Sue Ann Says: Prevent Osteoporosis By Building Strong Bones

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February 2015 - You have seen it happen to your friends or family members before. One misplaced step on the ice or a trip over the coffee table and you have a broken bone. Fractures can occur in a woman at any age, but as we grow older our bones become more brittle. Your chance of having osteoporosis is four times higher than a man. Building good bone health practices into your daily routine will decrease your chances of osteoporosis. As I look at my healthy goals for 2015, bone health is near the top of my list. Are you at risk of poor bone health?

Let’s dig into current information on osteoporosis and include preventative bone health into your lifestyle.



Expressive Writing as a Form of Stress Management


Expressive writing has been found to “improve mood disorders, help reduce symptoms among cancer patients, improve a person’s health after a heart attack, reduce doctor visits and even boost memory” (Writing Your Way to Happiness, New York Times article by Tara Parker-Pope, January 19, 2015).

Sometimes figuring out how to cope with stress can be stressful.

You may ask yourself what you’re doing wrong and why you can’t seem to handle the things of life that other people appear to be handling perfectly well.

First, it’s important to note that you are not alone. Feeling overwhelmed is an unfortunately popular sentiment felt by all. Everyone seems like they’re handling things well because societal norms demand this of us. Pretending that everything is fine when it’s not may help in the moment, but it will ultimately result it greater problems.

Thankfully, there are healthy ways of dealing with our stress. One such way is journaling, or expressive writing.

This form of stress-management has gone beyond being a simple self-help method. Researchers around the country are studying the effects of expressive writing and journaling as a way of coping with our sometimes self-destructive outlooks on life. Many studies have found that writing about our life experiences, and then revisiting these writings, can help us evaluate our feelings and even improve our ability to deal with challenges.

A study led by Dr. Timothy D. Wilson, a psychology professor at the University of Virginia, asked married couples to write about a conflict as if from a neutral observer. The results found that among the 120 couples who participated in this study, those who wrote about the conflict showed greater improvement in marital happiness than those who did not.

In his book, “Redirect: Changing the Stories We Live By,” Dr. Wilson states that, “Writing forces people to reconstrue whatever is troubling them and find new meaning in it.”

This is just one of many studies that are being conducted around the country focusing on writing and our mental health. To learn about more studies that focus on this type of research, please view the links at the bottom of this article.

Here at the WWHF we see clearly the health benefits that come from practicing healthy journaling techniques. We provide support in this area with our EveryWoman’s Journal program, an education outreach program that teaches women how to use proactive health journaling techniques to increase individual awareness of their mental, physical, and emotional health, and guide them towards positive, effective action to improve their health and sense of personal well-being. Proactive health journaling helps women translate personal reflection and feedback into actions that increase well-being by becoming in tune with physical messages our body give us and by using self-care techniques.

You can schedule your free 2-hour journaling session by contacting our Program Coordinator, Nora Miller at or call 800-448-5148, ext. 103.


Stanford Researchers focus on African American students struggling to adjust to college

Benefits of Expressive Writing in Lowering Rumination and Depressive Symptoms

Expressive writing can increase working memory capacity

February is American Heart Month


Take time this month to focus on your heart health. We know that with the way the American lifestyle is, it can be difficult. We eat a lot, watch a lot of TV, sit at our desks all day, and hardly have time for physical activity. This lifestyle has not been without consequence. In fact, there is substantial evidence to conclude that it plays a major role in our heart health. “Cardiovascular disease — including heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure — is responsible for one out of every three deaths (in the US). It is the No. 1 killer of American women and men, and it is a leading cause of serious illness and disability,” President Obama announced in his Presidential Proclamation on January 30.

Despite this morbid pronouncement, the good news is that overall mortality rates of coronary heart disease (CHD) in the United States have actually declined in the past four decades. This is largely due to our heightened awareness of the dangers of smoking, advancements in prevention through heart healthy programs, and the ever increasing advancements in medical technology.

However, all these improvements have not succeeded in defeating this disease. It is still an ever present killer for Americans and is affecting young Americans at a steady rate. A study released this year by the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, titled, “Healthy Lifestyle in the Primordial Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease Among Young Women” confirms this, and goes even further concluding that “the rate of CHD in young women (ages 35-44) has increased on average by 1.3% per year between 1997 and 2002, and predicted CHD risk among young adults and women has declined only modestly since then.”

 In summary, it seems that despite an overall decline in the mortality rates of this disease for the general population, our young adult population has been affected at an increasing or unchanging rate in recent years. 

Woman in her Forties Exercising with Handweights

This study assesses lifestyle factors as a vital part of this odd trend. As a result of their study, the American College of Cardiology found that young women in the United States who adhered to a healthy lifestyle were associated with a decrease in risk for incidence of CHD. A healthy lifestyle, according to this study, takes into account the following risk factors: smoking,  physical activity, diet, TV watching, alcohol and BMI score.

