ORIGINALLY WRITTEN JANET HAMOUS
If there were a poster child for the Healthy Fit program, Donna Diener would definitely be a candidate.
“I lost 65 pounds and my lab values all improved quite a bit,” she said. “My cholesterol dropped 60 points and my triglycerides went way down.
“My blood sugars are much better too,” she said. “I have a strong family history of diabetes, so that’s something I watch. My blood sugar level had started to creep up. But it’s way back down now.”
Diener said that although some people set one big goal for the entire 32-week program, she chose to take small steps that were less overwhelming.
“My cousin was in the program and she said. ‘I’ve got this much weight that I’m going to lose.’ But I’d never set a goal like that,” she said. “I did mine month by month.”
Diener said that the Healthy Fit program was her first attempt at dieting, and she researched diets to find the one that best suited her needs.
“If you were in the program for weight loss or better eating habits, you could pick your own diet,” she said. “Some chose to follow the Atkins diet, and some went with an ‘everything in moderation’ plan.
“I was on a 1,500-calorie-a-day, low-fat diet, which is what the American Diabetic Association recommended.”
Diener said she kept a rough count of calories, but did not weigh and measure all her food.
“If I think I ate 1,500 a day, I might have actually had 1,300 or I might have had 1,800,” she said. “I really went for smaller portions.”
Diener said a serving of meat should be about the size of the palm of your hand, and that is how she gauged her meat portions.
“I did measure a lot of stuff and I was constantly amazed. ‘Oh that’s what a serving is supposed to look like. Oh darn! That’s half what I really want to eat,'” she said.
Diener said the support offered through the Healthy Fit program was just what she needed to keep her on track.
“We were required to come in once a week for weight and blood pressure and to record what activity we’d done that week,” she said.
“Once a month, we had to meet with Nancy again to see if we’d met the goal we set the last time and to see how we were doing. If you were doing well, she praised you to no end, and if you were doing poorly, you probably got scolded just a little bit,” she said.
Diener said each person was also assigned to a support group so participants could help each other through the program. Many of the members of her group were coworkers at HCMC where she has worked as a registered nurse for 25 years.
“We’d always keep tabs on each other at work,” she said. “‘How are you doing this week and how many pounds so far?'”
Diener said her family also supported her efforts and agreed to eat what she ate during the program. She has a husband and two children, with one child at home and one at college.
“They eat all kinds of stuff, but not in my presence,” she said with a laugh.
As a result of her diet, they have changed some of the things they eat at home, she said.
“We buy a lot lower percentage of milk than we used to drink, and we buy fat-free sour cream and the fat-free soups,” she said.
“We don’t have sweets in our house hardly at all any more. Once you eliminate the sweets, there goes a whole ton of fat and calories right there. The rest of my family complains about that, but I do occasionally bake them cupcakes or something that doesn’t tempt me,” she said.
“But chocolate chip cookies-they haven’t had one of those in a long time,” she added. “First, you have to eat two cookies worth of dough, then you have to eat one warm out of the oven. Then you have to eat two every day just because they’re there. And that’s how you end up having to go in this program in the first place.”
Diener said she is within two pounds of the last goal she set.
“I’m close,” she said. “I’m not actually where the height and weight charts say I should be yet, though.”
So what happens now that the program is officially over?
“I’ll go back to an eating habit of everything in moderation that maintains the weight,” she said. “I don’t really want to count calories forever.”
For exercise, she walks at least two miles a day and plans to keep walking.
“I’ve actually walked for years, but I walk a lot more than I used to,” she said. “I used to do it two or three days a week, but now I do it pretty faithfully at least six-sometimes seven if I have time.
“The dog and I go out walking all the time. The dog only lost a half pound though.”