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Frequently Asked Questions

Several of you have asked me about the details of the 2011 Fat to Fit Challenge. Here are the most common questions I get, along with their answers.

1. What is the purpose of the Fat to Fit Challenge?

To help participants become more fit and, as a by-product, lose weight if needed.

2. Do I have to tell anyone my weight?

No. But you will need to calculate your weight loss so you can report the pounds lost as part of our collective weight loss total. And, hey — when I started my fitness makeover, I had my full 182 pounds featured on the front page of my local paper! What could be worse than that?

3. Who is organizing the Challenge?

AARP is sponsoring the event, and I will be coaching participants.

4. Do you have advisors to provide expert advice?

Yes. I have an extraordinary board of volunteer advisors whose names you may recognize. In alphabetical order: Dr. Edward Abramson; Dr. Paul S. Auerbach; Dr. Maxine Barish-Wreden; producer Lolis Garcia-Baab; Dr. James Gavin; Debra Granich, CEO, Red Hat Society; Dr. David R. Holbrooke; Dr. Kandeel “Kay” Judge; producer Daryn Kagan; Dr. Henry Lodge; Granny Basketball founder Barbara McPherson; wellness coach Margaret Moore; Dr. Pamela Peeke; athlete Gabrielle Reece; music producer Heidi Roizen; Dr. Michael Roizen; Dr. David A. Sabgir; Dr. Julie Silver; social marketing consultant Nedra Kline Weinreich; and Dr. Marisa C. Weiss.

5. What are the dates of this year's Challenge?

The Challenge began May 16 and ends on July 9.

6. Can people join after May 16?

Yes. You can join at any time.

7. How do I sign up?

You can join the Fat to Fit online community group today, as well as register for the Challenge and get your weight-tracking badge here. I encourage you to participate in the Fat to Fit group discussions, or begin your own discussion on a topic that is near and dear to you. You’ll find teammates who will support your efforts and whom you can support, too. 

8. How many people can be on a team? Can I be a team of one? Could my husband and I form a two-person team?

You can participate on your own or form a team with friends and family. You can also invite other members of the Challenge to team up with you. In terms of reporting, you will be a team of one. That’s how I started out — and look where it led! 

9. Do I need to be overweight or out of shape to participate?

No. You can join to support others, or you can work on other aspects of fitness that do not involve weight. For instance, you may want to improve your flexibility or balance, strengthen your upper body, improve your lung capacity or increase your aerobic capacity.

10. What can I win? 

Throughout the challenge, I will select weekly prize winners who will receive one of various modest prizes (books, CDs, T-shirts, pedometers). 

When the challenge ends, three overall winners will be selected based on how well they’ve served as a role model for the entire community, faced and overcome challenges, and demonstrated the principles of the Fat to Fit program. Three winners will receive cash prizes of $2,000 (first place), $1,000 (second place) and $500 (third place). You can find the official prize rules here

The real prize, though, is one you give yourself from adopting healthier habits and losing weight. You’ll be rewarded with more energy, health, and self-esteem. 

11. Do I need to be a member of AARP or over the age of 50 to participate?

No. The Challenge is open to AARP members and nonmembers alike, and all ages are welcome to participate. However, to be eligible for a prize, you need to be age 45 or older and a resident of the United States or Puerto Rico. You can read the complete entry rules and eligibility requirements here. 

12. Can I tell my employer about this program and enroll the whole company in teams?

I hope you do. You can also enroll your entire church or bowling team. You are encouraged to share the program with whatever group you belong to.

13. Will results be publicized?

I will report our collective weekly weight loss on the website each week. The information will also be displayed on the main Fat to Fit page

14. Are there any age restrictions? Can my entire family participate?

There are no age restrictions. But children should be encouraged to become active and fit; their weight (or weight loss) should not be the focus of their participation.

15. Is there a specific diet or fitness program required of participants?

We encourage participants to find ways to eat and exercise that are enjoyable and sustainable. We also encourage participants to design a fitness program appropriate for their own body. Lastly, we encourage participants both during and after the challenge to surround themselves with like-minded friends. This approach is summarized in the acronym FIT:

    F: Fun

    I: Individualized

    T: Together

16. Are there specific steps you recommend for members just getting started?

Here are seven steps that will guide you through the process of getting and staying fit:

• Decide: Instead of a fork in the mouth, take a fork in the road.

• Go Public: Tell the truth to yourself and others about your plans.

• Assemble a Team: Find supporters and surround yourself with teammates.

• Set Goals: Design your own unique fitness program.

Establish Accountability: Keep a journal of your progress and find someone you can report your weekly results to.

• Learn, Experiment and Celebrate: Become a student again.

• Recruit: Encourage family, friends, colleagues and neighbors to join you in the quest for fitness.

These steps are outlined in more detail in my book From Fat to Fit: Turn Yourself into a Weapon of Mass Reduction.

17. What happens when the Challenge ends?

AARP will continue featuring articles and information on the main Fat to Fit page about how to stay fit and maintain a healthy weight. We may repeat the Challenge at a later date.