Resources available to help with your Scale Back challenge

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When did you realize it was time to get serious about losing weight?

Members of the Office of Public Relations and Marketing put their competitiveness aside during a lunch-time walk. Afterward? It’s back to team business — weight loss.

Was it when you stepped on the scales at the doctor? Maybe it was when you bent over to pick something up and your pants ripped. Or perhaps it was just putting on your favorite pair of jeans, only not to be able to button them up.

Reality set in for me Dec. 1, 2011. I was asked to play Santa Claus for a function here on campus.

Santa. Claus.

Bah, humbug.

There are at least 1,200 other UAB people who received their own wakeup call. That’s the number of faculty and staff who have signed up to participate in this year’s Scale Back Alabama campaign — up 300 from this past year, says Lauren Whitt, UAB Wellness coordinator.

“It’s great to see so many employees taking charge of their health,” Whitt says.

I am one of the 1,200 trying to do just that, and so are 12 other members of the Office of Public Relations and Marketing. Three staff members joined us from the Comprehensive Cancer Center, giving us four teams competing against each other in the main competition and in our own contest.

Our group of 16 — eight men and eight women — held a Fat Draft the week before the Scale Back weigh-ins to pick our teams and set our prizes. It is a competitive group, and I love it. We all want to win.

But all of us also want to be healthier. And in spite of the competition, we’re all (mostly) cheering each other on. We’re sharing ideas, recipes, exercise tips, our struggles and our triumphs.

And each of us is using information, ideas or services from UAB in some form or fashion.

For example, some of us use the UAB Medicine Walking Trails several times a week. Twitter and Facebook followers of UAB Wellness get tips and links from Whitt daily on how to improve personal health. Personally, I’m incorporating research conducted at UAB that shows a high-fat breakfast of bacon and eggs may be the healthiest start to the day. Most days I use turkey sausage instead of bacon, but I’m following the basic premise, and I’m eating more fruits and vegetables throughout the day. Other recent UAB research on coronary heart disease in men shows the value of the Mediterranean diet and regular aerobic activity for 30 to 40 minutes, four to five times per week.

In fact, there are many other things on campus to aid in your quest to achieve anything from minimal weight loss to a vast lifestyle change. Some of these things include:

  • EatRight has many programs available, including the Piggly Wiggly program that helps customers make healthful choices.
  • There is a vast amount of weight-loss information and research available at Lister Hill Library.
  • The Campus Recreation Center has classes available to non-members, including Aqua Zumba, zumba, kayaking, racquetball, squash, table tennis and other activities.
  • Campus Restaurants has healthy meals available indicated by nutrition icons. Meatless Mondays and $5 Fridays for faculty and staff also are available.
  • The Farm Stand — started in spring 2011 making fresh fruits and vegetables easily accessible for UAB campus — now has limited delivery service, but will be back in a few weeks at locations across campus.

The Scale Back Alabama competition now is entering its fifth week, and many among our group of 16 are experiencing positive changes in our lives. We’re losing weight, incorporating healthier eating habits, trying to exercise (even if it’s just walking 30 to 40 minutes a day) and becoming cheerleaders for one another. Some of us are so happy with our results that we’re talking about starting another weight-loss challenge after April 13 when the Scale Back campaign officially ends.

We want to continue what we’ve started, and I’m sure each of us will incorporate more healthy ideas and exercise programs as we go and share them with each other.

After all, none of us wants to be asked to play Santa Claus in 2012 — especially me.

— Tyler Greer