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Anna, 16

Henrico | Services: Healthy Lifestyles Center

Working Together on a Healthy Lifestyle

“It was a very positive, encouraging environment,” said Anna Peñamante, 16, about her experience at Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU’s (CHoR) Healthy Lifestyles Center.

Earlier this year, Anna joined the center’s TEENS+ Program, which is a family-based lifestyle intervention for teens who are overweight. The 16-week program brought Anna together with other teenagers for sessions once a week. Each session began with one hour of educational time with dieticians and coaches about how to read nutrition labels, track calories, and make healthy eating decisions. The interactive class work was followed by an hour of exercise in the center’s gym, where the teens worked with personal trainers to improve their physical fitness.

“She needed the guidance and support,” said Anna’s father, Elpidio, who attended each session with her. “She enjoyed being around the other kids in the group, but the program was really beneficial for both of us.”

By the time she graduated from the program, Anna had lost 20 pounds and felt like she had a better understanding of how to stay healthy on an ongoing basis. Even though spaghetti and meatballs might be her favorite food, she is a self-proclaimed “vegetable lover”. She has also started to incorporate exercise into her daily life, such as using her free time before the start of her first class at school to walk laps around the building, and she is looking forward to participating in show choir during her sophomore year.

“I appreciated the opportunity and learned a lot,” Anna said. “The other girls supported me. We did our exercises together, and that made me happy. In the future, I’ll just continue to do what they taught me. Losing the weight made me feel really good.”

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