Wednesday, December 29, 2010

2011 Here We Come!

Well, here we are at the close of another year. It’s hard to believe 2010 is almost over. It has been an exciting year for WISEWOMAN. Here are just a few of the highlights.

The inaugural blog posting for A Word From The Wise was posted on March 26, 2010. We have had a few stops and starts, but the blog is a great way to keep people informed about WISEWOMAN.

On May 1, 2010, the Dr. Ron Davis Smoke Free Air Law went into effect. This law helps protect the majority of non-smokers in Michigan from second hand smoke. It may also help prompt some of our WISEWOMAN participants to stop smoking for good.

A few days after the Smoke Free Air Law went into effect, we held the BCCCP/ WISEWOMAN Annual Meeting in Traverse City May 5-7, 2010 at the Great Wolf Lodge. We had some really great sessions and some terrific networking among the local WISEWOMAN staff.

2010 marks the second year of Market Fresh, and it has been a great success. Market Fresh is modeled after Project Fresh and Senior Project Fresh. Project Fresh provides books of coupons to WIC Moms to purchase fresh Michigan fruits and vegetables. Senior Project Fresh provides the coupons to folks over 60. Market Fresh provide those same coupon books to our WISEWOMAN participants. As soon as we get the final numbers for 2010, we will be writing about it here.

This year, we expanded the WISEWOMAN Entrepreneurial Gardening project to five new counties. This partnership between WISEWOMAN and MSU Extension was a win-win for everyone involved.

In August, we kicked off the WISEWOMAN/Body and Soul Lay Health Educator Project. This is a partnership between WISEWOMAN and the American Cancer Society’s Body and Soul in Flint, Michigan. For this pilot, the Lay Health Educators recruit women to be screened in both the BCCCP and WISEWOMAN. The screening takes place through the Genesee County Health Department. After the screening, the Lay Health Educators work with the women to deliver the Health Partnership Intervention. Stay tuned for more information as it unfolds.

This fall Michigan WISEWOMAN added a couple of new local organizations and several new screening sites. Barry-Eaton District Health Department offers WISEWOMAN in Barry and Eaton Counties. McAuley Health Center offers WISEWOMAN in Wayne County. Two of our current organizations expanded into four new counties. That means WISEWOMAN is now available in 34 counties!!

With a year like that, what can we do for an encore? Well, we plan to continue doing great things by brining WISEWOMAN to at least 4,500 eligible Michigan women. We will continue with Market Fresh, the Entrepreneurial Gardening Project, and the WISEWOMAN/Body and Soul Lay Health Educator Project. We are planning another great Annual Meeting, scheduled for May 3-5, 2011 in Traverse City. And, we are working on a few new innovative projects that will impact not only the health of our WISEWOMAN participants, but also the Social Determinants of Health. Keep checking this blog for all the exciting details!

The Michigan WISEWOMAN staff wish you a Safe, Happy, and Healthy New Year!!!!!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Wishing You a Mindful Holiday Season

Normally people wish you a happy, joyous, and peaceful holiday. So, why on earth would I wish you a mindful holiday season? Well, being mindful will help you have a happy, joyous, and peaceful holiday season.

So, what is mindfulness? Mindfulness comes from the Buddhist tradition, but you do not have to be Buddhist to be mindful. In fact, mindfulness is gaining ground in Psychotherapy.(1) According to one definition, “(Mindfulness) is a state of being aware. It is a process of observation and attention in the flow of changing stimuli and perceptions. Mindfulness is ‘in the moment,’ present, engaged awareness. . . that is free of judgment.” (2)

For me, it is a matter of paying attention to what I am doing at this moment. It is being here in front of the computer as I write this post, instead of thinking about what I am going to do when I get home tonight. It is shutting off all the competing thoughts and focusing on what I am doing right now.

I got the inspiration for this blog post from an article in Medical News Today.(3) During the holidays, the writer said, “we eat, drink, and spend more (money) than we would normally do, and regret it come New Year when we step on those scales, or the credit card bill lands on the doormat.”

You might think, “if I spend my time being mindful, I won’t enjoy the holidays, because I will have to give up everything I enjoy.” Mindfulness is not about giving up. It is about being present and aware and truly enjoying the experience.

Think about the holiday gatherings you normally attend. There are people, maybe there are drinks, certainly there are delicious treats. What do you normally do? You fill a plate with food, grab a drink, and stand around talking with people while you eat.

