Team Lean Challenge: Waist management

Team Lean Challenge: Waist Management (U.S. Air Force photo by Sue Sapp)

Team Lean Challenge: Waist Management (U.S. Air Force photo by Sue Sapp)

Robins AFB, Ga. -- Losing weight can be a challenge. But people at Robins don't have to take the journey alone.

The 2007 Team Lean Challenge, an Air Force Materiel Command initiative, is a six-month program running throughout AFMC's nine bases to help the command's active-duty military and civilians lose weight and get healthy.

Bridgett Ford, a registered nurse and a nurse educator in the Civilian Health Promotion Service at Robins, said the program, which will run April 16 through Sept. 28, takes a healthy approach to weight loss, with people either entering the challenge in teams of four participants or joining assigned teams if they're not already connected to one.

Teams will compete at the base-level and command-level, with the percentage of the team's collective weight loss being measured and rated against other teams' weight loss percentages.

The team that loses the highest percentage of weight will earn a prize for their efforts. Prizes haven't been determined.

Mrs. Ford said the effort is timely, with the U.S. society battling the bulge.

"We service over 12,000 civilians on Robins Air Force Base, and we have realized that obesity is a rising epidemic, not only at our base, but in the United States," she said. "So, this is a health promotion program and weight loss initiative to help people not only lose weight, but to get together and form relationships and bonds to help maintain that weight loss throughout the rest of their lifetime because we don't want people to just lose weight for this challenge. We want them to maintain it."

Kelley Denney, a registered nurse and nurse coordinator for the CHPS, said people can cut their risk of weight-related health problems.

"With increased weight comes an increased health risk," she said. "High blood pressure, diabetes, cardiac disease (can all be related to being over weight). The program isn't about fasting or use of dietary supplements. It's about eating a healthy, balanced diet and getting regular exercise."

The challenge will kick off with official weigh-ins at the Health and Wellness Center in Bldg. 827 and in the CHPS office in Bldg. 207, Room C119, beginning March 12. Participants may be weighed at the HAWC Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 7:30 to 11 a.m., or at the CHPS office each Monday from 7:30 to 11 a.m. The deadline for weighing in is April 12.

Mrs. Denney said ideally, people should lose one to two pounds a week, which is considered a healthy weight loss rate.

Bridget Zimmerman, HAWC director at Robins, said she hopes the program will make a lasting change in people's lives.

"We have an epidemic of obesity in the world and we're trying to help the folks here at Robins do something about it," she said. "Also, winter is over and we're going to be wearing lighter clothes and going to the beach, so we want to look our best."

Mrs. Zimmerman said she thinks the program will help participants reach their health goals.

"I think it's a great program that's needed here at Robins," she said. "We've done numerous surveys and we've found that a good portion of our people are either in the overweight or obese category."

The program has no prerequisites. However, people are encouraged to register online at and complete a Physical Readiness Assessment questionnaire before starting the program.

Mrs. Zimmerman said people may want to reconsider their participation in the fitness program if they answer "yes" to a majority of the questions on the survey.

As the program progresses, Natasha Gibbons, a wellness associate and certified fitness specialist who recently joined the CHPS team here, will offer guidance and advice on exercise and eating right.

Mrs. Ford said for 12 weeks, participants will receive e-mails on various health-related topics. In addition, AFMC will offer online self-study courses during the first 10 weeks to help people get started on the right track.

Mrs. Zimmerman said people's progress in the program will be checked after 90 days.