GWINN - It's four teams, four communities, eating and exercising their way into a new healthier lifestyle, giving the entire county a chance to work toward wellness.
The four communities making up this year's Healthy Weight Journal are Gwinn, Ishpeming, Negaunee and Marquette, with a total of 240 participants of the 400 registered logging activity at the end of the program's second week. That, organizers say, is great.
"Typically in these kinds of programs you get all the people who are already fit," said George Sedlacek of the Marquette County Health Department and one of the leaders for the Negaunee team. "That's been one of the pleasant surprises is the majority of participants are the ones who have the most to gain (from the program)."
Ishpeming Healthy Weight Journal team member Kathy Houghton, front, works with YMCA trainer Christina Bennett. (Journal photo by Johanna Boyle)
Marquette General Hospital’s dietitian Patricia Smith gives the Ishpeming Healthy Weight Journal team information during the nutrition information portion of the meeting. (Journal photo by Johanna Boyle)
The program encourages its participants to keep track of how many servings of fruits and vegetables they are eating, aiming for five each day, as well as recording the number of minutes they spend exercising each day. The teams then compare averaged numbers numbers, including the number of pounds each team has collectively lost, in a county-wide friendly competition.
In the first two weeks, the four teams have exercised for a total of 84,869 minutes and eaten 7,154 servings of fruits and vegetables. That has led to a combined total of 159 pounds lost.
Gwinn's team, with 32 members, has so far led the competition, with members losing an average of 1.04 pounds the first week and .69 pounds the second week. The Gwinn team also has some of the higher numbers for amount of time exercising and the number of servings of fruits and vegetables.
"They're fired up and motivated," said Julie Shaw, director of the Forsyth Township Senior Center and one of the team's leaders.
Shaw said the team has been including not only the nutritional information and exercise program, but also a question and answer period from physicians from the Upper Great Lakes Family Health Center.
"The tips they have been giving us are just phenomenal," she said of the information provided by the dietitians and physicians.
The team meets at 5:30 p.m. at the Gwinn Community Clubhouse, with team leaders ranging from Shaw to Dr. Catherine Kroll of the Upper Great Lakes Family Health Center to Steve Peffers, superintendent of the Marquette-Alger RESA.
"Gwinn is going to kick butt," Shaw said with a laugh.
The Marquette team, with a total of 101 members, has shown an average loss so far of .71 pounds per person over the two weeks. The team meets at 7 p.m. on Mondays at the YMCA.
The Negaunee team, with 42 members, meets at 6:30 p.m. Mondays at the Negaunee YMCA facility. The team has so far lost an average of .46 pounds over the two weeks.
Finally, the Ishpeming team, with 59 members, has lost an average of .42 pounds over the two weeks, meeting on Tuesdays at 6:30 p.m. at the Teal Lake Lodge at the Al Quaal Recreation Area.
Each team begins its meeting with a half hour of nutritional information from a registered dietitian, covering topics such as protein, fats and carbohydrates. That basic nutrition information can help participants make healthier food choices for themselves and their families.
Then personal trainers guide the groups through an hour of exercise, such as strength training exercises that can be performed using the participant's body weight - no extra equipment needed.
"That's the double bonus," Sedlacek said of the program being open to individuals as well as families. "I think people enjoy that aspect of it."
Exercise and eating together can give families a chance to connect during an otherwise busy day, he said.
The program is helping to get its participants to get moving.
"I need to lose weight and I'm not doing it on my own," said Ishpeming team member Peggy LaVigne. "If I have something that says you have to be there, I'm good."
LaVigne said that while she's not the biggest fan of fruits and vegetables, the program is helping her to eat healthier and get moving.
"That works really great," she said of the adaptable exercises provided by the trainers so that people of all different physical abilities can participate.
If you haven't signed up for a team yet, you can do so at www.fitup.org.
Johanna Boyle can be reached at 906-486-4401.