Fit for Life |

Fit for Life

Eileen JoyceJim Simmons jogs in the rain at Empire Mine State Historic Park Monday.
ALL | GrassValleyArchive

Nine Sierra Nevada Hospital employees, ages 45 to 55, responded to the challenge issued by eight Soroptomists in last month’s fitness page. The Soroptimists publicized their goal – to collectively lose 150 pounds and 214 inches before June 30 – and challenged others to beat them.

Equally determined are the nine hospital employees, who intend to lose 137 pounds and 164 inches. Winners will be the group that collectively loses the most pounds and inches. To equalize time, the challengers will finish July 31, while the Soroptomists will finish June 30. After one month, Soroptimists report losing 26 pounds and 26.5 inches.

Hospital employees have advantages, including access to the cardiac gym after 4 p.m., testing at the Wellness Center, and access to nutrition counseling. They also work in an environment that encourages taking care of one’s health.

On the other hand, although their jobs vary, by nature they are caregivers, and may forget about their own needs while focusing on others. Their jobs are also more structured, making exercise difficult to fit in.

Each week, participants record progress, give encouragement (research indicates that it’s critically important to keep yourself in a “community of believers”) and exchange tips, particularly recipes for cooking. Discussion also focuses on how to break cycles, or chains of events, that trigger poor food choices or failure to exercise. All participants agree to keep a food journal, exercise regularly, and be tested at the Wellness Center.

Permanent lifestyle change, rather than quick-fix diets, is the goal, so progress is appropriately gradual. They also help each other cope with the sometimes surprising impacts of change – sleeping patterns, energy levels, shifting priorities in leisure time, etc.

The challengers are as follows:

— Ellen Pittman, unit manager in the Transitional Care Unit, is married and works full time. Her goal: 12 pounds and 10 inches.

— Margaret Baker, a nurse in the unit, has lost 85 pounds in the last 14 months in Weight Watchers. She wants to lose 10 more pounds and 15 inches.

— Diana Soldavini-Coronel, wellness assistant, is determined to lose 15 pounds and 25 inches in spite of multiple sclerosis, plus a hip and back injury.

— Rose Galen works full time in the care unit, is the mother of a 15-year-old, and is a part-time student at Sierra College. Her goal: 20 pounds and 24 inches.

— Tonya Kraft has struggled with weight her whole life and gained 20 pounds over the past two years. She’ll work on exercise and portion control so she can lose 15 pounds and 15 inches.

— Catari Lacorazza works full time and has a husband and two children at home. Goal: 25 pounds and 30 inches.

— Colleen Martin, the activity director for the care unit, is a single parent of three who finds time to garden, read and walk her dog. Her goal: 15 pounds and 15 inches.

— Sally Patrick, a registered nurse and staff director, is married with two grown children. Her goal: 15 pounds and 20 inches.

— Maria Zayac, a registered nurse case manager, has two grown children. Besides losing 10 pounds and 10 inches, she’d like to become stronger and more flexible.

The scorecard for the two groups will appear next month. Are you willing to join this community challenge? E-mail questions to:


Margaret Baker 10 15

Diana Soldavini-Coronel 15 25

Rose Galen 20 24

Tonya Kraft 15 15

Catari Lacorazza 25 30

Colleen Martin 15 15

Sally Patrick 15 20

Ellen Pittman 12 10

Maria Zayack 10 10

Total 137 164

Carole Carson is a fitness and nutrition advocate from Nevada City. E-mail her at

Profiles in Courage

Reinventing oneself at age 63

Retired teacher Simmons climbs a mountain – literally

After Jim Simmons retired from a successful teaching career, he decided to make life-transforming changes. With the support of his wife, Sue, and family, Jim made dramatic healthful changes (he changed his eating and drinking), thereby opening himself up to a new life.

When a friend proposed hiking Mount Whitney (22 miles at 8,300-14,500 foot elevation), he took another giant step and went into training. He started walking 15 minutes a day three times a week – the most he could do – until he worked his way up to two to four miles, five days a week, using local hills to increase his lung capacity. On Aug. l, he climbed Mount Whitney for the thrill of a lifetime.

