Airmen vie for chance to be named "Biggest Loser"

Cindy White, chief of health promotion at the Health and Wellness Center, leads Airmen through abdominal exercises Dec. 10 during a “F2F: Be Ready” fitness class at the HAWC, Building 560. Ms. White showed Airmen exercises to help maximize their workouts. Fitness programs at the HAWC incorporate the new Air Force culture of fitness, which is to help Airmen achieve and maintain healthy and fit lifestyles year-round, not just for annual PT tests. (Air Force photo by Dennis Howk)

Exercise physiologist Cindy White, 21st Space Wing Health and Wellness Center chief of health promotion, leads an exercise class in December. The HAWC is teaming with the Peterson Fitness and Sports Center to bring Airmen and their families “The Biggest Loser” weight-loss challenge program. There will be weigh-ins, exercise and fitness classes, group runs and prizes. The first session starts Feb. 17. Stop by the fitness center front desk Building 560 to sign up. (Air Force photo by Dennis Howk)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- No one likes to be called "loser." Unless, it is in reference to how much weight or body fat they have lost.

For the first time, Peterson's Fitness and Sports Center fitness specialists are teaming with Health and Wellness Center exercise and nutrition specialists to bring Airmen and their families "The Biggest Loser" weight-loss challenge program. There will be weigh-ins, fitness classes, group runs and prizes. The first session starts Feb. 17.

Unlike the popular TV show, "The Biggest Loser," the weigh-ins will be private and there will be no public scrutiny. All of the results are between the participant, the program director and the scale.

"There will be no personal trainer yelling at you, no passing out, and no crying, unless you want to go home and cry," said Les Stewart, Peterson Fitness and Sports Center special programs director. "Each participant only has access to their own profile - it will be a nice surprise to see who wins at the end."

Peterson's biggest loser program is designed for participants to take advantage the new state-of-the art gym equipment installed in December and the existing aerobic, spin and nutrition classes. More importantly, Mr. Stewart said, participants can take advantage of the fitness center and HAWC experts, for free.

"Downtown, you would pay a lot for a program like this," he said.

The key is setting goals and tracking progress, Mr. Stewart said. The program is for everyone, and highlights this year's Year of the Air Force Family campaign. Families can sign up together or Airmen can sign up with friends.

"If they are breathing, they can come in," Mr. Stewart said. "There are no excuses."

The year is divided into four sessions. Participants will start out at the HAWC and get weighed, learn their body mass index and their body fat. Participants will weigh-in five times throughout the quarter at the HAWC. Points will be earned for weight loss, percent of body fat loss, BMI improvement, and total lifestyle change. Points will also be given for attending fitness and HAWC classes and group activities, such as fun runs. Prizes will be awarded quarterly and two grand-prize winners will be announced at the end of the year.
"We are excited about it," Mr. Stewart said. "This is an ideal program - we are giving them all of the tools."

Last year, the fitness and sports center ran a biggest loser program and about 300 people participated. This year, the sports center teamed with the HAWC to streamline programs, offer more customer service and award better prizes.

The program is better suited to this year's new Air Force fitness standards, which expect Airmen to participate in year-round physical conditioning that emphasizes total fitness, including healthy eating, said Staff Sgt. Misty Horton, 21st Space Wing dietary therapist.

"In order to be totally healthy, you need to eat right and not just exercise," she said.

According to the American Dietetic Association, healthy weight is about balancing food intake with physical activity, Sergeant Horton said.

"The biggest problem Airmen have, and not just young Airmen, is their eating habits," she said.

The HAWC specializes in exercise and nutrition and offers many classes. Experts will explain the difference between BMI and body fat and why these numbers are important to overall health. A high percentage of body fat is what contributes to high cholesterol and high blood pressure. For women between ages 20 and 40, a healthy body fat is between 21 and 33 percent. For men in the same age, healthy body fat is between 8 and 19 percent.

Participants in Peterson's Biggest Loser program will track their body fat loss and their eating habits which contribute to their overall health.

With the new Air Force fitness culture it will be on Airmen's minds that they have to keep in shape all year, not just once a year, to pass the physical training test, Sergeant Horton said.

Sign up for Peterson's Biggest Loser Program
· First quarter begins Feb. 17. The program is open to active duty, civilians, contractors, retirees and dependents (18 and older)
· Weigh-ins are 7 to 9 a.m. every Wednesday
· Points are awarded for weight loss and for participation in fitness and health activities and classes
· Register online at https://halfway.peterson.af.mil/hawc/fitnesschallenge (must have a CAC).
· Retirees or dependents without a CAC can register at the fitness center, Building 560. For details call 556-1515.