MARQUETTE - After eight weeks, the communities of Marquette, Ishpeming, Gwinn and Negaunee managed to eat 16,746 cups of fruits and vegetables, rack up 156,571 minutes of exercise and lose a total of 265 pounds.
Coming out on top once again following their victory in the summer installment of the Healthy Weight Journal Community Wellness Challenge was the Gwinn team.
Over the eight weeks of the program, the Gwinn team averaged 34 cups of fruits and vegetables per person per week, along with 323 minutes of exercise per person per week, averaging out to 46 minutes per day.
The Healthy Weight Journal Community Wellness Challenge wrapped up last week with a special celebration and meeting of the four community groups at the MARESA building in Marquette. Winning this year’s competition for the second time was the Gwinn community group. (Journal photo by Johanna Boyle)
"Our mission statement's pretty simple - having the healthy choice be the easy choice," said Negaunee team leader and ACHIEVE team co-leader George Sedlacek.
The Healthy Weight Journal Community Wellness Challenge began this round in the beginning of February, encouraging teams of individuals from the four Marquette County communities to track how many minutes they spent exercising and how many cups of fruits and vegetables they ate each week.
For winning the challenge, Gwinn will receive four new bike racks to be placed around the community, sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and the ACHIEVE team.
In addition bike racks will also be given to the Sandy Knoll Elementary School, the Aspen Ridge School, Father Marquette and the Bothwell Middle School, which were four schools with the highest number of participating students in the program.
The bike racks will be presented in May.
One of the big benefits of the community meetings is that it allowed participants to experience different types of exercise.
"For some people if you've never experienced a group exercise class, it can be life-changing," said Deb Sergey, registered dietitian at Marquette General Hospital and one of the challenge organizers.
That rang true for Ishpeming team participant Christie Pruett, who attended meetings with her son, Kyle, 12.
"I liked the group aspect," she said. "I liked the exercise and I loved the lectures."
From succeeding at giving up pop to learning different types of exercise, Pruett said she enjoyed the challenge.
One sign of culture change within the county to a healthier lifestyle, as well as one of the goals of the challenge, is to have participants in turn become leaders and role models for those around them.
"We're all examples for our families and friends," Sergey said.
Once that culture change begins to move forward, the faster it takes over, Sedlacek said.
"It's one of those things where the more people who are out riding their bikes, the more we get used to it," he said.
Organizers of the Community Wellness Challenge are still working out what the future of the program will be, although there are possibilities of a challenge with a community downstate.
Johanna Boyle can be reached at 906-486-4401.