JOINT BASE MYER-HENDERSON HALL, Va. - Summer is over and the holidays are just around the corner, so there's no better time than now to take part in the Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall Fitness Center's "Back to the Grind Weight Loss Contest."

The 12-week contest kicked off with weigh-ins Sept. 9 and 10, but there's still time to sign up for the contest, which ends with final weigh-outs before Thanksgiving on Nov. 25-26.

"I'm flexible with the weigh-ins," said Sylvia Garcia, JBM-HH fitness coordinator. "I'm definitely not going to turn people away. The purpose of this program is to encourage participation."

Anyone who is eligible to use the fitness centers on the joint base can participate in the back to the grind challenge. Participants can opt to take part individually or as part of a four person team. Prizes will be awarded to the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place male and female losers and to the 1st and 2nd place losing team. Thus far, more than 30 people have signed up for the contest.

Winners will be determined by the percentage of total weight loss, with a healthy weight loss being one percent of your beginning weight per week. That means a person who weighs 280 pounds can be expected to lose about two to three pounds a week while a person weighing 180 pounds can lose one to two pounds per week.

Garcia stressed that weight loss or maintenance should be the result of healthier eating and exercise habits.

"Be realistic with what you're doing," she said. "A lot of people, when they start an exercise program, are only doing something a couple times a week and they are not consistent with their effort. You have to be consistent, you have to actually look at the calendar and determine how many days [a week you can exercise] and stick with it."

And, Garcia said be patient and kind with yourself as you begin your weight loss journey.

"Step away from the scale and know that the numbers will take care of themselves if you are consistent with our eating habits, your sleeping habits and your exercise habits," she said.

Garcia urged individuals seeking to live a healthy lifestyle to focus on how that affects them mentally and emotionally.

"That will kind of give you enough incentive to keep going until the physical benefits come into play," she said.

For more information on the contest, contact Garcia at 703-696-7868 or drop by the fitness center on the Fort Myer portion of the joint base for a weigh-in.