FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- As the new year begins, many people will attempt to shed the extra pounds gained in 2011, and the Lyster Army Health Clinic Wellness Center hopes to encourage a healthier lifestyle year-round, beginning with participation in the Scale Back Alabama program.

"The goal is to get folks to jump start their weight loss by making healthier choices. It's a team program so that members can motivate each other. Like any other lifestyle change, it's hard to do it on your own sometimes. With people supporting you, there's a better chance of reaching your weight loss goals," said Denece Clayborne, Lyster Army Health Clinic wellness center community health nurse and health promotion director.

The 10-week program is hosted by the Alabama Department of Public Health, but this year will be Fort Rucker's first year hosting the program on post. According to ADPH releases, about 33,000 Alabamians enrolled in the program in 2011 with a total statewide weight loss of 143,309 pounds. The event kicks off statewide Jan. 21 and weigh-ins will be held at the post theater Jan. 23 and 26 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Along with weekly health tips and support from a four-member team, every team that completes the program with each member losing at least 10 pounds will be included in a drawing for one of three grand prizes. All participants who lose at least 10 pounds will be included in a drawing for one of 50 achievement prizes of $100 per person, regardless of their team's achievement. In addition, there will be a separate drawing for all individuals who have lost any weight and make the time to weigh out.

"It's a good time because a lot of people have weight loss as their New Year's resolution. It's a good time to make changes in your life, so the Scale Back Alabama program capitalizes on the American tradition of keeping a resolution. The real goal is to make it long-term -- to help impact your health overall. If you have a healthy weight, it decreases your chances of illness," said Clayborne.

Most Alabama residents can participate in the program, but those who have had recent weight loss surgery, a Body Mass Index value under 20 and pregnant women are not eligible. Anyone can attend the Fort Rucker weigh-ins, regardless of military affiliation.

"We hope that having weigh-ins at the post theater will allow more participation from Soldiers, civilian employees, contractors and Family members. Like any other fitness program, consult with your health provider to make sure you can do it safely. The weigh-ins are confidential," she said.

While the program does not start for a few more weeks, Clayborne encouraged potential participants to start making healthy choices and thinking about their teams now.

"There will also be prizes for things like best team name, so teams should start working on coming up with creative ideas," she said.

Clayborne also noted that the program is about healthy choices, not just a number on the scale.

"Even if a participant doesn't lose weight but other team members do, it's an accomplishment. You can get to know the facilities on post and all the options for exercise and fitness. (Participants should) be smart and not try any crash diets. If you deprive yourself completely, you can lose weight, but it won't last. Steady progress is more lasting. Losing a pound a week is healthy and safe," she said.

For more on Scale Back Alabama, visit or call 255-9915.