Kamaria Mason, MS, MPH, RDN, LDN
Family, including pets: My parents recently decided to join me here in North Carolina. I have 3 brothers, 1 sister, 4 beautiful nieces and 1 nephew. No pets, I’m allergic to most furry animals, but I use to have a Beta Fish name Maddison.
Where are you from originally and where do you live now? Originally from Detroit, Michigan and now residing in Durham, North Carolina.
Favorite way to be active: Skyrobics, which is an aerobics class on a trampoline. I also enjoy Zumba and walking the North Carolina greenways and trails.
What motivates you to eat smart and to move more? My mother’s weight lost journey and hypertension management motivate me to eat smart and move more. I am a firm believer that you can control your own destiny when it comes to chronic illness and disease. Just because my mom has hypertension it doesn’t mean that I’m doomed to have hypertension too. I have a choice, and I choose to work towards maintaining my health by eating nutritionally dense foods and being physically active.
If you could tell participants one thing about the program, what would it be? Really make a diligent effort to try new foods, exercises and different strategies throughout the 15 weeks. Some things you may not like, other strategies you may love! Now is the time to figure out what works best for you and I am here to support you in your wellness journey.
Why do you do what you do? I teach Eat Smart, Move More, Weigh Less because I enjoy helping people reach their wellness goals. I mentioned my mother’s condition earlier, she inspires me to be healthy and encourages me to help others adopt a healthy lifestyle.
How would you describe your teaching style? Interactive! I understand we all can have a short attention span at times, especially if we are gazing at a screen all day. My goal is to keep class, fun and informative 🙂
Steph Bryant, MPH, RDN, LDN
Family, including pets: I live with my husband Eric, and seven backyard chickens! They don’t all have names (in case we decide to eat one) but we went through a Star Wars phase a while back and named a few of them: Hen Solo, Chew-bach-a, and Princess Lay-a. Very punny. J We are also pseudo-parents to our housemate’s cat Max, a beautiful orange tabby.
Where are you from originally and where do you live now? I’m originally from Massachusetts, just outside of Boston. I’ve lived in Carrboro/Chapel Hill (right on the line) for the past 10 years.
Favorite way to be active: Running and walking are my go to forms of movement! I also like to hike, swim, and ride my bike when I can.
What motivates you to eat smart and to move more? My dad was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes before I was born, so all my childhood memories of him include his struggle to be healthy. His diabetes impacted almost every part of his life, and he passed away when I was 18 years old. I am motivated to eat smart and move more so I don’t follow the same path as my dad. I want to be a good example for the rest of my family and friends, and live life to the fullest.
If you could tell participants one thing about the program, what would it be? Small, manageable changes are the key to being successful! It is so easy to get bogged down by all the ways you can change your lifestyle. Set yourself up for success by working towards one goal at a time, and really master it before moving on to the next.
How would you describe your teaching style? I love to teach with examples and analogies! The more folks can relate to the content, the more the material will stick with them long term. I’m a visual learner myself, so I try to use a lot of imagery in my lessons. I also believe that some of the best examples and strategies come from the students, so I usually pick on folks to share their own experiences. It helps keep a conversational tone and everyone stays engaged.
Laura Sanders MPH, RDN, LDN
Family, including pets: My husband, Paul, and our two kids, August (12) and Olivia (9), plus our dog Kit (6).
Where are you from originally? I am from Los Gatos, California. After moving all around California, we came back to the Bay Area about 5 years ago.
Favorite way to be active: I love hiking, backpacking, and exploring all the amazing parks and beaches near me… anything outdoors!
What motivates you to eat smart and to move more? I want to be able to keep up with my kids and be a role model for them. With all the technology of modern life pulling us in different directions, I want my kids to grow up loving the outdoors and all the recreational opportunities that are available. I also want them to appreciate the simple things in life like sitting down to a family meal and eating whole, unprocessed foods (this one is definitely a work in progress!!).
Why do you do what you do? I really like working with people to help them make healthy choices for their lives in ways that work for them and are realistic.
How would you describe your teaching style? I would say that I am approachable and fun and try to have a lot of examples, visuals, and ideas so that good conversations get started.
Becca Wright, MPH, RDN, LDN
Family, including pets: 3 kids, Eaden, Elsa, and Mabel
Where are you from originally and where do you live now? Born and raised in Chapel Hill
Favorite way to be active: Run because it is freeing and fun. It’s also a quick way to get a really good workout. Running always makes me feel better all day long.
Favorite moment teaching Eat Smart, Move More, Weigh Less: I just love when participants are engaged and tell me stories of what they are doing to eat smart and move more. I love hearing the success stories. I also enjoy doing the exercise breaks!
