In search of good physical health? Join the QUEST |

In search of good physical health? Join the QUEST

The 16-week series in The Union chronicling my transformation produced such unexpected results! No one was more surprised than me when I succeeded in losing 41 pounds and 66 inches.

Moreover, since the series ended in November – even with all the holiday temptations – I’ve lost an additional 11 pounds and 12 inches (total: 52 pounds and 78 inches). Today, I weigh 127, wear size 6-8, and continue to exercise daily.

Another remarkable outcome – this fitness page, appearing the second Saturday of each month. With an ongoing forum highlighting topical issues, more of us may take action.

Another development – requests for help started arriving from individuals, employers, clubs and organizations. With Gayle Lossman, personal trainer, and Debbie Wagner, coordinator of the Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital Wellness Center, I’m working to spread the “fitness” word through informal gatherings.

In addition, I’m a guest instructor at the Wellness Center on lifestyle changes. By volunteering my experience, I hope to reinforce others’ efforts. The most exciting development, however, is the creation of the QUEST Program.

As I listened to readers’ stories of past failures, I heard an unspoken longing to make changes similar to mine. Where to begin is the question. Eager to start, individuals don’t know whether to join a gym, see a doctor, join a weight group, or find an exercise partner.

Frustrated because I can’t give medical advice or suggest an exercise regimen, I sought help. The goal: a medically safe program to make permanent lifestyle changes. Working with the Wellness Center staff, fitness club owners, personal trainers, and potential clients, the QUEST Program emerged.

Participants begin with a personal profile and risk assessment test (cost $50) at the Wellness Center. The resulting 20-page report provides baseline information for risks of cancer, heart disease, osteoporosis and stroke. Screening before undertaking an exercise program, given age and prior medical problems, is also done. Some individuals may need to get medical help before going any further.

Once testing is completed, a personalized regimen is offered, typically involving exercise and eating. For exercising, self-disciplined participants can work on their own, or find an exercise partner. Other individuals may be referred to a personal trainer to set up a regimen, or to a gym.

In support of these efforts, local fitness centers have agreed to waive the initiation fee for three months while the QUEST participant uses the facility. For their part, participants must pay a trainer for two hours ($35-50 an hour) to learn what to do, along with the regular club monthly fees.

After three months, if the person chooses to continue, the initiation fee applies. This arrangement gives the participant a chance to see if the gym will be used before making a financial commitment.

If the participant wants a home-based program designed by a personal trainer, he or she contracts directly with a personal trainer for services. A list of trainers who have completed a hospital-based certification program is available.

For changes in eating, individuals may be referred to community-based programs, including those taught by registered dietitians at the Wellness Center, or be given resource information to set up an individual program.

The QUEST program is not free. Medical insurance typically does not cover the cost, so participants must invest personally in their fitness. Without this commitment, however, change is unlikely.

The QUEST program can be an individual program or implemented at employers’ work sites. For information, call the Wellness Center at 274-6124 or e-mail

Remember – I still must work out, play tennis and go to my yoga class!

Carole Carson is a fitness and nutrition advocate from Nevada City. Write her at The Union, 464 Sutton Way, Grass Valley, 95945.

— In “Willpower, Deconstructed,” Dorothy Foltz-Gray in the December 2001 issue of Health magazine argues that exercising self-control each day over something you do not want to do strengthens willpower. In “Eat More, Weigh Less,” Dr. Dean Ornish states that voluntary restraint is a spiritual discipline that helps us break free of addictions. Instead of being limiting, self-discipline empowers.

— Can U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher wake us from “couch coma”? Some 61 percent of adults are obese or overweight, along with 13 percent of our children. The rising toll threatens to wipe out progress fighting cancer, heart disease and other ailments. Source: Office of the Surgeon General.

— Sally Edwards, in “Heart Zone Training,” believes fitness is the key to not only health but happiness. To exercise smart, stay fit and live longer, she provides a working manual.

(Books listed above can be ordered at local bookstores.)

What1s your excuse for not getting fit? Too busy to exercise?

According to Lester Breslow, professor emeritus at UCLA, if you don1t make time for exercise today because your work, personal life and social life take precedence over health, you will most certainly have to make time for illness later.

It1s your call! Which way would you prefer to spend your time?

HEALTHY WEIGHS: Weight Management: Laura Seeman, dietitian. Fee. Jan 15-March 5. Tuesdays, 5:30 – 7 p.m. 274-6124. Wellness Center.

SMOKING CESSATION: Judy Edgar, respiratory therapist. Fee. January 28-March 11. Mondays, 5:30 -7:30 p.m. 274-6124. Wellness Center.

METABOLIC TESTING: Scott McIntosh, fitness specialist. Fee. Advanced technology for exercise prescription. By appointment. 274-3481. Courthouse Athletic Club.

WARM-WATER WORKOUT: Ina Elrod, instructor. Free introductory offer. Monday-Thursday, 9-10 a.m. 265-3245. Bowman-Solinsky Pool.

GROUP WEIGHT TRAINING: Teresa Wirick, trainer. Fee. Jan 14-Feb 6. Monday and Wednesday, 10:35-11:30 a.m. 470-9100. South Yuba Club.

ADVANCED STRENGTH TRAINING. Gil Olsen, trainer. Fee. Jan 10-31. Thursdays, 5:30-6:30 p.m. 470-9100. South Yuba Club.

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