The Weight Is Over: Wise About Weight Programs in Washington



When 62-year-old Katy Mead walked into a room last week with a tinfoil-covered pan and announced, “I brought cake,” everyone froze. This was the final meeting for participants in Wise About Weight, a nine-week program that targets excess pounds. And right after a weigh-in (plus a body fat reading, and a measurement of hip and waist size), dessert didn’t sound so appealing.

“But it’s just egg whites, no oil and a little sugar-free chocolate syrup,” Mead added, earning a pat on the back from facilitator Justine Moore for using the previous week’s lesson on making recipes healthier.

Moore, a personal trainer and nutritionist, is part of a team of professionals brought together by Donald Kushner, a physician in Pittsburgh who created the program in 2009 to offer a comprehensive approach to weight loss. “The whole weight-loss industry is so fragmented, and doctors are totally out of the loop,” Moore says. Impressed with the method, Moore brought the idea to Results Gym, which is now hosting classes in Washington.

The next session ($735 for members or $799 for non-members, who get use of the gym for the duration of the program) starts this Saturday (call 800-608-1202 to register) with a full-day immersion workshop. Then, in addition to meeting once a week for two hours, participants have five half-hour personal training sessions, an hour of individual nutritional counseling and an hour of behavior coaching, plus a directive to check in with their primary care doctors.

It’s this combination of the support group atmosphere and individualized guidance from experts that sets it apart from other programs, Moore says. Well, that and the huge binders each Wise About Weight participant gets. Lugging them around is good for an extra workout, and opening them up provides a chance to review what’s been discussed in class through quizzes, timelines and worksheets.

All of the lessons are interactive, and Moore’s lectures frequently feature props, including fake food and a giant slab of artificial fat. “I’m like the Carrot Top of the weight-loss world,” Moore jokes.

There’s new info every week on topics ranging from reading nutrition labels to identifying sabotaging thoughts, but Moore always returns to “the seven steps to lifestyle change”: observe, interpret, pause, direct, reflect, celebrate and repeat. “There’s no step called ‘beat myself up,’” she reminded the participants at that final class.

Not that there was any reason to. All of them are lighter than when they started, can eyeball portion sizes and have developed ways to socialize that aren’t centered around food. Although one slice of Mead’s cake didn’t sound like such a bad idea.

ONLINE ALTERNATIVES
» Valerie Orsoni, relies on her French upbringing and scientific research to offer three daily tips to subscribers at Lebootcamp.com ($15-$29/month). One fave: Put a photo of someone skinny on your fridge.

» Anyone can explore Thin-Site.com to get access to blog posts and exercise video clips, but if you sign up (for a $29.95 initiation fee and then $8.95/month), you’ll get expert e-mails three times a week.

Photo by Marge Ely/Express

Vicky Hallett is a MisFits columnist and the Fit editor for Express.
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Vicky Hallett · June 21, 2010