Scientist. Speaker. Author. I’d like to stop right there because I don’t like talking about myself, but you may want to know more. I have a simple philosophy: if people read or hear what I have to say about health and aren’t convinced in a few minutes that I know what I’m talking about, shame on me. It doesn’t mean they agree with me, but they should recognize that I’m knowledgeable in my area of expertise. My strength is in my ability to explain complex scientific health concepts and translate them into simple lifestyle changes that my readers and listeners can use to improve their health.
However this is the real world—and this may come as a surprise to you, but on the Internet people make things up about themselves all the time. With that in mind, here’s who I am.
I have a PhD and Master of Arts in Exercise Physiology and Health Education from Michigan State University (1987 and 1984), and a Bachelor of Science in Physical Education from Canisius College (1982). I completed a teaching and research post-doctoral fellowship at Ball State University; in the two years at Ball State, I was voted one of the Top 10 Teachers at the University. I’m certified by the American College of Sports Medicine as a Health and Fitness Specialist, have taught in ACSM certification workshops throughout the United States, and belong to the American Society of Nutrition. I’ve conducted research and been published in peer-reviewed journals.
In the 1990s, I was an Associate Professor and Department Chair in the Health and Wellness Department at Buffalo State College, part of the State University of New York. At the same time, I managed the weight-loss program for an HMO in the Western New York area.
In 1998, I left academia to become the chief research scientist for the Better Life Institute in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where I developed weight-management programs, a cleansing and detoxification program, and various fitness programs. I’ve written over 2,500 e-mail messages and newsletters and presented seminars to large and small groups all over North America, Mexico, and the Caribbean. I’ve also hosted over 300 episodes of a radio show on WGVU-FM, the Grand Rapids NPR affiliate. Straight Talk on Health, a weekly radio program on a wide range of health topics, airs at 7 p.m. Sundays in the Eastern Time Zone. You can listen live over the Internet by going to www.wgvu.org and clicking on "Listen Live" in the gray bar at the top.
In 2008, I formed my own company: Chet Zelasko PhD LLC. As a health and fitness consultant, I provide health information based on the most recent research and deliver it in a way that’s easy to understand. Whether in person during seminars, in audio recordings, or in the written word, I make sense out of the health news people hear so they can make better health choices and achieve optimal health.
I have a great family. Paula and I will celebrate our 20th anniversary this year. We have a grown son, Matthew, whom I was lucky enough to acquire when he was 21—I missed all the really hard years. He and his wife, Kerri, live in Charleston, SC, and we wish they were closer. My in-laws are in their 80s and live very close to us here in Grand Rapids, and they’re a hoot. My parents both died way too young, and that’s part of what motivates me to help people be healthier.
My favorite hobby is ballroom dancing which I enjoy with my wife, Paula—it’s great exercise, and it’s something fun we can do together for many years to come. I also enjoy running for fitness and have run five marathons plus dozens of 10Ks. In summer, we garden—my specialty is tomatoes, and Paula’s in charge of flowers. For entertainment, Paula and I enjoy movies, blues music, and as you might expect, watching Dancing with the Stars. But I’ll be honest—helping people be healthier is equally my idea of fun, and nothing charges me up as much as hearing that I’ve made a difference in someone’s life.
I’m not a big fan of mission statements, but if I had one it would be simple:
I have a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Central Michigan University (1987) and a Master of Science in Biology from Oakland University (1989). I received my medical degree from Wayne State University (1993) and then went on to complete my residency in Family Medicine at St. Mary’s Health Services in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I am board certified in Family Medicine and a current member of the American Academy of Family Physicians.
My Experience and Professional Interests
In 1990, I participated in a summer research project at the National Institutes of Health and performed molecular biology in the Eye Institute. As a medical student I aspired to be an M.D./PhD and planned to do research as part of my career. I changed my mind when I rotated through clinical medicine and discovered that primary care suited my personality and goals much better. Since completing my residency in 1996 I have been in a small group private practice in suburban Grand Rapids--that’s how I met Dr. Chet when he, his wife, and his in-laws became my patients. In addition to providing healthcare to men, women and children, I also delivered babies for 11 years of my career. It will always be a very memorable part of my professional life. I can truly say that family medicine is teaching me a great deal about life and the human condition.
What I Do for Fun
I’m married and have two children, 13 and 16, so time for fun is always short. But when I have some down time, I enjoy golfing, scrapbooking, music, Tigers baseball, Red Wings hockey, and spending time with our many family members throughout Michigan.