San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Weight-Loss Centers Help Shed Pounds

Weight-loss centers, which have been common for decades in North America, have also begun to pop up in Costa Rica. Why the sudden focus on dropping pounds?

Luis Camacho, manager of L.A. Weight Loss Centers, with three locations in the San José area, said it’s due to Costa Ricans’ change in lifestyle in recent years.

“We’ve always followed the North American model of working a lot, and that can also mean a lot of stress, which can lead to overeating,” Camacho said. “These days, we’re eating lunch in fast-food restaurants and taking our kids there on the weekends; this has led to weight gain.”

The first of the 15-year-old North American franchise operations opened in Costa Rica in October 2005. Adopting the philosophy, “lose your weight and not your lifestyle,” the centers offer one-on-one counseling to help people lose weight and keep it off.

The weight-loss program works in three stages, explained Camacho. The first is the weight-loss phase, during which clients are given a guide on what foods to eat and proper portion sizes. A counselor helps design a nutrition plan that includes a healthy diet with all the important food groups, vitamins and minerals. Next is the six-week stabilization phase, during which the client is counseled on how to keep weight off through exercise and healthy food choices.

During a final maintenance phase, which can last two months to a year, counselors follow up with clients to help detect any obstacles and make sure the weight stays off.

L.A.Weight Loss Centers can help anyone who wants to slim down, from those who want to lose just a few pounds to those who are overweight.

The program includes a food guide, nutrition plan and up to three visits weekly with a counselor. The centers also sell foods such as chocolate protein bars that can healthily curb hunger.

Locations include the western San José neighborhood of Rohrmoser (296 8079); laza Freses, in the eastern suburb of Curridabat (524-0362); and Plaza Laureles in Escazú, west of San José (288-0094).

Diet Club (289-4500), in Escazú’s Plaza Laureles, is a store and distributor offering more than 200 diet products and foods to accommodate dietary restrictions.

Gluten-free breads, pastas, crackers and cereals, for example, suit those who can’t tolerate gluten, and sugar-free foods are available for diabetics and others who must avoid sugar.

Diet Club imports and distributes popular brands such as low-carb, high-protein Atkins products and Walden Farms salad dressings, and low-calorie dips and jams. A range of Glenny’s low fat, low-calorie products such as soy chips are also on Diet Club’s shelves to curb hunger without adding pounds.


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