5 Healthy Towns Foundation

Wellness Center Scholarships


5  Healthy Towns Foundation (5HF) provides scholarships at our wellness centers. Here’s what we’d like you to know:

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Not so Easy-cheesy



Have you noticed mac & cheese is everywhere these days? And it’s obvious why. Who doesn’t love this creamy comfort food?

Particularly for children it’s hard to avoid the salty, fat-laden mac & cheese option. Even high-end restaurants catering to adults are adding this as a special side on their menus. And, it’s hard (although not impossible) to make a healthy version of mac & cheese.

For home consumption people may be tempted to point to the low-cost of a box along with ease of preparation. But is it really easier than a scrambled egg or a PB&J sandwich and a handful of microwaved, frozen peas for lunch? It’s not quicker or less expensive.

But it is tasty. Man is it tasty.

Mac & cheese won’t be banned from existence just because it’s not a great food for our health. No one in their right mind (or their right taste buds) would advocate for that. But maybe we can serve it to our kids a bit less often and with an orange and carrot sticks on the side. For eating out, perhaps we add it to the list of sometimes foods – like dessert. And when we do treat ourselves or our kids, enjoy every last bite!

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Don’t Panic


charlie brown 1


I recently read people need to exercise up to 2 hours a day to prevent heart disease. Well, that’s just crazy. Who has time for that kind of daily commitment?

Here’s what I think they really mean to say. In the old days people were active all day long. Now many of us are not. If you are one of those who is not you have to fit bits of physical activity (not necessarily the sweaty kind) into your day.

There is nothing new to say, really. You’ve heard it before…
Walk your kids or grandkids to school (good for everyone); sweep the front porch; take the stairs at work; use the bathroom one flight up; walk during your lunch hour; put the baby in the stroller & take a walk; buy good boots (or cleats for the bottom of your boots) so you can walk in MI winter; stretch while you watch t.v., join a wellness center, gym or take advantage of school pool/gym during open hours; sit on a balance ball when you have to sit; park your car in the back of the parking lot; carry your groceries one bag at a time to increase the number of trips; fidget.

You get the idea. Don’t panic. Physical activity doesn’t require a huge investment in time or money. Just a bit of pre-planning and a commitment to fit more into a day.

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It’s About the People


One of the best things about the 5 Healthy Towns Foundation (previously the Chelsea-Area Wellness Foundation) is our excitement about and commitment to engaging everyone, regardless of your current level of health or fitness. This column is about the people who use our four Wellness Centers (Stockbridge, Manchester, Chelsea and Dexter). It’s not about the centers. It’s about the people. I think that’s why I like it.

These are the ‘types’ of people we see. You may find yourself among these descriptions even though it’s not an exhaustive list.

Terribly out of shape and feeling it. Congratulations to those of you who overcame your discomfort (physical and emotional) by making a decision to work out and connect to your community in a healthy way.

Parents with young families who have little time for themselves but want to set a good example for their children. They are scraping out a few hours a week for a workout or group exercise class. It may be what keeps them sane.

Middle age, in decent shape but fighting to stay healthy and strong so they can actively enjoy their senior years. Smart. Very smart.

Recent patients taking advantage of a wellness center or the Next Steps program at the request of or with an order from their health care provider. They are setting goals and have accountability, which we know increases the chance of success.

Healthy teens, many with competitive goals, but not all. Those who aren’t competing often need and enjoy an outlet for physical activity.

Seniors who embrace their aging selves and want to maximize every day. They also find good company at their local wellness center. It’s hard to be lonely when you see people every day.

People with chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease or depression. They know regular exercise is the difference between an accelerated downhill slide and sustained or improved daily functioning.

Fit and healthy folks who are preventing injuries in their daily life, preventing or delaying heart, lung or metabolic disease and feeling energized and youthful because of their efforts. You can be our inspiration.

Most of us don’t look like fitness models and almost all of us are overcoming something in our effort to be fit and healthy. It’s not easy (at least not at first), but it’s worth it.

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Have You Ever Heard All Press is Good Press?

Did you see the piece about CWF’s Wellness Centers in Crain’s Detroit Business?  It’s really exciting for us to have others paying attention to the work we’re doing.  It spreads our message that prevention is key.  And, even if you have health problems, you can improve your level of function so you feel better and have an improved quality of life.

There were some inaccuracies in the Crain’s article and for the broader Crain’s audience the inaccuracies in the piece do not tarnish the message.  But for our communities I’d like to set the record straight on a few things that are important locally.

