In speaking with friends about the program at UAMS, I’ve encountered several misconceptions about the class component. “I heard they make you stand up at the beginning of class and tell how much you gained or lost each week,” one friend told me. Nope. “I heard that they’ll kick you out if you miss a single class!” Nope.
The weekly one-hour classes that I’ve taken are very informative, non-threatening, and occasionally even fun. Although we have a time at the beginning of class in which people are invited to share, no participant is ever required to stand up and quote a figure.
The first 8 weeks of classes focus on behavior modification. We learn about goal setting, the importance of exercise, keeping track of food intake, and more. Some classes begin with quizzes, but they are never taken up. No grades are assigned. In other classes we have activities. One of my favorite classes was when they brought in a 25 pound “fat suit” that we could put on to see how far we had come. Nobody was required to try it on.
The second 8 weeks of classes focus on nutrition. We learn about fats, sugars, carbohydrates, fiber, and more. It was in one of these classes that we learned just how much sugar they put in Raisin Bran. You’re better off eating Apple Jacks. In our class on vitamins and minerals we broke into teams after the lesson and answered trivia questions. I’m still smarting from my team’s unexpected shut-out. To be fair, the other team did have some people who’d been through the exercise before… but I’m not bitter!
My favorite part about the classes is the binder they give you with great tools such as a progress tracker, recipe book, and food intake log. As you go to each class, they hand out sections to add to the binder and other resources such as food myth flyers and nutritional guidelines.
The program offers classes during the day and at night, and they welcome visitors to a Thursday night orientation class each week. If you miss a class, you can make it up once it’s offered again. There are several rotations of the program going on at any one time, so make-ups are easy to work out using the program’s monthly schedule available at the clinic.