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Fitness, not pounds, focus of Whole Health

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by Kris Ann Hegle

SBJ Contributing Writer

Scott Pace's favorite breakfast used to be biscuits and gravy and a grilled cheese sandwich. But that was 117 pounds ago.

These days, his favorite foods include dishes such as tofu pot pie. Pace is quick to pass along a recipe or two to his clients at Whole Health, the weight loss center he founded in 1998.

"All of my life, I had a weight problem," said Pace, who once weighed 317 pounds. "After the birth of my daughter, I knew I had to make a change. I couldn't even walk up a flight of stairs without getting winded. When you're overweight, food is the focus of your life. When I finally stopped making food the focus, I lost 117 pounds. Now I'm helping other people change the way they think about food."

Although Springfield abounds with diet centers, Pace said his approach to weight loss is different because it doesn't involve taking any pills, supplements or buying any prepackaged foods. And clients get a one-on-one coaching session every week.

Whole Health's six-month program, which ranges in price from $129 to $195 per month, incorporates many of the methods Pace himself used to lose weight. Pace said he also uses ideas from reading books and visiting some top health professionals.

The program has three phases. In phase I, Pace and his four full-time weight-loss coaches, Lisa Blackman, Danielle Ripperton, Jackie Mullins and Sharon Pace, work with clients to help their bodies digest food more efficiently. In phase II, clients work on modifying their diets and learn how to exercise aerobically. Phase III, however, is the most important, Pace said. Clients learn how to keep the weight off.

"Our weight loss program is different, because we go after the cause, not just the symptom," Pace said. "Weight loss is 25 percent strategy and 75 percent psychological. We change the way people think. It's all about choices. We try to empower people so they will continue to make the right choices and keep the weight off."

According to Pace, most clients see visible results in just four to six weeks. Pace focuses as much on overall health as lowering clients' weight.

"We define 'results' as being healthier," Pace said. "We focus on the important things, like lowering cholesterol, lowering blood pressure and increasing energy so your body starts burning more calories. When those things start happening, the weight comes off. That's why I call my business Whole Health. Our program is designed to improve your overall level of fitness."

Whole Health now has more than a hundred clients who range in age from 22 to 68, according to Pace. About 20 percent of the clients are referred to Whole Health by area physicians, Pace said, and 80 percent are referred by a friend or family member who has completed the program.

Clients, such as Rhonda Reese of Springfield, have individual reasons for coming to Whole Health. Following the birth of her fifth child, Reese found it difficult to get rid of the weight she had gained during her pregnancy.

"I had three children right in a row, and it was just getting harder and harder to take the weight off," Reese said. "I lost 23 pounds in six months. It took longer to lose the weight this time, but the way I lost it was really healthy. The biggest thing I learned was how to change my eating habits."

Whatever the reason for wanting to lose weight, changing eating and exercise habits isn't easy. Last year, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute published its first federal obesity guidelines for Americans. By its standards roughly 97 million people, or 55 percent of the U.S. population, was classified as overweight.

Given the demand, Pace hopes to increase his client base during the next three years. He has developed several commercials for both radio and cable TV and he is in the process of working with several area employers who are considering a wellness program for their employees.

"The best part of this business is being able to help other people," Pace said. "I want to change the way people think about food so they can start leading a healthier life."[[In-content Ad]]

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