test. He grew two inches to 6-feet-1 during his service and lost 40 pounds.

But later, the weight crept back, so much so that he didn't recognize himself in a softball team picture taken four years ago. He thought the big guy was somebody else until he saw that the player was wearing his own bandanna.

At 220 pounds, he said he didn't feel too bad; 240 didn't feel like much more; 260 wasn't shocking. But one day about three years ago he weighed in at 295 pounds.

He said he looked at himself in the bathroom mirror and thought: "That's close to 300. That's really big."

Now at a trim 190 pounds, Melcher is a winner of the Blue Cross-Blue Shield "do" campaign. He heard about the project in a radio piece asking people to share their stories of healthy weight loss. He sent in his account to the committee in late October. He received a call Nov. 3 and went to the Twin Cities for an interview Nov. 5. The commercial was shot Nov. 9-10 and began airing on TV Monday.

Melcher said once he decided to lose weight, his strategy was to severely cut back on food intake for the first two months to shrink his stomach and learn to deal with feeling hungry.

"That was the hardest," he said.

Then he began running while continuing to be mindful of how much and what he was eating. He said he still has to pay attention to portions, because if the food is on his plate, he'll probably finish it. He said he also really likes junk food, so he has to be conscious of those cravings as well.

During the commercial, Melcher tells his story and finishes off with a dance to the "do-groove" music. He said the surprise is that the character, "Dexter," who appears in many of the commercials, suddenly joined him in the dance.

"They didn't tell me he was there," Melcher said.

In addition to airing on TV, the commercial is available online at

The "do" campaign is a social-awareness project developed about five years ago to encourage Minnesotans to get out and "groove their bodies every day" and achieve better health through physical activity.

According to a press release from Blue Cross-Blue Shield, lack of physical activity and unhealthy eating combined are the second-leading cause of death in our country. The goal is to help prevent unnecessary diseases and conditions by getting people to move more and eat less. The campaign is funded by Blue Cross' settlement proceeds from its lawsuit against the tobacco companies and is part of the company's effort to curb and reverse the state's alarming upward obesity trend.

Melcher's success story was selected to be featured in Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota's "do" campaign. The campaign is part of an aggressive effort to curb and reverse the state's increasing obesity trend. The new "do" ad campaign features individual success stories and highlights how people overcame common barriers to achieve and maintain a healthy weight.

Melcher has re-enlisted in the Minnesota Army National Guard and he now serves as a second lieutenant.