New program focuses on weight management, good health habits

Tanika Snyder

Instructor Natalie Lussier talks to Kent resident Jan Rader and a group of women Saturday about healthier eating habits. This was a small preview of an upcoming six-week program called Healthy Weigh that will be at the Student Recreation and Wellness Cent

Credit: Beth Rankin

It’s a week into February and you still haven’t lost that extra five pounds you gained from the holidays, not to mention the 10 pounds you resolved to vanish by summer.

No worries, there’s still hope. The Student Recreation and Wellness Center held a New Year’s Weight Loss Resolution Workshop Saturday. At the workshop, personal trainer Lynn Piunno and registered dietitian Natalie Lussier spoke to rec center members about proper weight management and a new six-week program that will provide the tools needed to make weight management a reality.

“Weight management is focusing on something beyond weight loss,” Piunno said. “With it, you have the foundation, information and knowledge to make a healthy choice and see a difference.”

The new program, Healthy Weigh, will provide participants exercise and nutrition education, a support group and exercise-based activity. Piunno will educate participants on behavior modification and exercise, and Lussier will educate participants on proper diet and nutrition.

“My belief is that the behavior stuff is the foundation,” Piunno said. “You have to think: We are going to give you the information, but it’s up to you to do it.”

Each week there will be a new focus of discussion.

“It’s really important to be committed and to focus on the goal that is driving you,” Piunno said. “A good strategy is to very slowly set goals, a maximum of three per week. As you see progression, review your goals and maybe set another goal.”

One of the key points to remember in achieving successful weight management is that exercise and nutrition go hand-in-hand, Lussier said.

“If you have more muscle than fat, you will burn more calories,” Lussier said. “Exercise is the only thing that, when combined with a healthy diet, will raise your metabolism. That’s why exercise is so important.”

Lussier discussed nutrients, fats, calories, meals, snacks, diets, eating guidelines, food labels and serving and portion sizes. These topics, along with many others, will be focused discussions throughout the Healthy Weigh program.

Slow weight loss is the best and most effective way to keep weight off, Lussier said.

“Most fad diets use different ways to just reduce your calorie level,” Lussier said. “Diets lower than 1,200 calories will actually slow your metabolism. That’s why when people come off fad diets, they go right back to the way they were eating and end up gaining weight.”

Both Piunno and Lussier emphasized that Healthy Weigh is not only for the person who needs to lose weight but also for the person who needs to manage his or her weight in a healthy manner.

The program helps to replace patterns of behavior and if a person is willing, he or she will be successful in losing or managing weight, Piunno said.

“My motto is take small steps to make permanent changes,” Piunno said. “Take a look at your life and figure out what is realistic. Everyone is looking for that magic bullet to lose weight. To get there, you have to be willing to do the work.”

Healthy Weigh begins Feb. 14. The class meets for one hour, three nights a week and alternates topics and activities. To register for Healthy Weigh, call Wellness Coordinator Pepsi Hutton at (330) 672-0475.

For more information contact fitness reporter Tanika Snyder at [email protected].