Staying Active with the Change in Season

Yellow Autumn Leaves On TreesEverything about the late fall and winter season is a cry for comfort – comfort food, comfortable socks, warm and cozy evenings spent near the fire… So it sure can be difficult to make exercise a priority when you’re vigorously counting the minutes until you can get back home for a nice cup of soup. And it’s not only the low temperatures that dampen our motivation to get out the door and to the gym, but the shorter days can make our opportunity gap for exercise feel smaller and smaller.

Despite these detrimental factors, it’s actually very important to maintain a level of physical exercise in the colder seasons. According to a study by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, American adults gain an average of one pound from September to late March. It is true that fat keeps us warmer and therefore can serve as necessary insulation for the cold season. However, the study also found that this one pound, small though it may be, was weight that never came off – in other words, every year Americans are gaining an average of one pound that never goes away, as a result of winter hibernation.

Weight is not necessarily the only concern. When we establish an exercise routine we are committed to maintaining our overall health. Physical activity can help combat health conditions such as stroke, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, metabolic syndrome, arthritis, and even your mental health like depression. All in all, exercise is a great way to feel great and stay healthy, longer.

The good news is you can resist the urge to stay inside, eat, and lounge simply by adjusting your workout routine to accommodate this change in season.It’s possible that you may even find some new, creative activities that add variety to your routine and strengthen your body in different ways! Check out some tips below for staying motivated this season.


Strech1. For those who are committed to outdoor activity, prepare by getting specific cold weather exercise clothing that will help keep you warm and cool

2. Find a workout partner that loves to do what you do – that way you will be held accountable and be able to motivate one another on the harder days

3. If the cold and darkness is too much for you, consider moving your workouts indoors. This may require you to research more about indoor exercise that can be done at home. Alternatively, this may mean joining your local gym. Either way, it may push you to start cross training, giving your fitness routine a more well rounded approach.

4. If heading out for a run or to the gym after dark is not an option, consider trying to move your workout to the morning or to your lunch hour. If you have a gym located near your work, this could serve as an efficient and easy way to fit it into your schedule.


In the end, it is true that your activity level will look different as the colder season approaches. However, this can be a great opportunity for you to try new things and challenge yourself, physically and mentally. So get off your computer, and start planning your workout schedule for this season!

Feria latina de la salud

feria latina

Mayor of Madison Paul Soglin poses with the members of the Latino Health Council after officially declaring October 17th as the Day of Latino Health in Madison.

On a brisk fall Saturday in mid-October, the Wisconsin Women’s Health Foundation had the pleasure of attending the 2014 Latino Health Fair, which was held at Bethel Lutheran Church in Madison, WI.

Here at the Foundation, we have the wonderful opportunity to reach out to women from all over the state and from all different backgrounds. We are committed to connecting with those who do not have appropriate access to health care and are vigilant in supporting other organizations with this same mission.

The Latino Health Council has been around since 1996. Originally, the Council was a part of another group called the Cultural Diversity Committee, which sought to target the needs of poorly attended people groups, looking specifically at cancer services. A year later, a group was formed with a focus on Latino health and thus begun the history of the Latino Health Council. Their mission has naturally broadened over the years to cover a wide range of health issues including cancer, and host of other issues such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, mental health, nutrition, etc.

La feria latina de salud or the Latino Health Fair was a testament to their mission: throughout the day people were able to stop by

Young talent from La Follette High School serenades the lunch crowd.

Young talent from La Follette High School serenades the lunch crowd.

and receive free health check-ups for diabetes, cholesterol, blood pressure, BMI, and skin. That’s not to mention enjoying the free lunch while being serenaded by the wonderful young talent from La Follette High School’s very own Mariachi band! Though the band consisted of about half Latinos and half Caucasians, in the words of Patricia Tellez-Giron-Salazar (the chair of the Council), they all had the the heart of a Latino.

