Scrap the resolutions, LEARN how to lose weight

After her participation in the LEARN program, Christina Van Spronsen of Base Information Services says she doesn’t let the rainy days of winter keep her from staying active. Photo by Peter Mallett, Lookout

After her participation in the LEARN program, Christina Van Spronsen of Base Information Services says she doesn’t let the rainy days of winter keep her from staying active. Photo by Peter Mallett, Lookout

Peter Mallett, Staff Writer ~

A technical support worker at Base Information Services says a new weight-busting health and wellness program offered by Health Promotion has given her the tools to have a better life.

Last April, Christina Van Spronsen enrolled in the LEARN (Lifestyle Education through Activity Resilience and Nutrition), a Health Promotion and fitness program. Prior to taking the course she says stress was mounting in her life, and hopes of leading a healthy lifestyle seemed all but dashed.

“This course gave me something I hadn’t had in a long time – hope,” says Van Spronsen “It isn’t an easy path to stay self-motivated, but I do believe that as a creature of routine, exercise has become my new routine in life.”

Since enrolling in the program Van Spronsen has lost 45lbs, her stress has reduced, and she has found more energy for day-to-day activities, both at work and home.

LEARN is offered at CFB Esquimalt and is open to all military and DND civilian employees and family members. The mandate of the program is to help participants reduce weight circumference and improve overall health. Goals are achieved through education and training modules that combine physical activity, nutrition, mental fitness and resilience training, stress management and conscious relaxation techniques. 

Class sizes are small with 10 to 12 people meeting three afternoons a week at the Naden Athletic Centre from 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. From 1 p.m. to 2:30 students attend lectures, while the last hour of the segment involves physical training exercises.

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Claire Grant, Health Promotion program administrator, says 58 people have graduated from the program since it launched 18 months ago.

LEARN, she says, is successful because, unlike fad diets and short-live New Year’s resolutions, it offers instruction on three equally important components for a pathway to better health: physical health, resiliency (mental) training, and diet. 

“We look at the whole person and set goals that are attainable,” says Grant.

Program success is also attributed to the small group setting, similar to a support or focus group, with students sharing similar experiences of health struggles.

Many graduates stay connected with Health Promotion long after they have completed the program.

“Christina still checks in with us and I think that has been a big part of her success,” says Krista Durand, Health Promotion Specialist. “Losing weight is not the only goal of LEARN, and you can clearly see that Christina’s attitude changed and that change is sustainable. When you begin to address issues concerning your body and health, the important thing is that you will feel better and I know she has found that.”

Van Spronsen adds that much of her success comes from bonding with classmates because many shared similar experiences with health struggles. Classmates motivated each other with challenges such as who could walk the most steps in a day.

Setting a healthy course

A lot has changed in a year for Van Spronsen. She has a more youthful approach to life since completing the course. She’s made dietary changes and now opts for green leafy vegetables, has reduced salt and sugar intake, eats smaller meal portions, and is more active.

“It may hurt at first pushing yourself, but stick with it and trust me, you will end up lighter, more energetic, and feeling a heck of a lot better about yourself.

“The key takeaway is that in order to get healthy you need to consider a permanent lifestyle change. It’s not a race where you can rest once you have crossed the finish line, you need to be prepared to stick with these changes and stay committed to them.”

For more information about LEARN or how to register, email or call 250-363-4372.

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