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A loss for the better
Resolutions kept proved to be the start of new lives for local women
Sheenagh King, left, a registered dietician with Obesity Solutions in Gainesville, consults with patient Deloris Wood. - photo by Brandee Thomas

Free weight loss seminar by Northeast Georgia Medical Center

Registered dietitian Mindy Bell will offer diet and exercise tips, including information about Northeast Georgia Medical Center's 10-week weight loss program, Living Lighter; while bariatric surgeons Alex Nguyen and Charley Procter Jr., will discuss surgical weight loss options.

There are two chances to attend: Thursday, Jan. 13, at the Hall County Library Spout Springs Branch in Flowery Branch; and Thursday, Jan. 27, at Northeast Georgia Medical Center's Walters Auditorium. The seminars will be held from 6-7:30 p.m., with registration and a light sandwich supper beginning at 5:30 p.m.

For more information, call 770-219-7641 or e-mail



Each year, many people promise to better themselves at the dawning of the new year - be it by furthering their education, being nicer to strangers or working harder on their jobs. More often than not, those resolutions relate more closely to eating healthier, hitting the gym and losing weight.

These commitments are made adamantly on Dec. 31, but are often all but forgotten by mid-January.

Like many other people with desires to lose weight, Deloris Hood and Penny Eddy probably made their own faulty New Year's resolutions in the past, but in 2009, they both kept their promises. And now, more than a year later, they've been able to lose the weight - and keep it off.

"I've always had a problem with my weight."

"I probably tried everything," said Hood, an Oakwood resident.

That "everything" included enrolling in weight-loss programs that simply dictated what she ate, but didn't help her understand why she was consistently at odds with food.

"I didn't have the best eating habits," Hood said.

In 2009, Hood discovered Obesity Solutions, a weight-loss center of The Longstreet Clinic in Gainesville.

After meeting with Sheenagh King, a registered dietitian, Hood was able develop a fitness and food plan that works well for her.

"Now I'm able to watch what I eat," Hood said.

"And I work out at least three days a week for two hours each time. I mix cardio with weight training."

Her regimented work-out schedule is the key to maintaining any amount of weight loss, King says.

"Most nonsurgical weight-loss patients manage to lose weight, but they gain it back because they aren't active," King said.

"Physical activity has to be a priority if you are serious about maintaining weight loss. People diet and diet, but they don't want to do physical activity."

"In reality activity can be anything from walking the dog to vacuuming your living room, it doesn't have to mean hitting the gym."

Taking advantage of group exercise classes helped Hood lose — and not rediscover — 25 pounds last year.

"I needed that accountability," Hood said.

"Spin class is my favorite."

I never considered my needs

Like many caregivers, Penny Eddy found herself pushing her own dietary concerns to the back burner while caring for her ill husband.

"My husband had several health issues, including diabetes and kidney failure. With that, I had to concentrate so much on his special diet needs over the years, so I never really considered what my needs were," Eddy said.

"I lost him in 2009. After some time passed, I got started working with a dietitian at the hospital because I wanted to make healthier life changes."

"I wanted to make a change because some of the same health issues that my husband had before he passed away, were some of the same issues that I was at risk of having by being overweight."

Although her husband wasn't around to push her to make the changes, she knows that that's what he would've wanted.

"I knew my husband would have wanted me to make changes so that I could live a longer and healthier life than he was able to," Eddy said.

For Eddy, her resolution wasn't about drastic weight loss, it was about making small steps down the road toward a healthier life.

"My first goal was to lose 10 percent of my weight — that's what I've lost and that's what I've maintained," Eddy said.

"I've tried dieting in the past. I've tried a lot of different programs, but I'm an educator and in the end I know what I needed was education. I needed tools to help me understand why I do what I do and how to change that."

Working with a dietitian from the Living Lighter Weight Loss Program through Northeast Georgia Medical Center helped Eddy develop strategies for living a healthier life.

"I've done those programs where they tell you what to do, you do it and lose weight," Eddy said.

"But the problem is they don't take the time to get to know your lifestyle. Working with this program let's me take ownership and responsibility for myself."

Eddy has also learned how to not only prepare healthier versions of her own food, but to also make better decisions when dining out.

"When I go out to eat now, I ask for the nutrition guides. If I know ahead of time where we are going, I'll print it out and take it with me," Eddy said.

"The nutrition guides help you pick out the low sodium, low calorie options. You can't always tell by a name how healthy a dish is."

Although losing weight allowed her to fit into smaller clothes, Eddy says that wasn't her motivation.

"This was more about making positive changes — permanent changes," Eddy said.

"One of the things that I wanted to do, but couldn't before was getting out in nature — going for hikes and long walks."

These days, Eddy is building up endurance to complete a 5-mile hike with a friend. The excursion will be a way for the two of them to honor their late husbands.

Although she's been able to maintain her more than 35 pounds of weight loss, Eddy says her journey hasn't been without challenges.

She took "time off" from her healthier lifestyle to totally remodel her kitchen.

"I took it down to the studs, so I was without a kitchen for about two months, so I did the best I could, but there was a lot of eating quick foods," Eddy said.

"At that time, I gained a little bit of the weight back, but I got back on track. I've made permanent changes in my life and set another goal to lose another 10 percent of my body weight."

"I'm OK with losing a pound or two here or there. Slow progress is fine with me because this is about changing my life, not just fitting into some dress."

Advice from an expert

"Try to mesh eating healthy with physical activity. The average person isn't going near a gym, but things like gardening count as activity," said Sheenagh King, a registered dietitian.

"If you want to stick with your resolutions focus on making small changes. If you scale back a bit, it sticks, it becomes a way of life. Your focus should be on moving toward a healthier lifestyle, but in order to do that, you have get control of your brain," she said.

"You can meet with all of the nutritionists and fitness experts, but they can't make you change. You have to want that for yourself."