RED SEA --
The 175 Sailors and Marines aboard the multipurpose amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 5) who finished the 17-week "Cruise-to-Lose" program Jan. 4 lost a total of 921 lbs. while deployed in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility.
The Bataan Cruise-to-Lose program featured a voluntary competition for service members wanting to shed excess weight during deployment.
"The program was very motivational and positive," said Cpl. Charles Ott, the overall Cruise-to-Lose winner. "I lost 49 pounds and I believe I can keep it off now because the program was designed to lose weight over an extended period of time. It has become second nature to me to eat healthy and exercise regularly."
The program was administered by representatives from the embarked Fleet Surgical Team (FST) 8 and allowed every participant to follow their own routine as long as they followed a few simple rules, such as drinking a glass of water before every meal, dedicating time for physical exercise three to five times each week, and limiting desserts to the weekends.
The participants were required to have their weight and blood pressure checked once each week and have their body mass index checked once every two weeks to keep track of everyone's progress.
"I found a lot of my motivation every week when we did our weigh-ins," said Ott. "Seeing my progress helped me stay motivated the entire competition. When I first got on the Bataan I had a goal of losing just a few pounds because my jeans fit a little tight. I lost more than I imagined and I feel a great deal of accomplishment as well as feeling a lot healthier physically."
FST program coordinators e-mailed the participants every week with tips on physical exercise and nutrition. Cruise-to-Lose also offered a nutrition class and physical training for anyone who needed a little help coming up with a workout regimen on their own.
"I helped a few participants improve their overall fitness by giving them workouts that consisted of half cardio exercise and half weight lifting-exercise," said Hospital Corpsman 1st Class (SW) John Luna, FST-8 Command Fitness Leader.
"I think the hardest part for most people trying to lose weight while deployed is staying motivated," said Hospital Corpsman 1st Class (SW/AW) Denecia Weekes, one of the program coordinators. "A deployment can be discouraging at times, but a friendly competition always helps people to stay motivated."
Some of the participants say the success was due to the support of everyone wanting to achieve the same goal.
"The Cruise-to-Lose program allowed Sailors and Marines to work as a team to achieve their own personal goals," said Hospital Corpsman 1st Class (SW) James Barrier, a program participant who lost 12 lbs. "It's beneficial for everyone to have a support group to keep you on track. Even motivated people have tendencies to let their diet slip and even skip going to the gym on occasion, but this program helped a lot of people stay honest by working together."
Although Sailors and Marines who participated in the program did so for the long-term benefits that regular exercise and good nutrition provide, the $100 Amazon gift card that was awarded monthly to the participant who had experienced the biggest percentage decrease in body fat, and the $250 Amazon gift card that was awarded at the half-way point were welcome prizes.
"Most of the rewards came just in time for the holidays, which made Christmas shopping a little easier financially for the winners," said Weekes.
Sailors and Marines expressed their satisfaction with their Cruise-to-Lose experience and indicated they recommend it to fellow shipmates.
"If the Cruise-to-Lose program is offered again I would highly recommend it to any service member looking to lose a few a pounds," said Ott. "Just remember to be patient because it takes a lot of work and a lot of time to do it the correct way."
Bataan is the command ship of Bataan Amphibious Ready Group conducting maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility.