Posts Tagged ‘be well coaching’

Wellness Coaching: Key Role in Preventative Healthcare

October 7, 2009

With doctors increasingly  squeezed for patient time and education, wellness coaching is evolving to provide a valuable liaison in preventative healthcare.

So what exactly defines a “wellness coach“? A wellness coach encourages and motivates individuals to make positive lifestyle behavior changes to improve their well-being. These changes might include exercising regularly, adopting healthier eating habits, sleeping more, and reducing stress. These changes may be life-promoting and, in some cases, even life-saving.

But wellness isn’t just the absence of disease, illness or injury. Wellness is a dynamic state where an individual’s body and mind are operating at an optimal level. Certain parameters help us gauge our wellness, including: maintaining a healthy weight, being physically fit sleeping restfully and having plenty of energy. 

As every aspect of wellness affects another, wellness coaching offers a whole-person approach. Typically a wellness coach has a multi-disciplinary background that may include nutrition, exercise physiology, physical therapy and stress management. A wellness coach applies this expertise in developing comprehensive, customized programs that best fit the needs and goals of their clients, ideally resulting in fewer doctors visits, greater productivity at work and a better overall sense of well-being.

Be Well, 


Keys to a Long, Healthy Life

September 29, 2009

According to recent research on aging, runners who eat berries and are the life of the party are most likely to live a long, healthy life.  These are just a few of the health habits that researchers are finding lead to physical and cognitive longevity. Other health practices predicting a long life include:  eating fewer calories, regularly using technical devices (i.e. a computers), and, interestingly, just feeling young. According to a University of Michigan survey, older adults who say  they feel an average of 13 years younger actually do live longer, healthier lives.

So, bottom line:  eat less, move more and socialize often and you’ll not only feel younger, you’ll live longer!

Be Well,


keys to a long, healthy life

Ten Reasons Exercise CAN Facilitate Weight Loss

September 19, 2009

Fitness Magazine recently published a counter-argument to the controversial NY Times article suggesting that vigorous exercise can cause weight gain, or at the very least impede weight loss. Fitness Magazine’s ten reasons exercise makes you thin is an excellent list full of incentives for exercising regularly whether or not weight loss is a goal. 

As an exercise physiologist and nutritionist a, I believe regular exercise and proper nutrition really are the keys to long term wellness. The caveat:  you have to be consistent about practicing them – not just for a short-term goal like getting in shape for a 10K race or slimming down for a college reunion. Wellness is a life-long pursuit – definitely a marathon, not a sprint!

Be Well,


Can Vigorous Exercise Actually Prevent Weight Loss?

August 31, 2009

That’s the question asked in Time Magazine’s recent controversial article, “Why Exercise Won’t Make You Thin”. The writer suggests that people who exercise intensely may compensate by being more sedentary (and eating more) when they’re not exercising. 

Perhaps that’s why the French stay thin. Most don’t work out per se, but instead they walk everywhere instead of driving. During my recent visit to France, I never once saw a gym – even in Paris.  (I did see a few other runners in France, but most of them appeared to be tourists). Because of our busy itinerary, I managed only a few short runs during my trip, but I walked for miles through city streets, wandered through museums, castles and cathedrals, lugged my bags through train stations…As a result, I came home a few pounds lighter despite the fact that we were also constantly eating!

But here’s my take on this issue:  exercise alone is not enough for effective, long-term weight loss. Losing weight requires moving more AND eating less. Furthermore, most people don’t have or take the time necessary to lose weight through exercise alone.  And most don’t exercise intensely enough to increase their fitness level and change their body composition. Plus, when they do work out at an intense level, people frequently overestimate the calories they burn during exercise.

Intense exercise can induce appetite in some cases, but it’s usually a delayed effect, which can be curbed with a nutritious, satisfying post-workout snack containing complex carbohydrates, lean protein and a little healthy fat.  A greater concern than exercise’s inducement of appetite is the empty liquid calories many exercisers consume in the form of sports drinks. Not only do most people not require sports drinks to re-hydrate after a workout, but liquid calories are the easiest to cut without negatively impacting nutrition or appetite. Furthermore, habitual consumption of these enamel-damaging drinks can harm the long-term health of your teeth.

Bottom line:  for healthy weight loss, Jack La Lane said it best: “Exercise is King, nutrition is Queen and together they make a healthy kingdom”.  By the way, Jack turns 95 next month and he’s still going strong!