What this means is that young women can play a major role in their own primordial prevention of CHD.

The American Heart Association is dedicated to bringing awareness to this very truth. Their website has a host of resources on Getting Healthy  in different areas of your health – Nutrition, Smoking, Physical Activity, Stress Management, and more.

On Friday, February 6, President Obama and the First Lady, Michelle Obama will invite all Americans to participate in National Wear Red Day. This day is meant to help raise awareness about cardiovascular disease and “remind us all that it is never too early to take action to protect our health.”

Nominate a Champion in Women’s Health! Nomination Deadline: Friday, January 30


Our 2014 Champions with WWHF President & Founder, Sue Ann Thompson (center). Champions from left: Dr. John & Mrs. Sally Mielke, Gina Green-Harris, Phyllis Holder, Clare Janty, Dr. Adedayo Onitilo.

Our 2014 Champions with WWHF President & Founder, Sue Ann Thompson (center). Champions from left: Dr. John & Mrs. Sally Mielke, Gina Green-Harris, Phyllis Holder, Clare Janty, Dr. Adedayo Onitilo.

The Champions in Women’s Health Awards honor individuals who have devoted themselves to improving the lives of women and families in their professional career. Nominees may include clinicians, administrators, scientists, public health professionals, or other women’s health leaders.

An Awards Reception in honor of the Champions will be held on Saturday, May 9 at the Concourse Hotel in Madison. Award winners will also receive four complementary tickets to the Spring Gala which will take place at the State Capitol later that same evening.

Don’t miss this opportunity to nominate someone who has proven to be a true Women’s Health Champion in Wisconsin!


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Schedule Your Healthy Aging Brain Session Today!


Sue Richards (BSN, FN, FCN), our professionally trained Faith Community Nurse, conveniently conducts free Healthy Aging Brain Sessions right where you are!

Schedule a free women’s health program to learn about the different types of dementia. In this session you will learn about what you can do to adopt a ‘brain healthy’ lifestyle and will receive information about health resources that are available near you!

The Healthy Aging Brain Session is a part of the WWHF’s GrapeVine Project, a free health education program for women in counties across Wisconsin.  We partner with local nurses who conduct  health education sessions on a variety of women’s health topics, including dementia.

Sue Richards (BSN, RN, FCN), our professionally trained Faith Community Nurse, will conveniently come to your workplace, library, church, book group, or another public location of your choice. Just pick your time and contact us to schedule a session. Start making healthy choices for your brain!

To schedule a session today, contact  Nora Miller at or call 800-448-5148, ext.103.

What people are saying:

“My mom has mild-moderate dementia – after attending this session I have learned to have more patience when she asks occasionally for relatives who are deceased (I don’t try to correct her). I find it easier to go along with it or redirect her.”

“After attending the healthy brain session, I talked with our daughter, who will be making a health and end of life decision for us.”


The Burden of Tobacco 2015 Report

A Burden of Tobacco report was recently released by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee with some shocking statistics. Over a period of three years (2008-2012), it was revealed that 15% of Wisconsinites older than 35 years are dying to illnesses directly related to smoking annually. The report concluded that about 7,356 Wisconsin deaths were associated both indirectly and directly with tobacco use each year, averaging a total cost of about $3 million in health care each year. 

This report unveils the true burden of tobacco use in the state and its ongoing negative impacts on our overall health. Although the increase in awareness of the consequences of smoking have led to a general decline in the use of tobacco since the 1960s, it remains as one of the leading preventable causes of death in the United States.


Director of the American Lung Association in Wisconsin, Dona Winisky, said in a statement, “An investment in prevention today means dollars and lives saved tomorrow. We are reaping the rewards of previous investments in tobacco cessation and prevention, but we need to continue to make this a priority.”

The WWHF’s First Breath program works directly with pregnant women who wish to quit smoking for the benefit of their own health and the health of their baby. Pregnant or not, you can visit our website for resources that can help you quit smoking today.

Read the entire Burden of Tobacco Report

2015 Parish Nurse Scholarships – Now Open!


The 2015 Faith Community Nurse Scholarship application is now available on our website! We offer this scholarship to registered nurses who wish to complete advanced training in the Faith Community/Parish Nurse education program.

Faith Community/Parish Nurses have the unique opportunity to minister the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of women and their families. They act as effective health advocates, health educators, counselors, referral agents, volunteer coordinators, and support group leaders.

Two scholarships (up to $750) are available through a competitive review process to those who meet the criteria.  To apply for a scholarship, visit our Grants and Scholarships page, or contact Nora Miller directly;


APPLICATION DEADLINE IS: FEBRUARY 15, 2015                 



Prioritize Your Health This Holiday Season


Side-step your way out of the holiday rush for a minute, and just breath. How has your health been since Thanksgiving? Have you noticed an increase in stress level, anxiety, or agitation? Thought so.

