Fitness for the body and mind

Local programs encourage a holistic approach to wellness

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Almost everyone has tried a diet or exercise plan of some kind with the best of intentions, only to quit a few weeks later when they don’t see results or get tired of drastically cutting calories.

It’s been emphasized several times over by health care professionals, personal trainers, magazine articles, and other resources that the key to life-long weight management is a “healthy diet and exercise,” that can be maintained over time.

But people get confused as to what, exactly, this entails. No chocolate cake ever again? A ban on alcohol and processed foods? French fry denial?

However, a few local fitness programs are helping people solve this riddle with a holistic approach to wellness, meaning that both exercise and diet are covered. The groups also give feedback and encouragement to members to keep them on the right track.

Michelle Clark, a personal trainer at All-Pride Fitness in Washougal is also the founder of Fat2Fit. The group’s mission is to help the community live a healthier life with group workouts, nutrition eduction and life coaching.

“We are firm believers of doing the hard work, eating a natural diet, as well as becoming the best person you can be,” Clark said.

She has been interested in fitness and exercise for years, and has always used it for stress relief.

“I love to learn how to help better myself as well as help others,” she said.

Clark hosts free, hour-long community walks every Wednesday that leave from the Camas Farmer’s Market at 6 p.m. Arthur Wornum, a former contestant on The Biggest Loser who lives in Portland, frequently joins the group.

“We are really excited to have this event and give our community a reason to get outside and get moving,” Clark said. “The Fat2Fit team is looking forward to meeting and possibly even inspiring others within the community who face the same issues they’re taking steps to conquer.”

The group currently has 12 members and is training three future mentors.

“The benefit of Fat2Fit is our fun, caring atmosphere,” Clark said. “They (members) work hard but become like family, encouraging each other to push and overcome everything that they need to reach their goal. There is nothing better than having someone going through the same thing you are and supporting each other.”

A unique part of Fat2Fit’s approach is the community volunteerism aspect.

“We give 100 percent [to our clients] and expect them to give their very best,” Clark said. “You have to be willing to pay it forward by volunteering to help the community.”

Ellen Gyberg and Rachelle Wish are the founders of Losing it for Good, Inc. The program includes exercise, nutrition and metal planning/preparation.

The exercise portion focuses on Zumba and Zumba toning. Both classes are offered at the Deborah Messinger Dance Academy in Washougal.

Gyberg and Wish also teach clients how to prepare healthful but non-bland foods such as spaghetti, pizza, meatloaf, chili, nachos and pizza using natural ingredients. They also accompany clients to lunch out so that they can learn how to make healthy choices. A trip to the grocery store for food selection is also offered.

“Losing weight is about 80 percent food and 20 percent working out,” Wish said. “We teach people to eat right and exercise to lose weight and maintain it.”

The two met after Gyberg began attending Wish’s Zumba classes and was frustrated because she wasn’t losing weight. Gyberg was 176 pounds at the time and pre-diabetic. Today, she weighs 121.

“I told her I needed help with personal training and eating,” Gyberg said.

Wish was happy to help, and in six months Gyberg had hit her goal of 135 pounds.

“I realized I needed to lose a little more before I was totally satisfied, so I kept at it,” she said.

Gyberg began taking Body Pump (a weight training and resistance class) and Zumba from Wish at 24 Hour Fitness to drop the last few pounds, working out six days a week. Today, she maintains with four days a week working out and monitoring her food intake.

“She started stalking me,” Wish joked. “She told everyone about what I had helped her accomplish. We started talking and decided to go ahead and form an exercise and nutrition program.”

Gyberg is a certified sports nutritionist through the American Sports and Fitness Association, and Wish is a certified personal trainer and fitness instructor through the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America.

“What I love about Zumba toning is that you’re getting your cardio and your resistance training in the same class,” Wish said. “With this class, we’re helping people reach their goals and have fun doing it. I always like to take people to the next level and help them to push. You’re never going to get better or stronger if you don’t.”

Wish has come a long way from the depressed, overweight woman she was less than two years ago.

“I feel like I am just a few weeks away from exactly where I want to be,” she said. “And if I can go for perfect, then why not?”