ORIGINALLY WRITTEN JANET HAMOUS
More than 100 people in Marion County are sporting trimmer waistlines and fitter bodies and have lowered their cholesterol and triglyceride levels thanks to the Healthy Fit program offered by Hillsboro Community Medical Center and St. Luke Hospital in Marion.
The 32-week program that began in October and ended in May offered participants free medical screening, educational programs and the opportunity to have their health goals monitored.
The program was supported by a grant from the Kansas Hospital Rural Options Project in Topeka. The grant was written by Via Christi and offered to hospitals in the rural Kansas communities of Hillsboro, Marion and Anthony.
The program was open to any Marion County resident six years or older, and people of all ages participated, said Nancy Kaufman, registered nurse in HCMC outpatient service and coordinator for the Hillsboro program.
“The youngest was 8, and the oldest was in their upper 80s,” she said.
At the beginning of the program, lab work was done to establish baseline cholesterol, triglyceride and fasting glucose levels. Weight and blood pressure were also measured to use as a benchmark to measure progress.
Participants were also asked to set an individual goal for the program.
Kaufman said some people joined for weight loss, some joined to reduce cholesterol or blood pressure, and others joined to increase their activity level.
Participants were asked to keep a log of their weight, blood pressure and activity and turn it in each week.
Kaufman said she encouraged participants to engage in some extra activity each week.
“One of the suggestions was to make small changes,” she said. “We kept resetting goals throughout the program to try to set small goals-something that was attainable. The goal was to try to increase our goal each time.”
Kaufman met individually with each participant every other month to discuss progress, revise goals and provide encouragement.
“A lot of people drop out because it’s very difficult and sometimes discouraging,” she said. “It’s hard to find the commitment to report in every week and keep motivated.”
She said one of her roles as coordinator was to coach people through the low spots when they were dieting and exercising but their numbers weren’t changing.
“Even with all the exercise, their numbers may still go up because sometimes genetics play a high role,” she said. “But you have to encourage them that without the exercise, their numbers could have been a lot higher.”
Kaufman said 100 people began the program and more than 60 people completed it.
When the program ended in May, lab work was done again and individual results were submitted to Via Christi for analysis and summary. Kaufman doesn’t yet have figures on average weight loss or improvement in cholesterol and triglycerides, but she said the individual data were impressive.
“There was a dramatic change in weight for many people,” she said. “And it definitely changed the cholesterol and the triglycerides.”
She said the program was beneficial to everyone involved, even those who didn’t see a marked reduction in weight.
“Just the health awareness, the education, and the constantly thinking about what’s going to make a difference in their health made it worthwhile,” she said.