If you could tell participants one thing about the program, what would it be? It’s Great – so many simple, realistic strategies to help you live healthier.
Why do you do what you do? Because I really like teaching and helping people become their best.
How would you describe your teaching style? I love teaching! I would describe my teaching style as a facilitator. While I love to share amazing things about eating healthy, I love to hear how participants use the strategies we talk about in class, share their success stories and challenges, and are motivators to others in class.
Heidi Schoeppner, MS, RDN, LDN
Family, including pets: Me and Mervin (my cat)
Favorite way to be active and why: Yoga! It’s awesome, I feel calmer and stronger after every session.
Favorite Eat Smart, Move More, Weigh Less lesson to teach and why: Rethink Your Drink! Participants are amazed at how many calories they may be consuming from beverages alone. Many of my participants have had great results by cutting out or back on sugary beverages –small changes can equal big results! (And big improvements in health!)
What motivates you to eat smart and to move more? I have a family history of Type 2 diabetes and obesity, I am trying to prevent that for myself. Not to mention I have met some of my best friends and favorite people through being active!
Why do you do what you do? Eat Smart, Move More, Weigh Less presents a healthy lifestyle into realistic and achievable behaviors. The program focuses on specific habits with a real life approach (sometimes life happens to all of us!), that I feel resonates with participants (and with me)!
Lauren Kruse, MPH, RDN, LDN
Family, including pets: I have been married to my husband Travis for 15 years. We have three kids Connor (13), Molly (11) and Emery (8). We also have yellow lab named Samson who is 2.
Where are you from originally and where do you live now? I am originally from Massachusetts. I moved from MA to NC when I was 13. I have now lived in NC a lot longer than I lived in MA, but I still love to go back to visit!
Favorite way to be active: I love exercise!! I try to find a way to do it everyday! Running has been my favorite form of exercise for years. I have done 4 marathons and plan to run another one this year. The nice thing is that my kids love it too, so it is really fun for us to do some races together! I also love to take Samson for long walks, to go for family hikes and bike rides, and to do TRX and strength training videos.
If you could tell participants one thing about the program, what would it be? It works!!! The healthy habits that you adopt during this program will last you a lifetime!
Why do you do what you do? I love helping people become the healthiest version of themselves. It is so great to be a part of my student’s healthy journey – to see where they started, observe the changes they made along the way and help celebrate all of their successes at the program’s completion!!
How would you describe your teaching style? I love my classes to be as interactive as possible!! I think it is valuable for students to learn from the instructor and their fellow classmates.
Jenelle Wass, MS, RDN, LDN
Family, including pets: My family includes my husband, my daughter, a dachshund named Ruby, and a Westie named Penny.
Where are you from originally and where do you live now? I was born in Michigan, but I grew up in Asheville, NC. I love the mountains and try to get back as often as I can. My family is currently in Northeast Ohio.
Favorite way to be active: I love walking, whether it’s a stroll with my family around our neighborhood or a strenuous hike in the woods. Over the past year, I also started weight lifting. I enjoy feeling (and seeing) my body get stronger and able to lift heavier and heavier weights. I round it all out with yoga, which is as much mental as it is physical.
What motivates you to eat smart and to move more? My family motivates me. Most of my extended family is overweight or obese. Many suffer from related chronic diseases. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been fascinated with health, nutrition, and food because I myself struggled with my weight and because I wanted to learn how to help my family members live healthier lives. Now that I have a family of my own, I’m even more driven to be healthy and serve as a positive role model for my daughter.
Why do you do what you do? I like that I’m able to bring evidence-based information to participants and help them use it wherever they are in their individual journeys to better health. I love witnessing that “A-ha” moment when something clicks for them.
How would you describe your teaching style? Approachable. Passionate. A little silly.
Meredith Fine, MPH, RDN, LDN
Family, including pets: Husband – Johnathan, Son – William, Cat – Bama
Favorite way to be active: Anything outdoors! Hiking, biking, walking the trails where I live, swimming….
Favorite Eat Smart, Move More, Weigh Less lesson to teach: Re-Think Your Drink – I love showing the amount of sugar in common beverages and the seeing how surprised participants are to learn what they are drinking!
What motivates you to eat smart and to move more? Feeling well overall – physically, emotionally, mentally – motivates me to live a healthy lifestyle.
Favorite moment teaching Eat Smart, Move More, Weigh Less: Not sure that I can pick just one moment – this is my 7th year teaching the class and I’ve seen many participants over the years transform their lives for the better from what they have learned in this class!
