Lisa Bell (a registered nurse and a personal fitness trainer) wrote a column called Keeping Fit for the Courier & Press. This article was printed on Monday, April 2, 2007:

Dieting isn't about starvation, but quality nutrition!

When considering weight-loss programs, the national giants – Weight Watchers, LA Weight Loss and Atkins – usually come to mind.

Each has a different strategy for shedding pounds, from counting calories to restricting carbohydrates. Major comparative studies have historically given top honors to Weight Watchers, closely followed by the Atkins diet.

But regardless of program type, only 5 percent of participants are able to maintain their weight loss over the long haul.

When friends and clients began reporting permanent weight loss through a local program, it got my attention.

Postmenopausal women who had failed other diets were able to lose 20 pounds. People with diabetes and hypertension were able to lose weight and get off medications. Joint-replacement patents dropped weight before surgery. Yet the dieters claimed, "The plan recommends more food than I can eat."

For most of us, “dieting” means less food and more hunger.

Jan Samples-Schenk, creator of locally owned The Perfect Plan Weight Control System, disagrees.

"It never made sense to me that God would create us with appetites to make us hungry and overweight," she said.

Instead, her belief that body weight, diseases and energy levels are all about the food we eat took her back to the basics – removing processing, chemicals, preservatives and unhealthy fats to create good-tasting, healthful recipes that clients can consume abundantly.

"We have 100 percent success with participants who follow the program," she said.

How is one energetic woman with a novel approach able to blow away the national statistics? Through personal motivation and years of research. Jan's passion for weight loss began with a lifelong struggle to maintain her own body weight.

It led her to a degree in nutrition and a lengthy career with Diet Centers of America. In search of the perfect weight-loss formula, she founded The Perfect Plan in 2003. Her weight-loss research has spanned 23 years, during which she has supervised 12,000 dieters.

"The most exciting part is being able to help people with serious medical issues like diabetes, hypertension and heart disease," she said.

With more than 25 physicians who refer patients for weight loss and blood-sugar regulation, she manages a large chronic-disease client base. "It is truly amazing to see what the right food can do to improve health and reverse disease," she said.

She pointed out that good nutrition can also benefit those of normal weight. "Many people who are thin starve themselves to maintain their body weight." Her philosophy of eating the right foods in abundance helps improve nutrient-deficient diets and restore energy for those with a normal waistline.

Although exercise remains an important component of optimal health, I agree with her about the power of nutrition.

Increase your odds for scale success by knowing your program options, especially those off the national radar. And remember, the proof is in the pudding!