GHC_logo_3This Saturday, pHitness Plus will begin its latest round of the “Sugar Free Me” Challenge, a six-week program created by Michelle Naff, vice president of pHitness Plus. The “Sugar Free Me” Challenge is designed to wean participants off their sugar dependence.

Haywood Simmons is the founder and president of pHitness Plus, whose mission is to improve health and fitness awareness in the Madison area. Simmons was motivated to participate in the “Sugar Free Me” Challenge by his personal struggle with sugar dependence which saw him, at one point, weighing as much as 350 pounds. “I had to realize I was addicted to sugar. I would make excuses to go get it. Even as the trainer, I would say ‘it’s no big deal, one or two doughnuts.’ I’d give myself reasons to have it,” Simmons tells Madison365. “That’s when I said to myself, ‘this might be a problem.”

Simmons committed to changing his diet and aims to educate and support others with the “Sugar Free Me” Challenge.

Simmons believes Americans’ dependence on fast, convenient food and the widespread use of additives in processed food are root causes for sugar addiction and obesity.

Michelle Naff and Haywood Simmons of pHitness Plus
Michelle Naff and Haywood Simmons of pHitness Plus

“The companies [during World War II] that were making ‘break-in-case-of-emergency foods’ for our soldiers became the major producers of food for the country,” he says. “We eat ‘break-in-case-of-emergency food.’ There is no water in it. It can sit on a shelf for years. It doesn’t have oxygen or live minerals in it. We eat dead food.”

Challenge participants can expect a comprehensive approach to battling sugar addiction. Before going sugar-free, participants will learn about the detrimental effects of sugar, understand how to set goals and design a plan to achieve them. During the sugar fast, participants will learn how to deal with sugar cravings and what exactly they should eat instead of processed foods. After the sugar fast, participants will have strategies for staying on track and sustaining their lifestyle changes when the six-week program is over. In addition to nutrition education, “Sugar Free Me” Challenge participants can access the new gym and group classes at the Boys and Girls Club on Taft St.

This Saturday marks the fourth iteration of the “Sugar Free Me” Challenge this year. In the past, the challenge lasted fifteen days. pHitness Plus, in conjunction with the Boys and Girls Club of Dane County and The Goodman Foundation, is revamping the program to incorporate longer-term fitness, meditation, expert support, and nutrition education. The new challenge is now six weeks long, and new participants have the chance to join a cohort each month.

The “Sugar Free Me” Challenge has seen significant results among participants including community building and improved health outcomes. “Blood sugar numbers [for participants] normalized. Once people began this program, every one of the diabetics reduced or eliminated their medicine,” Simmons says.

Of the program, “Sugar Free Me” graduate Kathy Barton Adler testifies, “It’s really not as hard as I thought it would be. I’m doing it, and I am going to stick with it.”

For more information or to sign up for the “Sugar Free Me” Challenge, click here.