TRACI HEMPEL, 29, of Shingle Springs, credits a Weight Watcher's app on her phone for helping her lose 10 pounds in three weeks. She attends meetings at the Weight Watcher's new meeting place in Placerville. Democrat photo by Shelly Thorene


Placerville Weight Watchers offers pep talks and weight loss

By From page A3 | June 18, 2012

Weight Watchers celebrated the grand opening of their new location in Placerville on June 9 with free seminars, prizes and a lot of pumped up energy.

Carol Steinbrecher, who is a leader at the center, is a good example of someone who has used the Weight Watcher program to take off and keep off extra pounds.

A whirling dervish of enthusiasm, she said she has been in Weight Watchers since 2009. A former cancer patient, she said the medicine she took after her chemo and radiation treatments made her joints ache so she starting overeating.

“I hit 50 and my husband took a picture of me. It was then that I realized I needed to do something,” she said. So she joined Weight Watchers, lost 85 pounds and has managed to keep the weight off since.

“I really believe in the program as a lifestyle. Obesity is a big problem in this country and we’re seeing more people who join to control their weight. It’s more of a lifestyle and not a diet,” she said.

She said Weight Watchers uses a point system to determine how much a person should eat daily. It’s based on inputting height, weight, sex, age, activity level and how many pounds a person wants to lose. The results determine how many food points a person should consume a day and still lose weight with the choice of foods left up to the individual.

“We nudge people towards a healthier lifestyle which includes more protein and fiber. They are less hungry that way,” said Steinbrecher.

Other members of Weight Watchers share Steinbrecher’s belief in the program.

Bev Wilkie is a Placerville resident who drives a bus for El Dorado Transit. She has been in Weight Watchers for a year and a half and has lost 50 pounds with the goal of losing 35 more.

“I chose Weight Watchers after having several doctors tell me that if I lost a few pounds I wouldn’t need cholesterol medicine or a sleep apnea machine. I was tired of having doctors ragging on my case,” said Wilkie. “I needed to learn better eating habits and to eat real foods. In Weight Watchers I have learned how much to eat, what to eat and how exercise affects the weight loss process. I always realized you have to eat less and move more. But Weight Watchers gave me a quantitative way to do it.

“If you stay with the plan, you will lose weight,” Wilkie said. “I can eat whatever I want but once I eat 29 points worth, I have to stop. But fruits and vegetables are free so I’m not starving myself. That’s what makes it sustainable. They teach you how to eat, how to listen to what your body needs. Instead of entertainment, you see food as a tool. It’s empowering.”

Julie Cardwell, a resident of Pollock Pines, is another convinced Weight Watcher member. She has also been in the program a year and a half and has lost 33 pounds. “I did the program 15 years ago, but gained the weight back,” Cardwell said, “even though my husband and I are very active and work out every day. I was on the verge of high blood pressure so I made a pact with my doctor to lose weight. High blood pressure runs in my family and I didn’t want to take any medication. I try to come to the meetings every week because the weigh in keeps me accountable. You really can eat whatever you want in the program. You just have to track it. There’s lots of flexibility. I’m a big runner so it’s a great way to earn extra points. The more active you are, the better off you will be. The most important thing to know about this program is how flexible it is and it can work for anyone. It teaches you how to eat right.”

One woman who calls herself a lifetime member of the organization is Joie Scott of Placerville. She said she has been in the program on and off for the past 15 years. Originally she joined at the age of 40 because of health issues affecting her mobility. “I hated coming back, but I’ve taken off 85 pounds since May 2010.”

“My head was not in the game before which is why I kept gaining weight back. My head is right now,” she said. “A lifetime commitment means staying within your goal weight plus or minus two pounds. It works in all situations and for all lifestyles. I can eat at home, in a restaurant, or buy the food that Weight Watchers sells. They make it easy whatever your lifestyle is.”

Even young people benefit from the Weight Watchers program. Katie Huston is only 28 and was put on her first diet at the age of 8. At the time neither she nor her doctor knew that the source of her weight problem was a hormone imbalance. She’s on her third go with Weight Watchers and this time has lost 80 pounds with the goal of losing another 30 to 40.

“The difference is that this time I made the decision,” said Huston. “No one told me to do it. I like that you can eat whatever you want but you watch the quantity. Nobody is telling me what to eat. I make the decision. I like that I’ve met new people and have been encouraged to run. I just completed my first half marathon in April and have signed up for two more. I coach running as well.”

Huston said the meetings consist of being weighed, receiving educational information on how to eat right, throwing ideas around for recipes and solving problems, and playing trivia games.

“The meetings are only a half hour. It’s a place to get motivated and learn you’re not alone in struggles,” said Huston. “Nothing is more lonely than being overweight. All this time I told myself I didn’t care, but I did. It’s about being healthy and health wise.”

Weight Watchers offers a minimum of two classes every day with more on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Steinbrecher estimates that 300 to 400 people attend their meetings every week. The cost is $42 a month which covers as many meetings as people want to attend. Or they can pay $13 per meeting with their first meeting free.

Their new location is at 2871 Ray Lawyer Drive. People can call 1-800-651-6000 for more information about the program or for the location of the nearest meetings.

Contact Dawn Hodson at 530-344-5071 or [email protected] Follow @DHodsonMtDemo on Twitter.

Dawn Hodson

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