Walk and Talk with a Doctor: Educating and Inspiring Lansing Area Residents to Move
| 5 min read
Stop “shoulding” yourself
Dr. Maude Guerin wants people to stop “shoulding” themselves, as in, ‘I should eat better,’ or ‘I should exercise more’.
While everyone knows those two lifestyle changes can improve health, Guerin explained that wanting to do something, as opposed to feeling like you should do something, is an important distinction that will help make those changes stick.
“There’s a lot of ‘should’ in our lives. Should gets you nowhere”.
Guerin, of Alliance OB/GYN was the featured doctor at a recent Let’s Walk and Talk with a Doctor event at the Lansing Mall. Put on by the Capital Area Health Alliance (CAHA), the monthly walks allow participants to learn more about the benefits of physical activity from a local doctor, get some tips on proper walking form, and then head out for a stroll. The first three walks in 2015 were part of the Winter Warm Up, featuring the Blues Community Challenge. More walks are scheduled through September.
Lifestyle changes need to start internally
Dr. Maude Guerin
Guerin said patients she’s worked with who have successfully made lifestyle changes have done so for personal, intrinsic reasons. Just wanting to look better in a swimsuit is rarely enough to inspire lasting change, she said.
“It has to come from inside,” she said.
To mentally get to a point where you want to be healthy, Guerin recommended paying attention to how you feel after you’ve done something healthy or unhealthy. You probably feel better after a workout than you do after eating a greasy, fatty meal. She said journaling what you eat and your activity level with the corresponding mood or physical feeling you have after is a great start in helping you to become more conscious and inspired about making healthier choices.
Inspiration for Lansing residents
Kathy Hollister is the Outreach Director for the CAHA. Connecting people with doctors like Guerin and their wise advice is one way the organization is working to inspire Lansing area residents to take their health into their hands.
Funding for the Walk and Talk with a Doctor series comes from the Michigan Health and Wellness 4×4 Plan, which is designed to address obesity in the state. Hollister said the events were modeled on similar initiatives across the country. Each month’s walk is being held in a different location to expose residents to different parks, trails, and walking locations such as the mall, that are available to them.
The CAHA put together a parks and trails brochure that they’re working to distribute to local doctor’s offices and health clinics to get the word out that walking is an effective way to exercise for weight loss. They’re also partnering with medical practices to discuss exercise as a prescription for patients struggling with obesity. The monthly walks will hopefully inspire and foster a sense of community at the different locations with the hope that partner organizations will take the next step and initiate local walking groups.
At each event, staff from the Playmakers Fitness Foundation leads a good form clinic, which shows participants how to get the most from walking by helping them focus on how they’re moving. Local residents can sign up for good form running, walking, and movement classes for free here.
Change your routine and learn healthy habits
“Running and walking are two of the easiest forms of exercise for people to start,” said Alicia Armstrong, who is with the Playmakers Fitness Foundation.
She led the good form clinic with Grand Ledge resident and mall employee Fred Garrett, who likely wouldn’t have attended such an event eight years ago. In 2007, Garrett weighed 240 pounds. A heart attack that year led to rehabilitation at Sparrow Hospital’s cardio unit. It was there he learned how to work out, eat right, and lose weight.
“It was one of the most life changing events I’ve ever had,” he said.
In background: Fred Garrett walks with his wife and Dr. Maude Guerin.
Garrett became involved in the annual Winter Warm Up after his heart attack and hasn’t looked back. He’s down to 182 pounds now and has a goal to get down to 175. He walks the mall during breaks on days he works and has a lofty 10,000 steps a day goal that he often hits.
He said the lifestyle changes he’s made such as exercising consistently, eating more fruits and vegetables, controlling portion sizes, and making healthier snack choices are routine now. To Dr. Guerin’s point about making healthy choices out of a desire to be healthy rather than a sense of obligation, Garrett said he’s motivated by all of the things he would miss in life if he wasn’t around. Plus, his newfound good health keeps feeding his desire to continue.
“The more weight I lose, the more active I can be,” he said. “I’ve found I like being active.”
If you need some motivation to get moving, check out these upcoming Let’s Walk and Talk with a Doctor events:
- March 22: Hawk Island Park, 1601 E. Cavanaugh Rd., Lansing, 1 p.m. This event is a special collaboration with the Winter Warm Up finale celebration and will feature a 5K walk/run.
- April 18: Valhallah Park, 4000 Keller Rd., Holt, 10-11 a.m.
- May 2: Fenner Nature Center, 202 E. Mount Hope Ave., Lansing, 2-3 p.m. This event is in partnership with the Choosing Health! Spring Rally.
- June 6: Brenke Fish Ladder/Lansing River Trail at E. Grand River Ave., Lansing, 10-11 a.m., in partnership with NorthWest Initiative.
- July 11: CIS Trail/Clinton County Courthouse, 100 E. State St., St. Johns, 9-10 a.m., in partnership with the City of St. Johns.
- July 18: Benjamin Davis Park/South Lansing Pathway, 5614 Pleasant Grove Rd., Lansing, 7-8 p.m., in partnership with the South Lansing Community Development Association.
- July 26: AL!VE, 800 Lawrence Ave., Charlotte, in partnership with the Family Health & Fitness Day.
Have you made significant lifestyle changes that have led to better health? Tell us what helps you want to make healthy choices every day in the comments.
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Photo credit: Julie Bitely and Mr. Tin DC