The beginning of each New Year is a signal for most of us to promise ourselves a better upcoming year. And for large portion of the public, that includes recognizing the health benefits of a better diet and "getting fit."

While putting that recognition into practice isn't always easy, all Fort Knox Medical Department Activity Command personnel are being offered an opportunity to jump start their healthy New Year in the form of a MEDDAC Biggest Loser contest.

According to Ireland Army Health Clinic company commander, Capt. Aprica Bullock, the company will have an initial weigh-in Jan 14, with a mid-point weigh-in Feb. 14, and the final weigh-in March 14. She suggested that when participants come for weigh-in that they wear light weight exercise attire. If not, the average weight for clothing items will automatically be deducted. For a military uniform the weight is roughly 7 pounds and civilian attire is roughly 3 pounds.

"Along the way there will be opportunities to earn points in addition to weight loss goals so all our personnel have an opportunity to be competitive," she explained. "We will identify specific routes around the facility to walk or run and there are additional fitness opportunities offered by the installation."

Fort Knox has several gyms that offer different exercise programs ranging from organized sports to Zumba, cycle/spin classes, aerobics classes and swimming. It also has several well-maintained outdoor trails and paths throughout post. The gyms and classes are open to all military personnel and their dependents, DOD civilian employees and DOD contractors--everyone must bring a valid ID. For more information about Fort Knox fitness options visit https://knox.armymwr.com/categories/sports-and-fitness.

Bullock said the workout part of the competition is an independent effort, however there will be opportunities provided for a variety of group workouts, in addition to office hours with dieticians and marked walk/run routes to allow for steps and mileage goals.

Laura Bottoms, the chief of clinical dietetics and a registered dietician, said participants will be offered the opportunity to consult with one of the IRAHC dieticians, should someone want to.

"Each dietitian has time available for participants to reach out for individual coaching. We can provide assessment of calorie needs, menu resources, tools etc.," she explained.

But Bottoms, who calls herself a non-diet dietician, said the word "diet" isn't a part of her program as much as healthy eating and a change of lifestyle.

"Don't DIET--diet implies restrictions," Bottoms added. "Most people don't need to make dramatic changes to their diet to be successful. Instead, making small changes will yield more sustainable results. Also, keeping a food journal improves mindfulness of what you are eating and has been shown to improve success rates. And that is something we want to help with--setting you up for success."

And that success can be helped along with classes that include Stress Management and Stress Eating; Fit For Performance; Upping your Metabolism, and even a Jan 16 tour of the Fort Knox Commissary. During the tour dietitians will discuss helpful healthy recipes, answer questions, give tips on best ingredients in canned and pre-made meals, and more. For more information call 502-624-0408.

Col. Kevin Bass, the Ireland Army Health Clinic and Fort Knox MEDDAC commander, said he wants the MEDDAC organization to have the opportunity to better its overall health and fitness, while sharing in friendly competition.

'It's important to us to build health and wellness within the Ireland staff and give them a different platform on which to share some comradery and work as a team," he explained.

"Getting enough sleep, eating right and getting enough exercise are three important ingredients to good health. We take time to tell our patients what they need to do to feel better but we should take the time to take care of ourselves as well. How much better would we all feel if we ate right, exercised and got enough sleep?"

He said with such valuable resources such as the gyms and trails provided by the installation, the opportunity to partner with teammates at IRAHC for the Biggest Loser, and the services provided by the IRAHC nutritionists, any MEDDAC personal who have a goal of getting in better shape for the New Year can easily achieve it.

"I'm excited about this because not only do we have the gyms, the trails, our nutritionist, and team members to work out with, but we can use the Army Wellness Center as a resource as well--to include the BOD POD," he said. "This is a unique chance to have fun, enjoy some healthy competition and change our lifestyles for the better."

Any MEDDAC military, DOD civilian or DOD contract personnel are welcome to participate--that includes team members from public health, dental, and Ireland Army Health Clinic and there is no fee--it's free. The first and second place finishers will receive a prize, which include an engraved kettle bell with affixed unit coin for the winner.

Anyone wishing to join can contact Capt. Aprica Bullock at IRAHC, but please also CC the following, also at IRAHC:

First Sgt. Laquan Litfin
Sgt. First Class Andrew Tucker
Sgt. First Class Joseph Estelita
Capt. Shantyl Galloway