During February, which is American Heart Month, the Fredericksburg Food Co-op is presenting a program that looks at food as another medicine to prevent heart disease.

“Healthy Heart, Healthy Planet” is planned from noon to 2 p.m. Saturday at the University of Mary Washington’s The Center at 1514 College Ave., in Fredericksburg. The event is a plant-based presentation and cooking demonstration.

Mishell Ellis, a nurse practitioner and integrative nutrition health coach, will discuss the advantages of a whole food, plant-based diet for heart health. Brenna Creamer, a UMW student who calls herself “a friend of the planet,” will demonstrate plant-based recipes and talk about the earth-friendly benefits of plant food.

Plant-based means vegan, with no meat or dairy, but dishes do include whole grains, beans, fruits, nuts and seeds.

A potluck will follow. Attendees are asked to bring a plate-based dish or to make a donation to The Center.

The Fredericksburg Food Co-op has about 900 members who want to open a community-owned grocery store in Fredericksburg focused on local foods, natural and organic products, and sustainable practices. More information is available at its website,


Spotsylvania Regional Medical Center has a record turnout for its sixth annual health and wellness program, Lose Big Win Big, a 15-week weight loss challenge.

The program is structured around the concept that “losing weight is not just about shedding pounds, it is about making a lifestyle change that sticks,” said Susan Coleman, education director.

More than 150 participants signed on for the program, which includes 100 health screenings. About 200 hospital employees attended the Jan. 23 kickoff, making participant and attendance the largest since the program started in 2013, according to the hospital.

Participants receive weekly emails with articles, fitness tips and healthy recipes. They also have access to free educational seminars and demonstrations from community doctors. Midway through the program, participants measure progress with a private weigh-in, wellness speaker and rally.

The program also offers a competitive aspect as weight loss is calculated on percentage instead of pounds lost. Men compete against men and women compete against women for cash prizes awarded to the top three men and women.

—Cathy Dyson

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