F2H Fit Challenge to help residents shed 500,000 pounds

Two-city partnership looks to get residents, employees in shape

By: Chris Jackett | Farmington Press | Published January 16, 2013

FARMINGTON/FARMINGTON HILLS — The Trust for America’s Health named Michigan the fifth most obese state in the U.S. back in September, but local officials were already four months into developing a program to combat that, and it launched Jan. 14.

The F2H Fit Challenge is a collaboration between several community groups in Farmington and Farmington Hills, ranging from city government, to schools, to business associations, to Botsford Hospital. With the Trust for America’s Health announcing 31.3 percent of Michigan residents are obese — and projections show the number will swell to 59.4 percent by 2030 — local officials are being proactive.

The program will use the www.f2hfit.com website to allow the 185,000 residents and employees within the two cities to utilize healthy activity tips alongside a fitness and nutrition Personal Health Journal. The site and journal, which is free to register for, lets users track fitness goals ranging from weight to mass, as well as the numbers of miles run and other fitness goals. Healthwise Champions of Tulsa, Okla., developed the program.

“I thought it was a neat idea. And we were talking about place-making,” said Richard Lerner, who brought the idea to town after learning of a similar program in Oklahoma City. “One of the key goals to success is keeping a journal. It’s essentially a diary. It’s connected to the (U.S. Department of Agriculture), and you can enter in the foods you ate and figure out the calories.”

Lerner, who serves as Farmington Hills’ mayor pro-tem, said the site allows users to join different groups in order to challenge one another to meet fitness goals. He hopes the two cities can shed a combined 500,000 pounds and log 1 million miles of running by the end of 2013.

“The more groups you join, the more likely you are to stick with it,” Lerner said.

With about 93,000 residents between the two cities, local employees will also have to get in on the fun to help reach the lofty goals.

“We don’t want to be unrealistic. We want this to be all inclusive,” said Mary Engelman, executive director of Greater Farmington Area Chamber of Commerce. “I think that where we go with this, if you have a healthy employee (is), it cuts down on health care costs and employees are healthier.”

She said residents and employees who are already runners will help reach the fitness goals, but the challenge is hoping to encourage people who normally spend their free time on the couch to try a new exercise.

“This is a two-cities effort,” Engelman said. “Those that already run, that’s going to help, but we’re trying to get people who haven’t exercised before.”

Engelman said she enjoys the fact that residents and employees can join an unlimited number of groups to challenge one another.

“People love competition,” Engelman said. “It’s pretty exciting. We have so many members that are so much into exercise. Now they can exercise and network at the same time.”

Lerner said the several different partner groups planned to spread the word this week through their mailing lists, which range from 800-11,000 people for some groups.

“He thought it’d be a great fit for our community because we’re constantly growing,” Engelman said of Lerner’s idea, while also noting the importance of Botsford’s involvement. “Botsford does so much within this community. They’re trying to help us be healthy. It’s preventative.”

For more information or to register for the F2H Fit Challenge, visit www.f2hfit.com and make sure to join the Farmington Press group under the “Account” and “My Groups” tabs to see how Press readers match up against other community groups.