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HaysMed offers KickStart

By RANDY GONZALES

rgonzales@dailynews.net

It's not too late to join this year's KickStart.

The fitness and wellness program sponsored by the Center for Health Improvement at Hays Medical Center created KickStart last year, replacing Pound Plunge.

"We felt it wasn't going in the right direction," fitness director Stephanie Schaffer said of Pound Plunge. "People were maybe losing weight in a really unhealthy way.

"It really wasn't what we were about, what we were trying to do to get people to understand."

In Pound Plunge, which lasted five years, participants formed teams to see who could lose the most weight. With KickStart, there aren't teams. The free, 10-week program is designed to help a person lose weight through proper nutrition and regular exercise.

"What we're trying to focus on is exercise and nutrition," Schaffer said. "That's the two most important things in losing weight -- not starving yourself to death."

This year's KickStart started Thursday, but people still can join.

"If somebody wants to join up for KickStart in two weeks, they can sign up in two weeks," Schaffer said. "It's not that they have to sign up (now), either."

Participants receive a key card that allows them to join group exercise classes at the Center for Health Improvement.

"We feel group fitness is a big motivator for a lot of people," Schaffer said.

There also will be grocery store tours with dietitians. As well, there will be nutritional workshops on how to eat healthy in different environments, such as while traveling.

There will be a few walking groups in addition to fitness classes, and Sunday activities designed for families -- all in an attempt to lose those pounds the right way, Schaffer said.

"I think for a lot of people, their No. 1 New Year's resolution is to lose weight this year," she said. "I think two things with losing weight. One, someone has to set reasonable, realistic goals. The weight doesn't come on in five days, and it doesn't come off in five days. And staying focused is the second part."

Last year, there weren't as many KickStart participants, compared to Pound Plunge. Schaffer expected that to be the case, with the competitive aspect missing.

"As far as the message and focus we wanted to get across in KickStart last year, I think it was very well-received," Schaffer said.