Be Well, 


Aquatic Tai Chi: All of the Benefits and More

August 19, 2009

As an aquatic therapist, I frequently witness the freedom warm water gives individuals who are unable to move with ease on land. One form of land exercise that lends itself beautifully to the pool and actually offers some advantages in an aquatic environment is tai chi. In fact, one form of aquatic tai chi, called “Ai Chi“, was specifically designed for performing in a warm pool. As such, it takes advantage of the water’s properties, fostering range of motion while challenging balance (safely) and facilitating core strength and stability.

Developed by a Japanese swim coach, Jun Kunno  and aquatic therapist, Ruth Sova, Ai Chi literally means “flowing aquatic energy”. The series of movements is simple, but effective and becomes meditative when performed repeatedly and coordinated with the breath. I’ve had the pleasure of doing Ai Chi with as many as 50 people in a large swimming pool at an aquatic therapy conference. Believe it or not,  it can even be meditative in a group that size when everyone is in sync. I love teaching it to my clients and it’s a great way to conclude an aquatic therapy or aquatic fitness session.

Water Tai Chi incorporates more traditional tai chi movements and translates them to an aquatic environment. Like Ai Chi, Water Tai Chi combines the mind/body benefits from traditional tai chi with the gentle, freeing, flowing environment of the water.

One important component of aquatic tai chi is the temperature of the water. The temperature for both Ai Chi and Water Tai Chi should be a minimum of 86 degrees farenheit. This allows for slow, relaxed movement and increased blood flow to joints, tendons, muscles and ligaments. Contact your local YMCA or the Arthritis Foundation to see about classes offered in your area.

Be Well, 


Adventures in French Grocery Shopping

August 10, 2009

I just returned from a whirlwind, 10-day trip to France. On the last leg of the trip, we went to a grocery store in Nice to pick up some snacks and picnic items.  This “supermarche” was about the size of a US grocery store with many similarities, but some distinct differences as well.

One difference I noticed was that the serving sizes were much smaller than those you’d find in a US store. French yogurt, for example comes in 3-4oz containers rather than 6-8oz. It is, however, sold in 4-packs of individual servings. When examining the ingredients of French yogurt and cottage cheese I was impressed to see how few there were. And the taste – fantastique!

Fromage Blanc“, another French dairy staple, is sold in the same section. It’s sort of a cross between yogurt, sour cream and creme fraiche. While in France I had it a few times in restaurants as an alternative to the rich French cheeses offered at the end of a meal. Often it was served floating in a raspberry syrup for dessert. It makes a light and delicious end to a meal.

Another distinct difference I discovered while shopping for produce. In the produce section I selected my fruit and placed it in plastic bags the same as I would do in the US. Much to my embarrassment, however, when I got to the head of the checkout stand (5 minutes before closing time with several people behind me in line) I discovered that I was supposed to weigh and tag my own fruit using special scales located back in the produce section. I pleaded ignorance and fortunately was escorted back to the scales and shown how to work them, while my the rest of my items remained at the checkout stand. It’s actually a smart system. Rather than have the checkout people memorize a bunch of codes, not to mention weigh each bag of produce – the customer is responsible, so it makes the line at the checkout stand move more swiftly. The scales  feature a touch pad with pictures of all of the different fruits and vegetables for sale. The customer places their bag of apples, for example, on the scale, punches the picture and a sticker with the price is produced which they then attach to their bag. When prices change, the store staff only has to change one machine.

The French are also ahead of us in already charging for grocery bags if you don’t bring your own (which of course I didn’t). For a nominal price I did, however, walk away with a colorful bag that made a great beach tote.

More to come on my gastronomic adventures in France in future posts. 

Be Well,


Slow Down and Savor Your Food

August 8, 2009

I’m always telling my clients (and myself!!) to eat more slowly and savor and enjoy their food. I just returned from vacationing in France where I was struck by the way the French linger over a meal – even breakfast! In fact when dining out, we had to ask our servers for the check – they never hurry you to leave. The French take time to experience their food which is probably one of the reasons they have a far lower rate of obesity than Americans. That and the fact that they eat smaller portions and they walk everywhere.

Now, here is a list of  5 reasons of why slowing down to enjoy our food is so important  for both physical and emotional health. Our fast-food/fast-eating culture mirrors our fast-paced, impatient lifestyle. Perhaps slowing down the former can help us in managing the latter.

