For people like Carol Simontacchi, a certified lifestyle educator and owner of the Island Nutrition Center on Sanibel, losing weight is more than just cutting calories and jumping on the treadmill.
As she began noticing a growing interest in health and fitness on Sanibel, Simontacchi said, she came up with the idea of constructing a special health and fitness challenge designed especially for islanders.
The concept of the challenge is loosely based on the NBC reality television show “The Biggest Loser.”
“Except we don’t want to call it ‘Sanibel’s Biggest Loser’ — we want to call it ‘Sanibel’s Biggest Winner’ to put a positive spin on it,” Simontacchi said. “This program contains some really interesting elements that make it unique from anything else that people have seen. It’s an all-encompassing program that people can participate in.”
The program, which will take place for 12 weeks, will consist of many carefully designed components for participants.
“Dietary counseling is a big part of what I do here in the store, so I’m going to provide people with the tools that they need to eat healthy in workshop segments. And, every other week, we’ll have meetings for people to get together to talk about their weight and eating issues,” Simontacchi said.
In addition to workshops and counseling sessions, Simontacchi will provide a free bioimpedance analysis for each participant every other week.
“Bioimpedance analysis is a medical test that measures your percentage of body fat, lean tissue, intercellular and extracellular water and your metabolic rate because, typically, on most weight loss programs, most of the weight you lose is actually muscle and visceral tissue. We don’t want that to happen. We want the bulk of the weight lost to be fat tissue and we can measure that,” she said, noting that an overabundant and continuing presence of water could indicate that the body might be experiencing ongoing inflammation.
“Along with that, we’re working with the Sanibel Health Club and they will design a program for people to get into good physical shape, which is an important part of this process.”
In addition to educational workshops and physical training, Simontacchi is recommending a high antioxidant chocolate drink, called Xocai, to incorporate into their diets for the 12-week period.
“It’s based on a high antioxidant protocol. Each drink has an ORAC value of 50,000 — which is enormous. There are some really good studies that show when you’re in a weight loss program, you need to have a lot of antioxidants because it supports that whole concept of health maintenance,” Simontacchi said. “It’s raw chocolate — and it’s amazing! It’s diabetic-friendly and has a low glycemic index. There are studies showing that raw cacao actually improves insulin sensitivities. People don’t realize that raw chocolate is the most nutrient-dense food on the planet — and the health benefits are amazing.”
And in essence, it’s not just weight loss that Simontacchi wants to emphasize — it’s overall health.
“In all of my work, writing and counseling, I do a lot with weight because it’s such a huge problem for Americans. But I don’t like to focus on weight — it’s not about just losing weight, it’s about maintaining and focusing on your health. That’s really what this program is — a health maintenance challenge.”
The kick-off for “Sanibel’s Biggest Loser” will take place on Thursday, Sept. 30, at 7 p.m. at the Sanibel Health Club, 975 Rabbit Road. Another kick-off meeting will be held in the same facility on Thursday, Oct. 7, at 7 p.m.
“At that meeting, we’ll be telling people what’s involved in the program and we’ll set up dates to do their bioimpedance analysis,” Simontacchi said. “The actual program starts on Oct. 15 and will go through the first week of January.”
Simontacchi recommends the program for people who just want to drop those last few stubborn pounds as well as people who have an extreme amount of weight to lose. People with health challenges, like inflammation, chronic pain and fatigue are also encouraged to participate.
“I’m eager to see people boosting their health up a notch and I’m excited to assist in that process. That’s my mission here on Sanibel,” Simontacchi said.
For more information about the health challenge, call Carol Simontacchi at 472-4499 or visit her at the Island Nutrition Center, located at 2330 Palm Ridge Road.
Carol Simontacchi, owner of the Island Nutrition Center, is partnering with the Sanibel Health Club to promote a new health and fitness challenge called “Sanibel’s Biggest Winner.”