Trina Kleist
Special to The Union

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January 15, 2013
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Prism Weight Loss Program Prism program - good basics, holy help

Cynthia Ewoldt is trying to keep off 55 pounds she had gained through a combination of medication and middle age.

Margie Schroeder was bulimic for 15 years and now is trying to establish healthy eating habits.

Both western Nevada County residents are among a dozen women embarking on a new round of Prism Weight Loss Program, a system based on common sense and Christian spirituality.

Space still is available in the session starting Wednesday at Peace Lutheran Church in Grass Valley, and two more sessions start in February.

“As I’m nourishing my body, I’m also nourishing my soul,” said Schroeder, who is looking to the program for mutual support and partners in accountability.

The women will follow food guidelines, count calories and weigh their food, said Lake Wildwood resident Diann Lane, who has lost 50 pounds with Prism. Participants also will keep daily journals of what they eat and why, how they feel about food and how they are applying the principles they are learning.

Weekly meetings keep participants accountable and educate them about nutrition and the food industry. Daily inspirational lessons, Bible readings and affirmations encourage them to exercise regularly and to get at the causes of poor eating habits, participants said. When you get to that root, changes in behavior bring a person to his or her true self — and last a lifetime, participants said.

Embracing Prism’s spiritual underpinning is optional but helpful, said Grass Valley resident Jeff Brown, who leads a course at Twin Cities Church, west of Grass Valley.

“This is hard, so if you don’t have God on your side, you might want to think about that,” Brown quipped.

Brown and his wife, Sandy, faced challenges aplenty. Two years ago, Brown weighed 330 pounds.

“At McDonald’s, they used to know my name,” he said.

Sandy Brown also was overweight, suffered from a spinal condition, had problems with mobility and took “all kinds of pain medication and high-blood-pressure medication,” Jeff Brown said.

Then, they started Prism. They learned how to choose “food the way God made it,” Jeff Brown said. Guidelines encourage fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products and home-prepared lean meat — all in portions sufficient for nutrition but small enough to shed flab.

The Browns haven’t had soda or french fries in two years, and they exercise five times weekly, Jeff Brown said. Sandy Brown has run a couple of 5K races. Combined, the Browns have lost more than 200 pounds — an amount Brown estimates because Prism discourages participants from weighing themselves.

Instead, it encourages right attitudes toward eating that lead to healthy weight.

At a recent Prism session, participants laughed with a colleague who recalled pulling a peach pie out of the trash and hiding it under the guest room bed so his wife wouldn’t find it, Jeff Brown said.

“With this class, everybody can relate to that,” Brown added.

Prism began in 1990 and is based in Visalia. It came to Nevada County in 2008 when a small group met at Twin Cities Church. It expanded from there; several alumni groups meet to offer continued support, said Dawn Brindley, a group leader at First Baptist Church in Grass Valley.

“Tens of thousands of people” have changed their lives through the program, according to the Prism website.

“You can do this,” Brown advised skeptics. “Those who have gone before you and lost weight have done it. We’re not special. We don’t have a bucket of will power. We just take it one day at a time.”

Grass Valley resident and freelance writer Trina Kleist can be reached at or (530) 575-6132.

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The Union Updated Jan 15, 2013 04:31PM Published Jan 16, 2013 01:42AM Copyright 2013 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.