By TOMIE LUNSFORD
Telegram Staff Writer
Butter is the diet's enemy. It's one of the first things on the do-not-eat list.
But, apparently, butter's not all bad.
It's the star of Sticks of Butter, a new weight-loss support group at Belton Church of Christ. Its leader and creator is Ed Wilks, a man who got inspired to drop some pounds when he opened a refrigerator.
'You can work hard all week, but when you get on the scale, you find out you only lost a ¼ pound,' Wilks said. 'And if that's all you lost, well, it's easy to get discouraged. But if you go to the fridge and get out a stick of butter and hold it up to your arm or waist, well, then you'll find out it's pretty big, pretty heavy. You see, a stick of butter is a ¼ pound.'
A light bulb flickered in his head, and the idea for Sticks of Butter was born.
The core principle is to maintain a close relationship to Jesus Christ while adhering to a self-chosen weight-loss program. Besides Wilks and Linda Cruz, group co-leader, five people are interested in participating. People from the community are welcome to join. 'It's an incentive program to get you interested in losing weight,' Wilks explained. 'For every pound you lose, you'll get four sticks of butter. Or you can wait until you lose five pounds and get 20 sticks of butter all at once.'
The butter that people will get won't be the kind that goes on toast. It will either be tongue depressors, pieces of paper or wooden rectangles made to look like store-bought sticks of butter.
'People can choose which they want,' Wilks said. 'The incentive is that people get something for having worked to lose all that weight. It will be a visible sense of accomplishment.'
Once the weight losers get their butter, they have a few options of how to display it.
'Somebody might want to build something with the wooden ones,' Wilks said. 'The paper ones, they'll want to put in their portfolio.'
Each participant will be required to keep a Sticks of Butter portfolio. This will become a scrapbook of the participant's efforts at weigh loss.
'There'll be a before and after photo,' Ms. Cruz said. 'And there'll be a log where you'll write down what you eat every day, and there'll be your journal about how your diet and exercise program is going, and then there'll be the sticks of butter, the success you can see.'
Another incentive to lose weight will be the prize of a snack basket.
'Every week we meet, everyone will bring a nutritious snack and put it in a basket,' Ms. Cruz said. 'Whoever has lost the most weight in one month will get to take the basket home.'
Also at the meetings, set for 8-9 a.m. Sundays, there will be a weigh-in, a devotional and some time for participants to share testimonials.
'Encouraging scriptures that help us to stay focused and not give up will be read,' Wilks said.
'And people will be able to talk about their struggles of being tempted not to exercise and not to eat right,' Ms. Cruz added.
Each week, members will also take turns reviewing books and diets.
'We won't endorse any one program, diet or book,' Wilks said. 'But we want everyone to know what's available, and we want to be able to compare the strengths and weaknesses of each.'
The group met for orientation on June 1. It'll be an ongoing service for as long as there is interest. Depending on how popular the group gets, future activities could include programs by guest speakers and group exercise.
'Our body is the temple of our spirit. God expects us to take care of our bodies,' Wilks said. 'Losing weight will help us live longer, be more productive, feel better, have more energy and help to keep our minds sharp as we get older. Besides, who doesn't want that natural high from endorphins?'