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Francis couple loses 220 poundsWaxahachie, TX – November 11, 2011 – Southwestern Assemblies of God University (SAGU) staff members Jeff and Heather Francis have each lost over one hundred pounds this year.

“I had been heavy my whole life,” says Heather. “In 2009, at a doctor’s appointment, I realized I was at the heaviest I had ever been. It was a big wake-up call.”

Heather lost 30 pounds by the end of 2009. In September 2010, SAGU’s Garrison Wellness Center initiated the Southwestern Slimdown, an on-campus program providing accountability and encouragement during the weight loss process. After participating in the 6-week program, Jeff and Heather lost 20 to 30 pounds each.

Jeff had also struggled with his weight and diabetes his entire life. “The issue is that many know what to do to lose weight, but many lack motivation,” Jeff says. “I follow these three principles: moderation, movement and motivation.” The Wellness Center had only been open a year when the Southwestern Slimdown challenge was introduced. “Having the Wellness Center on campus really got me started on the right track,” he says.

In the beginning, Jeff’s goal was to exercise consistently and change his eating habits. Heather had a set goal to lose 75 pounds. “I just wanted to be in that healthy margin the doctor wants you to be in,” she shared. After losing 75 pounds, Heather decided she wanted to lose one hundred pounds. The couple lost the substantial amount of weight through shorter goals of 20 to 30 pounds.

“I realized I’m not going to lose weight because of healthy choices I make today. I have to make those choices everyday,” Jeff says.

Jeff started his own slimdown program this past summer in which twenty SAGU staff members participated. In his program, Participants set their own goals, but weigh in each week. Jeff and Heather have a set amount of calories per day and strive to be under that number.

Now, Jeff exercises by walking about four and a half miles a day. “The program is about caloric intake, sticking within your goal, and exercising.” Heather participates in some of the classes offered at the Garrison Wellness Center including aerobics and water aerobics.

Jeff graduated in Fall 1998 with a bachelor’s in Church Ministries, and is pursuing his master’s degree at SAGU in Bible and Theology. Heather graduated in Spring 2000 with a bachelor’s in Church ministries and Counseling and has a master’s degree in Human Services. Both work at SAGU; Jeff serves as the Director of Financial Aid, and Heather is the Registrar. The couple has three children: Marissa, 11; Ally, 8; Grace, 6. Currently, they are working toward their certification to adopt and foster.

“We just felt like we were at a place in our lives where we could do it,” says Jeff. “I’m not sure how you could help change the course of someone’s life more than taking a child in that doesn’t have anyone and give them a home. We want to give them a chance to grow up in a Christian home and the opportunity to go to college. We don’t really have an excuse not to.”

The Francis’s consider themselves blessed to have the opportunity to grow their family. Their three children, and the children they hope to adopt, are motivation for them to live a healthy lifestyle. “Our kids are definitely our biggest cheerleaders,” Heather says. The family participated in SAGU’s Matam 5K walk on October 29.

Jeff and Heather are still losing weight. Jeff has lost a total of 120 pounds, and Heather has lost 101 pounds. “Back then, losing this much didn’t seem possible,” says Jeff.

The Francis’s encourage SAGU students wanting to lose weight to take advantage of the Garrison Wellness Center and the listing of calories on the cafeteria’s website.

Southwestern Assemblies of God University (SAGU) is a private, Christian university located 30 minutes south of the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex in Waxahachie, Texas. The University was established in 1927, and now offers more than 60 associate, bachelor’s or master’s degrees on campus or online. More information is available at or by calling 1-888-YES-SAGU.

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