University of Colorado weight loss programs average more than 40 pounds of weight loss per participant

For decades, Jennifer Nash bounced around from dozens of weight-loss trends to flashy diet programs before she found the only one that ever truly worked and completely changed her life in a matter of months.

“I tried Weight Watchers and I would buy every new, best-seller diet book that came out,” Nash said. “There were different reasons why each one never worked for me.”

But last year, the Denver resident started My New Weigh, a 24-week, meal-replacement program developed by doctors and researchers based out of the University of Colorado Anschutz Health and Wellness Center in Aurora.

“I have been trying to lose weight for a long, long time. I was a dancer in high school, but then I said some health problems and started gaining weight and was never able to lose it again,” Nash, 55, said. “I got frightened when my A1C started showing as pre-diabetic. So I decided, ‘this is it, I’m doing something about this.’ ”

Skeptical that anything could work, Nash enrolled last August determined to give it her all and make the kind of lifestyle changes she had been avoiding. For the first five months, her coach and dietician provided her with a protein-based meal replacement that she could eat and cook with — and that was just about all she could consume at that time.

The meal replacement is called Health One, a low-calorie powder that can be consumed as a shake or used as a base for cooking things such as muffins or pizza.

“I was nervous about it, it seemed like another thing that wouldn’t (work in the long-term),” she said. “But it’s amazing. You get a break from food and get to learn how to eat correctly.”

Now, just a couple of weeks from completing the program, Nash has lost slightly less than 50 pounds.

“My New Weigh has everything that had been missing — social support, emotional support, science-based evidence and research, excellent coaching and accountability,” she said. “I feel so dramatically different. Everything is different finally.”

My New Weigh was developed in 2012, just before the CU Anschutz Health and Wellness Center opened at 12348 E. Montview Blvd.

With 25 full-time medical researchers working at the center, plus more than 100 researchers working across the CU Anschutz campus for the Colorado Nutrition Obesity Research Center, the CU Anschutz Health and Wellness Center and is one of only 12 of its kind in the U.S.

“We are a research-based, evidence-based center,” said Lauren Ott, assistant director of My New Weigh and a registered dietitian and program coach. “Our classes are only taught by experts and registered dietitians. My New Weigh also has medical oversight; we have an endocrinologist who looks at every participant who goes through, examines their labs and answers any questions they may have. Not many weight-loss programs out there can say that they are only run by scientists.”

The CU Anschutz Health and Wellness Center is also the home of State of Slim, a metabolism building, 16-week program where participants develop an understanding of their weight loss and wellness needs and learn how to change the factors in their lives that have contributed to weight gain.

State of Slim is geared toward more diverse body types and focuses deeply on the psychological state of people’s wellness habits and how best to alter their lives toward optimal health.

Holly Wyatt, M.D., developed State of Slim with James Hill, M.D. It was launched at the CU Anschutz Health and Wellness Center in 2013.

“State of Slim really begins with the end in mind,” Wyatt said. “It takes research that we’ve done over 15 years and deciphers where people need to be to maintain weight loss.”

About 600 people join State of Slim every year. On average, clients of the program, who pay $899 to join, lose 10 percent of their body weight in four months.

And every year, about 150 people complete My New Weigh, which costs $123 a week. The program cost includes weekly classes, individual coaching and body analysis and months of food and meal replacements. New sessions start every month, and payment plans are available for both programs.

“I kind of describe My New Weigh as a stepping stone between a diet and a weight loss surgery,” Ott said. “It’s for people who have a pretty large chunk of weight to lose — at least 30 pounds, and they don’t want to go to the extremes of having weight loss surgery, but they need something a little more extreme than the run-of-the-mill diet. Our typical clients have tried other weight-loss programs and haven’t had success for whatever reason. We see an average weight loss of 41 pounds among participants.”

My New Weigh to date has resulted in an average loss of 17 percent of body weight and a 6-point drop in Body Mass Index. Because of its proven success, people come from all over Colorado and beyond to join the program.

“I actually have two clients who are from Austin, Texas, who are just living here for the duration of the program,” Ott said. “They just stay here on campus.”

Lafayette resident David Fish, 48, joined My New Weigh last September and has lost about 40 pounds, with goals of losing another 50 by the end of 2017.

“I was looking for something a little more significant that just a big, corporate program where the teachers are effectively customers who have lost a lot of weight,” Fish said. “What I was attracted to down there was how this is medically supervised, it’s part of the university, it’s an educational process that just felt far more substantial than the corporate models that are out there.”