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Selma residents join statewide contest to lose most weight

Selma citizens are throwing their weight in to help Alabama reach its goal for Scale Back Alabama.

The program kicks off this week. It is a statewide contest that encourages Alabamians to get healthier by losing weight and exercising.

Participants are assigned to teams of four, including a captain. Each person attempts to lose one pound per week during the 10-week process, from Jan. 10 to March 20. Prizes ranging from $100 to $1,000 are given away at the end of the program. The final day for weigh-ins is Friday.

This year’s weight loss goal is for the state is 500,000 pounds, almost 300,000 pounds more than last year.

Participants must visit an official weigh-in site this week and an official weigh-out site between March 14 and 20.

The Selma-Dallas County YMCA is the official local site for the program.

Twenty people have registered to participate at the YMCA so far. Membership director and local Scale Back organizer Tina Caver said she expects more to follow suit.

“It is of the utmost importance that we, of all counties, get involved in Scale Back Alabama,” Caver said about Dallas County, one of the most obese in Alabama.

Caver said obesity leads to many health problems, including high blood pressure, hypertension, fatigue and joint pain.

“I could go on and on,” she said. “Just by losing a small amount of weight, people can see immediate results from dropping even as little as 10 to 15 pounds.”

During the process, each team must find its own way to lose weight. However, the YMCA will help participants along the way by holding a seminar midway through and offering each participant a free 10-day membership.

“We figured, it’s 10 weeks, 10 pounds, we’ll give you 10 days,” she said.

The program’s Web site, www.scalebackalabama.com, also offers lesson plans for establishing a healthy diet and exercise regimen.

The goal of Scale Back Alabama is to encourage each participant to make a healthy lifestyle change.

“I think that’s the gist of Scale Back Alabama,” Caver said. “It’s to get you aware; put you in a little friendly competition with your peers to lose that 10 pounds. That’s just enough to really help you to see how much better you can feel by making that change in your lifestyle.”

Director of Vaughan Wellness and Fitness Tameka Little said grouping participants into teams encourages healthy change.

“For one, they all have one goal, and that’s to lose weight and also live a healthier lifestyle,” Little said. “There’s more support there.”

While peer support is beneficial, living a healthier lifestyle is ultimately a personal decision, Little said.

“A lot of people start an exercise program, and then about halfway through it, they just stop,” she said. “You must become disciplined.”

Former University of Alabama lineman and “Biggest Loser” finalist Roger Shultz is the spokesman for the third annual Scale Back Alabama. Shultz told the Associated Press he could use his experiences on “Biggest Loser” to help Alabamians lose weight.

“A lot of lessons I learned on ‘Biggest Loser,’ I can bring back to residents of Alabama,” Shultz said.