Diet Workshop Cheers on Its Clients

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Diet Workshop has been helping people lose weight since 1965. After losing 45 pounds through the program, Lansing Branch Manager Virginia L. Lasher has been an instructor for Diet Workshop for 25 years.

“Diet Workshop is a healthy way to lose weight,” she stated. “We help people shop well, plan their meals, and read the labels, and we’re very reasonably priced.”

Diet Workshop offers five-, nine- and 10-week plans and individual consultations. Originally a national company, Michigan has the only two remaining centers, in Lansing and Flint. Clients generally come through either word of mouth or medical referrals.

“For the one-on-one consultations, people come to me in private, and I go over their habits and their physical problems,” Lasher explained. “I tell them, ‘You always do what the doctor tells you first, and then you do what I tell you.’ I tell them, ‘You are going to have breakfast, lunch and dinner every day. You have to have enough protein and carbohydrates.’ The combination of the two burns up your stored fat and uses it for energy. Fiber is very important. Doctors are saying that the more fiber you eat, the less chance you have of getting colon cancer. And I stress to people that you have to drink the water to get the toxins out of the body. The fruits and vegetables help so much, especially with the diabetics and hypoglycemics, who have to be very careful.”

In addition to providing nutritional advice, Diet Workshop also sells food products.

“The public is welcome to come in and look over our products,” said Lasher. “We have energy bars that are wonderful, with high protein and low carbohydrates and low sugar. Even diabetics could have them. Our dinners have a long shelf life, and they don’t have to be in the freezer. You just put them in the microwave for a minute and a half.”

For participants in the workshop plans, Lasher explains that losing and maintaining weight is about lifestyle changes, not just eliminating foods.

“There is nothing I tell you [that] you cannot have in moderation,” she said. “A lot of people think when they’re on a diet they’re going to be starving. You do not starve on this program. We talk a lot about behavior modification. You have to sit down in a proper place [to eat]; you have to plan ahead. You have to mentally okay food before you eat it. Has it got too much sugar, too much fat? Why am I eating this? After people have been with us for three or four months, they usually get blood work done and their numbers go down, their sugars, triglycerides and their cholesterol. They’re eating healthier food.”

Lasher particularly appreciates all of the recent media attention on a healthy diet.

“I love all of this publicity about heart disease, about the trans fats, and eating healthier,” she stated. “I love to go to a restaurant that has a heart next to [items on the menu], and that tells you the low-fat foods. There are many restaurants in Lansing that are starting to go with the heart healthy symbol. But we also talk about portion control. Our restaurants give you way too much food. [The servings] are really enough for two people, so either share them with somebody else or ask for a box.”

Diet Workshop also offers alternative recipes, such as baking French fries, instead of frying them in grease, or making substitutes for butter.

As for the biggest change she’s seen in the last 25 years, Lasher said it’s the number of children coming in.

“The children are so overweight,” she stated. “I have so many young children. I have a 9-year-old that has lost 35 pounds here. You can see the self-esteem changing. And the school lunches are not healthy. I get school menus from the children and a lot of it is still fried chicken, French fries, and things like that. A lot of the children that come to me have their parents pack their lunch.”

Lasher recommendd exercising at least three times a week, and noted a couple of her greatest successes. “I have one man who has lost over 100 pounds and another who had lost 88 and three-quarters pounds this week. He just wishes his doctor would have sent him to us earlier because he had to retire early because of [his weight],” she said.

While the company is approved by the state health department, Lasher emphasized that she is not a nutritionist, and Diet Workshop does not have medical supervision. Lasher said people see her more as a cheerleader.

“I always tell my people, do the best you can. If you eat too much of something, the next day, get right back on program. If you slip up, you’re not a failure. Just get right back on track.”

Author: Christine Caswell

Photography: Terri Shaver

Diet Workshop

Imogene Strahle, Owner

Virginia L. Lasher, Branch Manager

858 Elmwood Plaza, Lansing • 517-323-0060


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