GREENEVILLE, TN – Imagine the impossible, dare to do the improbable – lose weight and keep it off.
With the Coronary Health Improvement Project known as CHIP, this lofty goal can become a permanent reality, according to Lynda Nelson, local program director.
“CHIP is an adventure in healthy living that helps you take charge of your health,” Nelson said. “For years, managing one’s health has been viewed as the sole responsibility of the physician. A patient goes to a doctor when something is wrong and expects it to be fixed with a pill. CHIP is founded on the philosophy of lifestyle medicine, which has the patient and physician working as partners to achieve good health. With CHIP, participants become healthy by choice, not by chance.”
Now in its fifth year in Greeneville, CHIP will be offered Monday-Thursday, Jan. 15-Feb. 8, starting at 6:45 p.m., in the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s fellowship hall, located at 710 Asheville Hwy. Graduation from the program, which is supported in part by Takoma Adventist Hospital, will be Sunday, Feb. 11.
CHIP targets people who have or wish to avoid those lifestyle diseases that frequently come together -- heart disease, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
Parents are especially encouraged to attend CHIP, Nelson said. “With childhood obesity on the rise, parents really need to learn healthy eating so they can model it for their children,” she said. “CHIP teaches eating principles that are ideal for everyone, including children.”
The program is patterned after national live-in programs, such as the Nathan Pritikin Longevity Center, that last three to six weeks and cost thousands of dollars.
“Those programs remove you from your community, your job, and your family,” Nelson noted. “It’s hard for people to be able to do that, not to mention the expense. CHIP is designed to allow folks to learn and make changes within our own community while continuing their usual work and school schedules. And because it is run by volunteers, the expenses are low.”
At the core of this non-profit program is a four-week, video-lecture series by Dr. Hans Diehl (pronounced “Deal”), a dynamic speaker and a world-renowned pioneer in lifestyle medicine. Each evening, volunteers prepare food samples and demonstrate recipes. Careful exercise records also are kept. Nelson, who has a master’s degree in public health, serves as the facilitator.
Another important part of the program are two “HeartScreens” -- one before the program and the other at the end -- Jan. 12 and again on Feb. 9. Blood samples (to check cholesterol and glucose), blood pressure, weight, and lifestyle questionnaires allow participants to track changes that occur over the month.
This is the fifth year CHIP has been offered in Greeneville. Past participants eagerly vouch for the program’s worth, Nelson said. “They’ve seen terrific results,” she said. “They’ve seen their cholesterol lowered. They’ve lost weight. One fibromyalgia sufferer said the program helped improve her whole state of being. Another one who had diabetes stabilized his blood sugar, lowered his insulin dosage, and saw reversal of diabetic neuropathy. These are the kinds of changes participants can expect.”
Walter Johnson of Greeneville, a 2004 CHIP graduate, said he found the program to be a real eye opener.
He initially decided to try the program because of his high blood pressure and cholesterol problems. “I was afraid of losing my pilot’s medical certificate, so I decided to give it a try,’ Johnson said.
When he completed CHIP, his blood pressure had returned to normal, his cholesterol levels had plummeted to 132, and he had lost 18 pounds.
“Now my weight stays down and I don’t have to take as much medicine as before,” said Johnson, a chemist who is president emeritus at Universal America. “I highly recommend the program. If you follow CHIP, you will have less sickness, and if companies send their employees to the program, they will find that their healthcare costs go down because their workers are healthier.”
Johnson’s wife, Rhonda, agrees. She also is a 2004 CHIP graduate.
“I was having trouble with my immune system at the time I started CHIP,” Mrs. Johnson recalled. “Now, my immune system is back to normal. Before CHIP, I got sick a lot and was tired. Now, I just feel so much better.”
The Johnsons follow the CHIP diet “about 95 percent of the time,” they said. “We eat a lot more vegetables, fruit and whole grains,” Mrs. Johnson explained. “I’ve changed the way I cook with oils. CHIP has been a diet I can live with. There are so many wonderful CHIP recipes to choose from. It’s sort of fun, an adventure in cooking.”
Still not convinced? Want to know more? FREE introductory sessions for CHIP will be offered to allow interested people to preview the program and its materials. They are scheduled Jan. 4, 8-9 and 11 at the hospital’s Everett and Carolyn Coolidge Volunteer Conference Center; and Jan. 8 at the YMCA.
CHIP is limited to 50 people, so early registration is encouraged. Cost is $175 per person or $275 per couple. “Greeneville program fees have been reduced from the national average because of the generous support of Takoma Adventist Hospital,” Nelson noted.
For more information or to register, please call 638-6633 or 638-7804.