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MUSC Medical Links Charleston Links Archives Catalyst Advertisers Seminars and Events Research Studies Public Relations Research Grants MUSC home page Community Happenings Campus News Applause


Biggest losers: Lunchtime group helps shed pounds

byDawn Brazell
Public Relations
Losing weight may not sound like fun, but a 20-pound-lighter Diane Marie Thorpe said she had a blast.
Diane Marie Thorpe and Ken Bowman celebrate their success in MUSC's Lunchtime Losers program.

The administrative specialist was one of 20 people to participate in the last Lunchtime Losers program. The 10-week, lifestyle-change program offered by MUSC’s Weight Management Center uses people’s lunch hour once a week to promote healthy eating, exercise and behavior changes. Since its start in fall 2008, 138 participants have gone through the program. The program caters to a wide range of needs, from participants who just want to get healthier to those wanting to lose substantial amounts of weight.

The next session begins in January, with registration open through the holidays. Employees may use payroll deduction for the $98 program. A night-time session also may be added soon to accommodate the different work schedules, according to Joshua D. Brown, Ph.D., director of clinical services for the Weight Management Center.

Thorpe, who has tried many other weight loss programs that didn’t work, said she didn’t hold out much hope for MUSC’s Lunchtime Losers. “I wanted to lose weight, but had given it up as a lost cause.”

It was a gift from a friend, though, so she decided to try it. When she heard mistakes were expected and accepted, she got excited. She also liked that the group was placed on teams and developed friendly rivalries with each other. Discussion periods during meetings included covering how to find alternatives for what was sabotaging their weight loss efforts, a part she found helpful.

The other top loser in the class was Ken Bowman, manager of desktop services in the Office of the Chief Information Office. Bowman said he was shocked to lose 30 pounds, and that his wife, who was not doing the program, lost 10 to 15 pounds just by supporting his habits. He still weighs himself each morning and is proud that he’s maintained the loss, he said.  
One advantage of the program is that by the end of 10 weeks, people learn to change their habits, he said. Bowman was running and going to the gym, but not addressing his eating habits. His blood pressure was high, and he didn’t want to be on medicine, so he was motivated and serious about following the program, he said. He attributes his success, in part, to that.

“It’s well worth the 10 weeks,” said Bowman, who’s had to buy all new clothes.

Thorpe was motivated by health issues, too.

Having arthritis, any gain in weight increases her pain level, she said. “I hurt all the time, and I didn’t want to hurt all the time.”

What worked with this program that didn’t with the others for her is that it wasn’t a one-size-fits-all formula. They all were given different calorie counts, and the registered dietitian for the group, Tonya Turner, reviewed their personal food journals.

Brown, a psychologist for the Lunchtime Losers program who covers behavioral and motivational issues, said participants benefit from having access to a variety of experts: registered dietitian, exercise physiologist and psychologist.

“It’s the next best thing to us going to their homes. It’s a straight-forward and simple program and convenient for them on their lunch hour.”

The goal is to provide employees and their friends a way to learn about weight management that doesn’t extend their day at all. Turner said another goal is to keep it affordable, providing an option for employees who may not have the money or time to do the more extensive programs offered by the center.

The program provides structure, yet is tailored to each individual’s needs. Turner encourages participants to keep food journals. With teams named everything from Drop-a-Lots to Wasting Away, the program keeps the mood light and constructive, she said.

Team spirit is one factor that kept Thorpe going. Thorpe said she found it to be a really good educational experience all the way around, and enjoyed how everyone shared success tips.
“I’m going to do it again. I feel awesome. You want to continue that feeling,” she said. “I’d like to lose 20 more.”

Want to try it?
For more information, call 792-2273 or visit The Weight Management Center offers a wide array of weight-loss programs and free consultations for people interested in finding out what their best option might be.

Friday, Oct. 29, 2010

The Catalyst Online is published weekly by the MUSC Office of Public Relations for the faculty, employees and students of the Medical University of South Carolina. The Catalyst Online editor, Kim Draughn, can be reached at 792-4107 or by email, Editorial copy can be submitted to The Catalyst Online and to The Catalyst in print by fax, 792-6723, or by email to To place an ad in The Catalyst hardcopy, call Island Publications at 849-1778, ext. 201.