NEWPORT NEWS, VA -- Sailors aboard USS George Washington (GW) now have an ally in their “battle of the bulge,” courtesy of a Navywide weight management program that the ship’s medical department began using in August.

The ShipShape Program is the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery-approved weight management program that provides active-duty sailors with basic information regarding nutrition, stress management, exercise and behavior modification techniques to lower and maintain an acceptable body weight and body fat percentage that is within Navy standards. The program is coordinated by the Health Promotion Department at local Navy Medical Treatment Facilities.

According to Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Matthew Watton, medical department’s fitness enhancement program training coordinator, the program is designed to give GW sailors the tools necessary to maintain a healthy lifestyle through proper nutrition and exercise.

“We plan to continue the program,” Watton emphasized. “The classes have been growing every day, so we want to give the people involved an opportunity to succeed.”

Cryptologic Technician 1st Class Gary Karnes credits the class for giving him the information to maintain a healthy diet.

“I’ve learned a lot so far,” said Karnes, a member of the ship’s operations department. “I’ve learned how important a healthy diet is. This program is beneficial for people who have never been exposed to proper nutrition and don’t know how bad fast food really is for you.”

So what makes this nutrition course different from others?

“Normally Sailors receive temporary additional duty orders to a hospital to attend the training,” explained Karnes. “By having the classes here, sailors can go home at the end of the day and decide what to do with the information they learned. It’s really up to the sailor to adhere to that information.”

“This program is very important, especially in today’s Navy,” Watton said. “The Navy is cracking down on physical readiness failures, which affects Sailors’ careers. The failures also affect our mission, because it is essential to be in top physical condition to do our job.”