ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Ill. – You don’t always have to win to be a winner. Dozens of U.S. Army Sustainment Command employees witnessed this firsthand recently.
ASC wrapped up its Choose to Lose Challenge here, Oct. 28. The 12-week weight loss event started Aug. 5 and registered more than 100 participants, recording a total weight loss of 511 pounds across the command.
“The average person lost 5.81 pounds in the challenge, averaging 2.86% of their original body weight,” said Nick Osterhaus, ASC Wellness program specialist, who spearheaded the event.
Participants included headquarters personnel as well as employees at the 403rd, 404th, 406th, and 407th Army Field Support Brigades. They could compete as individuals, as a team, or both.
The female winner is Staff Sgt. Lacey Elliott, noncommissioned officer in the G1 Division (Human Resources), ASC headquarters, and the male winner is William Taber, equipment specialist, 407th Army Field Support Brigade.
The winning team is “Taco ‘Bout Gettin’ Fit”, comprised of Kimberly Conrad, ASC Congressional Affairs Office, Trish Hulett and Rachel Basala, both from the ASC Protocol Office.
“When I decided to begin this challenge, I thought I was going to be in for a big letdown and was afraid I wouldn’t lose any weight,” said Taber. “I just set my mind to do this no matter what, as it was good for my well-being. It is truly a mindset and of course I asked for help from God.”
Surveys sent out to participants show that being held accountable was one of the main motivating factors.
“The biggest thing about the challenge was the accountability part,” said Osterhaus. “Whether the participants gained or lost weight, they knew by Thursday every week they had to weigh in.”
“At the beginning of the challenge I thought that I could use this program to make myself accountable,” said Elliott. “I had been trying for months to eat better and be healthier since I was unable to do any cardio.”
Linda Ottman, program specialist for health, wellness and resilience at ASC, said the teams enrolled in the challenge not only compete with each other but encourage each other.
“Weighing in each week provides accountability,” she said. “When we are held accountable for our actions, we are more likely to achieve our personal goals, making such programs a win-win situation.”
Surveys also revealed some of the life changes participants made to achieve their personal goals throughout the challenge. Drinking more water, making healthier food choices, increasing physical activity, and watching calorie intake were on top of the list.
“What kept me motivated was to see the weight come off week after week by just cutting out sugar and soda,” said Elliott.
Conrad said that being part of a team helped her stay motivated to do her best.
“I wanted to work towards my health goals for myself, but I also wanted to contribute to my team, and help motivate them too.”
She said that communicating with the other team members throughout the week and checking on each other helped them stay on track.
“We were each other’s cheerleaders no matter the week’s results,” she said. “If it was a good week, we cheered; if it wasn’t what we expected, we picked each other up with words of encouragement.”
At the end of the challenge, a good portion of the participants revealed their desire to continue to lose weight.
“When we finished the challenge, I was bummed as I thought it needed to go longer in order to achieve my goal,” said Taber. “However I was so thankful, even though I didn't lose all the weight I wanted to lose, I realized I was well on my way to getting there.”
“Almost a third of them replied that they wanted to keep going,” said Osterhaus. This portion of participants accounted for 221 lbs. of all the weight lost and, as of today, they are still sending Osterhaus their weekly weigh-ins.
The G1 Division kept track of the progress through weekly weigh-ins. Headquarters participants could either email their recorded weight or do that in person on post using the Tanita Body Composition Analyzer available in G1.
Conrad, who gave birth to a daughter in February, said she is really happy with the results she obtained.
“I had a goal to lose the baby weight and, while I haven’t reached my end goal, this challenge motivated me to really focus on it,” she said. “It helped me get much closer to that final goal than I would have been able to on my own.”
Osterhaus said they are planning on having another Choose to Lose Challenge in March 2022.
“We are going to do this on a larger scale, trying to extend it to everyone at Rock Island Arsenal.”
The last time it was done on a larger scale was in January 2020. Unfortunately, it had to end earlier due to the Covid-19 pandemic and most non-essential workers being sent home in a telework status, Osterhaus said.
The Health Promotion and Fitness Working Group at RIA is going to take the lead on the initiative, he said. “We are going to try to have a point of contact for each command and they will be responsible for uploading their command’s weights.”
Elliott and Conrad both said they would recommend others join the next challenge.
“I would highly recommend it to anyone who is looking for motivation to lose a little weight or even for someone who just wants to work on creating a healthier lifestyle,” said Conrad.
“I feel it is a great place to start if you are struggling like I was,” said Elliott.
Conrad also encouraged others to join with a friend or a team who will push and support them.
“While there are ‘winners’ for the challenge, it really is more of a support group to help you reach your health goals than it is a competition.”
A virtual ceremony to presents the winners with certificates will be held on Microsoft Teams in December.