It is great to enjoy the company of other people, but as you stand there talking, you may be putting food into your mouth without thinking. Occasionally, you will eat something really flavorful. You might stop for a minute and savor it. You might even say, “Oh wow, you have got to try this!” However, for the most part, you are probably not really enjoying the food.

Here is another way to experience the situation. Walk up to the food table. Take a minute to look over everything. Notice the beautiful presentation. Pick up a plate. Choose a few things you think you will enjoy, and put them on your plate, being careful not to pile up the food. You want to be able to see everything you are going to eat. Find a place to sit or stand. Take a look at your plate. Notice the cheeses cut into little cubes or stars. Notice the shape and texture of the crackers. See how carefully the cookies have been decorated.

Pick out one thing to eat. Smell the food before you put it in your mouth. Does it smell sweet? Does it smell earthy? Now, close your eyes and put the food in your mouth. Notice the texture. Notice the taste. Does it crunch, or does it melt? Chew it slowly, experiencing all of the flavors.

I know, it seems like a lot to ask at a holiday gathering. There are other people around, and you may not be able to take that much time with each bite. However, you can still think about each bite of food before you put it in your mouth. You can still notice the care and work that went into making the food. The idea is to put yourself in the moment and enjoy the experience. Enjoy the food. Enjoy the beverages, and enjoy spending time with your friends and family. Isn’t that what the holidays are all about?

If you practice mindfulness during this holiday season, you may wind up eating less and enjoying it more. Then, when the new year rolls around, maybe you will not dread stepping on the scales.

For a handout on the principles of mindful eating, visit:

(1) Psychology Today:

Friday, December 10, 2010

Is Tobacco Really Bad For Me?

On December 9, 2010, the Surgeon General released a report titled, “How Tobacco Smoke Causes Disease: The Biology and Behavioral Basis for Smoking-Attributable Disease.”

You can find the report at:

The major conclusions of the report are:

1. The evidence on the mechanisms by which smoking causes disease indicates that there is no risk-free level of exposure to tobacco smoke.

2. Inhaling the complex chemical mixture of combus­tion compounds in tobacco smoke causes adverse health outcomes, particularly cancer and cardiovas­cular and pulmonary diseases, through mechanisms that include DNA damage, inflammation, and oxida­tive stress.

3. Through multiple defined mechanisms, the risk and severity of many adverse health outcomes caused by smoking are directly related to the duration and level of exposure to tobacco smoke.

4. Sustained use and long-term exposures to tobacco smoke are due to the powerfully addicting effects of tobacco products, which are mediated by diverse actions of nicotine and perhaps other compounds, at multiple types of nicotinic receptors in the brain.

5. Low levels of exposure, including exposures to sec­ondhand tobacco smoke, lead to a rapid and sharp increase in endothelial dysfunction and inflamma­tion, which are implicated in acute cardiovascular events and thrombosis.

6. There is insufficient evidence that product modifica­tion strategies to lower emissions of specific toxicants in tobacco smoke reduce risk for the major adverse health outcomes.

The Surgeon General’s Report provides more evidence of the dangers of tobacco smoke. This is not really news to those of us who work in public health and health care. We have seen the damage smoking can do. Yet, 20% of the U.S. population still smokes.

According to a September 2010 article in the L.A. Times (, “After 40 years of continual declines, the smoking rate in the United States has stabilized for the last five years, with one in every five Americans still lighting up regularly. . . .” This statement was based on data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) through 2009.

Looking at the 2009 CDC data by state, 19.6% of the Michigan population that year said they were smokers. (21.1% of men and 18.3% of women) For Michigan WISEWOMAN, the rates are much higher. Of all women enrolled during the 2009 calendar year, over 35% were smokers.

Why do so many people still smoke? The answer is in number 4 above, “Sustained use and long-term exposures to tobacco smoke are due to the powerfully addicting effects of tobacco products.” Tobacco products are powerfully addicting. I know this from experience. I used to smoke, but I quit smoking 16 years ago this month. I remember how difficult it was to quit. I also remember how good it felt to be free of that addiction.

Now that Michigan has a clean indoor air law, it will hopefully encourage more people (including WISEWOMAN participants) to quit smoking. If you or someone you know want to quit smoking, check out these resources on the Michigan Department of Community Health website: and on the Smokefree Women website: