FORT RUCKER, Ala. (January 16, 2014) -- It's no doubt that hundreds, if not thousands, of people on Fort Rucker made New Year's resolutions to lead a healthier lifestyle, and a statewide program is helping people keep up with their commitment.

The 2014 Scale Back Alabama contest, hosted by Alabama's hospitals and the Alabama Department of Public Health, kicks off today at 10 a.m., and is designed to help people lose weight in a healthy manner and participate in friendly competition during the process, according to Lynn Avila, post fitness programs coordinator.

Gina McDonald, 2013 winner of the TV show "Biggest Loser," will lead the charge during the statewide kickoff. She is a shining example of what people can achieve if they put their mind to it, losing 113 pounds and 46 percent of her body weight during her time on the show, Avila said.

Participants in the Scale Back Alabama program don't have to be as ambitious, however.

"I'm encouraging anyone who wants to lose a few pounds to find some friends and join the contest," she said in a news release.

The 10-week program challenges teams of four to lose at least one pound every week for the duration of the contest. If each team member loses at least 10 pounds over the course of the program, their team will be eligible for a random drawing for cash prizes.

"This is a great program and a good time of the year to be motivated, and what better way than to be motivated by money," said Avila. "This is also a safe way to promote losing weight, because one pound a week is completely safe and effective. At that rate, it's almost guaranteed that (participants) will keep the weight off."

To register, participants must be at least 18 years of age and join a team of no more or less than four individuals during the weigh-in week. All team members must weigh in at the weigh-in site during the kick off week, now through Jan. 24, and teams must begin and end the contest with the same members.

Participants on Fort Rucker can weigh in at either the Fort Rucker Physical Fitness Center on Andrews Avenue, or at Bldg. 5700 in Rm. 230.

Prizes will range from individual prizes to team prizes, with the grand prize awarding the winning team with $1,000 per team member. Second team drawn wins $500 per team member and third team drawn wins $250 per team member. Up to 50 individuals will also be selected to win one of 50 achievement prizes of $100 per person.

The final weigh in will take place April 5-11 and prizes will be announced April 25, but during the time leading up, people can use various methods as a team to lose weight, suggested Avila.

"Participants can come to the fitness centers as a team to get tips or even participate in the classes together, or even hire a personal trainer to work with their team," she said, adding that although it's a contest, people can get together with other teams to help motivate each other to the ultimate goal -- living a healthier lifestyle.

Alabamians have lost more than 1 million pounds since the Scale Back Alabama contest began, and about 30,000 participants take part and lose approximately 130,000 pounds in the contest every year, according to the news release, and many have had success in the program, not only through exercise, but through diet, as well, added Avila.

"One pound a week could be easy to do if done right," she said. "Find one unhealthy thing in your diet to eliminate a week. If you drink one soda throughout the day, eliminate that one soda and that will equal about one pound a week."

Another suggestion is to go without cream and sugar in coffee, which can equal up to 3,500 calories depending on how much a person uses.

"It's not just about exercising. You have to put in the nutritional side of it, too," said Avila. "This is a great time to learn how to lose the weight and learn about what people should be doing to get into a healthier lifestyle."

For more information or tips on how to stay healthy, visit