March 25, 2005 | By: Aimee Heald-Nielson

Without a nearby place to attend weight reduction and exercise classes, some people in Gallatin County were driving as much as a half-hour to Florence. Gallatin County Cooperative Extension Agent for Family and Consumer Sciences Rosie Allen wanted to provide a more convenient option for residents in the county so she began offering a program called “Weight: The Reality Series” last year.

Thirty people participated in the 8-week series in February and March of this year and many have seen success on and off the scales.

“The main emphasis of this program is what we all know we should be doing – following the Food Guide Pyramid,” Allen said, referring to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s dietary guidelines. “When we look at our plate, half of it should be covered in vegetables, one-fourth with starch or bread and one-fourth lean protein. Add a fruit serving and glass of milk to that and we all know it’s how we should be eating.”

Allen said the eight-week program was based on the acronym RAP, which stands for Recipe, Activity and Program. Each week participants learn a new recipe, try out a new exercise video and listen to education information about nutrition, exercise and reaching and maintaining a healthy weight. They also weigh-in when they arrive and record their data in a file kept at the Extension office to track their progress.

“Most weeks we try different exercise videos to show people what they can be doing,” Allen said. ”We also try new food products and recipes to show them what’s out there.”

Many fall 2004 participants lost up to 5 percent of their body weight and some lost as much as 15 pounds in the eight-week period.

Ginny Hale moved to Gallatin County when she and her husband retired. Hale is one of 30 participants in the spring 2005 program. She decided to participate because she’d lost a little weight but wanted to lose more. She also wanted to meet people and have some accountability to reach her goals.

“I thought I’d come here and meet some new friends,” Hale said. “I’ve been here for 10 years and haven’t really gotten associated with too many people. I decided to get out of the house, and I’ve learned quite a lot about how to eat. I’m a diabetic so I have to watch my carbs and my sugar. Sometimes though, I get lazy and I slip back.”

Hale said she hopes to continue what she’s learned at the Weight: The Reality Series sessions. She plans to maintain a food journal and stay active.

Allen said participants are encouraged to keep up the program on their own and if they need encouragement, the Extension office offers a daily walking program at noon each weekday. 

“We’ll also be reminding them of things they have learned through newsletters and local newspaper articles,” she said. “We’re planning to do a series each spring and fall for the next several years in different locations around the county.”


Writer: Aimee Heald-Nielson 859-257-4736, ext. 267

Contact: Rose Allen 859-567-5481