Mercy is offering a magic wand to people who want to learn healthy habits for a lifetime.
“Healthy Ever After” is a weight management program that meets weekly for 16 weeks and then monthly for eight weeks. Participants learn about nutrition and exercise and how to incorporate healthy choices into their everyday lives.
“In three classes, we’ve had 18 participants who’ve lost 273 pounds,” said program leader Cindy Martin, a licensed and registered dietician with Mercy Nutrition and Diabetes Wellness Center. “They didn’t just lose weight, though. They established friendships with fellow classmates who offer support and encouragement. Several have even decreased medications for diabetes and hypertension.”
Brian Knight of Villa Ridge is part of the program now. He joined because he wanted to lose weight and felt being part of a group would keep him motivated. He’s lost 60-plus pounds since February.
“I don’t expect to be heavier than I am now ever again,” Knight said. “Everyone keeps asking what kind of diet I’m on, but it’s no fad diet. It’s sensible eating. It’s sensible portion sizes. There aren’t any taboo foods.”
Knight was most surprised to learn about the amount of calories he had been consuming. Now that he’s lost weight, “I can see how much better I feel. I have more energy.”
Martin said Knight isn’t the only participant who is surprised to learn about what healthy calories and portions are. Many are also surprised to learn that it’s OK to not clear their plates, that exercising can be enjoyable and easily added to their daily routine, and that low calorie, healthy foods can taste good.
Knight said he is eating healthier options now, but he doesn’t deprive himself of foods he enjoys. “I was eating on the go, now I have set times and I’m planning my meals.”
Healthy Ever After is designed for success. It requires commitment. Participants receive an individual nutritional assessment by a registered, licensed dietitian and a fitness assessment by a physical therapist. They receive information on healthy eating, portion sizes, nutrition labels, grocery shopping, meal preparation, increasing activity, behavior change, dining out and more.
“The group meets regularly for an extended period so that participants are likely to incorporate what they’ve learned into their daily lives,” said Martin. “By the time the class is over, they’ve created habits they can maintain on their own.”
The next Healthy Ever After session begins Aug. 6. The group meets Tuesdays from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the Tucker conference room at Mercy Hospital Washington, 901 E. Fifth St. in Washington. There are 16 weekly sessions followed by eight monthly meetings.
Healthy Ever After is open to the community. It costs $350. Mercy Clinic primary care physicians can offer their patients $50-off coupons. For more information, or to register, call Mercy Nutrition and Diabetes Wellness Center at 636-239-8248.