HW: Taking control of weight loss March 03, 2009

Holli Caudell, left, working out a e-fit with trainer Tara Uhl.

Three Grand Junction women are ready to be candid about shedding pounds and inches of body fat.

Linda Johnson, Hollie Caudell and Andrea Laible volunteered for a three month, weight-loss study at e-fit, 2829 North Ave.

For the next three months, the women have agreed to be open and honest for a series of Daily Sentinel stories about their goals and weight loss.

The e-fit study began Feb. 2 and goes through May 1.

Originally, the e-fit staff thought 50 volunteers would sign up for the free weight loss study, said Tara Uhl, e-fit manager.

Instead, almost 150 people at least 50 pounds overweight volunteered. The response was overwhelming, Uhl said.

“If I can teach these people what to do to live healthy, they are going to save their own lives,” she said.

Approximately one month into the study, Johnson, Caudell and Laible are eating healthier food, feeling better and wearing pants they could not fit into a month ago.

Each woman has a different story to share.


Caudell’s husband needs a kidney transplant. She is a donor match.

But physicians told Caudell her body mass index is too high to donate an organ. Body mass index, BMI, is based on a person’s weight and height and gives an indication of amount of body fat.

Caudell, 37, signed up for the e-fit study with the goal of losing enough body fat to help her husband, she said.

In return, Caudell’s husband promised the couple will try to get pregnant when she successfully reaches her goal.

“I’ve gone down a pant size,” Caudell said. “I have a lot more energy. I wake up earlier and do more things in the yard.”

She replaced sugar-free food and junk food with fruits and vegetables. She eats less than 1,500 milligrams of sodium daily and consumes nothing with 400 or more calories per serving.

Those are the rules, Caudell said.

“The first couple days it was hard,” she said.

She splurged one day since the study began and enjoyed Dr. Pepper in honor of her sixth wedding anniversary, Valentine’s Day and her husband’s birthday. Dr. Pepper is her weakness.

As part of the study, Caudell must exercise at least three times a week at e-fit and attend a weekly nutrition class, requirements for all those in the e-fit study.

So far, so good, Caudell said.


Laible’s annual physical yielded predictable results.

Her blood pressure and cholesterol levels were normal. The scale wasn’t too kind, though.

“I’ve waited for the doctor to tell me I was overweight, but he never did,” Laible said.

She was done waiting. After seeing the advertisement for the e-fit study four separate times, Laible, 37, took it as a sign.

“I wanted accountability,” she said. “I’ve tried to do it on my own.”

Laible dieted. She diligently went to a gym and walked on a treadmill. She is still overweight.

The weight came off quickly once she began the study. Stepping on the scale “was fun,” she said.

Four weeks into the study, Laible noticed the weight wasn’t dropping as quickly. “I know I can’t stop. Every week, Tara gives us a sheet with different goals to keep us motivated,” Laible said.

Laible admitted being worried about how her thin husband and three children 8 years and younger would react to the new family diet.

“I thought they would complain, but they haven’t,” she said. “I chop up bananas, strawberries and blueberries and make this salad. My son has asked for it. ... I always thought eating healthy would be more expensive, but that’s not the case. Chicken and a baked potato is cheaper than a frozen pizza and french fries.”


Johnson knows what healthy looks like. She works with it.

Johnson works for Lumigrate, a local medical education and marketing company. She spends hours editing videos about healthy lifestyles. She figured it was time to make health more than just her job.

Her husband suggested the couple join a gym. Johnson, 37, vetoed that option. Instead, they both signed up for the e-fit study.

“I, of course, was skeptical,” Johnson said. “Three months free? No way. It is overwhelming when you look at the big picture. This is a change in diet, a change in lifestyle and a change in activity level.”

Before Feb. 2, she wasn’t active or eating right.

Johnson, who said she has never been thin, is healthy for now.

Gone are the days when she couldn’t even operate the elliptical exercise machine. Gone are the boxes of Hamburger Helper.

“Technically, we should be able to do this on our own,” Johnson said.

But she hasn’t, and people like Uhl are pushing her to be active and choose responsibly.

Choices are, after all, what it comes down to, Johnson said.

“I’ve always said I can’t afford to eat healthy,” Johnson said. “I can. ...I can feel it in my clothes. I know my body is changing.”


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