Supermarket workers are "big losers" in contest

May 29, 2009 8:44:04 PM PDT
Many might think a person's struggles with weight loss begin at the supermarket. So much food to choose from those endless shelves.

But a Montgomery County market is showing why it is the RIGHT place to get started.

And customers can take advantage of this program too.

Dot Churylo says controlling her weight has always been a battle.

"Up & down my whole life," she told Action News.

The cafe & coffee shop worker at the Giant supermarket in Willow Grove, Pa., wasn't alone.

Fellow workers at the market felt the same frustration.

So they asked store nutritionist Mary Ann Moylan for help.

Moylan, a registered dietitian and certified nutrition counselor offers free group nutrition sessions, as well as low-cost one-on-one help to anyone interested.

The program Moylan started with her co-workers grew into a 12-week competition between the Willow Grove store, 2 other stores, and corporate headquarters.

Moylan helped the Willow Grove workers develop personalized eating plans.

"We talked about healthier snacks, we talked about fats, we talked about carbohydrates, proteins, portion control," says Moylan.

"Did you have any fruit?" She queries Dot, as they go over her current eating plan.

Dot replies, "I had an orange... Half an orange...got busy and couldn't finish it."

The individualized consultations helped workers correct bad habits.

For example, produce manager John Hollanden didn't eat during the work day, but snacked a lot at night.

Dot had tried every weight control program, including Weight Watchers, with no permanent success.

And assistant store manager Aaron Abrams had stopped going to the gym, and was getting very little exercise at work, because of his office responsibilities.

When Abrams joined the competition, he topped 250 pounds. And he was certain he was in for sacrifice.

But he was pleasantly surprised at Mary Ann's strategy of getting back to the gym.... And eating frequent small meals throughout the day.

He told us, "She actually devised a plan where I was eating 3,000 calories a day. People kidded me, saying there was no way I could eat all that food, and lose weight."

Week after week, the volunteers weighed in.

And checked their percentage of body fat.

After 12 weeks, 27 workers in the store had lost 357 pounds - and won the contest.

Hollanden went from a 42 inches waist to a 36, and he says those jeans are getting too loose.

Dot sweeps her arms upward, proudly saying, "Ta-da! My waist - I lost 7 and a half inches."

She shows before and after pictures, and pulls out the waist of her slacks, to show how much space there is now.

And Abrams topped everyone in the supermarket chain - down 38 pounds.

"I go to the gym 4 days a week. I spend more time playing with my kids. We take hikes. It just feels better, you feel healthier," says Abrams.

Moylan says the success wasn't magic, just good nutritional basics.

And she's glad to help any shopper with their own nutrition questions.

For more information on class offerings, or to make contact with Mary Ann Moylan, click here.

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