Jo Ann Perreault
My interest in food started at an early age. I was 12 years
old and home from school to watch the Apollo Mission to the
moon when my grandmother taught me how to make my first apple
pie. Later in high school, during a career day presentation
by two dietitians from a local hospital, I decided I wanted
to become a dietitian.
Despite my interest in nutrition,
I struggled with my weight as a teenager and young adult.
That battle continued into
my early 30’s until I discovered
weightlifting. My short (5'3") muscular body started to change
dramatically with regular exercise. Daily exercise comprised of both aerobics
has been part of my life for more than 20 years now. It makes weight management
easier and results in a high energy level.
My formal training in nutrition
started with getting a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of
Massachusetts. Following completion of an accredited
at Bay State Medical Center in Springfield, Massachusetts, with a weekly
class affiliation at Yale-New Haven, I took my first job
as a clinical dietitian.
my late 20's, I got a Masters in Business Management and started managing
food service departments. I came to Maine to run the food service operation
for Penobscot Bay Medical Center in 1981 and discovered the beautiful Maine
I left Maine briefly in 1985, but returned in 1989 to the mid-coast area
with the intention never to leave again. I didn't. Even though my career
changed direction several times - from long term care consulting to nursing
and finally back to dietetics - the common thread was health care and teaching.
1993 I was diagnosed with insulin dependent diabetes. I was into bodybuilding
in a serious way at the time and had completed a competition the previous
fall. Thanks to my professional training, I was able to make the changes
I needed to
make, but the disease also gave me tremendous insight into the problems
of clients. The path to becoming an educator had started.
In 1997 I joined the
clinical staff at Waldo County General Hospital in Belfast, Maine. A decision
to quit smoking that year resulted in a 20-pound weight
gain in just six months. I needed help. I felt the best way to help myself
help others in the process, so I started my first weight loss program and
I have been teaching it ever since.
I received my certification as a diabetes
educator in 2001 and now spend about a quarter of my time
teaching on that topic. In addition, Waldo County
Hospital started a cardiac rehabilitation program; I developed the course
outline and teach classes to that group. I'm also teaching weight
loss and healthy nutrition classes to community businesses and hospital