Promoting Wellness From the Inside Out: My Role as a Dietitian at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan

I love what I do because I get to teach others about topics from healthy eating to exercise as a dietitian for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan’s Wellness and Care Management Consulting team, but I also get to learn from the very smart people around me as well.

I thought it might be interesting to share some of the ways I get to help promote wellness with my fellow BCBSM employees, individuals and communities across the state.

Biggest Loser: Detroit Edition II

I feel so blessed to have participated as a health coach for the Biggest Loser: Detroit Edition II in 2010.  I had the honor of coaching the eventual winner of the competition, Steve Anderson on his way to victory. He lost 56 pounds during the 12 week competition. This was an experience that changed his life for the better.

In the end, not only did I help Steve, but I also learned so much. BCBSM promotes wellness for its employees and provides the tools needed for everyone to adopt healthier lifestyles.

BCBSM Wellness Week

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan celebrated Wellness Week at the Southfield and Detroit locations from January 24-28.  This was a perfect opportunity for employees to learn more about how to adopt  healthy lifestyles.  Each day during the week focused on different health-related topics, including:

  • Disease Prevention
  • Nutrition
  • Fitness
  • Rejuvenation
  • Stress Management

These topics are key in building a culture of wellness at the workplace. Does your employer advocate a culture of wellness at work? I’d love for you to share how your workplace supports healthy living.

As a health coach, dietitian and a certified diabetes educator, I was excited to participate in BCBSM’s Wellness Week as a presenter, but also as an employee. One of the most important steps of changing behaviors is taking time to learn, and then taking it a step further by acting on what is learned.

Wellness Celebrated by BCBSM Employees at University of Detroit

On January 16 2011, BCBSM employees were “Celebrating Wellness” at the University of Detroit Mercy versus Valparaiso game. This game was the kick-off to Healthy Weight Week.

At this game, I was an honorary guest coach with Tricia Keith, the vice president of Corporate Secretary and Services.  Sitting courtside was a blast. I love sports and the passion shown by the players. I received an award for the work I did with Steve Anderson, Detroit’s Biggest Loser and for helping Blue Cross lead Michigan to a healthier future.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan continues to advocate for a healthier you in the workplace, in the community and at home in your personal life. Let’s continue to work together to truly build a healthier Michigan.

Please feel free to contact me at any time if you have any questions. I would love to hear from you!

Grace Derocha is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes and weight-loss management educator at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. She is also a featured blogger on A Healthier Michigan where she shares her tips for living a healthier life. Continue reading about Grace on A Healthier Michigan.


Congratulations to Steve Anderson, winner of The Biggest Loser: Detroit Edition II

During last week’s nationally-televised Thanksgiving Parade, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan’s president and CEO Daniel J. Loepp announced this year’swinner of The Biggest Loser: Detroit Edition II. Steve Anderson beat out fellow contestants Tia Finney, Greg Czar, Calvin Poellnitz, Mary Beth Klawender and Sandy Ray to take the top spot.

All of the Biggest Loser: Detroit Edition contestants rode on BCBSM’s new “Get Fit” float during the holiday parade.

With the help of his BCBSM health coach, Grace “Dietitian” Arriola-Derocha, Steve rallied to lose 55 pounds, totaling 21 percent of his original body weight.

“I cut out fast food, which I used to have all of the time. And now I eat healthier and work out,” said Steve. “I feel great and hopefully I’ll continue this for the rest of my life.”

We applaud Steve, Tia, Greg, Calvin, Mary Beth and Sandy for their hard work and dedication throughout the contest. In 11 weeks the contestants lost a grand total of 200 pounds.

We hope that they take what they’ve learned from their Blue Cross health coaches and continue to maintain their new, healthier lifestyles.

Biggest Loser contestants get into the “spirit” of Halloween with some healthy fall recipes

Halloween is full of tricks and treats – which can be really scary when you’re trying to lose weight.

But the Biggest Loser: Detroit Edition II contestants are prepared. With the help of their BCBSM health coaches, they have learned that you can still get into the spirit of Halloween and stay healthy.

Last week Calvin, Mary Beth and Sandy met with BCBSM health coaches Andrea Abatemarco and Tara Albosta to put together a variety of delicious but healthy dishes including an autumn stew and brownie pumpkin muffins.

“Halloween is thought of as a time for sugary food, but that doesn’t have to be the case,” said Andrea. “The recipes we made with the contestants are healthy, tasty and festive for the fall season.”

Make sure you check out WDIV’s Halloween special that will air tonight at 8:30 p.m. to see the full story.

To follow the progress of all of the Biggest Loser: Detroit Edition II contestants check out their blogs on

BCBSM health coaches Tara Albosta and Andera Abatemarco show the contestants how to cook a healthy Halloween treat.

From left to right: Biggest Loser: Detroit Edition II contestants Mary Beth Klawender, Calvin Poellnitz and Sandy Ray pose for the cameras.

Biggest Loser: Detroit Edition II contestants stay motivated to reach weight-loss goals

Losing weight is more than a physical challenge, it’s a psychological battle that can take a demanding toll on the mind and spirit. Staying motivated can be one of the most difficult aspects of losing weight.

Biggest Loser: Detroit Edition II contestants know the psychological battle with weight loss all too well. For the past seven weeks each has worked hard to stay motivated, but the journey has not always been easy.

The Biggest Loser: Detroit Edition II is a local version of NBC’s nationally-televised Biggest Loser. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan health coaches provide counseling to each contestant as part of our mission to promote a healthier Michigan. The competition is in its second year of motivating local residents to lose weight and achieve a healthier lifestyle.

The contestants of this year’s competition include:
Steve Anderson, Troy.
Tia Finney, West Bloomfield
Sandra Ray, Taylor
Calvin Poellnitz, Inkster
Mary Beth Klawender, Livonia
Greg Czar, Shelby Township

You can follow the inspiring stories of each contestant on their blogs found here: Help them stay motivated by commenting on the site and sharing links with your friends.

You can also see how they continue to support one another as they comment on each others’ posts.

Tune in to WDIV (Local 4) to learn how Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan health coaches provide emotional support to the contestants, and see how last year’s Biggest Loser: Detroit Edition winner, Marilyn Kluka continues her commitment to a healthy lifestyle almost one year later.

Marilyn lost more than 70 pounds since her weight-loss journey began with last year’s Biggest Loser: Detroit Edition.

The winner of this year’s competition will receive prizes, including a spot as the honorary Grand Marshall of America’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Biggest Loser: Detroit Edition II contestants to be revealed Monday, Aug. 30

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is teaming up with WDIV-TV and The Parade Company to announce participants in The Biggest Loser: Detroit Edition II.

Biggest Loser: Detroit Edition II finalists will be revealed during the WDIV newscast on Monday, Aug. 30, beginning at 4 p.m. During the announcement, BCBSM President and CEO Daniel J. Loepp will be interviewed by Chuck Gaidica during the 5 p.m. newscast.

This year, 310 people entered the contest. That’s 100 more applicants than last year. The applicants were narrowed down to 60 who were called back for audition interviews. From there, the final six were chosen.

With the help of Blue Cross health coaches, the finalists will participate in the weight loss competition that will run into November. The winner of the competition will be announced during WDIV’s coverage of America’s Thanksgiving Parade, and all six contestants will ride on the BCBSM float.

Last year’s winner, Marilyn Kluka of Farmington Hills, lost 47 pounds during the 11-week competition and was one of six contestants who lost a total of 270 pounds.