The Texas A&M Agrilife Extension is hosting free H.O.P.E. Initiative weight loss classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays through April 21 from 6 to 7 p.m. at the Orange County Convention and Event Expo Center.
At the end of the challenge, those who lose the most weight will win first, second and third place prizes. This class is open to the public.
“The H.O.P.E. Initiative stands for helping on purpose every day,” said Fallon Foster, M.P.H., County Extension Agent Family & Community Health. “We go over simple exercises, healthy cooking demonstration, recipes, accountability and setting calorie goals to make healthful and realistic choices based on an individual’s lifestyle with the goal of creating an eating plan that can be followed for a lifetime.”
Fallon teaches the classes and says she is passionate about helping others strive to reach their goals with exercise and nutrition.
“Teaching others that it can be a fun journey to getting healthier and making them feel better about themselves is what motivated me to pursue this opportunity for the community,” she said.
Foster began teaching the weight loss classes March 15.
“We go over nutrition and healthy alternatives before we head to the gym and do a two-minute stretch and then we begin our exercises,” she said. “The exercise list can consist of a walking a 20-minute mile, and 10-minute strength training in four training stations. The first station is dedicated to walking side to side in squat position. Station two is light weights that help target the underarms. Station three is leg lifts, and station four is a chair assisted ab workout. This is where someone will sit at the end of the chair and lean back to the seat and do crunches.”
The weight loss contest challenges the competitors and their desire to win the prizes at the end of the course, motivating them to work out before and after the classes.
“My goal for this challenge, I don’t know if this is terrible to say, is to win the money,” said Christine Gartner, assistant flood plan administrator of Orange County. “The top prize is $100 and a health basket that is filled with workout stuff. The second-place prize is $50 and third place is $25. We weigh in every Tuesday, and I have already lost three pounds in one week.”
Gartner said the classes inspired her to change her lifestyle.
“I walk a mile on my lunch breaks, five miles on the weekends and replace my lunches with meal replacement shakes,” she said. “I am also conscious of what type of food I put into my body, and it motivates me to make better choices.”
Maria Hernandez, Orange County district clerk deputy, wants to focus on healthier eating and losing weight.
“Apart from the basket, I plan on winning,” she joked. “I hope my competition can hear it.”
Hernandez said the classes motivated her to eliminate drinking soda and replaced it with water.
“I have eliminated eating fast foods and take the time to cook healthier dinners,” she said. “My salt intake is another challenge that I am trying to rid from my foods. I turn red and have swelling. My water intake with healthier eating is helping with that struggle. I just want to get rid of the weight and keep it off.”
Helping others may just be the secret to living a life that is not just happier but healthier, wealthier and more productive and meaningful.
For more information visit orange.agrilife.org.