September 26, 2008

Stay-at-Home Mom’s Life Transformed at St. Helena Center for Health

ST HELENA, Calif., Sept. 26 /PRNewswire/ -- When Patty Brown goes to the local high school track for exercise she carries 20 almonds in her left pocket. As she completes each lap, she transfers one almond to her right pocket. "When all 20 almonds are in my right pocket, I know I've walked and jogged five miles," she said. "On my way home I eat the almonds as a healthy snack."

Patty, a stay-at-home mother of two who lives in Hollister, Calif., is a guest speaker this week at the Harvard Medical School-sponsored Healthy Kitchens conference at the Culinary Institute of America in St. Helena. She will tell a group of doctors, nutrition experts and chefs how loosing over 60 pounds with the help of the Transformations program at the St. Helena Center for Health ( changed her life.

"It's one thing to hear a doctor talk about a successful program, but another to actually have someone whose life was transformed by the program tell their story," said Heather Pena, MD, a lead presenter at this weekend's conference and the Harvard-trained medical director of the St. Helena Center for Health. "We've now been able to collect data on over 300 people who have participated in our Transformations program since its inception and, to date, the dramatic, life-changing results such as Patty's are the rule rather than the exception."

Transformations(TM): The Napa Valley Weight and Lifestyle Management Program is an 11-day residential experience where participants -- led by physicians, nutritionists, exercise physiologists and behavioral therapists -- learn how to live a healthy life through good nutrition, exercise and other lifestyle changes. The Center for Health was established in 1968 on the campus of St. Helena Hospital in the Napa Valley and applies a multidisciplinary approach to its programs, which also include smoking-cessation and a one-day personal health "super" evaluation.

Four years after graduating from the program, Patty says "I feel so vibrant and healthy" and is not the person she was: a 40-year-old obese woman who at 5-feet, 8-inches tall tipped the scales at 232 pounds; a person scared to death of suffering the kind of massive heart attack that killed her father at age 41. "I was just 14 when my father died and his death left me fearful of my own heart," said Patty.

After repeated failures to lose weight on all the popular diets, she discovered the Transformations program during an Internet search. "On day five of the program, I finally said to myself: I get it: you have to change your lifestyle, not just learn to cut calories," she said. "I realized although I could eat Pop Tarts and be within my Weight Watchers point total, that didn't help my cholesterol, my energy or my long-term prospects for improving my health and keeping the weight off."

Today a strong, fit 170 pounds, Patty lives mostly on a plant-based diet with some fish and chicken dinners. Her husband, always healthy and a runner -- and a good cook -- has enthusiastically embraced the lifestyle changes and helps come up with good-tasting, but healthy meals. She has eliminated all processed foods from her diet, helping lower her cholesterol from 300 to 122. She says when she goes to the supermarket, she now buys food that "speaks to my heart. I ask a lot of my body in terms of exercise so I want to give it the right fuel."

Patty's 20-year-old daughter Aly, who struggled with her own weight, attended the Transformations program after seeing the positive affect it had on her mom. Despite all the family enthusiasm for their new lifestyle, her 15-year-old son Robbie still pushes mom for occasional visits to McDonalds. "I just say no," says Patty. "It's a lot easier than it used to be. And when he protests, I tell him, go ahead and sue me for loving you."

For more information, contact the St. Helena Center for Health at 1-800-358-9195 or

St. Helena Center for Health

CONTACT: Jeff Davis of St. Helena Center for Health, +1-707-963-6545

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