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The best fit: APSU employees seek to revive weight-loss program

It started with a simple suggestion.

For a long time, Leni Dyer hunted for a weight-loss program that would fit her demanding lifestyle. She found Weight Watchers at Austin Peay State University, and asked her friend and colleague, Gena Shire, to join with her.

Together, they have lost more than 100 pounds in a program that allows them to eat at Taco Bell, one of their favorite restaurants, and forget counting calories.
It started with a simple suggestion.

For a long time, Leni Dyer hunted for a weight-loss program that would fit her demanding lifestyle. She found Weight Watchers at Austin Peay State University, and asked her friend and colleague, Gena Shire, to join with her.

Together, they have lost more than 100 pounds in a program that allows them to eat at Taco Bell, one of their favorite restaurants, and forget counting calories.

“It is amazing for us to be able to wear clothes that are 10 sizes smaller than we have worn before,” Dyer said. “Gena points out the fact that when we buy a 40-pound bag of dog food that this is less than we have lost.

“When you can put it into that kind of perspective, it is hard to believe that we were both carrying around that much weight every day.”

However, the At Work program on campus was discontinued after the number of members decreased below Weight Watchers' participation standard; a minimum of 15 people is needed to have an At Work program on site.

Dyer, interim chair of the department of communication and theatre at APSU, and Shire, secretary in the Center of Excellence for the Creative Arts, want to see Weight Watchers return to APSU.

“I'm tired of getting up at 7 on Saturday mornings,” quipped Shire, who has been attending program meetings at the Weight Watchers center in the absence of an APSU group.

The At Work program meetings are held in 10-week series and are open to all APSU faculty, staff and students. On-campus meetings begin at noon each Wednesday in the Trahern Building Green Room, with the first meeting scheduled for March 29. Each meeting is about 45 minutes, which includes a private weigh-in.

Instead of counting calories and fat grams, Weight Watchers offers participants a choice of two meal programs — a point system or a core plan. An ice cream cone can be two or three points out of a daily points goal, for example. The core plan is similar to a food pyramid, in which meats, vegetables and whole-wheat products are the basic tenets of a person's diet.

For Shire, the point system is easier.

“It's easier to think about 20-something points each day instead of 1,800 calories. Smaller numbers make it easier to keep up with — and less math to deal with,” Shire said.

Each participant's daily diet is based on a certain number of points allowed. While keeping each individual accountable, the system also allows for flexibility in diet choices.

Incentives — such as gold stars, bookmarks and other small tokens of achievement — are awarded when weight-loss goals are met.

“This was absolutely the best fit for us,” Dyer said. “But you have to come to it on your own. You have to want to do this for it to work.”

Shire, who is now an avid bowler, agreed. She said when Dyer asked her to join Weight Watchers, she knew that “it was time” for her to return to health and fitness.

“It's easy to do, if you decide that you want to lose weight,” Shire said. “But you have to make that commitment, and this program helps me to stay on track with my goal.”

For more information about APSU Weight Watchers At Work, contact Lynne Yarbrough by telephone at (931) 221-6844 or by e-mail at yarbrough@apsu.edu. The Web site explaining the program is http://www.apsu.edu/weight_watchers/. -- Melony Leazer