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MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan — Need an incentive to jump-start that New Year’s resolution to win the battle of the bulge?

Misawa residents can shed pounds for cash and other prizes in the Potter Fitness Center’s 3rd annual “Biggest Loser” contest.

Sign-ups start Thursday and continue through Jan. 14, according to Jason Vandenberg, 35th Services Squadron fitness center director.

Categories are four-person teams and individuals, with $2,000 going to the team and $500 to the individual, male or female, who loses the greatest percentage of weight.

The 10-week contest kicks off Jan. 16 from 4:30 to 8 p.m. at the Potter Fitness Center with an initial weigh-in, a fitness consultation and health fair.

The goal isn’t just weight loss, Vandenberg said, but also “to improve education, fitness and quality of life for everyone in the Misawa community” in the quest to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

To that end, Vandenberg said each team will be assigned a fitness center staff member as a liaison “to help them out with whatever they need … to get out and exercise,” he said.

Fitness consultations, circuit training, equipment orientations and discounts at the fitness center pro shop also will be offered to participants, Vandenberg said.

In addition, the fitness center is partnering with the base’s Health and Wellness Center to conduct several nutrition seminars.

New to the contest this year is optional body-fat assessments, though those won’t be factored into any official results, Vandenberg noted.

Last year, 413 people participated, a 50 percent increase over the inaugural contest in 2006, according to Vandenberg. The fitness center is preparing for more than 500 people this year, he said.

Registration for the contest is free and open to all active-duty servicemembers, Defense Department civilians, and dependents stationed at Misawa.

Call the Potter Fitness Center at DSN 226-3982 for more information.

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Jennifer reports on the U.S. military from Kaiserslautern, Germany, where she writes about the Air Force, Army and DODEA schools. She’s had previous assignments for Stars and Stripes in Japan, reporting from Yokota and Misawa air bases. Before Stripes, she worked for daily newspapers in Wyoming and Colorado. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia.
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