We are grateful to them for their work within the community of Madison and are proud to call ourselves a partner in supporting Latino health.

For more information on what they do and the projects they are currently working on, please visit their website.

The Gathering – Thank You!

Mature women smilingThank you to everyone who made it out to our Annual Gathering this year!

It was yet another wonderful event, filled with learning, connecting with others, and re-energizing the mind, body & spirit. This year we focused on Dementia & Aging – an increasingly relevant topic, whether you are someone who has already been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, have a family history of dementia, or know someone who is currently dealing with its symptoms.

We were joined two weeks ago by nearly 200 Wisconsin women at Ministry St. Joseph’s Hospital in the beautiful city of Marshfield. Those who were in attendance left with a better understanding of what dementia is and how it affects them. Featured speakers helped to explain the nature of Alzheimer’s disease and what can be done to improve the quality of life while continuing to deal with its repercussions. Our focus was on the importance of maintaining an overall healthy lifestyle, from eating well, to exercising, and sleeping right. Above all, we sought to lift the spirits of those going through the difficulties that often come with aging, emphasizing the value of healthy choices that can lead to a healthier aging experience.

But don’t take our word for it! Hear what some of our attendees had to say:


What did you enjoy most about the conference?

“The togetherness”

“Everything. The panel discussion was very personal, empowering, with a variety of perspectives”

“The pampering – from the shuttle bus to the end of our day – it nourished my mind. The comraderie of others and time away from work”

“Fascinating, soothing”


Why is women’s health important to you?

“I am a woman, mom & grandmother, with a daughter & daughter-in-law. I also reach out to women working in strip clubs, so many survived violence. Healing is essential to life.”

“Healthy me, healthy family”


We want to send out our sincerest gratitude to everyone who was able to attend. Your presence and support is what motivates us to continue moving towards our goal of helping Wisconsin women and their families reach their healthiest potential.


The Gathering is an annual statewide health conference for women who have participated in a Wisconsin Women’s Health Foundation program. The day-long conference offers women the opportunity to network with others, attend health related presentations and provide them with the tools and resources they need to make good decisions for themselves and their families.

Visit our website and stay tuned for details on next year’s Gathering!


A special thanks to our sponsors:





Saint Josephs Hospital LEFT CMYK_2010

The Unlikely Connection Between Diabetes & Oral Hygiene


Brushing your teeth twice daily does more than just keep them white.

Sometimes preventive action against disease is a result of our smallest choices. It’s these everyday choices that influence our health in the long term, which can be overwhelming when not properly attended to. Not paying attention to oral hygiene may not seem like a big deal today, but in 10 years it could mean a lot of unnecessary stress, financial expense and discomfort.

If you or someone you love has diabetes, the practice of managing oral health is of even more importance.

It’s as simple as the following:

People with diabetes have higher blood sugar levels. Germs feed on this opportunity to grow more easily, which leads to bacteria build-up, plaque, tartar and eventually mouth infections like periodontal (gum) disease. By choosing to brush, floss and visit your dentist regularly, you are already taking the necessary steps to help prevent disease.

Read below for some helpful tips on how to keep up a healthy mouth, while also maintaining that bright smile.

  • Keep blood glucose controlled.
  • Brush your teeth twice a day using fluoride toothpaste, paying attention to all tooth surfaces and the gum line as well.
  • Floss at least once a day. Flossing cleans the plaque that you can’t reach while brushing.
  • See your dentist regularly for cleanings and check-ups. And be sure to let your dentist know that you have diabetes.
  • Alert your dentist if you notice abnormal activity like bleeding gums, a swollen or sore area, or pain or sensitivity while eating.

This health information is courtesy of Delta Dental. For more on dental hygiene, diabetes, and other oral health issues, please visit their website.

