The Eat Smart, Move More, Maintain, don’t gain Holiday Challenge was developed in 2006 by the North Carolina Division of Public Health as a resource for North Carolinians to maintain their weight over the holiday season. Attempting to lose weight during the holidays can be very difficult and discouraging, so participants are encouraged to maintain their weight from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Eve. To do this, the Holiday Challenge provides weekly newsletters, daily tips, and healthy holiday recipes to motivate participants to maintain their weight. The Holiday Challenge is a free online program, all that is required is a valid email address, and all materials are sent directly to the participant’s inbox.
In 2012, Holiday Challenge participation was dwindling with only 3,000 participants and was transitioned over to NC State University’s Eat Smart, Move More, Weigh Less team. The team revamped the program, and since it is all held online, it was opened up to other states to participate as well. The first year NC State managed the Holiday Challenge, participation jumped to more than 6,000. Since that time, the program has continued to develop and now includes weekly challenges, social media support, daily blogs, and a free virtual race through a major city. Last year’s Holiday Challenge was the largest to date with more than 28,000 participants from across the United States and around the world, which was an 83% increase from the previous year. Ninety one percent of participants reported maintaining or losing weight and 85% were confident in their ability to continue to maintain or lose weight using the Holiday Challenge strategies. So far this year, the program has continued to grow and has already reached more than 38,000 participants from all 50 States, all 100 North Carolina counties, and 17 additional countries. The 2018 Holiday Challenge will finish on December 31st and final results will be posted on esmmweighless.com by the end of January.
“Thank you for providing this program. This is the 3rd year that I have participated. Each year I have maintained my current weight through the holidays with the program’s support. The opportunity to race through Paris this year was a real game changer for me. I have found an inner strength to push myself harder. Thank you very much! It is such a good feeling to step into the new year knowing that I have a plan to follow for a happy and healthy lifestyle.” – A Holiday Challenge Participant