Davis lunch ladies losing weight, setting examples for kids

Oct 1 2012 - 10:53pm

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Linda Williamson watches as Carole Barney weighs in during the first meeting of the "Lunch Lady is Losing It" challenge at North Davis Junior High School in Clearfield on Monday. Davis district cafeteria workers are trying to lose weight and get fit so they can set better examples for the students they serve. (KERA WILLIAMS/Standard-Examiner)
Linda Williamson talks to women at the first meeting of the "Lunch Lady is Losing It" at North Davis Junior High School in Clearfield on Monday. Davis district cafeteria workers are trying to lose weight and get fit so they can set better examples for the students they serve. (KERA WILLIAMS/Standard-Examiner)
Linda Williamson watches as Elaine Potter weighs in during the first meeting of "Lunch Lady is Losing It" at North Davis Junior High School in Clearfield on Monday. (KERA WILLIAMS/Standard-Examiner)
The first meeting of "Lunch Lady is Losing It" at North Davis Junior High School in Clearfield on Monday offers resource materials to support weight-loss participants. (KERA WILLIAMS/Standard-Examiner)
Linda Williamson watches as Carole Barney weighs in during the first meeting of the "Lunch Lady is Losing It" challenge at North Davis Junior High School in Clearfield on Monday. Davis district cafeteria workers are trying to lose weight and get fit so they can set better examples for the students they serve. (KERA WILLIAMS/Standard-Examiner)
Linda Williamson talks to women at the first meeting of the "Lunch Lady is Losing It" at North Davis Junior High School in Clearfield on Monday. Davis district cafeteria workers are trying to lose weight and get fit so they can set better examples for the students they serve. (KERA WILLIAMS/Standard-Examiner)
Linda Williamson watches as Elaine Potter weighs in during the first meeting of "Lunch Lady is Losing It" at North Davis Junior High School in Clearfield on Monday. (KERA WILLIAMS/Standard-Examiner)
The first meeting of "Lunch Lady is Losing It" at North Davis Junior High School in Clearfield on Monday offers resource materials to support weight-loss participants. (KERA WILLIAMS/Standard-Examiner)

CLEARFIELD -- Linda Williamson, a lunch lady at North Davis Junior High School, set out on a journey to lose weight during the summer.

She decided that, when school started, she would enlist the help of other lunch ladies throughout Davis School District.

A dozen of those women gathered in the North Davis Junior High lunchroom Monday to begin a support group, the "Lunch Lady is Losing It" program. One of the members' main goals is to become better examples for the students they serve meals to each school day.

"As lunch ladies, we need to be good examples to these kids," Williamson said.

"We need to get healthy, so we can do our jobs better and feel better about ourselves."

The timing for the start of the program coincided with a recent change in the school's lunch menu to include more fruits and vegetables.

This summer, Williamson experimented with the program personally, before recruiting other lunch ladies from across the district.

Her plan was simple: begin water aerobics, eat healthier by including more fruits and vegetables, and cut sugar and caffeine from her diet.

In the process, Williamson said, she lost 38 pounds by the time school started in September.

Several of Williamson's co-workers joined her for water aerobics during the summer.

"We got to talking and decided it would be cool if we had a time we could all do it together and support each other," Williamson said.

They also decided to open the program to any other lunch ladies in the school district who wanted to participate.

They plan to meet weekly for weigh-ins and hold monthly meetings to check in with each other.

In the meantime, Williamson hopes they will hook up with each other to form exercising groups.

"A buddy system works so much better and will help us be accountable, because it's not an easy journey," she said.

It may not have been easy, but her hard work has paid off.

Williamson said she used to be on five diabetic medications, along with asthma and blood pressure medications.

Today, she is down to two diabetic medications and a quarter of the high-blood pressure medicine every other day, plus she doesn't need asthma medication at all.

Williamson told the lunch ladies how much better she feels now, even though she still has 88 more pounds to go.

"I cannot tell you what a difference it has made in how I feel and how much more energy and stamina I have," she said.

The women plan to track their food intake via www.supertracker.usda.gov.

They're excited about their new program.

Jana Adams, a lunch lady at Windridge Elementary School in Kaysville, is looking forward to having the extra support.

"I always do better when I have a peer support group," she said.

"We're excited because it will be nice to keep an eye on each other's chocolate pudding portions, since Davis School District makes the best chocolate pudding."

Because the lunch ladies are around food all day, it may be even harder for them to resist eating extra.

"Sometimes I think it is hard for us because the food is readily available and it's just there. It's hard to say no," said Elaine Potter, a lunch lady from Central Davis Junior High who is also looking forward to having a support network with others from across the school district.

Williamson encourages meeting attendees by saying, "Don't put it off to tomorrow. Let's just do it and be accountable."

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