GrapeVine Project Parish Nurse Highlight

Meet Shirley Bennett, Parish Nurse

Shirley Bennett

Shirley Bennett was trained in WWHF’s GrapeVine Project in September 2012. She is a Parish Nurse at the Congregation of St. Mary’s and St. Paul’s in Mineral Point where she has presented a GrapeVine educational session. She also shares presentations and participates in outreach with United Church of Christ in Mineral Point.

The GrapeVine Project is a free health education program for women presented by Faith Community/Parish Nurses (FCNs) right in your own community! The Wisconsin Women’s Health Foundation partners with FCNs throughout the state by providing them with tools and educational information about various health topics. Holding free educational sessions, the nurses then share the information with women in their communities. Sessions can be held anywhere!


What is your favorite aspect of Faith Community Nursing/what made you want to become a FCN?

SB: My initial inspiration for getting involved in faith community nursing came from a dear friend and coworker who was the Lutheran Parish Nurse from Barneveld. I had always thought very highly of her and saw the impact that she was making in her community.  She propelled my decision to become a FCN.  Although I did not think I could ever be her (I still don’t), after retiring in 2011, I felt I had a responsibility to continue sharing my knowledge and clinical experience so I could be that source of support to my community.   

As the first Parish Nurse of the Congregation of St. Mary’s and St. Paul’s I’ve enjoyed the evolving responsibilities of my role. Education and the increasingly advocacy-based components are the most rewarding aspects of being a FCN.  Informing my congregation about community resources and organizing activities promoting well-being provides me with the opportunity to increase health literacy. In the past, I’ve led a compression-only CPR training to 58 parishioners and 3 times a month I communicate via Parish Bulletin articles about health issues.  I also enjoy acting as an advocate for fellow parishioners with their health professionals. Often patients are left with unanswered questions and concerns when it comes to medical issues because their doctor does not have the time for extensive explanations or patients do not ask the questions.  As such, I am able to offer my knowledge and experience to address their concerns. Recently I gave an anatomy lesson to a woman who would be having surgery. The information about her organ placement helped her understand what was happening to her body.

Working in a rural community, my responsibilities are varied and always in response to interest and what people are in need of, whether that be educational programing, assessment, referral, or support navigating the medical system.  Although at times I am limited in what I can do, I enjoy working in an environment where I know everyone at a personal level. 

How or why did you get involved with the GrapeVine Project?

SB: I was first introduced to GrapeVine through Sue Richards, a fellow classmate in the Faith Community Nurse course at Viterbo. Sue roped me in with her enthusiasm and verve for the program. Additionally, Peggy Weber is another mentor that has answered many of my questions and been a fantastic resource.  Knowing such dedicated and spirited individuals were involved with GVP, I decided that joining was the right decision for me and am glad to be one of the GrapeVine Project’s nurses.    

What is your favorite part of the GrapeVine Project?

SB: GrapeVine is another way for me to expand my service to my community.  There is a peer group of other Parish Nurses for me to connect with and share ideas. I’ve enjoyed sharing breakfast with fellow nurses at The Egg & I because they offer a wealth of information and I am always interested to know what is going on at their churches, and if there is something I can incorporate in my community.  Before I joined GVP I did not realize that such a resource was available to FCNs.  I am also grateful for the abundance of free educational materials and programing because it allows me to be a better resource for my community.  I am trained in the cardiac session, have enjoyed presenting it to parishioners, and am looking forward to being trained in the other health topics available.   

What is a little known fact about you (what are your hobbies and interests)?

SB: I enjoy pursuing different professional experiences.  For example, this summer I am looking forward to embracing the role as a Camp Nurse and am excited to see what new experiences I will encounter.  Also, I work seasonally at Lands’ End because, when I was still working at the hospital, I took care of many individuals who worked there and wanted to better understand what their experiences were like.  I also love utilizing the benefit of the year round fitness center and pool that Lands’ End provides for all employees.

Although I do not always have the time, I love to read and enjoy trinity-based reads like those by William P. Young as well as other fiction including any book by Sue Monk Kidd. 

