Marcia Upson, NP, president of Naturally Slim
comes from a family of entrepreneurs.
But it was her
mother's struggles with weight that sparked Marcia's own entrepreneurial flame.
I'm going to quit dieting and start watching thin people,'" Upson
And so she
laid the groundwork for Naturally Slim
Like Mother, Like Daughter
Breithaupt saw that naturally slim people, whom Upson
calls "true thins," have a good sense of when and how much to eat.
lost 30 pounds following the program, then had a light bulb moment of her
When Upson graduated from Texas Woman's University as a nurse practitioner in 1999, she started seeing patients who needed prescriptions to treat conditions that could be controlled with dietary change.
"I'd think, 'If they'd just lose a little weight, they wouldn't need this!'"
decided to follow her
passion and start teaching her
mother's Naturally Slim
formalized the principles into a 10-week course and started the business by inviting a few friends over to her
home in Garland, Texas.
In 2004, a New York company that provides healthcare to business executives contacted Upson
They wanted their executives to follow the Naturally Slim
Upson had no way to deliver the program to remote clients, so she created a website, www.NaturallySlim.com.
"I didn't have money for fancy videos to put on it," she
says, but clients needed to watch videos of the 10-week course.
brother's video camera, set it up in her
kitchen and taped herself teaching.
"We ran a pilot class, and the average triglyceride level lowered by 50 points," Upson
The city's government continues as a client today.
Despite these remarkable successes, Upson
still struggled to get the word out about her
A breakthrough came in 2005 when the city of Garland invited Upson to share the results from the pilot at a national conference for city and state governments.
met Wally Gomaa, whose company, Accountable Care, Accountable Patient, works with Sabre Holdings
, a large travel-industry corporation.
Gomaa offered to help Upson
market the business.
has reinvested much of the money she's
made, which has helped her
get on track to having a multimillion-dollar business.
"We don't mind that sometimes it can just get crazy busy!
As far as improvements in client health, the numbers are staggering.
With an average weight loss of 10 pounds per person during the 10-week class, Upson
instructors have helped 34,000 clients lose at least 340,000 pounds.
remembers several people who lost 170 pounds or more.
A survey she
conducted showed that 2.5 years after the program ended, 80% of clients had kept the weight off.
often hears from clients who have been able to discontinue hypertension or cholesterol medications as a result of her
And 45% of people who had metabolic syndrome at the start of the program no longer do afterward.
As Americans continue to gain weight, Upson
is poised for the challenge of helping them get and stay healthy.
has already filmed videos for a stay-slim plan, which will update clients who are using a continuous (maintenance) plan.
has also talked to grocery store chains about creating smaller-portion foods for a "True Thin" food product line.
working on an iPhone app that will allow users to take photos of meals instead of writing down what they ate.
"It's fun and fascinating thinking of new ways to make it easier for people to make lifestyle changes," Upson