Helen Robbins would usually eat some of the banana pudding.
But on Sunday during her church's potluck, she walked past that dessert table without a scoop.
She later wrote in her health journal about how proud she was that she stuck to her diet.
Instead, she had a meal full of fruits and vegetables.
“It really felt good, especially when I got on the scales,” Robbins said.
Robbins, a 73-year-old Oklahoma City resident, has seen the benefits of the Oklahoma City-County Health Department's Total Wellness program.
The free health classes are held one hour a week for 12 weeks and are offered three times a year. Participants are encouraged to set goals of losing 5 percent of their body weight and becoming active for 2.5 hours each week.
The next classes start up Aug. 6. Anyone interested in enrolling can call 425-4352 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jennifer Like, a dietitian with the health department, coordinates the classes throughout the metro area. Like hears a lot of stories of people improving their health through the program. For example, some participants have lowered their cholesterol to the point where they don't have to take their medicine anymore.
“We focus on something that's maintainable and achievable,” Like said. “A 100-pound weight loss goal, you get frustrated and give up. Losing 10 pounds in three months is much more achievable and realistic.”
About 650 residents graduate from the program each year, which has grown to about 10 locations where the classes are offered.
During the classes, participants learn about healthy food and how to find affordable healthy food in the Oklahoma City metro area. They learn about how to succeed in their goals, with lessons on topics like how to stay on a diet while at a party.
This is Robbins' second time to go through the classes. And her doctor is quite happy with her. Ever since being in the classes, she has seen her blood pressure and sugar levels improve.
Robbins, who is diabetic, has learned a lot about living a healthy lifestyle. Robbins said the classes also teach participants the importance of portion control — only eat half the pork chop, for example, and load up your plate with vegetables.
Since taking the classes, Robbins grills more food and tries out new recipes as often as the Total Wellness program leaders hand them out. She has learned recipes that help her incorporate more vegetables into her casserole recipes. And she learned that she likes cauliflower.
Overall, Robbins has lost 12 pounds since taking the classes and doesn't want to see 200 pounds on that scale ever again.
“I realized some weeks you can eat proper, but your weight might stay the same,” Robbins said. “But if you stay on the program and you watch your portions, the next week, two pounds comes off.”