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FIT (Forever Improving Through) Wellness Series

G. Murza. UF/IFAS Extension Osceola County, Kissimmee, FL
Situation: In Osceola County, 37% of adults are overweight and another 29% are obese. While 90% of residents have access to adequate locations for leisure time physical activity, 27% report no such engagement (County Health Rankings and Roadmaps, 2013). Adopting healthy behaviors, including making healthier food choices and being physically active, are important for preventing or delaying the onset of chronic illnesses such as Hyperlipidemia, Hypertension, and Type 2 Diabetes, contributing to heart disease, stroke, and diabetes; which are in the top six causes of death in the county (Florida CHARTS, 2014). The FIT Wellness Series helps participants learn, adopt, and practice wellness strategies for healthy weight loss. Fifty percent of participants will show 5%-7% weight loss by the end of the six-week program, will incorporate at least two strategies that match their health goal. and will report increased confidence in their ability to continue making healthy choices. Methods: In the first class, participants record their weight, body mass index (BMI), and body composition, and continue to track their weight weekly. They can also record their cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar/A1c. At least one health goals is set and tracked by practicing strategies tied to the topics covered, including portion sizes and measuring food; reading a food label; importance of macronutrients; understanding popular diets; physical activity and body types; and chronic disease prevention and/or management. Results: At the end of the six-week program, 50% of participants recorded an average 10-pound weight loss. Two participants recorded decreased BMI, cholesterol, and blood pressure. One participant reported discontinuing one blood pressure medication. All participants reported increased confidence in their ability to incorporate the strategies learned.  Conclusion: Programs such as the FIT Wellness Series can help individuals learn and use strategies to help adopt healthy behaviors for weight loss and general health, lowering the burden of chronic illness on the economy and family.