Losing weight and getting fit is tough.
Add to that the rising rates of obesity, and you have the inspiration for Stepping Forward.
Offered by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Recreational Sports & Facilities area in conjunction with Norris Health Center, the Stepping Forward program is designed for UWM students with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or greater.
Stepping Forward is an eight-week program that includes nutrition and healthy-behavior discussions, low-impact fitness class and a support group. (Students aren’t the only ones getting fit on campus. See Spring wellness programs for employees below.)
“We offered Stepping Forward in fall 2011 and spring 2012, and will kick off another session on March 11,” says Sara J. Schillinger, fitness program director, Department of Recreational Sports & Facilities. Stepping Forward meetings will be held Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11 a.m.-noon through May 9 in the Klotsche Center.
Space is limited to the first 20 individuals, and there is a charge of only $10 for the eight-week program. Interested students can register at www.steppingforward.uwm.edu, where they also will find a chart to determine if they have an eligible BMI.
You go, Trecia!
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The program helps participants create a personalized action plan that enables them to start making important behavioral changes in their lives to achieve a healthier weight. A panel of UWM health and fitness professionals works with program members to help them learn fitness, nutrition and behavioral tools to improve their lifestyle and lose weight.
For spring 2013, that panel includes Colleen Bernstein, health promotion and immunization coordinator, Norris Health Center; Heather Henrickson, psychologist, Norris Health Center; Susan Kundrat, registered dietician, clinical assistant professor of kinesiology and director of the Nutritional Sciences program in the College of Health Sciences; Monica Verstegen, kinesiology student and group exercise instructor; and Schillinger.
“Although we’d like to have more students take advantage of the program, we’ve had really great feedback from past participants and a few success stories,” says Schillinger.
One of those success stories is Trecia Coleman.
Coleman says she felt “desperate” when she enrolled in Stepping Forward in fall 2011. “I had been trying to lose weight on my own and that wasn’t working. I thought this program might help, and it was a great opportunity at $10 for so many resources.”
She started the program at 248 pounds, is now at 189 pounds and is pushing ahead to her next target weight goal. She plans to enroll in the new session of Stepping Forward.
Asked what made this program work for her when other strategies didn’t, Coleman points to the support the program provided. “There was lots of encouragement from the students in the support group, while the panel could help facilitate our changes,” Coleman says.
“It helped that all of the other participants understood my weight struggles and what I was going through,” she adds. “The panel of health and fitness professionals was great because of their expertise – but they were all thin!”
In addition to working out, altering what she ate and portion size, Coleman points to the mental changes she made. “We are so critical of ourselves. I learned to be kind to myself and accept myself for who I am.” The Stepping Forward team urged Coleman to give herself some credit (and leeway). “If I miss a workout or eat French fries, I know I’ll hit the gym tomorrow and I don’t have to eat a pile of fries.”
Like many UWM students, Coleman is a full-time student and also works full time as a third-shift office assistant. Motivational quotes help her “get up and go.” A favorite is, “I don’t stop when I’m tired; I stop when I’m done.”
At the Klotsche Center/Pavilion, Coleman took the extra step of participating in free Group X classes as well as investing time and funds in personal-trainer sessions. She finds that another motivator is her newfound muscle strength and tone. “I’ve discovered that I really like weight-lifting.”