Two thousand people signed up for The Great American Weight Loss Challenge Saturday morning at its kick-off event held in the Pony Express Pavilion in Mills Park.
Organized in teams of 10, challengers vowed to lose 1 pound per week for the next 10 weeks.
If all goes according to plan, Northern Nevadans will have lost 20,000 pounds.
A $50 entry fee and a $50 corporate sponsorship gave team members a 10-week membership to one of eight Nevada Fitness locations. Teams are encouraged to work out together in order to keep will power high. Individuals will be weighed every Wednesday at the gym.
Teams are competing for prizes given at the end of 10 weeks. If a team member misses three weigh-ins, they will be kicked off the team. Their exiting weight will be added to the teams average.
"Being on a team will help me keep it off because I don't want to go off course" said Tami Nash a member of the DETER light waits, a team composed of co-workers at the Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation. "We've tried all the diets; Atkins, Grapefruit, pills like Metabolife, Slimfast. Some work but you have to be into it.
"It is a change in lifestyle, you have to be more motivated for things to work."
The DETER light waits said they plan to work out together and weigh in each week. They don't want to lose the competition.
The challenge is sponsored by HeathSmart, a program organized through Carson-Tahoe Hospital.
"Obesity is such a problem in America and we want to encourage a healthy lifestyle," said Tara Cashel, projector coordinator. "We wanted to have a program before the holidays but after the summer so that people could gear up for the holidays."
The program is the first of its kind in the area and Cashel said she hopes it will become an annual and even a national event.
Also available at the sign-in were free Subway sandwiches, fitness demonstrations, motivational speaking, and businesses selling workout tapes, herbal medicines and even colon hydrotherapy. All the products are geared to promote healthy living and motivating the team members, Cashel added.
Hundreds of people waited 10-20 minutes be weighed.
Heather Dobson, a Nevada fitness employee who weighed nearly 100 people Saturday, said attitudes at the scales remained positive. Dobson said she was shocked at the amount of women attending the event.
"There is a lot more women than I thought there would be but I guess it makes sense, the way that society looks at women," she said. "Most women are trying to be the image of what everyone else wants them to be."
Max Bradford was one of the handful of men who decided to show up for the challenge that was dominated by slightly overweight middle-aged women. Bradford signed up individually and was assigned to a team. He said he understood why most men didn't want to participate.
"Men aren't into doing a group thing," he said. "Women are more into those groups."
Carol Brooking, 60, joined with a group of women from her neighborhood. She said she has tried every diet but each time all the weight she lost, and more, came back. But now she thinks she has the answer.
"I am motivated this time, she said. "This time, I want to lose weight for my health."