Not your typical weight-loss program, "Weigh to Go" helps participants realize life-long weight management goals.
Learn to Manage Your Weight with Bastyr Center's "Weigh to Go"
Weigh to Go runs January 14 to March 11, 2015.
Our eating practices don't exist in a vacuum set apart from habits, emotions, education and finance. So why do so many diet programs focus on calorie-counting alone?
"Weigh to Go" is an innovative nine-week program at Bastyr Center for Natural Health that combines whole-foods nutrition education, exercise plans, group sessions and one-on-one counseling to form a holistic approach to healthy lifestyles. Faculty supervisor Christy Hofsess, PhD, says the program is designed for weight management, not simply weight loss.
“As opposed to the typical weight-loss program, we help participants set long-term lifestyle goals that will enable them to reach and maintain their most healthful weight,” she says.
Past participant Tavona Givens says she enjoyed this approach. “For me, the single most valuable aspect of the program was the ‘healthy at every size’ concept,” she says. “It was a great reminder that everyone is not designed to be a size 0 and that I can be healthy and make healthy choices no matter what size I am.”
Faculty in Bastyr University’s nutrition and clinical health psychology program designed "Weigh to Go" to help participants recognize and change their food-related behaviors. The program is led by master's students and supervised by clinical faculty, who bring experience in both nutrition and counseling.
Spring 2011 participant Julie Zander said she appreciated the dual-pronged approach. The nutrition group sessions taught her tricks for eating more vegetables and whole grains like kasha, quinoa and amaranth — things she knew about but wasn't in the habit of cooking, she says.
And her counselor helped her practice relaxation and mindfulness techniques and prepare emotionally for an upcoming back surgery. "I've never had counseling associated with weight loss," she says. "But eating connects to the rest of our lives, so it makes sense. My counselor did a great job. I felt like I had someone on my side who was coaching me through the whole thing."
Weight-management programs elsewhere include counseling, group sessions, behavior changes or whole-foods nutrition, but Dr. Hofsess doesn't know of any others that wrap all these tools together. The “Weigh to Go” approach recognizes that education, motivation and mindfulness all have roles to play.
Participants learn to identify triggers — like anxiety, loneliness or boredom — that often lead to "emotional eating" or unhealthy behaviors, Dr. Hofsess says. They also learn strategies for eating healthfully in restaurants and for communication with family members and friends who may pressure them to eat certain things.
"People walk away with an awareness of how mindfulness can slow down their eating patterns or simply make them more aware of their eating patterns," Dr. Hofsess says.
Counselors have training in motivational interviewing, a technique that focuses on helping patients discover their own motivation for making life changes. Givens says she appreciated the personal attention.
“The individualized counseling contributed to my success by allowing personal one-on-one time for my specific questions and a chance to tailor a plan for my own personal situation,” she says.
“The group classes were a tremendous support too,” she adds. “They brought up the real life human ups and downs, failures and successes in a secure and safe environment.”
She said that helped her bring a holistic perspective back to the real-world, where calories are never the only consideration.
Weigh to Go runs January 14 to March 11, 2014.