  1. St. Joseph didn’t open the Chelsea Wellness Center (CWC) in 2001. Chelsea Community Hospital had the vision and made it a reality.
  2. When CWF took over CWC in 2009 there were 3,500 members, not 6,500.
  3. Our goal (mission) is not to breakeven but to increase health & wellness. It’s just a positive consequence that more members will help us move to a breakeven point. We look forward to that day so additional funds can be made available for other wellness projects – particularly 5H.
  4. Individual rates are not $72 per year. They are $69 in Dexter & $68 in Chelsea. It’s actually per month rather than per year. And if you belong to one of the two larger centers you belong to all four centers. Of course, additional family members join at a reduced rate and there are discounts & special programs for seniors, college students and others.
  5. The more people we get into our wellness centers, the more health and wellness we provide.
  6. I don’t actually know how many school employees take advantage of the school district discounts. I hope it is 650!
  7. To participate in Next Steps you can have a referral from any health care provider – not just the University of Michigan Family Practice. Health care providers from St. Joseph Mercy Hospital frequently refer patients to our programs, too.
  8. CWC and DWC are both certified through the Medical Fitness Association, not Medical Fitness Organization. It is not a new organization. It was founded in 1991.

As you can see, none of these corrections will make a difference in the overall message that prevention and wellness are an important part of health.  But we want to set the record straight for those in our service area.  And express our gratitude to Crain’s for their interest in health & wellness and the Chelsea-Area Wellness Foundation.

Here is the link to the June 15th piece in Crain’s Detroit Business.  They did make a few corrections to the electronic version so all the clarifications above aren’t necessary when reading this link.


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MI is the abbreviation for Michigan. And, Medical Integration


People at all levels of health: from the perfectly fit to wheel chair bound, have safe options in our wellness centers. That’s because they are medically integrated. Those interested in preventing or improving health conditions will find resources at any of our four wellness centers.

The Medical Fitness Association certified Chelsea Wellness Center (the first wellness center to be certified in the state of MI). To earn certification rigorous criteria are met, including a requirement that all fitness specialists be certified. We have a health care advisory committee made up of medical and health specialists (click on the attached video to hear from one of the physician members of that committee).

This year Dexter Wellness Center is expected to earn their certification. We want to brag a bit & tell you once Dexter is certified we will be the only non-profit organization in the State with two certified, medically integrated facilities – and that even includes several large health care systems and universities with wellness centers.

Please remember and tell your family, friends & neighbors, all four wellness centers (Chelsea, Dexter, Manchester & Stockbridge) have programs open to the community – some free and others fee based. Scholarships are also available in all four centers.

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The Origin of an Apple a Day Proverb


Wales is credited for early use of the phrase “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” In Wales they actually said “Eat an apple on going to bed, and you’ll keep the doctor from earning his bread.”

Apples are low in sodium & calories and high in fiber & vitamin C.  They are easily transportable, inexpensive and some of the best apples around are grown in Michigan. They are versatile and available in so many varieties you can find one anyone will like.

Take advantage of apple season & enjoy!

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If We Don’t Have to Avoid Fat does that Mean Bacon is Good for Us?

I know its BLT season… we have them at least once a week when the tomatoes are fresh.

And, I know newly reported research says the 40 year attempt to get Americans to stop eating fat was generally misguided.

But bacon is still NOT good for us.  It is, as they say, a sometimes food I’d like to remind you again:

5healthytowns.org/?module=News&event=View&categoryID=2&newsID=81 …while many studies

contribute to our general health knowledge, sometimes they are poorly done or incorrectly interpreted.

Our best defense against disease (& against occasional bad science) is a balanced diet.  That means a rush to consume high fat food because recent news says we can is as unwise as completely eliminating fats.

Your grandmother understood balance when she served simply-prepared, colorful, fresh foods. Your children understand when they stop eating when they are full, not when their plate is empty.  Keep it simple, everyone.  Keep it simple.

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Better than BMI

Most physicians and other health care practitioners determine if our weight is healthy by using a mathematical formula called Body Mass Index (BMI). The rest of us don’t have any idea how to calculate a BMI.

Maybe instead of using BMI to determine if we’re overweight we could use some simpler measures. Like these:

  • If you look down while taking a shower, can you see your feet?
  • Did you grunt last time you tried to get your seatbelt around your middle?
  • If you shake a body part do some parts of that body part keeping jiggling when you stop shaking?
  • Are you wearing wrist and ankle bracelets because those are the only parts of your body to which you want to call attention?

To quote a friend of mine… “I resemble that remark!”

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Caught by My Own Lecture!

Yesterday I was watching the Olympics (those athletes are amazing) when my husband asked me if I wanted to go cross country skiing.  I didn’t want to go outside.  I was cozy and entertained as a spectator.

Then I remembered the message I gave my children when they lived at home & parked themselves in front of ESPN. I frequently told them “It’s much more satisfying to do something than to watch someone else do something.”

I try, with mixed success, to avoid deliberate hypocrisy, so I got myself off the couch and into my outdoor clothes.  Guess what.  I was right!  Nothing that happened while we were away from the t.v. was better than the exhilaration & sense of self-empowerment I experienced while outside on my skis. 

Now I just have to remember my own message tomorrow.  Then the day after that, and the next day…

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