A healthy start to the new year

Free community weight loss Challenge open to all Valley residents

SAN BENITO — The start of an upcoming weight-loss competition makes it the perfect time to get the ball rolling on New Year’s resolutions.

Valley residents interested in a healthier lifestyle are invited to compete in “The Challenge,” a free three-month community weight-loss competition hosted by the City of Brownsville and The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston School of Public Health.

Participants ages 18 and older will have free access to partner with local gyms, fitness experts, nutritionists, cooking classes, peer support groups, motivational text messages and access web-based support.

The Challenge kicks off today and tomorrow in Brownsville with registrations and weigh-ins.

The final weigh-ins for the competition will be held April 6.

Cash and prizes will be awarded to groups and individuals who lose the highest percentage weight over the three-month period.

Competition categories include male individuals, female individuals, small groups with two to 10 participants and large groups with 11 to 26 participants.

Anyone who loses 5 percent or more of their weight will be eligible for additional cash prize drawings.

Additionally, there will be prizes and recognition for other participants.

According to UT Health Project Manager Lisa Mitchell-Bennett, almost one in three adults in the Valley has diabetes.

“A large percentage of people have pre-diabetes due to high rates of obesity so they’re likely to have diabetes in the near future,” Mitchell-Bennett explained. “So, one of the ways we can address that is by helping people to adapt lifestyle changes that will help them make healthier food choices, exercise more and lose weight.”

Community Outreach Worker Letty Gomez conducts the Tu Salud Si Cuenta program for the City of San Benito and is excited about the competition.

“I feel like this is a great opportunity for the residents of San Benito to get together and motivate each other to be healthy,” Gomez said. “Our group from the Zumba classes is going to participate in The Challenge, and I’m hoping more people will join and work toward having a healthy lifestyle.”

FREE COMMUNITY WEIGH-Ins

• WHEN — Friday, Jan. 11

TIME — 5 to 8 p.m.

TWO LOCATIONS — Southmost Public Library, 4320 Southmost Boulevard, or Brownsville Public Library, 2600 Central Boulevard

• WHEN — Saturday, Jan. 12

TIME — 9 a.m. to noon

LOCATION — Linear Park next to the Brownsville Farmers’ Market

• WHEN — Monday, Jan. 14

TIME — 4 to 6 p.m.

LOCATION — La Feria Recreation Center, 901 Pancho Maples Drive

• WHEN — Thursday, Jan. 17

TIME — 5 to 7 p.m.

LOCATION — San Benito Community Building, 210 E Heywood Street

• WHEN — Friday, Jan. 18

TIME — 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

LOCATION — UT SPH, 80 Fort Brown, Brownsville

For more information, visit The Challenge Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/thechallengergv/ or the Tu Salud Si Cuenta Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/tsscRGV/