Convenience, camaraderie in on-campus dieting

Jed Dean | Lariat Photo Editor
Mildred Freeman, Weight Watchers member since 1971, jokes with other members as she helps to track their weekly progress Tuesday in the Cowden room of the Bill Daniel Student Center. During her first two years of membership, Freeman lost 144 pounds and has been working with Weight Watchers ever since.

By Molly Dunn

Baylor faculty and staff are striving to live healthier with help from the on-campus, 17-week Weight Watchers Plus Program series this year.

“The Points Plus plan is all about looking at the nutrition of food with the four components that make up the calories, and that is fiber, fat, protein and carbs,” said Carolyn Hook, leader of the Weight Watchers Points Plus Program at Baylor.

Hook has led many Weight Watchers programs during her career and said she loves being able to lead the new style of Weight Watchers with the points plus aspect. “This plan nudges us into healthier choices — being able to get more foods, our proteins and our fibers, keeping us fuller longer,” Hook said.

Participants are impressed by more than just the new style of the program.

“It is such a good program and there is such low pressure,” Eileen Bentsen, a reference librarian at Baylor’s Central Libraries, said. Bentsen has been attending Baylor Weight Watchers meetings on a regular basis since the fall.

“What I like about the program most of all is that I’m doing this with real food,” Bentsen said. “I think if you want to live in the real world, this is a really good program to be working with because I can go out and eat with friends; it’s not like I can’t have anything.”

Members say they appreciate the points plus part of this Weight Watchers program.

“It’s a proven, healthy way to lose and maintain your weight,” Cynthia Burgess, librarian/curator of books and printed materials at the Armstrong Browning Library, said.

Not only do members value the new nutritional design of the series, but they also enjoy being able to hold meetings at Baylor with other faculty and staff.

“It’s all your friends,” said Dorynda Brock, assistant to the vice president for finance and administration at Baylor. “It makes you feel more comfortable and I live quite a distance [from Baylor] and so for me this is wonderful just being able to do it here.”

Other members share Brock’s appreciation.

“Being able to do it on my lunch hour and not try and have to fit something else into my schedule at the end of the day really is a wonderful advantage,” Bentsen said. “They are very aware of our time schedule here. They entertain questions but they are very focused in what they are doing.”

The leaders of the series are dedicated to their members and work hard to help them change their lives.

“They not only promote weight loss. They encourage you to eat healthy foods and to do things like take a multivitamin, make sure you get plenty of calcium, plenty of fruits and vegetables,” said Burgess.

Hook has led the 17-week series at Baylor 10 times, one series per semester. With the new points plus plan, many of her members are seeing results and are learning ways to eat healthy. After only four sessions this semester with an average 25 members, Hook said she believes everyone is on target.

“We do project a lot more members and now with all of the opportunities that Baylor offers here on campus it just works hand-in-hand to be able to have a good weight loss program going and then all the other benefits too,” Hook said.

Members encourage more faculty and staff to join their meetings and learn more about living healthier.

“Anybody can do it,” Brock said. “You just have to focus and what I had to do was personally be ready.”

The new program has taught members many valuable lessons in trading old habits for new and healthier ones.

“You have to persevere and not give up,” Burgess said. “You can’t just do it by carefully planning your meals and eating carefully. You also, for long term weight loss and maintenance, have to include activities and to try to find something you enjoy doing.”

With 13 more sessions left in the Weight Watchers Plus Program, members encourage other faculty and staff to join their meetings from noon to 12:45 p.m. every Tuesday in the Cowden Room on the third floor of the SUB.

“We would love to have more members and to have a strong program because it is very beneficial and it is wonderful that this is available at Baylor,” Burgess said.