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Power Up aims to make Ceres a healthier city
Protein, good habits served up at all new Ceres business
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Lissa Reece and Debbie Bailey serve up drinks to Bill Bailey at Power Up Nutrition, which just opened June 2 in the Richland Shopping Center. - photo by JEFF BENZIGER/Courier photo

Debbie Bailey, a registered nurse and lifelong Ceres resident, remembers feeling shocked at a 2010 news report that pegged Stanislaus County as one of the most obese county in California. Having worked in a local hospital neonatal unit, she previously knew the high percentage of gestational diabetes, too.

That bad news inspired her and a friend to offer hope to others. The desire to help others be physically fit and out of the obesity trap has given birth to one of the newest businesses in Ceres - Power Up Nutrition, Suite Y in the Richland Shopping Center, 2531 E. Whitmore Ave.

Bailey, with and husband Bill and friends and business partners Lissa and Mike Reece, all of Ceres, opened Power Up Nutrition on June 2.

Power Up is not what you might think. Unlike Jamba Juice or Juice It Up, the business is not just about selling 29 flavors of nutrient-packed smoothies. Debbie hesitates to call it a business but also says it can't classify it as a club.

"It's not a club in a sense that you go join In-Shape City," said Bailey. "It's not like that. We have people walk in; they don't have to be members."

After reading the obesity report, Debbie and Lissa - both health and wellness coaches for a long time -- began counseling others about ways to eat healthier and stress why balanced nutrition, rest and exercise are key for health. Bailey said obesity rates have shot up in America from the advent of prepackaged foods that lack nutritional value.

They also started a Weight Loss Challenge at the Ceres Community Center and organized a walking club last year at Smyrna Park for the community where they passed out literature on health habits.

"There's always been an emphasis to giving back to our community," she said. "You have to educate somebody somewhere. You know, I spent my whole entire nursing career trying to educate people on how to have a better healthier life. We're living longer through medical technology. Who wants to live from 68 to 100 in a nursing home? I don't and I don't know anybody who does and the only way that's going to change is if we take responsibility for our own health. But you have to have the knowledge."

Bailey knows what it's like to struggle to stay physically fit. She explained that her own journey took her from being fit to gaining "a truckload of weight" during an illness, and now using good nutrition to pare down 149 pounds with the goal of losing another 48.

"I have changed my health from having liver damage, kidney damage, heart problems and extreme obesity," said Debbie. "I was morbidly obese. I'm 5-foot-2 ½ and I went from 128 pounds to over 330 pounds in about 18 months. I'm coming from a nightmare mess and I'm going to do it because I'm giving myself the good nutrition and I'm working out. I know (weight loss) can be done if you're willing to make just really some small changes in your lifestyle. It works for everybody."

The "giving back" gave way to opening Power Up Nutrition, which sells smoothies at $7 ($8 for post-workout drinks) to anyone but also where people can get coaching and inspiration to make lifestyle and nutrition changes. In fact, said Bailey, the sale of smoothies is "what keeps the doors open so we can do everything else," in other words help coach others in lifestyle changes.

On July 8 the team will offer a 12-week Weight Loss Challenge, which Bailey called "a commitment." The cost to participate is $39 but all the money goes back into cash prizes for biggest losers of inches and pounds and the cost of educational materials.

"The top three biggest losers divide the pot with the biggest loser getting half," said Bailey.

Fit Camps are free and includes a leader "walking" participants through a 30-minute exercise program at Smyrna Park three days a week.

Power Up offers free wellness profile with the Iron Man Scanner to help others gain or lose weight or gain muscle. A participant can learn his or her Body Mass Index (BMI), hydration level, muscle mass and how much protein that is needed based on gender, age, weight and BMI.

Bailey said protein is an integral ingredient used for cells to build and repair. But carbohydrates are important, too, for absorption of protein.

"If you don't eat the right amount of carbohydrates, if you don't eat the right type of carbohydrates, guess what? You're not going to absorb the protein that you need. You see, everything works together. Don't be cutting out your carbs."

Cutting fats is not advised either, she said. It's all about balance of good nutrition.

The smoothies sold at Power Up are delivered in three steps. First, the customer is given a four-ounce shot of aloe, which is a prebiotic to help the body accept good nutrition to follow. That is followed up by an herbal green tea or Nature's Raw Guarana tea and then the 20-ounce smoothie that consists of less than 200 calories, 21 vitamins and nutrients and 24 grams of protein (33 grams for workouts). A similar sized drink at a popular chain contains 770 calories and 78 grams of sugar.

The business is open 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays and 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays. They business may be contacted at 248-5888 or