Wellness challenge off to strong start

ISHPEMING – They filtered in a few at a time. Some traveled in groups, others came alone. But the crowd of near 50 that gathered came for a unified reason: to work toward a healthier lifestyle.

The third annual Healthy Lifestyle Journal: Community Wellness Challenge 2013 kicked off Monday night in the Empire Room of Bell Hospital in Ishpeming. The program, which challenges members in or around Gwinn, Ishpeming, Negaunee and Marquette to lead healthier lifestyles, follows the motto, “Making the healthy choice the easy choice.”

And with nearly 70 people registered online in the Ishpeming area alone, the program has nearly tripled its number of participants since it began three years ago.

“The turnout was phenomenal,” said Pam Roose, director of Corporate Health and Wellness at Marquette General Hospital.

Roose said the program is a “healthy competition” between the four regions. Gwinn has won the challenge the past two years. She also highlighted some new ideas that will be incorporated to this year’s challenge.

“We’re trying to introduce some winter activities and things that participants can do at home,” Roose said. “Our goal, and motto, is to make the healthy choice the easy choice. In the dead of winter it’s a good time to encourage activity during a time when a lot of people tend to hibernate.”

One newcomer, Debbie Wedgeworth of Ishpeming, said the program was introduced to her by her sister-in-law.

“It will be good to lose a few pounds and improve my health,” Wedgeworth said. “I think it’s easier to do something like this when you work as a team.”

As the next eight weeks unfold, participants will attend four education nights and four activity nights in their respective locations, though anyone can attend any program at any time during the eight weeks

Individuals are asked to register online at www.fitup.org where they can record their exercise, intake of fruits and vegetables on a daily basis and any changes in weight. At the end of the challenge, the numbers are totaled for each region and a winner is chosen.

“Recording is the most important thing,” Roose emphasized. “You can participate, and that’s great, but if you don’t record your progress it doesn’t mean a lot.”

The Gwinn program will meet from 6 to 7 p.m. Thursdays at the Gwinn Clubhouse. Ishpeming meets 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Mondays at Bell Hospital in the Empire Room. Marquette members meet from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays in the Nelberg Building’s third floor gym at Marquette General Hospital, and the Negaunee program will meet from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays at the West End YMCA in Negaunee.

For more information, contact Deb Sergey, RD, IC Supervisor at the MGH Wellness Center at 225-3221.

Abbey Hauswirth can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 240.