Jessica Paradis leads three “weight-loss challenge” groups in Ticonderoga. Last year her classes lost 2,000 pounds. The goal for 2012 is 10,000 pounds.
The Ticonderoga area is a ton lighter this year than in 2012.
That’s the pounds lost by members of the community’s “weight-loss challenge” a year ago. But that’s the just the beginning. Now starting its second year, the program has set a goal of 10,000 pounds lost for 2013.
“It’s been amazing to watch,” said Jessica Paradis, the wellness coach who leads the program. “I’m surprised how it has taken off. People really want to be part of a successful program.”
In 2012 89 people took part in the program, losing an average of 22.5 pounds each. This year 200 have registered to date.
Paradis started the challenge with a single group last year. She now directs three groups that meet in Ticonderoga weekly to discuss healthy living strategies.
“Jessica is changing lives,” said Laurie Burns of Ticonderoga, a challenge participant. “She’s wonderful.”
Though called a “weight-loss challenge,” Paradis stressed it is not solely a weight-loss program.
“It’s a wellness program,” Paradis explained. “I meet with each person to determine their health goals and then help them meet those goals. For most people it is about weight loss, but others want to lower there blood pressure or cholesterol. Others just want to eat healthier.
“It’s about educating people and helping them develop a healthy lifestyle,” she added.
Paradis, a teacher at Ticonderoga High School, knows the program works. She lost 150 pounds using it. She so believes in it, she became a coach and now runs her own “challenge.”
“I didn’t do well at the start, it took me some time to understand how the program works,” Paradis related. “It took me two years, but it worked.
“I love to see the success others are having,” she added. “It’s like I’m reliving the moment. The health benefits, the before and after, are just amazing.”
Each challenge group is divided into two teams. Each meeting includes a discussion of a health-related topic — diet, exercise, heart health, digestive health, maintenence, etc. — followed by a weigh in. The team that makes the most progress is declared the winner that week.
Results are posted on a Facebook page along with inspirational quotes, advice, recipes and other information.
The program is non-profit and Paradis doesn’t get paid. There is a $35 registration fee. That money is used for prizes and refreshments.
“Each week we discuss a piece of overall wellness,” Paradis said. “It’s when you understand how the pieces go together that great things happen. This is not a diet, it’s a lifestyle change. The goal is always to promote healthy living.”
A challenge is 12 weeks long. Goals aren’t always met, Paradis admitted. Often people will sign up for a second challenge.
The program is becoming so popular Paradis is hoping another wellness coach steps forward.
“I have a group that meets Tuesdays at the library (Black Watch Memorial Library in Ti) and two groups that meet back-to-back Wednesdays at the (Ti) high school,” she said. “I also help people one-on-one and, of course, I have a job teaching. I have to be careful that I still have a life.
“But, I do love it,” Paradis added. “I love to get calls, texts and Facebook messages from people meeting their goals. I love it when people get results. As a teacher, I want to see people succeed.”
Wendy Courtright of Port Henry has succeeded in the program. She wanted to lose 28 pounds during her “challenge.” She lost 48.
“I feel awesome,” she said. “I feel so much better. I have so much more energy for my family and children.”
Interested people can contact Paradis by Email at email@example.com