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Madison Area Health Center [News]

Press Release

Release Date: December 8, 2011
HRCHC Contact: Communications Department
Telephone: 207-660-9914

Madison area patients lose a moose

Community weight loss program encourages healthy living

Madison area patients lose a mooseMADISON - A moose has gone missing in Madison! All 1,500 pounds!

Lighten Up Madison, a community weight loss program at Madison Area Health Center, has been tracking patients' weight loss for five months. The program encourages patients to safely lose weight and to keep it off for good. Since August, more than 400 patients have lost over 1,500 pounds.

"Our first goal was to 'Lose a Moose,'" says Barbara Belliveau, practice manager. "We estimated a bull moose weighs about 1,500 pounds and our patients have gone well above that mark. We are all really proud and excited."

Under the program, if a patient has lost weight since his or her last visit, they write the amount lost on a moose hoof print and add it to the wall. Moose tracks now line nearly all the wall space at the health center.

"The results of the program have been great," says Nurse Practitioner Steve Dickey. "When the patients see the hoof prints they get encouraged and feel excited about what they are doing. It seems to be contagious."

As both waist lines and health care costs skyrocket around the country, local weight loss programs such as these are becoming a starting point for real health care reform.

"The program changes the whole conversation about health and weight loss," says Dickey. "It brings weight loss to the forefront and allows me to focus on their strengths and encourage them to keep up the good work. You can talk all you want about changes to our health care system, but as long as people don't take care of themselves, the country's health won't get better."

Madison area resident Elicia Paradis is one patient who set out to get her weight under control. She has lost 36 pounds in three months and is happy with her progress. The 26-year-old admits that she has always struggled with weight, but it got to a tipping point after an eight-year relationship with her former partner ended.

"I really let myself go in that relationship," she says. "When you focus on someone else for so long, you end up losing yourself."
Elicia moved to Madison in 2005 and says that she picked up bad eating habits from her friends and stopped her daily exercise routine.

"In college, I would jog five miles a day and eat lots of fruits and veggies," she says. "When I got here, my friends' lifestyle were way different and I fell into that trap of not eating healthy and not exercising. I knew I could walk down the street to the grocery store, but I would always drive."

As the obesity epidemic grows nationwide, rural areas like Madison are hit especially hard by the failing economy. As families struggle to pay rent and utilities, there is simply not enough to spend on healthy food choices. According to USDA statistics, 18 percent of Mainers depend on food stamps to put food on the table. This is nearly five percent above the national average.

"People eat what they can afford a lot of carbs, starches, and processed food," says Elicia. "It's better to have food in your mouth than nothing in your belly."

With help and encouragement from her primary care provider, Linda Tully, FNP, Elicia's weight loss success has come mostly from making small adjustments to her daily routines and diet. She walks two miles twice a week, hikes in the summer, jumps on her friend's trampoline and rides her Rip Stick, a two-wheeled skateboard propelled by moving your hips.

"Jumping on a trampoline burns a lot of calories," she says. "If you make exercise fun you are going to want to do it more. I am more active at home now, too. I listen to the TV while I vacuum and do house work. If you just sit around, you get bore and start grazing."

Even when she is grazing for food these days it's usually for smaller portions of healthy alternatives that anyone could add to their diet such as yogurt and fruit for dessert, water instead of soda, and veggie burgers instead of red meat.

"I was raised not to waste food and I always ate whatever was in front of me," she says. "I eat smaller portions now and save what I don't eat for later."

Elicia's goal is to lose 100 pounds by next November and continue to live a healthy, active lifestyle and be a role model for her friends and family.

"There are so many more benefits to being healthy," she says. "The healthier I am, the more active I can be with my niece."

Lighten Up Madison will continue until August 2012 when a celebration will take place. If you want to start losing weight and add your own hoof print to the wall, call the health center at 696-3992.

8 South Main Street     Madison   Maine   04950  Tel: (207) 696-3992  Fax:(207) 696-3974 Directions