Lansing Community Joins Together to Lose a Million

Julie Bitely

| 4 min read

Local community gets active
One million.
It’s a big number that’s inspiring some mid-Michigan residents to get active and focus on their health.
In his State of the City address at the end of January, Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero officially kicked off Lansing Loses a Million, a public health initiative designed to help tri-county residents of Clinton, Eaton, and Ingham counties track their activity, nutrition, and pounds and inches lost. The program also helps community members get better connected to local resources that can help them embrace and adopt a healthy lifestyle.
As of this writing, over 400 residents have taken him up on the challenge, losing a collective 529 pounds.
Kelly Zielinski is founder and president of Lettuce Live Well, the non-profit organization leading the initiative. Along with her partner, Ashley Logan, the pair was looking for a way to broaden their outreach to people in need of nutritional counseling and other lifestyle coaching. The big number is attention grabbing, but Zielinski hopes it leads to many lasting personal transformations for people who sign up for the free program.
“We’re using the weight loss as an eye catcher. It’s a way for everybody to get people collaboratively on board,” she said.
Loren Smalley Jr. (courtesy photo)
Loren Smalley Jr. (courtesy photo)
Loren Smalley Jr. signed up for the program at the Winter Warm Up kickoff at the Lansing Mall. The Blues Community Challenge portion of the Winter Warm Up is sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. Participants are using the Lansing Loses a Million website to track their activity for the challenge.
The 42-year-old Potterville resident has participated in the Winter Warm Up for years as a way to keep moving through the winter months. He says he’s been gaining weight over time and was surprised when his doctor recently told him he could stand to lose about 100 pounds.
“Ever since then, I faithfully go out there and log all my miles and my steps,” he said.
Smalley had already cut out soda and excessive eating, but the additional exercise is paying off for him. He tries to get in four to six miles per day and he’s down to 250 pounds from a starting weight of 268.
“I know what I need to do to take care of the situation,” he said.
He’s even signed up for nutritional coaching through Lettuce Live Well, something his doctor has been asking him to do for years. He’s impressed by the program and likes the accountability that the website tracking provides.
“Accountability is a big thing and being responsible to do it is the other thing,” he said.
Zielinski said meeting people like Smalley where they are is an important aspect of the program. Many classes are geared toward dispelling misconceptions about losing weight and eating healthy. The group even offers free grocery store tours to help people learn how to shop healthy on a budget. There are free fitness classes available and trainers are able to answer questions via the website. Local communities and businesses are getting involved and can add events to the website’s calendar. Anyone who signs up is eligible to receive a free day pass to a Lansing-area YMCA.
“There’s a whole lot of free resources and a whole lot of people who want to work together,” she said.
Zielinski sees Lettuce Live Well and the Lansing Loses a Million platforms as a way to tie a myriad of health and fitness services together for people in one place, giving them a place to start on their path to wellness.
She and Logan were inspired by other cities who had tackled similar health initiatives, particularly Oklahoma City. The tracking website was developed by the same group who put Oklahoma City’s together.
Zielinski is confident Lansing can lose one million – inches, pounds, or both – and track one million miles. When either of those things happen, she’s hopeful that people will continue to be inspired to use the tracking website and community resources they’ve come to rely on to keep moving forward in great health.
“We’re not leaving at a million,” she explained. “I hope everyone stays on board and people use it as a tool to continuously help themselves.”
You can register for the Lansing Loses a Million program at Representatives will also be available to sign people up at the city of Lansing’s Free Family Fun Friday event. The next one takes place Friday, March 6 at Letts Community Center.
Are you trying to lose weight or inches? Read these posts for some great tips. You can also sign up for Healthy Me, a personalized web experience based on your health and wellness goals.
Photo credit: Global Panorama

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