SmartWeigh program may be THE way to lose weight

The spring edition of our 8-week program SmartWeigh ended with a graduation event March 25; look for news from that graduating “class” next week! The next session begins April 17.

SmartWeigh is a non-dieting approach to weight loss that starts with making realistic lifestyle changes. The program has been offered here at the Wellness Center in one form or another since the center opened in 2000. Currently Wellness Center staff Donna Poe and Anne Mellor lead the program in fitness and nutrition coaching respectively.

SmartWeigh offers a total of 30 hours of group instruction and support, and costs $219 for those who are already Wellness Center members. Nonmembers pay $269, and get access to theCenter up to three times a week as part of the package. All told, that amounts to $7 an hour for members and $9 for nonmembers.

Pre- and post-program health assessments are conducted on all SmartWeigh enrollees. The assessment includes weight, height, waist measurement, blood cholesterol, blood sugar levels,flexibility, blood pressure and heart rate.

Donna says that in the last few years, the average weight loss among participants has been 8 to 12 pounds. Perhaps more importantly, recent participants have reported they’ve experienced a 58 percent increase in their quality of life, according to the results of an assessment they complete. The assessment measures such things as emotional well-being and social activities.Participants receive 8 hours of nutrition education from Donna in a group setting, and 8 hours of fitness/wellness coaching from Anne. Detailed health assessments are included before and at the end of the 8 weeks. Participants keep track of their eating and exercise each week, and report the information in these sessions. Monthly group support meetings continue for another year.

Ray Dodge

Ray Dodge participated in SmartWeigh in the spring of 2012 and met with those considering enrolling this spring. Ray has lost a total of 74 pounds in all, is about 8 pounds from his goal, and he’s under 200 pounds for the first time since his high school years. His weight loss rate was probably higher than the norm as he ate far below his recommended calorie intake.

“It really was a lifestyle change for me,” Ray says.  “It just changed my thinking, just the idea of reading food labels and keeping track of what I eat.”

Prior to SmartWeigh, Ray says his diet consisted of cheeseburgers, pizza and Hershey bars.

The fitness/wellness meetings include such topics as using pedometers, setting achievable goals, “Stoking the Metabolic Fire with Exercise”, mindfulness behavior, an introduction to aquatic exercise, managing stress, and relapse prevention.

Topics in the weekly nutrition session this spring included mindful eating, proper portions, focus on fat, carbs and fiber, food cravings, managing stress, meal planning, supermarket strategies, dining out, and relapse prevention, among others. After meeting with Poe early in the program, participants set their own eating goals. While one person may want a detailed meal plan provided, another may just need to set specific goals such as no eating after supper. Each participant’s plan is individualized. The participants will receive exercise recommendations customized to their own needs. Everyone is expected to commit to exercise at their own level for a minimum of 15 minutes at least 5 days a week.

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