FORT RUCKER, Ala. (May 31, 2012) -- Being motivated to stay healthy was just one of the benefits experienced by Fort Rucker's Scale Back Alabama teams. The others included having more energy, sleeping better and a combined weight loss total of 1,025 pounds.

On post, 52 four-person teams participated in the statewide initiative that encouraged people to stay healthy and support each other while doing it, said Denece Clayborne, community health nurse and health promotion director.

According to the initiative's website, almost 30,000 people across the state participated in the 2012 campaign, Jan. 21 through April 13, with a cumulative reported weight loss of 148,963 pounds.

"Our goal was to make it more convenient for the people who wanted to participate on Fort Rucker," said Clayborne. "The best thing about the program, compared to some of the other ones I've done on post, is that it's open to everyone. Because it's statewide, you could be a contractor, civilian or Family member."

Marie McCollough, MEDPROS coordinator at Lyster Army Health Clinic, said she started losing weight during a fast her church did in January, but she wanted a way to keep the weight off.

"I had to maintain, keep it off and keep moving," she said. "So, I jumped on Scale Back Alabama and got a team so I would have a support system."

McCollough said the other team members and the weekly tips sent out by the Scale Back Alabama organization helped her stay motivated to make healthy choices. Other participants attended nutrition classes offered by Lyster to learn about cooking and eating healthier food.

"When you have a nutrition dietician and a nutrition tech telling you how to eat healthy, that's a very valuable thing," Clayborne explained.

After completing the 10-week program, McCollough said she continues to lose weight. She exercises six or seven times a week, usually by walking 3 miles on her lunch break or going to the gym after work.

"It helped me refocus," she said of the program. "I was eating a lot of chocolate, but it helped me get back on an exercise routine."

McCollough's message for the rest of her team was, "Don't give up."

"Even if you lose one pound, it's worth it," she said. "If you can just change a little bit of the way you're thinking, a little about the way you're eating and exercising, that helps a lot."

All the little changes helped McCollough to sleep better, feel better and have more energy, she said. Several people have noticed the difference and have asked to join her lunchtime walks.

"People see you and get excited and they get on that trail with you, but the next thing you know, they drop off. You've got to stay focused because if you don't watch it, you may drop off with them," she said. "You've got to say that it may be short term for them, but it's long term for me.

"I know I'm not going to be the one that loses the most weight. I'm not even going for winning, but I want to stay motivated," she said.

Because of the good response and the success of the teams involved, Clayborne said she hopes to continue Scale Back Alabama next year. Until then, she encourages people to look at body-mass index and how their clothes fit instead of focusing on a number on a scale.

"It's not intended to be a one-time thing," she said. "It's intended to jumpstart your weight loss and fitness goals."

Though the program is officially finished for the year, Clayborne said she still sees some of the participants exercising around post.

"My hope is that people will continue their healthy lifestyle choices they started because of the program," she said.