What are the benefits of these changes? Realizing a lifelong dream, reduced pain and sleep time, more energy, feeling 30 years younger, enthusiasm for life are just a few! His next goal: Hike the Grand Canyon rim-to-rim in one day and walk seven segments of the Tahoe Rim (150 miles). Congratulations, Jim, on having the courage to re-invent yourself.

Body Language

We are constantly bombarded with weight loss schemes. Whatever the gimmick, if responsibility for changing eating and exercise behaviors is eliminated, failure is certain.

What doesn’t work and why:

— Diet pills, including herbal supplements, may suppress appetite or raise metabolic rates, but they can cause high blood pressure, dehydration and poor nutrient absorption. Dependency and/or increasingly stronger dosages are common. Ephedrine may cause serious side effects, even death.

— Special foods or combinations are supposed to fool your body into digesting them differently, allowing absorption of fewer calories. Besides being unscientific, the limited food choices compromise nutrition and are impossible and unhealthy to maintain.

— Extremely low-calorie diets (under 1,000/day) are supposed to promote faster weight loss. Instead, the body thinks it’s starving and lowers caloric needs.

What does work: a low-calorie (1,200-1,800 calories/day), balanced diet combined with regular exercise.

– Mayo Clinic Special Report: Weight Control

Up to Speed

— If you’re just going to get one book on weight loss, purchase “The LEARN Program for Weight Management-2000.” LEARN stands for Lifestyle, Exercise, Attitudes, Relationship and Nutrition. Besides providing an absolute wealth of information, the author, Kelly D. Brownell, director of the Yale Center for Eating and Weight Disorders, refers readers to excellent resources and publications. The 300-page manual includes exercises, tests, research results, and useful charts and tables, along with practical tips.

— Want to stay current on health? Consider a subscription to the Mayo Clinic’s newsletter. It provides reliable, timely and easy-to-understand medical and lifestyle information women can use to lead healthier lives. Without endorsing any company or product, articles cover topics ranging from stress management to sports injuries to breast cancer. Cal 1-800 876-8633 or e-mail

You’re Invited

BLOOD PRESSURE AND BODY FAT TESTING: Certified personal trainers. Free. March. By appointment. 470-9100, South Yuba Club.

WALK/RUN FOR FUN: Sierra TrailBlazers. Free. March 17, 8:30 a.m., Cascade Ditch, Banner Mountain/Gracie Road, Nevada City. March 24, 8:30 a.m., Empire Mine, Penn Gate, Grass Valley. March 31, 8:30 a.m., Methodist Church, Broad Street, Nevada City. Questions: 265-5588.

TENNIS: Women’s league: Greg Cicatelli, instructor. Non-USTA, fun competition for intermediate and advanced intermediate. Singles/doubles. $30 for four-week series. March 25, April 1, 8, 15, 5 -7 p.m. 272-1488, Club Sierra.

TENNIS: Mixed doubles: Greg Cicatelli, instructor. Non-USTA, fun competition for intermediate and advanced intermediate. $16 per person ($32/team) for four-week series. March 26, April 2, 9,16, 5-7 p.m. 272-1488, Club Sierra.

MEDITATION: Jinnae Anderson, instructor. Learn techniques to calm and heal through discussion, practice. $45 for four-week series. April 4-25, 6:30-8:30 p.m. 274-6124, Wellness Center, Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital.

TENNIS: Women: Nick Bodley, instructor. Beginners/intermediate women’s clinic. Fee. Ongoing. Wednesdays, 9-10 a.m. 273-8514, Ridge Racquet Club.

TENNIS: Youth: Nick Bodley, instructor. Ongoing. Fee. Peewee (5-8 years) Wednesdays, 3-4 p.m. Beginner/intermediate (8-14 years) Mondays and Wednesdays, 4-5:30 p.m. 273-8514, Ridge Racquet Club.

Events are open to the public; membership in clubs is not required.

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