When Sharon Schoen's husband told her he wanted to lose weight last winter, she said, “Let's do it together,” because she wanted to shed about 20 pounds herself.
They enrolled in Fort HealthCare's 12-week Transitions Lifestyle Program, a class designed to teach people how to change their lifestyles and lead healthier lives. The class teaches healthy eating habits and ways to exercise and manage stress for optimal health.
“My husband lost over 40 pounds and I've lost about 17,” Schoen said. “I probably want to lose about five more and then I will be at my ideal weight.”
The program is not a diet, although weight loss is an added perk of the program. The Transitions Lifestyle Program helps support your body's metabolism and this allows many people to shed inches and lose body fat naturally with healthy eating and exercise.
“It's not a diet,” said Kathy Kalvaitis, an instructor of the class. “It's an entire lifestyle change.”
Kalvaitis herself lost 35 pounds on the program and has been following it for the past 2.5 years.
“It works,” Kalvaitis said. “I'm a person who practices what I preach.”
Program participants learn to modify their diets so their meals contain a proper ratio of healthy carbohydrates, proteins and fats. You don't eat less, you eat better. The class addresses the problems of carbohydrate sensitivity and fat storage as well as adopting a diet of low-glycemic foods. Class content includes hands-on behavior modifications.
“We actually take a couple of field trips during the class,” Kalvaitis said. “We teach you about label reading and healthy shopping at the grocery store. In the beginning some people grumble about being at a grocery store, but by the time they leave it is very eye opening. When you sit down and read the labels and see all the ingredients, you see how things that you thought were healthy are not.”
“We also go to a local health club and demonstrate how to use the equipment,” she said. “We show them exercises they can do in their own home and encourage them to just get moving.”
Schoen recommends people take the class with someone they know.
“My husband Tom and I went together and I think that helps when two people go together,” she said. “You have to be kind of dedicated. The first week is kind of tough because you are regulating your body to not eat too much sugar or flour, but now we are doing fine.”
Learn how to eat for life
The Transitions Lifestyle Program is aimed at long term, sustainable healthy lifestyle changes in eating habits and exercise, which naturally supports healthy weight control.
“We did the class back in January,” Sharon Schoen said. “Neither one of us has gained a pound back since we lost the weight and we are sticking to it. We have occasions where we go off the program, like when you go out to eat you are not supposed to eat French fries, but occasionally I will have them. You just get back on the lifestyle again.”
Participants who completed the most recent Transitions Lifestyle class that ended in July lost an average of 16 pounds and 9 inches of waistline in 12 weeks, according to Kalvaitis' data.
“It's a slow weight loss process,” Kalvaitis said. “Any doctor you talk to will tell you that a slow weight loss is much more sustainable. By following this program you won't see a quick 5 or 10 pounds off and then two months later 15 to 20 pounds back on.”
Many doctors have recommended the Transitions Lifestyle Program to their patients.
“The program has helped people lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels, as well as, blood pressure readings.” Kalvaitis said. “We have even seen people able to reduce medications under medical supervision.”
The next Transitions Lifestyle sessions begin the week of September 14th and run for 12 weeks. Instructors for the class are Beth Schmitz, RN and certified Transition Lifestyle Coach and Kathy Kalvaitis, C.S.N., C.P.T. The class costs $130 which includes a Daily Journal and Glycemic Index book.