When the holidays come rolling around, people (especially women) tend to shoulder more than they can bear. But this time of year does not have to weigh so heavily on us. Sometimes, it comes down to prioritizing: so for the next month, let’s prioritize our health. Just wait and see, the rest of the things in your life will start to feel so much lighter.

Prioritizing your health looks like this:

  • Resting. This means getting the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep a night. It will help you function better at work, and give you more energy to tackle your holiday To-Do List.
  • Exercising. Even 20 minutes has been shown to increase energy level, improve productivity, and of course, pump up those famous neurotransmitters called endorphins that make you and me a happier person.
  • Not over-committing. Take a look at your calendar for this month, and really be purposeful about when you schedule things. Saying no once in a while will give you more time to focus on your health, friends, family and other holiday commitments.
  • Shopping online. Avoid the hustle and bustle of the crowded shopping malls and shop from your home. Not only is it a more relaxing shopping experience, it also cuts out all the hassle of driving in traffic or unfavorable weather.

    Feet warming by fireplace

    Forget holiday shopping. Instead, put a few logs on the fire and enjoy some welcome company.

  • Making time instead of spending money. Are you spending an hour trying to pick out the perfect gift for your mother-in-law? What if, instead, you made time for her by blocking out an hour for a one-on-one coffee date or walk through the park? Our relationships are not fueled by money or presents – they run on love and time spent together. So put down the credit card and focus on your loved ones.
  • Eating well, with some indulgences. Gorging yourself with holiday treats is not a great feeling – it leaves you feeling bloated, uncomfortable, and guilty. On the other hand, not eating holiday treats doesn’t feel great either. Tis’ the season! So don’t refuse yourself the joy of a nice hot cocoa or your mother’s homemade apple pie. Just remember, moderation is your friend – keep it to one serving only. For help with portioning, check out this helpful blog: Your Guide to Holiday Portions
  • Reminding yourself of the true purpose of this season. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza, Pancha Ganapati, etc. it’s important to remember what the point of it all is. Return to the purpose of the celebration and all the extra stresses that seem so important right now will slowly float away.



Still churning your teeth while thinking about that To-Do List?
Then keep experimenting with 25 Ways to Fight Holiday Stress




What’s Oral Health Got to do With it?


Turkey is high both in calcium and phosphorus, two nutrients that help in tooth development.

We can all feel a little guilty around the holidays as we pack in as many goodies as we can get our hands on. While enjoyable at the time, these treats can lead to real consequences, not only with our waistlines, but with our oral health as well. Read below for some tips on how to take it easy on your teeth this holiday season. You may be surprised at some of the suggestions – there are many Thanksgiving foods that have great benefits to your dental hygiene!

  1. Reduce the sugar: Surprise, surprise, sugar isn’t great for your teeth. When broken down, it forms into a kind of acid, which can lead to decalcification and ultimate dental decay. Try cutting the sugar levels in your recipes down, maybe by a third or even a half. Chances are no one will be able to notice the difference – not even you!
  2. Balance sugar with protein: We know how hard it is to resist a table laden with holiday desserts. That’s why we’re here to say you don’t have to cut all of those sweets out to avoid the guilt. Instead, be proactive in balancing your consumption of sugar with protein. This can help in two ways: One, eating causes an increase in saliva production, which in turn helps wash away sticky substances from the surface of your teeth. Two, proteins like the turkey sitting on your dining table, is very high in calcium, which can counteract the negative effects of the sugary desserts.
  3. Speaking of turkey: Experts say to eat lots of it! Not only is it high in calcium but it’s high in phosphorous as well which is needed for tooth development.
  4. Incorporate vegetables: Vitamin A is an essential nutrient for building strong teeth – you can help your body produce this nutrient by consuming vegetables with lots of beta carotene. Celery and carrots are excellent sources of beta carotene, making them a teeth-happy addition to your stuffing this year.
  5. Eat that pumpkin pie: When we said you could eat dessert, we meant it! In fact, pumpkin pie is another good source of Vitamin C, which can help to recalcify your teeth. So go ahead, pick up a slice. Just remember to keep it in balance with the rest of your meal.

We hope these easy tips can help you enjoy your Thanksgiving meal this year, guilt-free.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving from all of us over here at the Foundation!


Thank you to our generous supporter and partner in oral health:

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2014 Annual Dialogue on Multiple Sclerosis: it is not a hopeless disease

Electronic Graphic for Dialogue

Thank you to everyone who was in attendance at this year’s Annual Dialogue on Multiple Sclerosis which took place on the morning of October 29 at the Madison Concourse Hotel. We were joined by about a hundred individuals from around the state, including representatives from our two partner organizations for this event, the National MS Society – Wisconsin Chapter and the Wisconsin Well Woman Program.