More on my gastronomic adventures in France in future posts. 

Be Well, 


10 Surprising Superfoods

July 25, 2009

Bon Appetite magazine has come up with a somewhat surprising list of healthful superfoods, Most of them I agree with, but some I find  a bit of a stretch (bacon as a “health food” – I don’t think so)! Still it’s a list worth perusing as it contains some foods that may not be on your radar. As you know, variety is the spice of life and a part of a good insurance policy that you’re meeting all of your nutritional needs through your diet, rather than relying on supplements. I encourage you to check it out and try a superfood new to you. You may also be interested in reading my own list(s) of favorite superfoods.

Be Well, 


No Wonder They Run So Far, So Fast!

July 23, 2009

I’ve always been fascinated by the Tarahumara Indians – the world’s original, natural marathoners. Scientists have long wondered what gives them such great endurance, able to run mile after mile at altitude…  just for fun.

I just came across this book, “Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen“, by Christopher McDougall, who sought to uncover the secrets of the Tarahumara running phenomenon.

Studies on the Tarahumara diet have found that it’s high in protein, complex carbohydrates and fiber, but low in simple sugars, fat and cholesterol. But it’s no wonder the Tarahumara have such great endurance  – one of their staples is chia seeds, a superfood originally cultivated by the Incas that is a great source of Omega 3 fatty acids and insoluble fiber and is a complete vegetarian protein. In his book McDougall describes the diet of the Tarahumara, including their own “sports drink”, chia fresca.

Here are two very different versions of a chia fresca energy drink – the first is probably closer to what the Tarahumara drink, but the second sounds a lot yummier!

Be Well,


Top Ten Tips for Teen Nutrition

July 18, 2009

For those of you who attended my “Nutrition for Teens and Parents Workshop” on Sat, July 18th – thanks for coming! Here is a summary of the key points we covered:

1. Eat mostly whole foods – foods that are unprocessed or unrefined or processed and refined as little as possible before you consume them. When you do eat from a package – the fewer ingredients the better and you should be able to identify those ingredients. Know and understand what you put in your body!

2. Eat more vegetables! The more the better! Vegetables have the highest nutrient density of all foods and they’re delicious if you know what to do with them

3. Beware of misleading marketing when purchasing whole grains – particularly cereals and breads. Branch out and try some new whole grains if you’ve gotten into a rut. Try quinoa for example, which contains the highest protein content of all whole grains and is a complete vegetarian protein.  

4. Teens need lots of bone building nutrients as well as iron. Speaking of bone-building nutrients, drink milk – it’s the original sports drink!

5. Make sure you’re eating adequate lean protein – growing, active teens need plenty of it. A simple gauge is to eat half of your body weight in protein grams.  

6. Don’t be afraid of fat – just choose the healthy kind. The beneficial fats are polyunsaturated fats found primarily in cold water fish, some nuts, seeds and oils and monounsaturated fats, found in nuts, seeds, avocados and olives and vegetable oils. Polyunsaturated fats also help decrease inflammation and can help alleviate mild depression. 

7. A healthful, easy-to-digest, low-fat snack combining complex carbohydrates, lean protein and a little healthy fat will facilitate a high-quality workout. Here are some suggested pre- and post-practice snacks or mini-meals:

 -Whole grain cereal and milk

-Plain Greek yogurt with berries and a few chopped walnuts or slivered almonds

-1/2 of a turkey or peanut butter sandwich on whole grain bread

-Small handful of nuts and a piece of fruit

-apple and a hard-boiled egg

-Banana dipped in natural, no-sugar-added peanut butter or almond butter

8. If you want to keep your skin acne-free, avoid eating a lot of sugar and other simple carbohydrates but do eat a lot of vegetables and fruits.

9. Eat “brain foods”, those high in Omega 3 fatty acids,  the night before a big exam. Salmon, tuna, scallops, walnuts, flax oil and chia seeds are all good sources. The morning of your test, eat a good breakfast containing complex carbohydrates, lean protein and a a little healthy  fat.

10. Strive for a healthy weight –one you can maintain by eating nutritiously and exercising regularly, but also one that allows for some indulgences.

These suggestions are geared toward a general audience. For a comprehensive, customized nutrition plan tailored to your family or teen’s needs, please visit my website for more information.

Be Well,