by Char Brooks, Project Healthy Living Coach and Attorney
Elder Law of Michigan has received a grant from the Michigan Fitness Foundation to teach Project Healthy Living Classes to seniors. The goals of the grant are to help seniors increase their fruits and vegetables as well as get 30 minutes moderate physical activity most days. I have the privilege of facility this free class throughout mid- Michigan to residential and community senior centers. I love facilitating Project Healthy Living Classes because I meet Senior Coordinators who want their seniors to be healthy and have fun doing it. I often have the privilege of going to the senior center ahead of time to share what the class will cover and show the helpful kitchen items that will be given out as part of the class.
I also enjoy my job because the Michigan Fitness Foundation has supplied me with excellent materials so that I can show seniors how affordable and easy it is to eat nourishing fruits and vegetables as well as do moderate exercise. I have everything I need to give those who attend my classes solid information, plus I can customize my approach to meet their needs.
For example, some of my participants use a walker or wheelchair. The exercises that I demonstrate are adaptable to any physical condition and I customize each class to the needs of the participants. That means I show modifications of the exercises plus offer suggestions for how to incorporate them into daily life. As the participants start moving, I notice them smiling, laughing and feeling energized.
Other participants aren’t interested in eating vegetables or fruits. There are many reasons for this. For example, one participant was on dialysis and was very limited in what she could eat due to her medical condition. She began class with her arms folded and said, “I can’t eat any of these things.” As we talked, I mentioned some vegetables that she realized she could eat. She left class feeling happy and hopeful. The next week she came to class excited because she discovered she could eat more fruits and vegetables than she thought, after double checking with her healthcare provider.
Often, my participants think they are eating and living a healthy lifestyle. I provide a session log to each participants so they can keep track of how many cups of fresh produce they eat plus how much time they are spending exercising each day. Many participants find that they are eating more fruits and vegetables than they thought they were. Others find they are getting less exercise.
So, what’s my point? I love facilitating this class because it gives my participants the knowledge, tools and information they need to make living a healthy lifestyle do-able and affordable. As part of the class, the Michigan Nutrition Network also provides helpful kitchen tools like snack containers and colanders that I give out to encourage healthy eating.
Some of the participants have a bridge card. I explain the Double Up Food Bucks program which makes it more economical to eat fresh Michigan fruits and vegetables.
When asked what the most rewarding part of the Project Healthy Living class was, one of my participant’s wrote, “I can do it!!!” To see the light go on as my participants realize that it is not only possible but fun and affordable to eat in a healthy way plus enjoy moderate exercise is incredibly satisfying.
If you are a Service Coordinator interested in hosting a Project Healthy Living class, please contact Char Brooks at 517-853-5187 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are a senior interested in attending a Project Healthy Living class, ask your local senior center or your service coordinator to contact me for more information.
Char Brooks is a Project Healthy Living Coach and attorney at Elder Law of Michigan. She has been a member of the Elder Law team since mid 2013. Char holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from Michigan State University, and graduated with her Juris Doctor from Thomas M. Cooley Law School over 30 years ago.. As a Project Healthy Living Coach at Elder Law, Char facilitates classes for seniors and offers one on one coaching sessions to Michigan seniors to help them improve the quality of their lives.