Weight loss workshop to be offered in Oct.

Iris Hunter Richmond County Daily Journal

September 18, 2013

Is it time for you to get healthy and lose weight? If so, then you may want to sign up for the Eat Healthy, Be Active, Weight Loss Workshop that Sarah Mammarella, MS, RD, LDN, Family & Consumer Sciences agent with the NC Cooperative Extension, will be offering on Oct. 8.

“I offer an eight-week weight loss class. It has a group education component and a one-on-one consultation with me, a registered dietitian,” said Mammarella.

Each class has a different healthy recipe that goes along with it as well as a different nutritional message, she said.

Mammarella developed this program to access the needs of Richmond County after she researched the obesity and disease rates of the area. After she conducted the research, she discovered that one-third of the residents in the county were obese, so therefore providing the workshop here would beneficial to members of the community.

“It is really important here because so many Richmond County residents are overweight and 10 percent have diabetes and a number of other chronic health conditions like heart disease,” said Mammarella. “A healthy weight can decrease the risk for chronic health conditions.”

Mammarella started the program last January and has currently taught three classes. There have been a total of 82 participants in the program and they have lost a total of 500 pounds and 170 inches off of their waists.

In the first week, all participants will weight-in and set a personal goal. Throughout the weeks, they will work on their personal goal and at the end of the eight weeks they will be weighed once again and whoever reaches their goal will be able to receive $10 back from the registration fee.

“I've heard some really good success stories,” said Mammarella.

Several of the participants have come off of blood pressure medication, reduced their blood sugar (diabetics) and had overall healthier check-ups with their doctor, she said.

Toni Byrd, a former participant, was able to make a drastic change with her body image as well as her eating habits after enrolling in the class. She has already participated in the class twice and has managed to lose 78 pounds total in five months.

Byrd is currently 38 years old and weights 195 pounds. “This is the first time since I was 15 years old that I have been under 200 pounds,” she said.

Byrd said that she used to be miserable and began to have problems that derived from her weight, but ever since she has lost weight her life has completely changed. “I exercise everyday, ” she said. “I have so much energy.”

She truly believes that the program is beneficial and is worth the money.

“I think that anyone who has struggled with their weight should take this class,” she said.

Byrd said that she has enjoyed working with Mammarella because she is very supportive.

“She wants to motivate you and she does a good job at it,” she said.

Byrd says that her final weight goal is 155 to 160 pounds, but if she does not ever lose another pound she would still be completely happy.

She has already enrolled in two classes and plans to enroll in the weight loss class that will be held this October. Byrd said that she enjoys continuing to be a member of the workshop because it gives her accountability. Also, she will be speaking to the participants of the upcoming class.

Anybody who is at the point where they are ready to get healthy and learn a different way of living should take the class, said Byrd.

Susan Tibbs, a former member of the group, is also very happy that she decided to enroll in the weight loss class. She has managed to lose weight, stop taking one of her blood pressure medications and has reduced her blood sugar level.

She said that her main intention of enrolling in the workshop was not to lose weight, but to prevent herself from getting on insulin for her diabetes.

Tibbs also said that she wanted to join the program to help her change her eating habits.

“I wanted to eat better and to get started I needed to get encouragement,” she said.

The support group has been very beneficial to Tibbs and she was able to lose weight and learn how to eat much healthier.

“I have a lot more energy,” she said. “I am eating a lot more fruits and vegetables. I try to watch my portions and fried foods.” Tibbs also mentioned that she drinks a lot of water and has cut down on tea and soft drinks.

The Eat Healthy, Be Active, Weight Loss Workshop is offered on Tuesday's from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., at the Agricultural Services Center, 123 Caroline St. in Rockingham, and the cost to pre-register is $25.

If you have any questions or would like to pre-register, contact Mammarella at 910-997-8255.

— Staff Writer Iris Hunter can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 18, or by email at

The original version of this article contained an error. This is the correct and updated version.