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Gypsum teacher featured in diet ad

Connie Steiert
Gypsum Correspondent
Vail CO, Colorado
Special to the DailyRed Hill Elementary School teacher has lost 30 pounds on the Alli diet program.
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GYPSUM, COLORADO ” Like many women, Jennifer Erickson had tried many diets. But when she started using a popular diet product last winter, she had no idea it would propel her into a national ad campaign.

Yet, seven months later, she was in New York City, being given the royal treatment usually afforded a model or TV personality. And soon, her face will appear in a national ad campaign and be known to millions.

It all started with when Erickson looked into a new diet program about to hit the market. “I had read in a magazine that it was coming out,” said Erickson, a special education teacher at Red Hill Elementary. She Googled the manufacturer’s Web site last February, and contacted the pharmaceutical company, GlaxoSmithKline, for more information.

Before she knew it, GlaxoSmithKline responded with an offer to participate in a study of a new fat-blocking pill, Alli diet pills, that were about to hit the market. Using a fat-blocking substance that has been on the market in different forms for eight years, Alli purportedly blocks 25 percent of calorie intake so the body doesn’t absorb that fat. The company wanted some personal testimonies to air with the pill’s release.

Erickson was one of 400 people nationwide chosen for the study. She received a six-month free supply of Alli in mid-April, and committed to using it regularly, reporting on its effectiveness. At the end of the trial period in June, she agreed to talk to the media about the product’s effectiveness.

A small group of the participants were asked to make home videos recounting their experience with the product. Erickson was among the chosen videographers. From that group, seven participants were flown to New York City and have their testimonials filmed professionally for release in TV commercials.

When the participants arrived in New York City, they were whisked to hair salons and wardrobe sessions. Erickson had her makeup for the commercial shoot done by the professional makeup artist for the TLC show, “What Not to Wear.”

Unfortunately, GlaxoSmithKline ran out of budgeted ad money before her testimony aired; but she has been asked to fly back to New York City to participate in a tour on Jan. 4.

By then, Erickson’s face and figure will grace an ad for Alli in the nationally distributed Costco magazine, “The Costco Connection.”

Why was she chosen out of the 400 contenders?

“I must have shown them in the video that I really believed in their product,” Erickson said.

She’s lost 30 pounds since she began taking Alli, and continues on the product today. “It really changed how I think about food,” she said.

Alli comes with a book detailing a low-fat diet and low-intensity exercise program, which Erickson followed. Now she meticulously studies every food product for the number of grams of fat and calories before selecting them. “It put me in the habit of making good, healthy daily choices,” she said. “I think of the quality of food I’m putting my body now.”

Erickson has not yet decided whether she will fly to New York for the second media blitz. Although it would be fun to go through all that pampering and special treatment again, she would have to take time off work to make the January appearance. Her principal, Anthony Barela, was already generous enough to give her a couple of days off in September for the first trip.

Erickson, who also works part-time as a front desk person at the Gypsum Recreation Center, was already well aware of fitness regimens before beginning the Alli experiment ” but nothing seemed to be working for her.

“It was like I had all the necessary knowledge, I just couldn’t bring it together and use it all, until I started using Alli,” she said. Now, she adds, it’s like having a good little angel sitting on her shoulder saying, “Don’t eat that donut, there might be consequences.”

This story first appeared in the Eagle Valley Enterprise.


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