by Major Marlys Anderson
Our women’s weight loss focus group meets once a week for 10 weeks. It’s a ladies encouragement group, and in addition to our regular meetings, we offer exercise opportunities throughout.
I initiated this program because of the weight issues women deal with and how much a support system can really help. Some ladies I know have tried other weight loss programs, and although they’ve seen some results, they find the weight comes back because they don’t keep up the healthy routines.
This focus group is not a weight loss program; there is no specific diet, no special gimmicks or required exercise routines; it’s simply women coming together to discuss what they can do to lose weight. This is an encouragement program, with a competitive element and little perks to keep everyone enthusiastic.
In order to participate the ladies must attend the weekly meetings, weigh in, get measured, follow some simple guidelines—such as drinking a lot of water and avoiding certain foods each wee—making connections in between classes, praying and reading the Bible. The ladies also keep track of their successes and failures and are encouraged to share during the weekly meetings.
The women’s weight loss focus group runs three or four times throughout the year, but I’ve seen success continue even after this program has ended. Many women keep in contact with one another, many continue to walk, bike, and swim or participate in group exercise programs such as Zumba or aerobics. One lady simply kept drinking a lot of water and avoiding certain unhealthy foods, and she continued to lose weight on the break.
Our focus group has also been the impetus for other women’s healthy-living focus groups such as biking, aerobics and walking groups. In fact, our biking program grew so popular it branched out to many young people who didn’t have bikes, and our corps received a special grant from a generous, avid biking enthusiast. With it we were able to purchase eight bikes for the program!
I’ve personally benefitted from our focus group as well. I can attest to feeling more confident and satisfied thanks to the help, support and encouragement of my peers. It’s the accountability that creates that extra push.