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Tinker nutrition class helps couple reboot healthy lifestyle

Before they discovered the nutrition class at Tinker, the Haggers were each trying to lose weight on their own. He went to the gym but wasn’t eating right, while she was eating right but not exercising. (Courtesy photo)

Before they discovered the nutrition class at Tinker, the Haggers were each trying to lose weight on their own. He went to the gym but wasn’t eating right, while she was eating right but not exercising. (Courtesy photo)

After taking the “Better Body, Better Life” class at the Health and Wellness Center, Prometheus and Stacy Hagger found the weight loss keys they were looking for. Together, the couple lost 63 pounds. (Air Force photo by Brandice J. O’Brien)

After taking the “Better Body, Better Life” class at the Health and Wellness Center, Prometheus and Stacy Hagger found the weight loss keys they were looking for. Together, the couple lost 63 pounds. (Air Force photo by Brandice J. O’Brien)

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- Prometheus and Stacy Hagger have found the secret to success. Together, the married couple has lost 63 pounds since March. They'll be the first to admit success is not a secret -- it's a matter of perseverance, good habits and a positive attitude; plus a little bit of cheesecake, in moderation.

"It's never too late to start and make a change in your life," said Stacy, 43. She lost 18 pounds. "It's possible, just don't give up. Even if you have a setback, don't just throw in the towel. Just keep going."

Struggling with weight and good health for years, Pro decided to make a change. In July 2012, the Army veteran began venturing to the Gerrity Fitness and Sports Center to use the cardio and weight equipment. But, he lost only 3 to 5 pounds from his 303-pound frame. He knew something had to change, but didn't know what or how to do it.

"Through the years, we've tried several diet programs. But, after two decades, we realized we couldn't do it on our own," said Pro, 43, who lost 63 pounds. "I was a ticking time bomb. Carrying around 100 extra pounds was challenging. You feel like you're walking around in a fog because you're tired and lethargic."

Stacy, an Air Force veteran who had also struggled with weight-loss, took another route and took a nutrition course in Midwest City. There she learned about food journaling and the benefits of a support group. Yet, something was still missing.

The answer came on a random day in March when the Haggers picked up a Tinker Take Off. There, they saw the Health and Wellness Center had offered a "Better Body, Better Life" nutrition class.

With nothing to lose, but more pounds, they gave it a shot.

During the five-week class, the couple said they learned portion-control, moderation, the importance of balancing nutrition, exercise and tips to losing weight. They couldn't have done it without their instructor, registered dietician Wendi Knolwes, who treated them like friends.

"The class went beyond our expectations because once we started the class they encouraged us to go online and enroll in an application to log in everything I eat that day and how I exercise. They also took our goals and put us on track to meet them by telling us how many calories to eat per day," Pro said. "It gave us something to aim for so we didn't have mindless eating with no parameters. With that, I started to lose weight automatically."

By being held accountable and the lessons learned from the class, the Haggers limited the fast foods and sugary sweet intake. They added fruits and vegetables to their diet and saw immediate results.

But, it wasn't easy. They loved their large breakfasts with several slices of bacons, two eggs, pancakes and biscuits every week.

"We've since realized a meal like that is a treat, it's not something you do all the time like we used to," Stacy said. "But, it's hard when you're used to all the trimmings."

They've since switched out that meal for cereal and non-lactose milk or smoothies. If they do indulge, it's a controlled portion, as is Stacy's beloved cheesecake.

An avid fan of caramel turtle cheesecake, she said she knows she can still have it, but in moderation. Instead of having a whole slice in one sitting, she can have a few bites here and there. One slice will now last her two to three days.

Pro said in addition to the weight loss, the change benefitted his health.

"Before I was lethargic and didn't have the energy to do what I wanted to do and the foods I ate caused a lot of my medical issues - high cholesterol, high blood pressure and borderline diabetic," he said. "This class showed me how much sugar and salt I should have throughout the day and how my numbers - cholesterol and blood pressure - would be lower."

Realizing the change couldn't be a fad and had to be a lifestyle transformation, the couple discovered exercises that suit their individual needs and incorporated them into their daily routines.

Pro uses either the couple's stationary bike or a bike in the Gerrity for 45 minutes four to five times a week. Stacy jogs at home on the couple's treadmill and listens to an audio reading of the Bible. They both prefer to work out mid-morning.

"Listening to stories in the Bible encourages me and helps me get it done," Stacy said.
Ms. Knowles said she's proud of the couple's transformation and achievement.
"I'm very impressed. Their achievements are a reflection of their dedication and determination," she said. "They are the perfect example of how, if you turn the information into action, you can be successful. It is awesome that they are showing the old-fashioned way of how hard work and change can make you lose weight - no gimmicks needed."

The next Better Body, Better Life class will begin Aug. 6. Lasting four weeks, it will be held on Tuesdays from 8 to 10:30 a.m.