Winter 2011   

"Support for Your Healthy Lifestyle"

Susan Fekety, RN, MSN, CNM


(click titles to browse)

PRACTICE UPDATE: My Big Move! (and a party invitation)

My favorite season is the "light in the darkness" one that is happening now. I love all the twinkly lights, and the glowing colors of warm fires indoors, and the sparkles on snow. It seems to me that I see peoples' eyes shine more brightly, too, as though their hearts are closer than usual with the emotions that seem to rise up around this time of year.

Deep winter is a time for big shifts and making powerful commitments -- an utterly human-powered source for change. It comes straight from the heart and that deep, mighty intuition we all have. True to form, our culture heralds this spiritually potent time with magazine covers luring you to "Totally Organize your Life" -- food-wise, activity-wise, stress-wise, romance-wise, finance-wise -- plus you get clean closets and an uncluttered desk (in an afternoon, while eating all your favorite foods and permanently ending money fights with your spouse!) You know there's more to it, but still -- doesn't that sound wonderful? Make your heart beat a little faster maybe?

I am as drawn to these temptations as anyone -- but what attracts me, I think, is not the logistics of change (Honey, talk to ME about organizing your desk; tidiness is my middle name!) It's the way they remind me of the heart-opening sense of Big Possibilities and Potential. Our ability to re-invent ourselves is an everyday miracle, and for some reason it's especially noticeable when it's cold and dark outside. We all know that deep within we each have a little light, burning bright and hopeful. Maybe it shows up best in the dark, in a time of contrast.

For me, this particular deep winter season heralds profound change and much excitement. Folks in my True North practice family already know this, but the rest of you might not yet: in mid-January I'll be relocating to a small clinical practice I'm starting myself, called Healthy Living Health Care. This has been a dream of mine for several years. The practice will contain just me to start (I want to work out the kinks myself, thank you!) but I plan to bring on a couple of like-minded, crackerjack colleagues to provide health-care services that complement mine very soon. I will retain my close connection with True North as an Affiliate Practitioner; you will still be able to submit bills to your insurance carrier for out-of -network reimbursement.

Healthy Living Health Care is dedicated to supporting you to make the change (or solidify the habit) that's just right for you now, whether that means a complete lifestyle overhaul, or learning a different way to think about hormone balance, or how to prevent common women's health problems, or just some new recipes to try. I will continue my women's health practice, as well as the nutrition and healthy lifestyle counseling I love so much (because it WORKS!) In 2012, I'll be making an even bigger emphasis on supporting you to live each of your days so healthfully, so fabulously, so SMART, that you have the foundation you need to feel great, live long, and prosper. We all need help with that, right?

The party invitation part? Put Thursday, February 2, from 6 to 9pm on your snazzy, new, ready-for-2012 calendar and plan to pop over to check the new office out. Healthy yummy snacks, pleasant company -- and it will all be more fun if you are there. No RSVP necessary -- just grab a friend and drop in!

Here's where you'll be headed:

Healthy Living Health Care
19 Northbrook Drive, Suite 2 | Falmouth ME 04105
phone (207) 619-8393 | fax (207) 619-8399 (coming soon!)

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NOURISH: One Bite At A Time by Rebecca Katz

One Bite at at Time: Nourishing Recipes for Cancer Survivors and
Their Friends
, 2nd edition, by Rebecca Katz and Mat Edelson. 2008:
Berkeley, CA, Celestial Arts.

If you're a subscriber to my blog you know I went to the Center for Mind-Body Medicine "Food as Medicine" conference in Bethesda last June. It was a grand time and I learned a lot -- even though Maryland is probably not where you want to be during a horrible heat wave. I mean, it was beyond sticky. Thought I'd left that behind when I moved away from Houston!

One of my favorite teachers was a brilliant, funny, creative, gourmet natural foods chef from San Francisco named Rebecca Katz. She orchestrated some amazing meals for several hundred of us during the conference -- multicolored, aromatic, low-allergen, high HIGH antioxidant, plant-based meals that just . . . well, it was inspiring because you could absolutely feel the powerful vibe of the food. Plus, she taught mini-cooking classes: her way of preparing sardines is now a staple in my kitchen. (If you have not tried sardines in a while, or maybe ever, click here for a post I wrote about them that includes her easy recipe.)

Rebecca's story proves that when you come from the heart, from your own deeply-lived experience of love, magic happens. Years ago she was a chef making a name for herself when her father developed throat cancer. Suddenly, his relationship with food changed drastically -- and even though she was a food professional, she had no idea how to feed him. Inspiration came from her deep wish to care for her loved one in the best way possible -- and fortunately, she had the skill and talent that permitted her to prepare food so delicious he would find it irresistible indeed. Her food is a paean to what she calls "the power of ‘yum'" and this cookbook (why, oh why, did I not ask her to autograph it for me?!) is brimming with beautiful, non-complex, unfailingly healthful and beautiful recipes.

Don't think "oh, well, I don't have cancer and I'm not needing to feed someone who does so this can't be for me" -- we ALL can use an inspirational lift to nourish ourselves with lovely, nutrient-dense, immune-supporting food. Particularly at this time of year!

I want you to experience this woman yourself. Here's a delightful video of Rebecca preparing her extraordinary Magic Mineral Broth™:

And a link to the recipe written down (for when you decide you can't live another minute without an "internal spa treatment!"):

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PLAY: Are You Doing Intervals Yet?

One of the most common unhappinesses I hear in my office sounds like this: "I can't figure out what the problem is. I'm on the treadmill, working really hard, for an hour at a time, five days a week, and my weight won't budge. I'm dripping sweat and exhausted, and I'm ready to give up. What's going wrong?" Frequently this is punctuated by the tears of complete frustration.

Here's the thing we're finding out about our amazing bodies (well, one of the many things we're finding out). Looks like the old way of thinking about fitness programs, where the idea is just to burn calories and be done with it, is going the way of the dinosaur. So no need for tears; it's just time to try something different. Friends, let's evolve. Interval training is an important part of your program for scientifically sensible play.

I think for many folks it's just EASY to plug into a cardio machine (a trainer friend of mine refers to these as "gerbil wheels") with the iPod or the TV or a book (never worked well for me -- I kept losing my place) for an allotted period of time and then calling it good. The mindlessness of it, the routine, is alluring. Alas, this form of exercise can actually put you into a deeper metabolic hole than you were in in the first place. (You know the rule, right? When you find yourself in a hole, put down the shovel?)

Problem is that not only does your body become accommodated to endurance cardio exercise, so it takes an ever-higher "dose" to trigger metabolic changes, this kind of activity is not a natural movement style for humans and it doesn't stimulate the more muscle/less fat physiology recipe you're looking for. When our ancestral, ancient bodies developed, we were active all day at varying levels of intensity and in a variety of ways. Sometimes we needed short bursts of intense power; other times we loped along, still other times we moved slow-then-fast, and still other times we were moving but almost at rest. Similarly to the way we look at how we should eat, we want to take a lesson from this playbook and think about how we move under ideal circumstances. And guess what -- that couldn't be less like getting on a gerbil wheel!

Several years ago one research study in particular inspired fitness experts to start looking at interval, rather than endurance, training programs, and since then, other groups have done similar trials with similar results. In the breakthrough study, one group of overweight women cycled for 45 minutes without stopping or resting. Another group cycled in numerous short bursts lasting 15 to 90 seconds, and rested in between bursts. Even though the duration cyclers burned more calories overall, it was the interval cyclers who lost the most fat -- ahem, nine times more per burned calorie than the endurance group. Can open, worms everywhere, as my darling sister would say.

Interval training using this "burst" approach is worth doing if you want cardiovascular fitness and a workout that won't take you the rest of the afternoon. Varying the demands made on the heart increases its oxygen requirement, training it to increase its rate of beating and the amount of blood in every pump. This heart pumping power ("stroke volume") is the goal for heart strength -- and you just don't get that when you raise your heart rate and keep it up for a while.

So how do you do this interval thing anyway? It's easy, and you can use any cardio routine that you like: walk/run, elliptical, cycle, rowing machine, stair climber, etc. You want to alternate short periods of high intensity activity with short periods of rest. During the rest periods you want to keep moving, just at a slower pace and with any machine settings at the lowest level of resistance. (Since your bursts will be sometimes quite intense, you will enjoy these rest periods quite a bit.)

For example, you could try something like this: (The intensity levels are your own personal ratings, right? Ten is YOUR utter maximal exertion.)

Start with a 5-minute warm-up, such as walking. Then go --

  • 30 seconds at intensity level 4

  • Rest 60 seconds

  • 30 seconds at intensity level 6

  • Rest 60 seconds

  • 30 seconds at intensity level 8

  • Rest 60 seconds

  • 30 seconds at intensity level 9

  • Rest 60 seconds

  • 30 seconds at intensity level 10

  • Rest 60 seconds

  • 30 seconds at intensity level 7

  • Rest Interval: 60 seconds

  • 30 seconds at intensity level 8

  • Cool Down: 5 minutes and you're DONE!

I really like how I feel when I do this alternating walking and running, either outside or, when it's too cold for a weather lightweight like me, inside on a treadmill. But I hated trying to keep track of the time for the interval changes -- I felt like I had to keep my eyes glued to the timer and it was annoying. Since I don't have a trainer to stand beside me with a stopwatch, I found a cool gadget you might want to pick up if you give this interval thing a whirl: it clips on your belt and beeps/vibrates at whatever sequence of time intervals you want. I found it pretty easy to set -- and I hate doing that sort of thing. Check this out!

One of my favorite things about this interval approach is that it gets me done with my exercise thing in about half the time of what I'd been doing before. Leaves me plenty of time to do some resistance exercise AND also to stretch (I don't know about you, but I often skip stretching just because I feel like I'm in a hurry.) So maybe in 2012 you could try something new AND get closer to your goals in less time. Sounds like a no-brainer to me!

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CONNECT: Are your Genes making you fat? (FREE CLASS JAN 26)

I've been offering nutritional guidance for preventive medicine and healthy weight loss for years now, and I like to think I'm getting pretty good at it. Still, every once in a while I'll work with someone who's doing what we both think is the right thing for him or her, and it doesn't result in the changes desired. I know there's something missing, some barrier that I haven't thought of, and it makes me nuts and frustrated. We know one size does not fit all -- but sometimes, even with a variety of sizes, none of them seem right. Oh, the gnashing of teeth. I hate this.

At one of the many educational conferences I've attended in the past few months (Bethesda! Boulder! Boston! and Beyond!) I heard a speaker mention a gene test for people wanting to lose weight. Hah, I said (quietly), what a crock. But I decided to come home and check it out. I know that gene-based testing is really finding a valuable foothold in many areas of medical care -- so why not this one? Found the literature, contacted the company, did the background research. And what I learned inspired me to do the test on myself. The results made sense to me and I found the experience quite useful.

Turns out, we do indeed have different genetic hard-wiring when it comes to finding our best nutrient and activity prescription for optimum health and weight management. Twenty-first century science, welcome to my kitchen! Interestingly, this may be part of the reason that there are so many food zealots out there, some proclaiming the value of low-fat diets, others saying low-carb, still others saying balanced/blended -- with each camp able to trot out people for whom the proposed blend was the perfect solution. Looks as though the reason for this is that by happenstance, the successful folks had come upon the solution that matched their genetics. Lucky them!

I am planning to offer this test through my new practice, and I think the best way to let you know all about it is to teach a little class on the science behind it and why I think it's something you should know about too. So join me for a free class from 7 to 8 pm on Thursday January 26. Space is limited, so please call (207) 619-8393 to RSVP!

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WOMEN'S HEALTH: Natural fertility support

Are you aware that in the United States we are in the midst of an infertility epidemic? Seriously, there are huge numbers of couples who are experiencing heartbreak because, for one reason or another, they are not able to make a baby together. There are a variety of reasons for this, and a lot of expensive, high-tech solutions. Though male factors are part of the issue (quite possibly involving nutritional deficiencies and low-level toxin exposures that affect sperm production and viability) there are many things that women can do, too, to give their bodies the best chance at conception -- way before taking the drugs and surgery approach. Simple lifestyle changes can make a huge difference -- letting the body feel fully ready to welcome a pregnancy. Some of them might surprise you.

So -- do you remember in the last newsletter when I told you I'd gotten my first writing assignment for a national publication? Do you remember that it was an article on natural fertility support? It got published over the summer -- so exciting! Read it here -- please share!

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"I position myself for success."
[Download and print an 8-1/2" x 11" PDF of this affirmation.]

"I radiate good health and vitality."
[Download and print an 8-1/2" x 11" PDF of this affirmation.]

"I am willing to shine my light!"
[Download and print an 8-1/2" x 11" PDF of this affirmation.]

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Best wishes for a juicy, delicious, warm, wintry season for you. Remember to be nice to your body as you enjoy the "twinkly" things! -- and stay in touch!
Susan |

PS: Find archived newsletters and articles on my Web site. They're quick and easy reads covering a variety of topics, news and events, upcoming talks and classes, and more. Definitely worth checking out if you're curious about something -- stay in touch!

© Copyright 2011 by Susan Fekety. All rights reserved.
202 US Route 1, Falmouth, Maine 04105 | (207) 781-4488 |