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People Magazine selects Picayune resident Tanya Burnett for weight loss challenge

Tanya R. Burnett has been struggling with her weight for the past 15 years. Burnett is a self described emotional eater, and has experienced a lot of loss in her life. Since December, 2006 Burnett feels like she is finally getting back on track and has already lost 40 pounds. With 70 pounds left to go to reach her goal, Burnett is thrilled that People Magazine is going give her that little extra push.

Burnett, originally from Syracuse, New York, has been a resident of Picayune since 1992. She is married to a wonderful man, William Burnett, and has two children, Ricky and Tanisha Burnett. She works as a Procurement Specialist for NASA Shared Service Center, and has been earning her B.A. Online from the University of Phoenix in Business Management. She hopes to complete her degree in 2009.

Burnett is also a motivational and inspirational speaker who focuses on women’s groups such as single and working moms. She is able to draw on her own experience to help women learn how to take care of themselves despite the obstacles.

On December 13, 2007, Burnett received the 2007 Community Achievement Award from Arcata Associates, subcontractor for NASA.

Burnett learned of the People Magazine weight loss challenge through an email from her coworker, Karen Taparco, on October 3, 2007. Burnett then emailed a friend of Karen’s named Joan Nicely on the same day. A few weeks later Burnett received an email from Michelle Diament, a People Magazine representative, who let Burnett know that People Magazine was interested.

Diament emailed her again on Thanksgiving Day, November 22, 2007, with the phone number to Dr. Denney’s office, which was already Burnett’s physician. After a complete work-up, including an ekg and labs, Burnett was officially cleared for the challenge on November 29, 2007. That is when reality began to sink in for Burnett.

Approximately two weeks ago Burnett was sent to Vicksburg for a photo shoot for the issue of People Magazine which will hit the stands in January. This issue will feature the before pictures of Tanya Burnett, along with eight other Mississippi residents who were selected for the challenge. Burnett is the only participant from Picayune.

People magazine will provide Burnett with some assistance for her goal. She is now set up with a nutritionist, Kim McAulay of Highland Community Hospital, and a personal trainer, Lemont Woodberry of Anytime Fitness. Her goal for the challenge is 50 pounds in six months. The work will begin in January.

Along with the support Burnett is going to get through People Magazine, she will also draw support from her large family, and her spiritual leaders Carl and Julie Flowers of Trinity Outreach Ministry of Picayune. “They are my foundation,” said Burnett.

Burnett says, “My purpose for taking on the [weight loss] challenge is to encourage others to focus on being healthy. I want to change the name of Mississippi from obesity to healthy.” For Tanya Burnett this is not about size, big or skinny, but about being healthy.

The Picayune Item will follow along with Burnett on her journey. We will provide updates along the way. Congratulations and best of luck to Tanya Burnett.