It was through the collaborative work of our partner organizations that made this event possible – with their encouragement and support, we were able to join together and shed some light on this often debilitating health issue.

Multiple Sclerosis is a complex disease with a complex diagnosis. While there are many theories about the cause of MS, the main cause is still unknown. What is more, it’s been found that women are 2 to 3 times more affected by the disease than men and that the incidence of MS dramatically increases as you move further away from the equator into the northern areas of the world. In Wisconsin, the incidence is about 500 per 100,000 people, compared to areas near the equator, which are as low as 1 per 100,000. However, in the past 30-50 years significant advancements have been made in the areas of diagnosis, treatment and therapy. Living with MS is now a far less daunting task.

From left: Peggy Mat-Siewert, Colleen Kalt, Dr. Colleen Hayes, Dr. Christopher Luzzio

From left: Peggy Mat-Siewert, Colleen Kalt, Dr. Colleen Hayes, Dr. Christopher Luzzio

In light of this exciting time in the area of MS research, we were thrilled to welcome our four esteemed panelists, all of whom provided their own informative and eye-opening perspective on this often complex auto-immune disease.

Our first speaker for the day was Colleen Kalt, President & CEO of the Wisconsin Chapter of the National MS Society. Colleen began her career with the Society in 1982 as a volunteer. Today, she has thirty years under her belt as the President. During her time at the Society, she has vigorously advocated and supported the work of scientists and clinicians in MS research. With her help, we now understand just how far we have already come over the short period of 30 years and how near we are to making some major breakthroughs.

“30 years ago, they were telling MS patients to do nothing. They told them to go home, rest, and not move.”

-Colleen Kalt, President & CEO of the National MS Society

Our second speaker was Dr. Christopher Luzzio, an Assistant Professor of Neurology from the School of Medicine & Public Health at UW-Madison. Dr. Luzzio not only is a Neurologist who sees and treats MS patients daily, but he is also a Machinist and an Engineer who specializes in manufacturing devices that aid disabled individuals, including those who have suffered a loss of bodily movement as a result of MS. At the Dialogue he shared the importance of therapy and exercise, emphasizing that through pursuing a healthy lifestyle, many MS symptoms can be made manageable, and in some instances, slow the progression of the disease down.

Dr. Colleen Hayes, a Professor and Researcher in the Department of Biochemistry at UW-Madison shared her perspective on Multiple Sclerosis, focusing in particular on her research which indicates a correlation between Vitamin D levels and the diagnosis of MS. She explained the correlation by illustrating the extreme differences in incidence close to the equator and north of the equator. She is conducting ground-breaking research in an area of study that has proved incredibly difficult for most scientists and researches to try and understand. We are grateful to her for her continued work in this area.

Dialogue Collage

Lastly, we had Peggy Mat-Siewert join us to give insight on what it is like to be a Caregiver of someone with this disease. For Peggy, it was her husband, John, who struggled with MS for about 14 years before losing his battle in 2010. In her talk, Peggy emphasized the importance of being open about struggling with the condition and also encouraged getting involved in community activities related to MS. She participated in many MS Awareness bike rides through the Society and has been an inspiration to thousands of other caregivers out there who are dealing with the same difficulties. You can find her and her late husband’s story on 

If you were unable to attend the event but are still interested in the topic, you can take a look at our website, there you will find each speaker’s presentation slides. A white paper of the event will also be available sometime early this winter.

View the full-length video of our recently premiered "Multiple Sclerosis: Wisconsin Perspective"

View the full-length video of our recently premiered
Multiple Sclerosis: Wisconsin Perspective

Also on our website is a new video created in collaboration with the Wisconsin Well Woman Program, titled, Multiple Sclerosis: Wisconsin Perspective. This video features two of our panelists from the Dialogue, Dr. Colleen Hayes and Dr. Christopher Luzzio, both of whom speak about the basic characteristics of the disease and the progress that is being made in research and therapy. It’s only about 15 minutes long and covers many important points on the topic of MS. Take a look and feel free to share it with your family and friends.


Thanks again to all who were able to attend and support this very important women’s health topic. Our desire is that all attendees were able to walk away with a better understanding of MS and its challenges, while also leaving with a sense of hope: in the words of Dr. Luzzio, Multiple Sclerosis does not  have to rule your life. Through exercise, healthy eating habits, therapy, and support from the MS Society, family and friends, it can be a very manageable disease.

For more information on MS and ways to get involved in advocacy or receive support, please visit the National MS Society – Wisconsin Chapter website. They are doing incredible work all around the state of Wisconsin and would be happy to work individually with you.


A special thanks to our sponsors:

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 Acorda Therapeutics      Group Health Cooperative of South Central Wisconsin