FORT MEADE, Md. (Dec. 27, 2012) -- Sugary snacks and large meals have become a staple during the holiday season. And come Jan. 1, many will set New Year's resolutions to cut a few pounds.

For the fifth year in a row, Gaffney Fitness Center is sponsoring "Dump Your Plump," an eight-week weight loss competition to help people attain their goal. Registration opened Dec. 10, and will continue through Jan. 4. The competition officially kicks off Jan. 7.

"It's a do-it yourself wellness program," said Katie Harrington, swim instructor at Gaffney and a Dump Your Plump coordinator. "It's very flexible for people who are working or busy."

The competition consists of weekly weigh-ins on Mondays, Tuesdays or Wednesdays. The private weigh-ins measure the percentage of weight lost, not total pounds.

How the competitors lose the weight is up to them; they devise their own program individually or as a group.

"It's very do-it-yourself at your own pace type thing," Harrington said.

Missing a weigh-in, however, can hurt competitors for the weekly awards or the overall winners at the end of the eight weeks.

A pound is added for failure to weigh in at the fitness center, and missing a total of four or more weigh-ins eliminates the competitor. Missing more than two consecutive weigh-ins also will result in elimination.

"[Participants] can do whatever they want, they can work out wherever they want," Harrington said. "It doesn't have to be at Gaffney as long as they weigh in here."

Competitors can sign up as an individual or part of a team. In previous years, competitors formed teams of members from the same organization or unit.

The teams, said Harrington, provide another push to keep up with the program.

"They get teams that are at work and are seeing each other and motivating each other," she said.

Last year, the 267 competitors lost a combined 1,527 pounds over the eight weeks.

Dump Your Plump has received positive feed back from participants. Many of the same competitors return each year to continue their weight loss, get back on track, or top what they did last year, Harrington said.

"The competition keeps people motivated to do it," Harrington said. "Having the board up -- seeing who are the top people -- really helps people. People really do get into it. I think the competition aspect of it kind of helps people and gives them a push."