For Gerri Wall, 66, of Shavertown, keeping a daily record of calories and exercise has helped her lose 104 pounds since 2012.
“That I would never do,” 43-year-old Torrey Sattof of Forty Fort said, looking askance at the diary entries Wall had written in neat penmanship.
“Well, I hate those things,” Wall said, indicating the smartphone Sattof uses to access a calorie-counting app called MyFitnessPal.
That snippet of conversation, which took place recently at the InterMountain Medical Group’s Center for Medical Weight Loss in Forty Fort, hints at the flexibility of the program, which is affiliated with Commonwealth Health.
“Everybody has their own tool that’s going to work for them,” said Erin Burns Kilduff, a physician assistant who gives patients personalized nutritional counseling to fit their lifestyles.
Sattof, for example, travels a lot for his job and used to rely on fast food.
“I was eating two times a day,” he said. “Now they have me eating five times a day. I thought I’d gain weight because I’m feeling fuller.
“I was so surprised when I lost three pounds,” said Sattof, who has been with the program for just four weeks. “I’m actually happier than if I had lost five, six or seven pounds because losing weight slowly is better. I want this to be permanent.”
Sattof has learned that, calorically, “one Burger King Whopper meal can equal about three turkey dinners at home” but he hasn’t given up fast food completely. He just goes to Subway or Primo and chooses one of the leaner options, such as grilled chicken.
Calling herself “a foodie,” retired teacher Barb Zaborney, 60, of Nanticoke, said she has to fight her tendency to be an emotional eater.
“Happy, sad, pissed off, whatever, my pill was food.”
Zaborney, who has lost 52 pounds over the past 30 weeks while her husband lost 43, said she became very determined to lose weight when, on a trip to Las Vegas, she feared she would not be able to buckle her seat belt in the airplane.
The term “morbidly obese” also disturbed her. “When they put ‘morbid’ in front, that really got my attention.”
She’s grateful the medically supervised program offers an option of high-protein soups, shakes, bars and cereals because they take away some of the decisions about what to eat.
Those products can kick-start a client’s weight loss, said Burns Kilduff, the physician assistant, but some clients don’t use them at all, and most who do are weaned off them within six months to a year.
For Amy Craig, 26, of Forty Fort, the road to a healthy weight included gastric-bypass surgery, which she underwent one year and 110 pounds ago.
“I have a 3-year-old and a 5-year-old. I’m able to run around with them now,” Craig said. “I think I’m a lot more outgoing now, too.”
“Yes, the confidence level comes back,” Zaborney said.
When clients come in for weekly or biweekly visits, they take off their shoes and step onto a scale that uses an electric current to measure body composition, including percentages of fat, water and predicted muscle mass.
Some people come in every day to weigh themselves, manager Connie Scott said. Others come in every two weeks, step onto the machine and close their eyes.
If they don’t want to know the actual number, Burns Kilduff said, they ask a staff member if they’ve gained, lost or stayed the same.
People have their preferences, but Wall, the woman with the meticulous food diary, may speak for all of them when she says, “I just want to be healthy.”