REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. -- Alabama may not be the fattest state in the nation, but being in the top five, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, isn't exactly something to brag about.

Enter Scale Back Alabama, Alabama's statewide weight loss contest, designed to change those numbers and encourage Alabamians to strive for a lifetime of wellness, one pound at a time.

"There is a struggle with weight management in the United States," Mary Bouldin, nurse educator at Fox Army Health Center, said. "We know that if you gain too much body fat content, you run more risk for the development of chronic diseases, that's how closely they're linked. If we can control weight, we oftentimes can decrease risk for the development of chronic diseases, like heart disease, stroke, different forms of cancer even, and especially type II diabetes."

The kickoff for the contest, which challenges participants to lose 10 pounds over the course of 10 weeks, is this week, when teams of four are asked to step up to the scale and begin their journey to a slimmer, healthier life. Fox Army Health Center is serving as an official weigh-in site, for anyone with access to the installation.

Weigh-in times at the Wellness Clinic are as follows:
 Today, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
 Thursday, 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
 Friday, 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

To participate in the contest, individuals over age 18 are asked to form teams of four, including a team captain, and weigh-in this week. Weigh-outs will be held the week of April 7. Team members must weigh-in and out at the same location. FMWR gyms are not weigh-in sites this year.

"Our goal is to make the weight loss doable," Bouldin said. "We don't want the weight loss to be so great that people don't think they can accomplish it. In general, we consider one to two pounds a week a healthy weight loss, simply because if you slow the process down, and you don't starve yourself, your body will lose fat content, but maintain the lean muscle content. If you try to lose too much weight too quickly you tend to lose lean muscle mass with it, and a lot of water, and slow your metabolism down. The goal here is the more lean muscle you have, the more calories you burn naturally resting. We don't want to lose that, but we want to cut some calories and encourage people to be more active so they're burning more calories."

Having team members along for the weight loss journey is also to the participants' benefit.

"You've got built in peer support," Bouldin said. "It's a struggle to do things on your own when you're trying to make new changes. Social support of people who are doing the same things you are can make your success rates so much higher. You don't feel alone in the struggle. You can see everybody else struggling too, so when they're having a good day they can pull you up. You can be support for each other during those hard times."

Fox staff will also be there to help teams through the hard times. In addition to weekly e-newsletters provided to participants by Scale Back, Bouldin will also send out an additional weekly e-newsletter with nutrition and fitness tips.

"A combined method is always better for weight loss," Bouldin said. "Just diet alone isn't going to cut it, because after awhile you're going to get tired of eating the same foods. It's about changing your lifestyle and adding in physical activity, too. Two key components for decreasing heart disease development -- diet and exercise."

Last year 27,000 Alabamians participated in the contest, losing a grand total of nearly 130,000 pounds. 2014 marks the sixth year that Fox has participated as an official weigh-in site. Over the past five years, 564 members of Team Redstone have stepped up the challenge at Fox, losing a total of 4,305 pounds.

For individuals and teams who successfully complete the challenge of losing 10 pounds in 10 weeks, cash prizes are available from the statewide Scale Back Alabama contest, sponsored by the Alabama Hospital Association and Alabama Department of Public Health, with underwriting by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama.

Three grand prizes will be given to teams that start and end with all four original members, who each have lost at least 10 pounds. Those teams will be entered into a drawing; first team receives $1,000 per team member, second team $500 per member, and third $250 per member. Individuals who complete the task of losing 10 pounds over the course of the contest will be eligible for the drawing of 50 achievement prizes of $100 each. Five participation prizes of $50 will also be drawn. To be eligible for a participation prize, a participant must have lost at least one pound over the course of the contest, and weighed out.

For more information about Scale Back Alabama, visit or call 955-8888 ext. 1026.