OKLAHOMA CITY - In Oklahoma, 71 percent of people 18 and over are overweight or obese. Oklahoma City County Health Department offers Total Wellness, a free weight loss and disease prevention program. We followed three people during the eight week course to see their results.

"People join the Total Wellness program for all different reasons," said Allyson Drain, Total Wellness Instructor.

"I'm 80 plus, so I want to get myself in shape so my doctor will be proud of me," said Mary Lee, a participant.

The goal of the program is for each person to lose about five percent of their body weight and to exercise about 30 minutes a day.

"I got tired of doing the weight thing, you know, the yo-yo diets," admits Teresa Broughton, another participant. "Joining this, it's going to help me in get fit, help me cook the right foods, cooking them the right way. I know if you eat right, you'll get more sleep. Right now I'm probably at three to four hours of sleep."

The program offers screenings, testing for cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure.

"I have not been this heavy since the beginning of the 90s and I've allowed myself to get out of control, I have high blood pressure, my knees are starting to hurt, it's just time," said Lesa Wilson, a program participant.

The program focuses on weight loss because that is the number one way to prevent chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease. Each week each person is given homework and in that homework is to keep a food diary and to record how much you're exercising. Now halfway through the program, the participants are noticing positive changes.

"I'm counting my calories and my carb intake," said Wilson. "I feel better. Just knowing that I'm eating healthier, I feel better. Along with exercise, I know I can do it, just gotta do it, I know I can do it."

"Whether it's a sport or just walking in nature or gardening whatever you enjoy doing, that's the activity you're going to continue," said Drain.

Lee does her activities at home.

"I'm doing my yard work and doing my chores at the house keeping my house clean, cooking for myself and just taking care of Mary," she said. "I'm feeling wonderful, just more active."

Drain said at the end of the eight weeks, each participant changed in different ways

"I go to school every day, I park all the way out and I was huffing and puffing when I first started, you should see me moving now," Wilson said. "I'm happy with that; I feel much better my clothes fit."

Broughton says she's getting more exercise in by walking her dog.

"I'm getting more sleep, I usually got maybe three, four hours of sleep throughout the night, so I'm sleeping better," she said.

Wilson ended up losing 10 pounds.

"My eating has completely changed and that's what I'm happy about," she said.

Lee also lost weight.

"I feel great, I really do," she said. "I have more energy."

Drain says over 80 percent of the people that participate in the program do lose weight and over 70 percent improve their labs. Broughton lowered her blood pressure. After the eight week course, 250 people graduated and lost a total of 1,200 pounds.

"I've started eating more fruit, I started eating more vegetables," said Broughton. "I have more energy than usual so, and I'm sleeping better at night for sure. I reached my goal I'm not actually squeezing into my clothes and I actually have to wear belts to keep them up so yeah, I'm happy."

The total wellness program is in its 10th year with a total loss of 24,000 pounds. Bill Rice is considered the program's super star. He peaked at 245 pounds when he started the program. After four sessions, he lost 75 pounds and with diet and exercise, he's managed to keep it off. Now, he volunteers his time to motivate others who are taking the course.

"It's done so much for me, I actually feel it's added several years to my life," said Rice. "As a result, I try to give back a little bit so I do work with the program."

The program is offered four times a year and is free to anyone who lives in Oklahoma County.