Chicago is the second city again — second only to Milwaukee as the unhealthiest city in America, according to a new “Healthy Cities Index” report released by BetterDoctor.com, a portal that helps consumers find quality healthcare professionals. The team evaluated cities across the U.S. based on exercise rates, eating habits, disease rates, percentage of highly-rated doctors in the area and the amount of residents with health insurance coverage—all of which put us almost dead last in rankings. We can’t blame the cold climate, either—Minneapolis, Washington, D.C. and Boston rounded out the top three healthiest cities.
This is not the first time Chicagoans have been tagged as unhealthy, either, but recently some suburban areas have stepped up to help ensure local residents don’t become part of the statistics.
Such was the case for Teresa Marie Kasper, a 54-year-old Northbrook resident who found herself overweight for much of her adult life and unable to shed the pounds through failed attempts at yo-yo dieting and setbacks from a series of injuries in recent years including broken wrists and ankles.
Kasper fondly remembers when she backpacked the Continental Divide, went scuba diving and rappelling and hiked with her children all over the Southwest. It’s been so long since she’s been able to do so that her two kids aren’t able to remember it. “I’d like to be part of my children’s lives as they evolve and that means taking the first step to get me healthy,” she said. “I knew I couldn’t keep going up [on the scale], so I needed to turn it around.”
Late last year, Kasper noticed a newspaper ad for a “Be a Loser” contest that Five Seasons Family Sports Club was running in 2015. It awarded one winner a one-year family membership to the club, two one-hour training sessions per week for the year, an activity tracker, nutrition counseling, Five Seasons fitness gear and a weekly goal-setting workshop (a value of $12,000).
“I don’t generally read the paper but for some reason I flipped through it, saw the ad and put it on my workspace at home. Every now and then I’d look at it and think I should look into this.” A week before submissions were due in December, Kasper entered and on Christmas Day she got the call that she was the chosen one.
“We were looking for someone who needed to lose weight and turnaround their health and someone who would be committed since it’s a year-long program,” said Chief Club Officer Lina Lubbat, “and she has been. Every time you walk into the club you see her here.” Kasper was chosen out of nearly 50 candidates for the first-year program, which was inspired by the success of the health club’s sister location in Cincinnati. In 2014, 27-year-old Mark Wright lost 190 pounds from an initial weigh-in of 467 pounds. He returns for a second year in the contest and recently completed the Cincinnati Half Marathon.
For Kasper, she has no set numeric goal but is focusing on sticking to the plan, which involves meeting her trainer Michael Matthews two days a week for training and nutrition counseling (she’s limited to 1,200 calories per day), two work-alone days of cardiovascular and strength training and her own personal reward after each workout session—sitting in the sauna.
So far, it’s been working. On January 2, Kasper weighed in at 246 pounds; as of last week’s weigh-in she was down to 235. “Having a trainer to guide me through getting over my injuries helping me feel fit and strong feels awesome.”
Five Seasons Family Sports Club offers a similar “We Make Fit Happen” program starting in January that has group monitored training, and new candidates are welcome to apply for next year’s “Be a Loser” contest beginning in November.
You can follow Kasper’s progress on her blog.