A Tobyhanna Army Depot wellness initiative is encouraging employees to live healthier lives and be their best selves.The "Biggest Winner", sponsored by the depot's Prevention and Wellness Group, started January 21. The initiative, which will wrap up just as Spring begins the week of March 15, is a team-based weight-loss challenge. The winning team will be the team with the greatest percentage of weight loss at the end of the contest.Safety and Occupational Health Specialist Marilouise Yermal participated in the challenge last year. She initially lost 25 pounds through reduced portion sizes, meal planning and increased physical activity, such as short walks during breaks and lunch. When the competition ended, Yermal realized she hadn't yet met her wellness goals."I really wanted to keep going, so I decided to compete against myself," she said, adding that her lifestyle changes also encouraged her husband to lose weight.Yermal offered some best practices for anyone wishing to embark on a weight-loss journey:Consider it a lifestyle change -- Diets are temporary; healthy choices should be for life.Learn to read food labels -- The less processed a food item, the better.Be mindful of portion sizes -- When dining out, for example, plan when ordering to take half of your food to-go, and enjoy it the next day for another meal.Get a workout buddy -- Partnering up builds accountability and makes exercise more enjoyable.Find healthy alternatives -- Many popular snacks and comfort foods can be recreated with healthier ingredients; a quick internet search will provide many alternative recipes.Look for results beyond the scale -- Increased energy, looser-fitting clothing, feeling better overall -- these, too, are measures of success, and morale boosters to continue the journey!Mid-point weigh-ins for the challenge took place February 18-25, and recognized the top three competitors so far: Gary Roberts, Bruce Marchegiani, and Kris TompkinsThe "Biggest Winner" is just one way Team Tobyhanna invests in its people. For more information on depot wellness initiatives, please contact Eva Granville, Employee Services Center, 570-615-7943.