DETROIT — If you have a fitness or health goal, you are likely counting something — reps, whole-grain servings, glasses of water, workout sessions per week, calories.
That's the epiphany that came to Oakland University graduate Chelsea Charles Gossett seven years ago as she plugged away on a treadmill, reading a women's magazine advising people to journal to reach their health targets.
"But that's not always convenient," she thought at the time.
And so an idea was born: What if there was something women could wear that would serve as motivation and also keep track of their goals?
Charles Gossett, 29, launched Count Me Healthy Jewelry in late 2008. The bracelets come with various themes, but each features 12 sterling silver beads that slide along a silver band. The beads stay in place once moved, allowing wearers to keep track of how many strokes they've taken on the golf course or how many laps they've run around the track.
They gained national attention when NBC's "Today" featured one in a roundup of helpful health products last January.
Now, the one-time marketing director for Volkswagen in Auburn Hills, Mich., has taken what was a hobby — designing jewelry — and made it a career. The bracelet is patented and trademarked, sold online (www.countmehealthyjewelry.com) and in retailers across the country. It sells for $88.
Charles Gossett says, "It's a tool. It's a beautiful tool and a constant reminder to be healthy."
Her newest themed bracelet is called "Helping Hearts," just in time for February and American Heart Month. The etching on the beads has a heart imprint, and 25 percent of the proceeds go to WomenHeart, the National Coalition of Women with Heart Disease, which helped with the design. The bracelets will be worn in a Women-Heart event in Times Square later in the month.
"If you look at heart disease and even cancer, there are things that can help prevent it — those healthy rituals you do daily for prevention," Charles Gossett says. "You can count heart-healthy super foods on Count Me Healthy, for instance."
Novi, Mich., resident Terri Taylor has two bracelets. She uses one to count exercise sessions. The other is a golf-themed bracelet. Taylor is the president of the metro Detroit chapter of the Executive Women's Golf Association.
She says wearing the bracelets has changed her habits.
"Exercise is something I started doing after I got the bracelet," says Taylor, 51. "I wasn't doing too much, and I met Chelsea, and she's such a fit woman, and that was part of my inspiration. Now I do Pilates and yoga and also work out at a gym on the elliptical and weights. Any of those count as one exercise."
On the golf course, Taylor counts her strokes, or just her putts. She says she likes how the bracelets encourage accuracy in keeping score. They can also encourage truth-telling for those who might sabotage their diets or fitness goals by lying to themselves about their actions, Charles Gossett says.
"I'm held accountable because of the product," says Charles Gossett, who lives in Memphis, Mich.
As for what she counts? She wears three and counts glasses of water, workouts per week, and her personal vice — sweetener packets.
"I'm a Splenda addict," she says. "I drink way too much coffee and tea."
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