If you could tell participants one thing about the program, what would it be? If you genuinely try the strategies discussed each week, you will see results!
Why do you do what you do? I am passionate about helping people learn how to live a healthier life! It is very rewarding to see people change their eating and exercise habits and feel better overall!
Raina Goldstein Bunnag, MPH, RDN, LDN
Family, including pets: My husband Raj and our three cats.
Where are you from originally and where do you live now? Originally from Maryland and now living in Durham, North Carolina.
Favorite way to be active: Walking, because I can do it almost anywhere and it really helps me de-stress.
What motivates you to eat smart and to move more? Feeling my best both for myself and my family.
Favorite moment teaching Eat Smart, Move More, Weigh Less: I enjoy when the class is supportive to each other, whether it is helping another participant to brainstorm solutions to a barrier or congratulating them when they have achieved their goal.
Why do you do what you do? I enjoy helping people find ways to take control of their own health through slow and steady lifestyle changes. It just takes commitment and a good support system! This program will help you find both.
How would you describe your teaching style? I would describe my teaching style as motivating. Behavior change is hard for all of us and as an instructor, I think my most important role is to be a cheerleader. I focus on helping participants celebrate successes and work through roadblocks on their journey to become their healthiest selves.
Name: Courtney Brooks, MPH, RDN, LDN
Family, including pets: I live with my handsome husband, Rey, my darling son, Graham, and my sweet border collie dog, Tux.
Where are you from originally and where do you live now? I am originally from New Orleans, Louisiana. I moved to Durham, North Carolina in 2014 and have since made it my home. I love the laidback North Carolina lifestyle, being surrounded by nature, and making new friends.
Favorite way to be active: My favorite way to be active is DANCING!! I have always loved to dance (informally) for as long as I can remember. However, I tend to do a lot more walking around the trails of my neighborhood and occasional bootcamp-style exercise classes these days. I change up my exercise routine frequently both for convenience and to help reduce boredom.
What motivates you to eat smart and to move more? Living a healthy lifestyle makes me feel good and gives me the energy I need to keep up with my son. I also like to think that I am setting a positive example for him by eating a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and making healthier food choices more often. I try to be consistent in getting in some sort of physical activity on most days of the week to help burn off stress and to give myself some much needed self-care. I work hard to maintain my health and stamina so that I can keep up with all 3 of my active and energetic family members.
Why do you do what you do? I chose to be a dietitian and a part of the nutrition and dietetics profession so that I could help inspire and motivate individuals to lead healthier, happier, and more productive lives. My goal as a dietitian is to help people figure out strategies and approaches to healthier eating and increased physical activity that work for them, their priorities and their lifestyles without falling into “quick fix” diet traps. I want to give people the knowledge and power to make educated choices so they can best take care of their bodies and their health for the long-term.
How would you describe your teaching style? My approach to teaching is that I believe individuals in this program can learn a lot more from one another and the experiences that they are willing to share with each other than anything that I have to say. Most of the participants already know the main strategies needed for losing weight and which choices are the healthy choices. It’s the implementation of these strategies and the actual “doing” that is hard. Learning from others about what they’re doing and how they’re being successful is what is most valuable. I try to provide a teaching environment where program participants feel comfortable and supported in sharing their experiences with the group. I also try to encourage them to reflect on their trials and tribulations outside of the classroom and to bring what they’ve learned back to the class so that everyone can learn from that experience.
Name: Lindsey Joe RDN LDN
Where are you from originally and where do you live now? I am originally from Memphis, TN and now reside in Nashville, TN.
Favorite way to be active:My favorite way to be active is doing group-ex like Barre or Yoga, as well as walking or hiking with friends and family.
What motivates you to eat smart and to move more?For me, I want to be able to do anything my heart desires, without limitations. I experienced a frightening and potentially life-threatening situation on a speed boat once and if I had not been able bodied and self-sufficient, it’s likely I would’ve walked away from that moment injured or possibly even not alive.
Why do you do what you do? I do what I do because I genuinely believe EVERYONE can build a life that brings them health AND happiness. One doesn’t have to exist without the other – they can coexist together 🙂
Favorite moment teaching Eat Smart, Move More, Prevent Diabetes (or Weigh Less):My favorite moments are always when we can laugh together in class. We know that humor is an instant mood-lifter so I love smiling with my participants. I also love giving them shoutouts when major milestones and accomplishments have been met. It feels like a win for me too whenever they share their positive changes.
How would you describe your teaching style?My teaching style is fun and informative. I never want my classes to feel like a school lecture that has lulled you to sleep rather than leaving you feeling inspired. I recognize that the time you spend in class is YOUR time and I want to make it worth your while!