Class encourages changes in diet and exercise

August 27, 2003|EMILY TOADVINE

Christy Crouch munches on carrots while she is cooking supper for her three daughters and husband. Or she drinks water. She avoids filling up by sampling all the foods she is cooking. After the meal, leftovers now go in the trash rather than Crouch feeling responsible for eating them.

These changes Crouch made in her eating habits helped her lose 40 pounds. She learned to change her eating habits and new ways to exercise while taking a 12-week Well for Life class.

After having her third child, Crouch joined the class last November.

"I decided it was time to lose weight. I'd had all my babies. And having three children, I decided I need to be healthier to chase them around," says the mother of 6-year-old Claire, 5-year-old Maggie and 17-month-old Emma.

The idea for the class originated with Lori Harris, a wellness counselor at McDowell Wellness Center.

"We'd all experienced the weight-watcher thing. I felt like we could do a program and be more personal."


Crouch decided to keep the weighing-in aspect, but to lower class size and bring a nutritionist on board.

"It's eating right 101," says Crouch, who says she learned a lot about portion size.

"It's also exercise 101," says Nancy Ricker, who as the dietitian devotes a portion of the hour-long class to nutrition. After developing the program, Harris went on maternity leave. She now is back from maternity leave since having 41/2-month-old Lindsey. During her absence, Susan Lackney, an exercise physiologist, joined the team.

Crouch, who varies the types of exercise she does five times a week, vouches for the importance of that aspect.

"After losing weight, I felt more confident to start an exercise program."

Lackney says she instructs the class in Pilates, strength training, cardio workouts and water aerobics.

"We try to sample a little bit of everything."

In addition to weighing in, participants will learn their body fat, body mass index, blood pressure and other measurements.

"We measure you from head to toe," Lackney says, noting that comparisons are made at the end of the 12-week class.

Ricker says as the class' name suggests, permanent lifestyle changes are encouraged.

"We don't want it to be a temporary thing," Ricker says. "You need to change to prevent cancer, heart disease and diabetes."

Risks of being overweight

Ricker begins by pointing out the risks of being overweight, a condition that pertains to 65 percent of the nation.

"As Kentuckians, we eat 40 percent of our diet as fat," she says, noting that only 20 to 25 percent of calories should come from fat.

Participants learn to count fat grams and fiber in their food.

"That teaches people to read labels," Ricker says. Eating five 1/2-cup servings of fruit and vegetables and drinking lots of water are encouraged.

To make the class fun, Ricker brings foods to taste, such as soy nuts and yogurt. Treats are allowed.

"There are no no-nos," says Lackney. "We teach proportion size. If you're dying for a candy bar, eat a mini-one."

Lackney says people actually are encouraged to eat more frequently.

"We don't skip meals and we add in snacks," she says.

Ricker offers plenty of recipe ideas to participants. One that works well with summer produce is Angel Hair Pasta with Zucchini, Corn and Tomatoes. It doesn't contain meat, but she says grilled chicken can be served on the side.

Harris, who hopes that there is enough interest to hold a morning class, is definitely practicing what the class preaches after having her baby.

"I'm working on losing my last 10 pounds," she says.

Angel Hair Pasta with Zucchini, Corn and Tomatoes

3 medium ears white corn (or 2 cups frozen, white, shoe peg corn)

1 medium onion, quartered and sliced

1 red bell pepper, cut in 1/2-inch squares

1 garlic clove, minced

1 tablespoon canola oil

2 medium zucchini, sliced

1 large (homegrown) tomato or 14-ounce can chopped tomatoes, drained)

1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh basil or 1/2 teaspoon dried basil

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

1/4 cup dry white wine, optional

1/4 cup or more shredded Parmesan cheese

Angel hair pasta

1. Cut corn kernels from cobs and set aside

2. Saut onion, bell pepper and garlic oil in a large skillet for 5 minutes.

3. Add zucchini; cook, stirring often, 7 minutes.

4. Add corn, tomato and next four ingredients; cover and cook over low to medium heat, stirring often, for about 10 minutes.

5. Add wine and simmer uncovered for 3-5 minutes.

6. Serve over 1 cup cooked angel hair pasta and sprinkle on Parmesan cheese.

Serves 4. Nutrition: calories, 260; 6 g fat and 5 g fiber.

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