Healthy Together

Fitness is a family affair for three generations

By Alison Stanton

To say that Mia Ciotola is close to her mom, Donna Allen, and her grandma, Dolores Thomas, is an understatement.

The three women text and phone each other frequently and get together as often as they can.

“We are definitely a close-knit family,” Mia says. “Not a day goes by that we are not in touch.”

So when Donna learned about the “Weigh” To Go! class offered by Sun Health and asked her daughter and mom to join her, Mia says they all readily agreed.

The trio took the 12-week class in late 2017, finishing right before Christmas.

“I thought this would be a very unique opportunity to combine spending time together with my mom and grandma, but also learning together and growing together,” Mia says, adding that all three of them were weighed and had their body mass index, or BMI, measuredat the start of the class.

By the end of the 12 weeks, Mia says she, her mom and grandma all had “significant weight loss” along with a drop in their BMIs.

“We learned about the importance of mindful eating and implementing some type of movement or exercise. The Sun Health instructors who taught the class were so encouraging — they said that when it comes to exercise, quantity is not as important as quality and that we shouldn’t over-do it.”

As the result of taking the class, Mia says the three of them now have pedometers and are mindful of how many steps they take each day.

“We all try to get out and do something every day, whether it is walking at the mall or at a track in Sun City Grand.”

While she is at work, Mia says she also now strives to get up from her desk regularly to walk around, and when the members of the three generations get together and are watching television, they get up and move during the commercials.

“We are much more mindful eaters now and ask ourselves if we are really hungry before eating. We put our forks down during the meals and enjoy the food and just being together,” Mia says, adding that for her mom and grandma especially it was challenging to accept that it’s okay to not be in the “clean plate club.”

“That is the way they were raised and the way they raised their kids, but we learned that when you don’t waste food, it ends up on your waistline.”

Mia says that she, her mom and grandma all encourage each other to stay on track with their healthy diets and exercise by sharing quotes, affirmations and words of encouragement by phone or text.

Taking part in the “Weigh” To Go! class and the Happy, Healthy Holiday event last December also got Mia to thinking about how important it is for all women to take care of their health.

“To me, ‘women’s wellness’ means empowering each other to be better versions of ourselves and thinking about the mind/body/spirit and to not focus on one thing in particular, but treat ourselves as whole.”

For more information, call 623-832-WELL (9355) or

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