Do you have any stories about a session or a participant who contacted you after a session where you were able to help someone specifically because of the session – Go with them to a doctor appointment?

SB: When I presented the cardiac health session I had a few participants who experienced heart issues in the past. Through sharing their stories, they were able to provide a personal perspective and offer real life experiences that related to the material. For example, there was an individual that underwent a cardiac bypass and another that experienced a cardiac catheterization. Their accounts made the information that I was conveying much more real and powerful because individuals were able to contextualize the consequences of heart health. 

Anything else you would like to share (kids, grandkids, pets)?

SB: I graduated from St. Mary’s School of Nursing and for 43 years was actively employed as an RN primarily at Upland Hills Health in Dodgeville.  In a rural community you need to be a generalist, but my primary focus for most of my active years was the Emergency Department and Operating Room.  The last 15 years before my retirement I was the Surgical Case Manager, which has greatly benefitted me in my current role as a FCN.  I live in rural Mineral Point with my husband.  We have 3 children and 5 grandchildren.  We love spending time with all of them, especially attending all of our grandkids’ sporting and extracurricular activities.

GrapeVine Project Nurse Highlight

Meet Ardyce McMillen, Parish Nurse


Ardyce McMillen was trained for the WWHF’s GrapeVine Project in April 2008 and has presented sessions in Reedsburg, WI. Ardyce has held 9 educational sessions. She is a Parish Nurse at the Reedsburg Bible Baptist Church.

The GrapeVine Project is a free health education program for women presented by Faith Community/Parish Nurses (FCNs) right in your own community! The Wisconsin Women’s Health Foundation partners with FCNs throughout the state by providing them with tools and educational information about various health topics. Holding free educational sessions, the nurses then share the information with women in their communities. Sessions can be held anywhere!


WWHF: What is your favorite aspect of Faith Community Nursing/what made you want to become a FCN?

AM: I like teaching people about their health, so they can do something about it themselves.  I think more and more it’s going to be important that people take responsibility for their own health and I really want to help them be able to do that.  I know one of the things we’ve always said as a Parish Nurse is that when people go to the doctor, they should make a list of questions before they go.  Encouraging people to take responsibility for their own health, learn as much as they can about health issues, and don’t be afraid to do something about their health teaches them to become their own advocates.


WWHF: How or why did you get involved with the GrapeVine Project?

AM: Tammy Koenecke talked about the GrapeVine Project at a Regional Parish Nurse meeting I attended.  It sounded like something I wanted to do as I enjoy teaching individuals and was invited by the Wisconsin Women’s Health Foundation to attend one of the trainings.


WWHF: What is your favorite part of the GrapeVine Project?

AM: Interacting with different people and teaching them about their health. Doctors and nurses are so busy, that it seems like patients have less and less time with them, so it is nice to be able to talk to individuals about their health concerns…sometimes, people just need someone to listen to them.


WWHF: What is a little known fact about you (what are your hobbies and interests)?

AM: I love gardening, especially flowers.


WWHF: Do you have any stories about a session or a participant who contacted you after a session where you were able to help someone specifically because of the session – Go with them to a doctor appointment?

AM: On two different occasions after sessions on Women and Heart Disease, several individuals shared their stories, many did not realize some of the symptoms specific to females.  One woman in particular had jaw pain for weeks and didn’t realize there was any connection to heart disease. After learning it was a symptom of heart disease, she went to her doctor and ended up having valve replacement.  Numerous people have stated that they wished they learned some of the signs, symptoms and risk factors earlier in life as they would have done things differently.  People are making some changes and applying some of the things they are learning at the sessions.


WWHF: Anything else you would like to share (kids, grandkids, pets)?

AM: My husband, Don, and I have 4 kids and 11 grandchildren.  My oldest granddaughter, who lives in San Diego gave birth to our first great grandson May 28, 2014.

WWHF Releases a CME!

