Unique research and years of testing have all led Arizona State University professor Jennifer Huberty, Ph.D., to develop a program that helps women gain confidence and lose weight, but the program doesn’t involve hard-core exercise and dieting. It’s a book club.

Fit Minded began in Omaha where Huberty first carried out her research.

“I did a research study 10 or so years ago about physical activity and what helps women stick to exercise,” she said. “In this research study I found that women who were maintaining exercise after being inactive for years was because of their self worth and how they felt about themselves… I was thinking, ‘OK how do I improve self worth in women?’”

The idea came to Huberty to start a book club and use those weekly meetings to teach women about making healthy choices for themselves. She tested it out on a small group at first and the results were impressive. Without focusing on losing weight the women in the group were becoming healthier.

“It’s a behavior change program through a book club,” Huberty said. “We build our own support network. You log in, do discussion and blog with other members in between meetings and we provide all the tools on our website. We meet weekly, talk about the books and talk about our life and our experiences.”

Now the program has come to Phoenix, and already women are seeing results.

“Once I started attending I found myself really drawn into the topic,” said Leslie Totten, who took part in the program in Phoenix. “I can’t say enough on how it has made a positive impact on my life... I wasn’t a couch potato before and I wasn’t obese or sickly, but I just wasn’t physically active in my life. I got up, got ready, went to work, made dinner, sat on the couch and watched a show and went to bed. I felt OK, but once I started becoming more aware of the importance of physical fitness and how easy it was to incorporate it step by step in small increments I started noticing a difference.”

The books read in the club are not self-help books or text books, but are Barnes and Noble best sellers. The books themselves may not teach nutrition and exercise, but the club creates a support group and the books are used to start a discussion about making healthy decisions.

“We use what’s going on in the books to facilitate discussion about changing our behavior choices,” Huberty said. “I’m using cognitive behavioral strategies that I’m trained to do, but I’m doing it in a way that’s not so ‘programmy’ and intervention. It’s just like gathering with your friends and reading books, but then also talking about making better choices for yourself. It’s a great way for women who don’t want to be in an exercise program to think about changing their behaviors.’

To find out more about the program, or to join, visit www.fitminded.com.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-7914 or ahurtado@ahwatukee.com.

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