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County on the Move jump starts healthy living

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Debbie George and her dog, Bailey, get a regular workout on the trails, paths and sidewalks of downtown Columbus earlier this fall.  (Joe Harpring | The Republic)
Debbie George and her dog, Bailey, get a regular workout on the trails, paths and sidewalks of downtown Columbus earlier this fall. (Joe Harpring | The Republic)

Online registration starts today for the 2013 Healthy Lifestyle Challenge, organized by Bartholomew County on the Move.

That’s right. Now’s the time to get a jump-start on those goals for a new, healthier you.

But the challenge isn’t just for weight loss; it’s an opportunity to adopt better eating habits and an overall healthier lifestyle.

The challenge’s in-person signup and initial health check is 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Jan. 9 at the north entrance of Columbus Regional Hospital.

Registration is $10 per


“We’re hoping to have 600 participants,” Healthy Communities assistant Tara Hagan said. “January is when people want to become sedentary. We want them to know you can still be healthy in the winter months.”

Participants are encouraged to form teams of four to six people prior to registering, she said.

“If you don’t have enough team members, we will combine teams at the end of the registration period,” Hagan said. “We’ve found teams who know one another and hold each other

accountable are often more successful.”

Teams have access to online tools to track their progress and the option to purchase lab vouchers for pre- and post-challenge blood glucose and cholesterol tests at $8 each.

During the 12-week challenge, which runs from Jan. 9 to April 3, health checks to monitor participants’ progress will be offered in February, March and April.

The January and April check-ins are required, but February and March are optional, Hagan said.

Individuals earn points for the healthy choices they make.

Prizes are awarded on a monthly basis and at the end of the challenge for those who score the most points.

The top three teams and top three individuals not on a winning team who have the highest average weight loss and lifestyle points, respectively, will be recognized.

If you are looking to lose weight, don’t think the challenge works like the TV show “The Biggest Loser.”

Hagan said the dietitians and physicians associated with the challenge do not encourage extremes.

On average, if you’re adhering to your plan, healthy loss is one-half to two pounds per week, Hagan said.

It’s about adopting healthy lifestyle patterns that promote optimum health.

“Once you get into those patterns, like eating breakfast and getting exercise every day, and see it working, that motivates you,” said Sally Riddle, a 2011 Healthy Lifestyle Challenge participant.

“The challenge, I think, is sticking with it.”

The real reward is wellness, Riddle said. Describing commitment to the program as a personal decision, she said it’s not a diet, but an overall wellness program.

“This day and age people want to see quick results, but that never lasts,” Riddle said.

“You need to go into it with the mind set that you need to be healthier.”

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