CME postcard_Page_1

We have released our new Continuing Medical Education (CME) video – Perinatal Smoking Cessation: Challenges and Opportunities.


This free informational video incorporates information from our First Breath program to describe the unique treatment needs of pregnant smokers. The video was created based on recent research and evidenced-based clinical practice guidelines. Perinatal Smoking Cessation: Challenges and Opportunities illustrates common barriers to quitting smoking while pregnant and effective strategies for treating tobacco dependence in the perinatal population, in addition to highlighting 3 physician/patient case studies.

The CME highlights the unique needs of pregnant smokers. “Many women smoke to deal with strong emotions, which can be common during the perinatal period. Others’ social networks may be saturated with smokers, making tobacco use, even during pregnancy, a social norm. Other patients may hold the cultural belief that small babies are good. So when a healthcare practitioner explains that smoking causes low birth weight and preterm labor – this might be the evidence they need to continue to smoke,” explains Kristine Alaniz, MPH, Wisconsin Women’s Health Foundation.


Perinatal Smoking Cessation: Challenges and Opportunities highlights why this issue is so important. “Smoking is the leading preventative cause of poor birth outcomes, including: premature rupture of membranes, placental abruption, and placental previa,” However, maternal smoking doesn’t just affect the direct participants. “The smoking attributable neonatal costs in the United States represent almost 400 million dollars every year,” and Wisconsin outnumbers the country’s average in pregnant smokers, with 13% of pregnant women reporting tobacco use.

The CME targets physicians including ob/gyns, family practitioners and pediatricians, advanced practice nurses, physician assistants, nurses and other members of the care team who provide perinatal support to mothers, but is available to anyone.



WWHF was able to produce this video with grant funding from CS2Day, a collaborative of nine partners who work toward developing an unprecedented and comprehensive approach to intervene and decrease the smoking rates in the United States. 

To view this video, please log on to the IPMA Web site at The session can be found under “Perinatal Smoking Cessation.”

National Women’s Health Week

Help us celebrate National Women’s Health Week!

Want to know what it means to be a “well woman”? According to the Office on Women’s Health it means: to be as healthy as you can be and taking steps to improve your health. These steps could include any of the following:


How can you celebrate?

  • Spread the word about women’s health through word of mouth, email, social media and more!
  • Pledge to be a well woman
  • Donate to The WWHF to support women’s health in your community


White Paper – Women & Aging: The Impact of Dementia

On October 10th & 11th, 2013, WWHF held our 7th Annual Dialogue, Women & Aging: The Impact of Dementia. The Annual Dialogue is a moderated panel discussion of state and national leaders in prevention and treatment. Attendees learn about innovative solutions and strategies that can improve healthcare outcomes for Wisconsin communities.

As a follow up to the Annual Dialogue, WWHF produced a White Paper that provides an in-depth look at the issue of dementia and the discussion from the Dialogue. The White Paper is now available and can be accessed by clicking here or visiting WWHF’s website under publications.


Last Chance – Nominate an Everyday Health Hero Today!

Nominations for Everyday Health Heroes will close tomorrow. Hurry and nominate your Everyday Health Hero today – it’s so easy!

Portrait of mature woman sitting in countryside

Everyday Health Heroes are individuals who have impacted the health and welfare of their families or communities. Nominees may include teachers, coaches, parents, neighbors, your family and friends.

Everyday Health Heroes are men and women who lead by example and make health a priority. Everyday Health Heroes:

  • Make courageous choices;
  • Are creative in how they live a healthy lifestyle;
  • Help others make changes to improve their health; and
  • Are generous with their time, talents and energy.

The Everyday Health Heroes Awards will be presented at WWHF’s Pre-Gala VIP Event on Saturday, May 3, 2014. Winners will receive complimentary tickets to WWHF’s Annual Spring Gala Event on Saturday, May 3, 2014.

Click here to nominate now!