Local Religious life

Former educator now teaches healthy eating habits

by Therese Horvat

LEAVENWORTH — She’s been a teacher, a presenter and a workshop facilitator. She loves to talk. She injects wit and humor into whatever she does.

Because of this, Sister Noreen Walter is a natural when it comes to being a leader in the Leavenworth/Lansing area Weight Watchers program. She made lifetime member status in the weight control program in 2004 — meaning that she met her weight loss goal at the time. In spring 2011, she applied and completed training to be a leader. And now she’s facilitating one of three weekly Weight Watchers groups in Leavenworth.

“I really, really enjoy it,” Sister Noreen said. “I tease the group that I became a leader to keep my weight control goal. But, I believe in the program’s service philosophy.”

In fact, Sister Noreen, a Sister of Charity of Leavenworth and director of Marillac Center retreat and spirituality ministry, considers being a Weight Watchers leader a ministry.

“It’s not a diet. It’s a lifestyle change that takes in the whole person,” she said. “I’m teaching and coaching people to make simple meals with real food and to eat more healthily.”

In a recent session, Sister Noreen sparked her Thursday morning group with Super Bowl trivia. Then she dis- cussed healthy snacks for Super Bowl parties and invited suggestions from participants who shared recipes and food substitution suggestions.

Sister Noreen credits Weight Watchers with teaching her how to cook. She cooked before, but she didn’t enjoy it.

Now, she volunteers to cook in the convent where she lives in Leavenworth. She makes a mean Salisbury steak with rice and vegetables. And there’s the tasty — and healthy —tilapia with a cherry almond topping.

A lifelong educator and student, Sister Noreen values the resources available to her as a Weight Watchers leader and to program participants. Following weekly weigh-ins, she gives a “lesson” geared to adult learners.

“People leave the meeting with information that will motivate them and help them succeed,” Sister Noreen said. Participants in the program have access to recipes and fitness advice, she added. They learn about fruit and vegetables as power foods. They receive a weekly publication.

“I always ask myself, ‘What are they going to learn that will be helpful to them?’” Sister Noreen said. “As part of a group, the participants are well- informed, and they feel cared about.”

Sister Noreen recognizes that weight maintenance is the hardest part. She’s been there, done that, lost and gained weight herself over the years. She believes if people reach weight maintenance and commit to a lifestyle change, the program works for them.

Leavenworth area Weight Watchers meetings are hosted at Southern Heights United Methodist Church, 726 Muncie Road. Sister Noreen’s sessions are Thursdays at 9:30 a.m.; additional meetings are offered by other leaders on Tuesdays at 5:15 p.m. and Saturdays at 9 a.m.

To register or for information, visit the website at: www.weightwatchers. com. Sister Noreen said interested persons can arrive one half hour before the meeting and sign up, or attend one session free to see the program in action.

About the author

The Leaven

The Leaven is the official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas.

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