By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Ronald Gutridge, USS Makin Island Public Affairs
SAN DIEGO - Sailors assigned to amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8) began a "Biggest Loser" weight-loss and fitness competition Jan. 16, to help promote physical readiness during 2013.
The competition, sponsored by the ship's Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) division, is based on the popular television reality series and challenges Sailors to lose weight and lead a healthy lifestyle while supporting the fitness element of the Navy's 21st Century Sailor and Marine initiative.
According to Kristen Venoy, Makin Island's MWR "fun boss," a total of 20 participants have signed up for the chance to be named the ship's "Biggest Loser."
"My goal for this year's Biggest Loser competition is to help those dedicated individuals truly learn how to live a healthier lifestyle," said Venoy. "For the Sailors who are living on the ship, in the barracks, or on duty, it becomes a challenge to pack healthy eating options. I want to show them the way to better nutrition, regular exercise, and hopefully spark a new sense of self-esteem and knowledge within these individuals."
Venoy said the program is scheduled to last four months, with prizes being awarded for the largest percentage of weight lost during the first month, at the halfway mark, and a grand prize for one male and one female winner at the end of the competition.
During the competition, participants are encouraged to track caloric intake, log their workouts and record their progress for the official record. They are also encouraged to choose a friend, peer, or one of the MWR gym trainers to be their exercise mentor or "workout buddy."
Makin Island's Biggest Loser competition and other MWR-sponsored activities are designed primarily for recreation, but they also play an important role in helping maintain Navy physical fitness standards which ensures the command's overall mission readiness.
"We have a field of challenges to get through and by utilizing events like Biggest Loser and a robust physical fitness program, we can continue to beat tough issues like obesity and poor nutrition habits," said Chief Aviation Structural Mechanic Carlos Dave, one of Makin Island's command fitness leaders. "This competition is designed to help Sailors achieve their physical fitness goals and prepare them for future Navy physical fitness assessments."
Sailors said they are excited to take part in the competition.
"This competition is a great way to promote a culture of fitness," said Aviation Ordnanceman 3rd Class Carolina Martinez. "It also makes weight loss fun and competitive and it is easier stay motivated when others are participating with you."
The 21st Century Sailor and Marine initiative consolidates a set of objectives and policies, new and existing, to maximize Sailor and Marine readiness, safety, physical fitness, inclusion, and continuum of service which builds resiliency and hones the most combat-effective force in the history of the Department of the Navy.
Makin Island recently returned from a seven-month deployment and was the first U.S. Navy ship to deploy using a hybrid-electric propulsion system. By using this unique propulsion system, the ship saved over $15 million in fuel costs and the Navy expects to see fuel cost savings of more than $250 million, over the course of the ship's lifecycle. Lessons learned during Makin Island's maiden deployment prove the Navy's commitment to energy awareness and conservation and will positively influence future ship designs for several decades.
This initiative is one of many throughout the Navy and Marine Corps that will enable the Department of the Navy to achieve the Secretary of the Navy's energy goals to improve our energy security and efficiency afloat and ashore, increase our energy independence and help lead the nation toward a clean energy economy.
The ship is currently undergoing a planned maintenance availability (PMA) at Naval Base San Diego. During this seven month PMA period, Makin Island will receive numerous equipment upgrades, modernization, and general repairs. The PMA period will also ensure the ship will reach the full service life of at least 40 years.