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An interview with Dr. Mary Wendt of Get Waisted

An Interview with Dr. Mary Wendt of Get Waisted
by Marla Rose

I feel pretty fortunate to be living at a time when people from so many different backgrounds and professions are contributing their unique talents to making veganism more accessible, dynamic and doable. Get Waisted, founded by Dr. Mary Wendt and Tess Challis, is a perfect example of this. An approach that incorporates some of the best of other programs, for example, the peer support aspect of Weight Watchers, but applies the latest vegan nutritional know-how, fantastic recipes and painless but effective behavior modification techniques, this is a truly exciting addition for those who want to lose or maintain their weight successfully without compromising on any level. While I am not in the Get Waisted program, I appreciate what sounds like a common sense approach (yes, moderation can work just fine for most of us) that marries professionalism, proven techniques and a big vision for bringing an effective weight loss program to mainstream America. Many thanks to Dr. Wendt for participating in this interview.

Marla Rose: What is "Get Waisted"?

Dr Mary Wendt: Get Waisted combines the latest nutritional research with cutting-edge behavioral science to help people gain health and lose weight.

MR: How did it come to be?

MW: Seven years ago, I cured my pre-diabetes and shaved 70 points off my cholesterol with a vegan diet. My co-founder and business partner, Tess Challis, ended a lifetime struggle with obesity by designing and following her own healthy diet program. We met at one of Tess’s cooking classes, and we instantly knew that we could create something fabulous together that would change the world.

MR: What is your background?

MW: I grew up in Northern Michigan and went to Alpena Community College for my associate’s degree. I transferred to Michigan State University with my two and a half year old daughter, Chelsea, and lived in married housing while I finished my bachelor’s degree and medical degree, six years later. We moved to Grand Rapids, MI to complete my internal medicine internship and residency, and then settled in Northern Michigan for over a decade. There, I did research on diet and osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia, and studied cafeterias and implementation of a healthier diet. I ran a private solo practice for over a decade. I also had my second daughter Anna, who is now 13 and has the dubious distinction of breaking her arm at Vegetarian Summerfest.

I met Mark Wendt at  Summerfest two years ago, and moved to Northern Minnesota to marry him last summer. I'm traveling a lot with Mark as he works to complete his goal to run a marathon in every state in the United States. This week, we travel to Alaska to run his 40th State marathon.

Now, I work exclusively in the hospital, taking care of critically ill people in life and death situations.  In this role, I have an opportunity to talk to the people who need our help the most, 15 times a day. I'm interested in the implementation of a healthy diet. I want to make plant-based diets the new norm.

MR: Both diets and veganism are often perceived to be about deprivation. Do you try to challenge this mentality? How so?

MW: My husband Mark is a psychologist and behavioral counselor with 25 years experience in individual and group therapy. Together, our team has 70 years of experience in  behavior modification. We know how to help people change for the better, permanently.

MR: How does your program work exactly? How is it unique?

MW: In our program, people can convert immediately to a 100% vegan diet with the Foodie Detox, or we can support people through a slower transition in the Four Steps to Success. Either way, our programs provide long term support to ensure success, at a very low cost. Most people need more help than just a weekend, and this program offers ongoing support where you live, for a very reasonable cost.

MR: What are the most common pitfalls when it comes to weight loss? How does the Get Waisted program overcome them?

MW: Most commonly, people focus on weight loss when they're losing weight. However, an unhealthy diet leads to weight gain, but also takes its toll on your level of energy, your skin, your vitality, and your general overall well-being, in addition to the spiritual toll on the animals and the environmental toll on our planet. Get Waisted focuses on gaining health instead of just a laser focus on losing weight. As people feel better and better, it's easy to stick with it.

MR: What are the most common mistakes you see when it comes to maintaining a vegan diet?

MW: Too many people are wasting energy and time arguing over whether a healthy person should eat no walnuts, two walnuts, or 12 walnuts a day. The planet and all its inhabitants don't have any more time to waste on this discussion. We need to remember that the very best scientific research shows that 95 percent healthy eating is as good as 100%. That means that 100 calories a day are available to us to eat foods that aren't good for us with no harm to our health. 95% is the new definition of moderation. Embracing moderation leads to long-term success.

MR: How can someone join the Get Waisted program as a member?

MW: Get Waisted meetings are available in 36 communities in four countries. If you don't have  local meetings, you can also join online and attend virtual classes with our co-founder, Tess Challis. Find a Meeting at our website, or sign up through Become a Member at GetWaisted.com.

MR: Do you have job positions within Get Waisted? What are they and how can people apply?

MW: If you would like to make a living helping people lose weight and gain health, go to GetWaisted.com and read more under Become a Director. It's easier than ever to become a director. We have a full array of marketing materials, online support and weekly live meetings to ensure your success.

MR: Thanks for all you do, Mary! I’m excited to see where Get Waisted goes.

2013, 2014, Vegan Street

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