When it comes to healthy living, some disciplined folks make the right choices all by themselves, but Amy Hudoba isn’t one of them.
“I do really well in a group setting,” she said. That’s why she’s thriving in the TriHealth Fitness & Health Pavilion’s HealthOne Weight Loss Program.
Hudoba is a well-known figure in the TriHealth world along with her Bedlington terrier, Sparky. Together they visit the health system’s facilities offering pet therapy to patients through their work with Therapy Pets of Greater Cincinnati. She decided she wanted to lose weight — partly to address a high blood pressure condition she’s had for years.
While Sparky does make a difference with her blood pressure, she decided to participate in the HealthOne program for additional support.
• Related: Did You Know? Exercise Benefits Blood Pressure
Hudoba, 72, and her husband, Bob, 69, live in Loveland, Miami Twp. They have two children. Retired from P&G, Amy now offers pet therapy “several days a week, all over the Tri-state area,” she said. She joined the weight-loss program this past fall. “I wanted to make some lifestyle changes so I could go off my blood-pressure medicines,” she said. “I made this decision on my own, but my cardiologist and primary care physician both approved.”
She said the HealthOne Weight Loss Program appeals to her because it combines nutrition and exercise for successful and sustainable weight loss. “It’s phenomenal in that it directs individuals on the proper way to lose weight—‘slow and steady wins the race,’” she said. “Fad diets where you lose a lot of weight very quickly never work because everyone gains the weight back just as fast.”
The program’s exercise component is as important as nutrition, Hudoba said. “It’s great to be able to attend the weight-loss classes at Tri-Health Fitness & Health Pavilion and exercise at the same facility,” she said. “And it’s especially convenient to be able to exercise before or after class in addition to the other days I exercise there.”
During the 24-week program, participants meet for weekly hour-long sessions. A registered dietitian leads each session, and for the first few weeks, participants’ diets consist of protein shakes augmented with veggies and fruits throughout the day.
As class members learn more about healthy eating habits, they make the transition to full meals, all the while discussing nutrients, tracking calories and incorporating lasting lifestyle changes into their daily eating habits.
“We’re given a shopping list every week and a meal plan for the week, including daily meals and snacks,” Hudoba said.
Personal trainers also come in to teach program members about the contribution vigorous activity makes to weight control.
“They emphasize exercise, and if you’re new to TriHealth Fitness & Health Pavilion you make an appointment with a personal trainer, who sets up a workout program for you and helps you put it into action,” she said.
For Hudoba, the group dynamic is an important assist. Her husband is health-conscious on his own, she said, “but I needed a class. Just in conversation with others, you learn a lot. You find out, for instance, that you are not the only person having a particular concern. Like at Christmas-time, one topic was holiday eating, and class members share tips and guidance.”
• Related: 5 Reasons to Exercise with a Partner
Halfway through the program, Hudoba has lost about 12 pounds.
“I’m never hungry,” she said. “I don’t feel restricted, and this doesn’t prevent me from going out with friends. When I do, I have chicken or fish with salad, which is very easy to do.” Her blood pressure hasn’t changed — her doctor believes her hypertension may have a genetic origin rather than being weight-related — but she has garnered other benefits.
“I feel very energized, not as tired as before,” she said. “I just feel better overall—stronger. I sleep really well, better than before, which is also important in controlling weight.”
Hudoba’s improved health helps her keep up with Sparky during her pet therapy sessions, as they travel around the region, visiting facilities that include Bethesda North Hospital and the Hospice of Cincinnati’s Blue Ash Inpatient Unit. The pair brings smiles to Tri-Health patients and even helps children improve their reading skills by working with them one on one — “reading to the dogs in a special classroom enables the children to relax,” she said.
Hudoba has been a pet therapist for 12 years, and hopes to keep at it for a long time.
“My goal is to live to be 105,” she said, “and the only way to get there is with a healthy lifestyle, which includes nutritional eating and physical exercise.
To learn more about the TriHealth Fitness & Health Pavilion’s HealthOne Weight Loss Program, please call (513) 246-2606.