Mercy is teaching people how they can live their weight loss dreams with a new program called “Healthy Ever After.”

Excess weight has been shown to increase risks of hypertension, stroke, type 2 diabetes and even certain forms of cancer. Programs like Healthy Ever After are designed to help people lose weight and keep it off by learning how to eat better, increase activity and take on positive behavioral and lifestyle patterns.

“So many people join weight loss programs or go on diets to lose weight but they aren’t successful in keeping the weight off because healthy habits weren’t instilled,” said Cindy Martin, a licensed and registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator for Mercy Nutrition and Diabetes Wellness Center.

“Healthy Ever After is a 12-month program aimed at weight loss and long-term maintenance. If you join the program and stick with it, you can achieve healthy ever after.”

The first meeting for the newest session of Healthy Ever After will be Tuesday, Feb. 5. Participants will receive an individual assessment by nutrition experts at the Mercy Nutrition and Diabetes Wellness Center and a fitness assessment by a Mercy physical therapist. Health topics will include healthy eating, portion sizes, understanding nutrition labels, getting the most of grocery shopping, meal planning and preparation, physical activity, how to change behaviors, dining out and more.

This session will meet each week on Tuesdays for 16 weeks and then once a month for eight months. The group will meet in the St. Francis Room at Mercy Hospital Washington, 901 E. Fifth St. in Washington.

Healthy Ever After is a hospital-based program that does not require a physician referral.

Healthy Ever After is offered by Mercy Nutrition and Diabetes Wellness Center, which is staffed by registered dietitians, registered nurses, certified diabetes educators and case manager/social workers. The staff provides medical nutrition therapy and diabetes self-management training. Class size is limited.

For more information, including cost and how to receive a discount, people should call 636-239-8248.