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Weight loss program starts

Megan Loney and Alicia Smith | Monday, September 14, 2009

An informational meeting for Saint Mary’s Weight Watchers Program was held yesterday in the Warner Conference Room in the Student Center for students interested in a healthy way to maintain their weight.

The program is available to students, faculty and staff at the College.

To be able to secure a Saint Mary’s chapter of Weight Watchers, 15 individuals must submit payment for the 12-week series or 20 individuals for the 17-week series of the program.

Lori Hembree, a representative from Weight Watchers, informed those involved what the program was all about. She explained that she had lost 55 pounds with the help of the program.

“I learned that I needed the accountability of the weekly weigh-in and the support of other members in the group,” Hembree said.

The program is sponsored by the Health Center at the College. Cathe DeCleene, director of women’s health, is in charge of the program.

During the informational meeting, registrations and money were collected. Participants also received literature about the program.

Six interested students attended the meeting.

The cost for the 12-week series is $144 and the 17-week series costs $175, or about $10 for each session.

A concrete schedule for the series will be devised and will take holidays and academic breaks into account.

“We are trying to bring Weight Watchers to you here,” Hembree said. “The benefit is that you can do it during your lunch hour. Everything you see in a Weight Watchers meeting room, we bring it to you.”

According to DeCleene, the program was incredibly successful last year with two groups at Saint Mary’s losing a significant amount of weight and a few participants earning lifetime member status.

One previous participant who attended Monday’s meeting stated she started the program June 16 and has lost 20 pounds, even without a structured exercise plan.

Each series includes weekly meetings for support and e-tools that participating individuals will be able to access online to help reach their personal goals.

During the weekly meetings, there is a confidential weigh-in for each participant at 12:15 p.m. Participants can be as active at the meetings as they choose; they are not required to share personal experiences.

The online tools that are available include the points tracker to help monitor daily consumption of food, the weight tracker – which uses graphs and data to monitor weight loss – recipes, workouts and advice.

Unlike other weight loss programs, Weight Watchers does not require specific meal choices. According to the program’s Web site, Weight Watchers is “an integrated approach emphasizing good eating choices, healthy habits, a supportive environment and exercise.”

In addition to the weekly meetings, the Momentum Program assists individuals in learning how to handle hunger, eat healthy foods, take advantage of the points system and “Stop Dieting and Start Living” – the motto of Weight Watchers.

“[It’s] a plan that does not leave you feeling hungry, a plan that does not make you feel deprived, and a plan that fits into your life, not the other way around,” Hembree explained. “That’s what the Momentum plan is all about.”

The program began in the 2008-09 academic school year after 2009 graduate Kelly Gasior, who previously attended Weight Watchers in her hometown of Pittsburgh, contacted DeCleene.

For more information about the program, contact DeCleene at decleene@saintmarys.edu