Weather Forecast


Two Harbors group loses a ton, gives a ton

A Two Harbors Weight Watchers group collectively lost more than 2,000 pounds of weight this year. The group also made a donation equivalent of nearly 3,900 pounds of food to the Two Harbors Area Food Shelf. (Photo courtesy Karen Gray)

On Jan. 4, a group of about 40 Two Harbors residents struggling with the consequences of the previous holiday season came together to start a Weight Watchers chapter — with tremendous results.

As of Nov. 1, the group has lost more than 2,000 pounds since its first meeting at Lake View Hospital, with a couple of its members losing more than 100 pounds each.

The chapter has also decided to donate an equivalent amount of food and money to the Two Harbors Area Food Shelf (THAFS). The group collected 185 pounds of food and $735.

THAFS can use cash to purchase food for 19 cents a pound through Second Harvest Northern Lakes Food Bank, bringing the group's total donation to nearly 3,900 pounds of food for Two Harbors families in need, according to THAFS Director Michelle Miller.

The Weight Watchers members said they were able to collectively lose more than 2,000 pounds due to the simplicity of the Weight Watchers points program, group support and the accountability of weekly meetings and weigh-ins.

"We talk every week about what's been good, what's been bad, who's struggling and how we can help you," chapter leader Karen Gray said.

Julie Benson, an assistant principal at Two Harbors High School, said she has struggled with her weight most of her life and had tried a number of programs, but the weight kept coming back. Benson hadn't been taking care of herself over the last few years and her diabetes was "out of control," she said.

A co-worker then asked Benson to join a Weight Watchers group in Two Harbors. Benson's friend had been attending Weight Watchers meetings in Duluth, but Benson didn't feel like she could make that kind of commitment.

"At that time of the year, every commercial you see on TV is Weight Watchers and Oprah Winfrey and it's in your face a little bit," she said. "I wasn't 100 percent sure this was what I wanted to do, but I did go to the first meeting in January."

Benson wasn't enthusiastic about the diet plan at first, but she soon realized the program was easier to follow than other plans she has tried in the past, especially with the Weight Watchers smartphone app.

"It's just so easy. Years ago, when I was doing other programs, I was counting calories and carbs and you get a little book and you have to look everything up," Benson said.

Since joining Weight Watchers, Benson has lost 120 pounds over 11 months. She said the program was helpful last week when the group addressed the elephant in the room: Thanksgiving dinner.

"We wrote down everything we ate at last Thanksgiving. I pulled up that app and realized I had three days worth of points in one meal," Benson said. "Then we talked about if it's worth it, and for some people, it is, and it's like, OK, enjoy your holiday and move on.

"Everybody has a different story and different struggles, but I think that coming together and being able to share that is a big part of it," she said.

To find out more about the Weight Watchers chapter in Two Harbors, contact Karen Gray at

Jamey Malcomb

Jamey Malcomb has been a reporter for the Pine Journal since October 2018. He previously worked as a reporter for the Lake County News-Chronicle from 2015-2018. Malcomb is a native of North Carolina and holds a bachelor's degree in English and history from the George Washington University and a master's degree in education from George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. Malcomb moved to Minnesota in July 2012 and worked as a sports clerk and news assistant at the Duluth News Tribune. 

(218) 355-8868