Live Healthy Iowa’s Wellness Challenge is back this year with a change: Instead of 100 days, the length of the challenge is 10 weeks beginning on Jan. 28.
Heather McKelvey, health promotions coordinator for Mercy Medical Center-Centerville and a member of the Appanoose County Wellness Coalition, believes the change is positive.
“Ten weeks is enough time to establish some good eating and exercise habits, but not so long that participants get tired of logging results,” says McKelvey. “It will be easier to keep the enthusiasm up.”
And when it comes to enthusiasm, Wellness Coalition members hope that they can match the excitement that surrounded last year’s challenge.
“We went from being 89th in the state in participation in 2011 to second in 2012. That was a major accomplishment,” says McKelvey.
Registration for the event is now open for the 10 Week Wellness Challenge. Participants form teams of two-10 adults to motivate and support each other in achieving their fitness and weight loss goals. Each team needs to choose one person to be its team captain who has computer and Internet access. Teams may participate in the Minutes of Activity Division and/or the Weight Loss Division. Through this web site, livehealthyiowa.org, team captains register a team and team members individually report their own progress weekly. This site also provides a daily journal and message center to help keep team members connected and involved in making health changes to reach their fitness and weight loss goals. Those signing up a team in Appanoose County are asked to use LHIAPPCO as the group ID so that Appanoose County teams can be tracked.
The cost is $20. A limited number of $5 discounts available from Hy-Vee (enter promotional code LH5423 when registering for the $5 discount).
All Live Healthy Iowa participants receive a T-shirt and other helpful resources to guide them toward success.
One of the most successful approaches to the Wellness Challenge is to form workplace teams says Wellness Coalition member Joyce Bieber. To encourage that, the wellness coalition is sponsoring a business challenge, awarding a trophy and celebration complete with healthy treats for the business that has the highest percentage of employees beginning and finishing the challenge. In order to participate in the business challenge, a representative of the business should contact Bieber at the Centerville Chamber of Commerce (437-4102) so that she can track team participation.
Mercy Medical Center was the leader in team participation in the 100 Day Wellness Challenge in Appanoose County last year with 16 teams. The Iowegian published a leaderboard for both activity and weight loss and many participating teams enjoyed tracking their standing. Last year’s overall weight loss and activity leader was “The Little Country Bs,” which was one of the Mercy teams.
“Little County Bs” team captain was Becky Burkland, who was joined by her husband Rick and Mercy employee Donna Barker.
Burkland used the Wellness Challenge as a springboard for a diet and exercise regimen started in 2009 that had reached a plateau. Working as a team provided new motivation and she is looking forward to participating in this year’s challenge with a new goal. Her 2013 team includes her husband and Dean and Stacy Thomas. The group will be called “Mountain Climbers,” a reference to the foursome’s plan to eventually hike Pike’s Peak in Colorado.
Burkland offers some advice and encouragement to those who are considering starting a diet or exercise program. She stresses that taking care of one’s health has to be a priority and that takes a time commitment.
“It’s easier if you can include your family in exercise and healthy meals,” she said. Last year, Burkland tried ice skating for the first time and enjoyed the combination of family time and exercise.
While exercise programs can often be expensive, Burkland recommends that people check with their employer because many employers offer benefits, such as paying part of a fitness center membership, as an incentive to keep employees healthy. She also incorporated inexpensive things like wearing a pedometer to help motivate and challenge herself.
“It was another interesting way to boost my activity level,” she stated.
Burkland has participated in three 5K run/walks in the past year and plans to participate in the “Get Your Rear in Gear Appanoose” 5K on April 6. “My goal is to work my way up to a 10K,” she said.
It’s important to stick with a routine, according to Burkland, even if it means forcing yourself to exercise. Burkland works 12 hour night shifts as a CNA and finds that mornings, right after work, are her best time for exercise.
“I’m tired and sometimes I just want to go home, but once I start exercising, I find the energy and I’m glad that I didn’t just go home.” Burkland works out at Curves and enjoys walking with friends.
“I think the Live Healthy Wellness Challenge is a good investment,” stated Burkland. The web site has good recipes and I enjoyed the competition aspect.”
Not only did the “Little Country Bs” place first in Appanoose County in activity and weight loss, they were the second most successful team in the state.
“I encourage people to join a team and finish the challenge. It was a good experience,” she said.
The Appanoose County Wellness Coalition is planning activities to enhance the 10 Week Wellness Challenge including publishing the local leaderboard in the Iowegian again this year. For individuals that want to participate in the 10 Week Wellness Challenge but don’t have a team, contact the Rathbun Area YMCA at 437-1977 for assistance in locating others looking for team members.
The YMCA is kicking off the Wellness Challenge on Jan. 26 with the first annual 5K Cocoa Fun Run and 1 Mile Walk. This fun event will take place at Howar Junior High at 9 a.m. Preregister at the YMCA for $15. For more information about local wellness activities, “like” the Appanoose County Wellness Coalition on Facebook.