Secaucus’s Second Annual Health Fair on May 12 at the Recreation Center featured a number of health-related vendors from acupuncturists to yoga and Reiki practitioners. Residents learned about local health services and organizations, alternative health therapies, and others in addition to getting free medical screenings for blood pressure, glucose, and cholesterol from the Meadowlands Hospital.
People also weighed in for the “Biggest Winner,” a two-month weight loss challenge that is part of the Mayor’s Wellness Campaign. The mission of the campaign is to equip mayors and other key leaders with the tools to develop and implement active-living initiatives in their communities with the ultimate goal of improving health and reducing the skyrocketing health care costs that come with the obesity problem in New Jersey.
“I want to be in better health and better shape.” – Meredith Buckingham
Other Hudson County towns that have either taken a pledge or made a proclamation for the Mayor’s Wellness Campaign include Bayonne, Guttenberg, Hoboken, Kearny, and North Bergen.
The mayor and Town Council of Secaucus officially launched local participation in the statewide initiative with the Biggest Winner program. Competitors paid a $20 entrance fee to participate. Women compete separately from men. The male and female with the most weight loss wins the pot of money.
“This is part of becoming a sustainable community,” said Mayor Michael Gonnelli. The town seeks to become certified by the state as a Sustainable Jersey municipality, which recognizes community efforts to go green and implement practices that improve quality of life.
“I went around to a couple of towns to see what they were doing,” said Lisa Snedeker, director of senior and social services. She said that she learned about the Biggest Winner contest from Pompton Lakes, which had held the contest in partnership with a fitness center.
“It doesn’t cost us anything to do. It is just an incentive for people to lose weight,” said Snedeker. Kipnis Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine is the contest sponsor. Kipnis will offer exercise advice and healthy tips.
She said that participants can choose any exercise plan or weight loss program to lose weight. The final weigh-in is July 12.
Snedeker said the town intends to host future contests and will promote other activities that promote healthy living.
“A little bit of competition never hurt anybody,” said Snedeker.
Snedeker versus Gonnelli in weight loss challenge
Gonnelli said he planned to enter the contest as well and that if he wins he will contribute the winnings to the Secaucus Emergency Fund, a nonprofit the town started to help people in need of financial assistance.
“I’m giving up desserts,” said Gonnelli regarding his strategy to lose weight. To lose between 18 and 24 pounds, he said he will also embark on a rigorous walking campaign and may even become a pescetarian, a person who eats vegetables and fish but not meat.
“I’m going to beat him,” said Snedeker. She plans to participate in the contest alongside the other competitors and said she would lose more weight than Gonnelli, even if at least a pound more regardless of his goal. “It is me against him. He’s in trouble!”
Eleven people had signed up to compete in the Biggest Winner challenge during the Health Fair.
“Because I want to be in better health and better shape,” said Meredith Buckingham about why she joined the competition. A registered nurse at Meadowlands Hospital, Buckingham had spent the day conducting health screenings. She said she wanted to lose 15 pounds and planned to reach her goal by going to the gym.
“I think it is great that they are promoting healthy lifestyles and wellness,” said Latoya Francis, marketing director for Kipnis.
Good day for health lessons
Yolanda Quisido, a registered nurse at Meadowlands Hospital, had completed up to 75 medical screenings when local resident John Xu stopped by to have his blood pressure read.
Quisido said it had been a busy day.
“It was busy this morning,” said Phyllis Simerman, local resident. She recently started a new business, BrainCore Therapy, which focuses on using non-invasive approaches to control brain waves and help alleviate stress and headaches among other ailments.
“People are interested,” said Eleanora Bowers. Bowers, a local resident, is a licensed acupuncturist and herbalist who moved back to Secaucus last year after living on the West Coast.
“People didn’t grow up with Chinese medicine,” she noted.
While outside the Recreation Center a table was set up with adoptable shelter pets, inside Kelly Wilkes offered pet health services through her recently launched company Fur, Feathers, Fins and Skins.
Residents also perused healthcare products at Christine Eck’s table, which had sandalwood cream, natural oils, and a diffuser that released a lavender scented mist among other items. Lifelong resident Eck is a certified Reiki Practitioner and Yoga Instructor.
“We’ve given out a lot of information about breast health awareness,” said Sharon Simon, local resident, who staffed the Susan G. Komen Foundation table.
Students from Wrap 4 A Smile handed out hygiene kits, which included washcloths, deodorant, toothpaste, lotion, and toilet paper among other personal care items.
Secaucus high school junior Brezette Mitchell said the day had been pretty good and that the group had handed out several kits.
Adriana Rambay Fernández may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.