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Weight loss program emphasizes lifestyle, healthy eating

Establishing and maintaining a healthy diet is at the heart of a new program at Benefis Weight Loss Center. The three-step program helps clients lose weight while learning about healthy eating, activity and lifestyle that promotes weight loss and maintaining a healthy weight.


According to Geoffrey Loomis, weight management coordinator at Benefis Weight Loss Center, the new approach bridges a gap between two existing programs offered at Benefis. A Healthy Lifestyles class exists on the less aggressive end of the spectrum. Bariatric surgery falls on the more aggressive end, but there was nothing in between, Loomis said.

According to a recent report by United Health Foundation, nearly 24.3 percent of Montana’s population is overweight or obese. Compared to other states, Montana has a low percentage of obese or overweight people, but still a high number.

The Benefis three-step program combines a meal replacement product, education about shopping and eating and maintenance. The program is aimed at people who have a body mass index greater than 25, or those who are about 35 pounds overweight.

The first step, which lasts six to 12 weeks, requires clients to eat only the meal replacement product.

According to Loomis, that eliminates two of the biggest challenges for people trying to lose weight — what to eat and how much to eat.

The second phase, which lasts about four weeks but varies from person to person, is a combination of meal replacement and food purchased at a grocery store and prepared at home.

The third phase involves the client eating a grocery store diet and meeting with staff as needed to talk about progress and roadblocks.

“They’ll troubleshoot and talk about what they’re doing and what they need to do to keep (the weight) off,” Loomis said.

Clients can be referred by a doctor but also can go to the weight loss center on their own. Memberships for a certain amount of time, like a year, are sold, and food costs extra.

The program doesn’t just focus on food; it also provides education on being active. However, Loomis pointed out that changing diet is the biggest contributor to weight loss. Keeping the weight off is more dependent on exercising regularly.

Telephone appointments are available for people who do not live in Great Falls, and online tools are available for clients to monitor their activity and progress.

For more on the program, call 731-8690.

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