With the holidays right around the corner, it can become easy to cave into those traditional holiday foods – you know, the ones Grandma Gigi has been making since as far back as you can remember? There is warmth in traditions of all kinds, especially during this time of year, most of which are surrounded by warm, hearty home-cooked meals.
With that being said, I do think being conscious of portion size is essential to prevent holiday weight gain. However, I don't necessarily think finding healthier recipes for the winter months is the end all be all, and I don't always think this challenge has to rest on one person. Instead, I believe involvement in a community helps you establish healthy habits and connections all winter. The effort to belong to a community is a recipe for great health all year long.
If you embody the lifestyle of a healthy person who not only exercises and eats right but who also contributes to healthy initiatives and is a part of a healthy community of people, then you have consistent reinforcement to live a healthier lifestyle. It's important to make your wellness endeavor come full circle and surround yourself with healthy opportunities and people who can support you.
Now is the best time to jump into a community with both feet and become involved in a community coalition. Not only does a coalition offer support and positive reinforcement, but it also provides an outlet to drive healthy initiatives for your community. Lucky for you, there are many community coalitions to get involved with, one being right here in Fort Atkinson – Fort Healthy.
Fort Healthy – Providing and promoting healthy choices for the Fort Atkinson community
The Fort Healthy coalition got its start three years ago by individuals who wanted to play an active role in changing the community’s thoughts and beliefs on health. The coalition currently has a core group of 15 members who attend monthly meetings and are fully engaged in coalition initiatives, and they are always open for more members.
As a part of Fort HealthCare’s Healthy Community Coalitions, Fort Healthy continues to participate in statewide training seminars, goal setting, and evaluation so its efforts can continue for years to come. Here are some of Fort Healthy’s past successes and plans for the future.
Eating Clean in 2015 – This was Fort Healthy’s largest event to date with over 300 participants in its first year! The event had over 20 vendors including:
Fort Healthy hopes to expand and establish more community partnerships in the next year for their second annual event.
Simple Swaps – Stemming from the Eating Clean in 2015 event, Fort Healthy started to contribute short articles to the Jefferson County Daily Union highlighting ‘simple swaps’ or small changes that we can all incorporate into everyday life to improve our health. Examples included using olive oil instead of butter and bringing healthier treats (instead of cupcakes and cookies) for birthday celebrations. Volunteer coalition members write the articles and they run twice per month in the Lifestyles section of the Daily Jefferson County Union.
Rethink Your Drink –Fort Healthy promoted a successful campaign along with other community coalitions to get people in the community to drink more water. The group was able to advocate for water bottle refill stations in each of the School District of Fort Atkinson schools. All schools now have one or more bottle refill stations, depending on the size of the building. The grocery stores in the area also participated in this project. They gave out samples of fruit-infused water to encourage drinking water and to show how natural flavor could be added. They continue to promote water at other events so that the community is reminded of this healthy necessity.
Future Plans – Fort Healthy’s main goal for the future is to make a greater impact in the community and beyond by targeting local food producers and encouraging them to change some of their ingredients to make them healthier for consumers. They currently have plans to work with Jones Dairy Farm and local concession stands. This change may take a lot of time and effort, but positive steps won’t happen without the “fearless foodie” group making the attempt.
We would like to give special thanks to all of the Fort Healthy members that dedicate their time to improving the health of the community. Some members we would like to recognize are Vicki Wright, Vicki Hayes, Kristen Wallace, Whitney Townsend, Tara Zachgo, Kitty Welsch, Alicia Norris, Kayla Oschmann, Diann Pichotta, and Cynthia Ficenec.
Fort Healthy has had many successes and continued momentum over the past few years. They are making excellent progress in encouraging healthy behaviors in their community and are always looking for more passionate community members to join their team. For more information, you can visit them at Facebook.com/FortHealthy or FortHealthCare.com/Community-Coalitions.