HRED's health challenge a big success

July 09, 2012

Story Highlights

  • ARL employee's participated in three-month "get fit" competition.
  • 360.6lbs lost among 55 people.
  • Favorite recipe was Eating Well's arugula and strawberry salad

Employees from across the U.S. Army Research Laboratory's Human Research and Engineering Directorate decided it was time to get motivated, so they participated in a three-month HRED-wide competition that tracked their progress and enabled them to become more fit.

What started out as two branch members, David Scribner and Shanell Henry, talking about sticking to their fitness goals and what would help them stay on track, became a fun-filled weight loss challenge, said John Lockett, HRED, Chief of the MANPRINT Methods and Analysis Branch.

"We had some lively debates on how to measure fitness," said Lockett. "We looked at weight as a measurement and also body mass index, but even though we recognized weight is not the best measurement for fitness, we knew it could be easily measured across a geographically distributed group."

Lockett said that well rounded fitness is generally recognized as a combination of cardiorespiratory endurance, muscular endurance, flexibility, and body composition (i.e., ratio of lean body mass to fat).

The competition began March 12 and ended June 3. Each week, participants would report pounds lost or gained to their branch point of contact who would record the data on a spreadsheet. After the three-month competition, the total average weight loss percentage for each branch was calculated.

The weight losses on each team were SFC Paul Ray Smith, Simulation and Training Technology Center with 96.5 pounds, Weapons Branch with 21.2 pounds, Perceptual Sciences Branch with 47.8 pounds, Management Support Group with 83.7 pounds, Dismounted Warrior Branch with 57.3 pounds, Maneuver and Mobility Branch with 11 pounds and MANPRINT Methods and Analysis Branch with 43.1 pounds.

"The HRED health challenge was a big success," said Scribner. "In total, we had 55 people participating from seven different HRED branches or groups with an overall weight loss of 360.6 pounds."

During the challenge, participants shared fitness tips, healthy recipes and motivation.

"The challenge really helped to control unhealthy food choices at work," said Lockett. "We plan to have a follow-up competition that will begin July 1 and run for five months."

According to Lockett, the recipe that became the overall favorite was Eating Well's arugula and strawberry salad.

Arugula & Strawberry Salad

From EatingWell: April/May 2005, EatingWell for a Healthy Heart Cookbook (2008)

A rich source of iron and vitamins A and C, arugula is nonetheless in desperate need of balancing—here, with aged balsamic vinegar, walnuts and strawberries, another one of springtime's jewels.

4 servings, 1 1/2 cups each | Active Time: 20 minutes | Total Time: 25 minutes


  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 4 cups baby arugula, or torn arugula leaves
  • 2 cups sliced strawberries, (about 10 ounces)
  • 2 ounces Parmesan cheese, shaved and crumbled into small pieces (1/2 cup)
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons aged balsamic vinegar, (see Ingredient note)
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil


  1. Toast walnuts in a small dry skillet over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until lightly browned and aromatic, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a salad bowl; let cool for 5 minutes.
  2. Add arugula, strawberries, Parmesan, pepper and salt. Sprinkle vinegar and oil over the salad; toss gently and serve at once.


Per serving: 204 Calories; 16 g Fat; 3 g Sat; 5 g Mono; 7 mg Cholesterol; 10 g Carbohydrates; 7 g Protein; 3 g Fiber; 251 mg Sodium; 262 mg Potassium

1/2 Carbohydrate Serving

Exchanges: 1/2 fruit, 1 vegetable, 1 lean meat, 2 1/2 fat

Tips and Notes

  • Ingredient Note: Aged balsamic vinegar (12 years or older) is a treat, but not an economical one. If you don't want to spring for a $40 bottle, use regular balsamic. Alternatively, bring 1/2 cup regular balsamic vinegar to a boil over high heat in a small skillet. Cook until the vinegar begins to thicken and becomes syrupy, 2 to 3 minutes.

Last Update / Reviewed: July 9, 2012