Cancer survivor co-writes book and issues community wellness challenge


Life has been a roller coaster for Kelly Jo Baute.

There have been highs and lows, moments of exhilaration and excitement and others full of fear and anxiety, and most importantly, lots of movement.

But at the end of the day, the Seymour resident said she takes a deep breath, reflects on all that has happened and is ready to ride again.

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This time, though, she’s reaching out to other people to join her in hopes of starting a movement to create a healthier and happier community.

Baute, 47, is the owner of A Splendid Earth Wellness, a company she runs from her home in Seymour. She offers wellness coaching to individuals and businesses and workplace ergonomics consulting among other services.

This month, she and her close friend, Daniel Orr of Bloomington, a world renowned chef and owner of FARMbloomington restaurant, have released a book “The Wellness Lifestyle: A Chef’s Recipe for Real Life.”

Baute had worked with Orr’s mother, and that’s how she met him. They are both originally from Columbus.

Published by Red Lightning Books in Bloomington, the book is not a typical diet and exercise tome.

Together, Baute and Orr have developed the MyTendWell Lifestyle Plan, which focuses equally on eight different wellness factors — social, occupational, intellectual, physical, emotional, spiritual, environmental and nutritional.

“He had this manuscript for a healthy cooking book,” Baute said.

She had started the makings of her own wellness book, so instead of doing their own separate books, they combined their efforts.

“We’re really unique because there are no books where there’s really an exercise scientist with a sous chef,” she said.

Baute has spent the past 25 years working in the health, wellness and fitness field.

“I went into exercise science and started teaching exercise classes,” she said.

She did a two-year stint as a fitness instructor for Columbus Regional Hospital’s wellness program.

“It was really great exposure for me into this world,” she said.

After that, she worked at Schneck Medical Center in Seymour and started a wellness program there. That program was terminated, and Baute spent several years working at Seymour Health and Fitness Club as a fitness director/instructor and trainer.

It’s around that time when she decided to go back to graduate school at Indiana University in Bloomington. She finished her master’s degree in 2007 and went right into a doctoral program.

She also began lecturing at IU and continued that work for six years until she got sick.

In 2012, she was diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer after her first mammogram. She was just 41.

It was a moment that changed her, but it didn’t stop her from living or define who she was or could be.

Wellness and teaching it had been her passion and her life’s work and continued to be even when she wasn’t well herself. Having cancer only pushed her to do more.

After having the tumor and surrounding lymph nodes removed and a bilateral mastectomy, Baute underwent chemotherapy and received a year of Herceptin treatments, which are targeted for those who have HER2-positive breast cancer.

Even though she was declared cancer-free, her ordeal was not over. She continued to have biopsies, a hysterectomy and other surgeries over the next five years.

“It was a very, very hard time trying to figure out what to do and move on,” she said. “So I finished my Ph.D. and in 2015 started my company.”

Baute doesn’t complain about the past or want pity for what she has gone through because she understands that life isn’t fair for anyone.

“I’m loving my life. I’m alive,” she said.

She wants others to feel the same way, and to do that, people have to take care of themselves and take care of each other, she said.

That’s what “The Wellness Lifestyle” is all about, she said.

“It’s about taking care of yourself and taking care of each other, reaching a hand out to somebody,” she said.

Improving one’s wellness doesn’t mean being a size 2, she said.

Losing weight is a big benefit of living a wellness lifestyle, she said, but it’s not the focus.

“I don’t give people crap about losing weight,” she said. “I want to help them. I’ll guide them. I’ll educate them. I’m going to support them. I’m not going to tear them down.”

That’s why “The Wellness Lifestyle” looks at more factors than just diet and exercise.

“This book isn’t about weight loss. It can be,” she said. “This book is about a clean environment. This book is not just about exercise, but it is about exercise. It’s science based. It’s research based.”

It’s also a way for Baute to continue to educate people, she said.

“I’m a teacher at heart, whether I’m teaching exercise classes or coaching somebody one-on-on or when I was a lecturer,” she said.

And most importantly, the book is tangible and easy to follow, she said, meaning anyone can do it.

Baute said the industry has made the idea of wellness too complicated.

“We’re not educating people well,” she said. “We’re not designing education programs well. We don’t educate employers well. They don’t take care of employees. These are the things that are going to have to be changed in order for costs to be driven down. We cannot sustain the current model we have to insure and to care for people.”

To introduce people to the book and the MyTendWell Lifestyle Plan, Baute came up with the idea to do a community wellness challenge in Seymour.

With help and promotion from Robert Becker at Radio 96.3 WJAA, Baute has recruited eight participants for the 30-day challenge. They are Trina Tracy, Matt Nicholson, Mayor Craig Luedeman, Becky Schepman, Kelley Gillaspy, Ellen Olmstead, Jeremiah Tracy and Dan Davis.

Their challenge kicked off Oct. 1.

Baute said she is proud of the progress she is seeing within the group as participants start to form healthier habits. Upon completion of he challenge, they will become wellness ambassadors and try to recruit more participants.

“This is not a competition. We are going across the finish line together. This is to challenge yourself to a better way of life,” she said. “People can change their lives. They’ve just got to take the first step.”

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“The Wellness Lifestyle: A Chef’s Recipe for Real Life”

Authors: Daniel Orr and Kelly Jo Baute, Ph.D.

Cost: $28 through Red Lightning Books at or $18.84 through

The book also will be available at The Herbal Alternative in Seymour.

For  information on the book, the community wellness challenge or A Splendid Earth Wellness, contact Baute at 812-525-9329 or email [email protected].

Additional information is available at or by searching Wellness Life LLC on Facebook.


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