New studies find that North Carolinians are some of the heaviest people in the United States. According to the States Behavior Risk Factor Surveillance System, over 60 percent of adults in Brunswick and New Hanover County are overweight or obese, but there are organizations trying to change these statistics. For years Barbara Michael has struggled to balance a healthy lifestyle with her busy and stressful work schedule. Last year she decided to try out a free health program in Wilmington, called Weight Wise Women. Barbara Michael said, "I had gotten lazy and too sedentary and gained a lot of weight and I was having a hard time doing it by myself so it seemed a really good idea to join a program." She says she saw so many improvements in her health last year that she's decided to join the program again this year. Michael said, “I lost almost 15 pounds or so, which made me feel really good and it turned out to be a good program, primarily because it wasn't a diet program, it was lifestyle changes." The program is at UNC Wilmington, one time a week, for 16 weeks for two hours a class. The program starts in May. There is no charge, but you must be an overweight woman, between the ages of 40 to 64 to attend. One of the teachers of the program, Kathy Bramble said, “The majority of the women lost weight during last year’s class, they lowered their blood sugar, lowered their cholesterol, and lost nine pounds and we want people to lose weight, but not just for themselves. We want them to change their life style; we want to make it a lifetime thing so that they can eat healthier, get more exercise, live longer and be happier." Barbara Michael agrees and said, "I think the most important part is that you learn how to take better care of yourself, that you put yourself as number one despite of all your excuses of too many activities." The Weight Wise Women health program is paid for by the Blue Cross Blue Shield foundation. The free health classes start the first week of May. If you are interested in attending the class and to see if you qualify call 910.962.2133 or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. By: Stephanie Beecken
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