"Support for Your Healthy Lifestyle"

Susan Fekety, RN, MSN, CNM

In this issue:

  • Zumba!
  • Custom made snack bars
  • Great books for getting inspired and unstuck
  • Vitamin D testing
  • FirstLine Therapy® update
  • Upcoming Classes
  • Expanded practice hours for 2009


Well! Happy New Year and Valentine's Day greetings to you from cyberspace! You have NO IDEA how delighted I am that you are reading this newsletter online instead of on paper for so many reasons! What an exciting piece of work it has been to develop it and how grateful I am for people who are nimble with computer stuff. I am SO not that way (but I do have other skills.)

I hope you had a chance to poke around my Web site ( many of my published articles are archived there, plus previous issues of Affirmations. You can also get information about some of the things I'm up to when I'm out and about! Do take a moment to explore . . .

Thank you so much for inviting me to send you this periodical publication. I hope it proves useful and entertaining to you. I'll work hard to keep it lively and informative and maybe sometimes funny. If there are particular topics you'd like me to explore, let me know at  - Susan


Surely you know that I am NOT the sort of person who would ever indulge willy-nilly in anything that could be described as a "fitness craze." Conjures up images of hula-hooping  and odd Victorian costumes that somehow were incomplete without one of those bikes with the enormous front wheels (how did they get ON those things, anyway?)

So, you may be surprised to hear that I think you should consider checking out a thing called "Zumba"- a type of exercise/dance class that is sweeping the nation. It was even featured on The Today Show (Oh, well, that clinches it, huh?). It's sort of a dance class, but you don't need to learn a bunch of steps...and sort of like aerobics, but with WAY better music, far more freedom, and no yelling. I came across a Zumba class in the Portland Adult Education calendar last fall, and all the pieces fell into place. Read more about it (and about some other things too) in my blog:


Sure wish I could remember where I first heard about this new product, because I'd really like to thank them. Take a moment to visit with my enthusiastic endorsement (Nope, they didn't pay me to say that. I just like them.).

The deal here is that you custom-order meal replacement ("snack") bars to match your particular wishes and desires (they make this very easy to do) and then they make you a baker's dozen and ship them to you pronto. (Wonderful touch: they print your name on the wrapper.)

Just imagine! You can work around food allergies, add extra protein and fiber (I recommend you do this) pick your own flavorings, limit sugar, etc. There are no weird chemicals (or salmonella-contaminated peanuts!) in the bars, just the sort of whole food things you'd use yourself. Many of the ingredients are organic.

I have to tell you, my "Susan's Bar" was a big hit with me (and the select few individuals I was willing to share with.) Including shipping, my bars worked out to around $3.50 each not outlandish if you tend to eat on the fly but are particular about quality. Something to consider!


By now, most of the people in my practice have gotten their blood Vitamin D level tested at least once (let me know if I somehow missed recommending this to you!) You can also check out my article on the importance of this super-nutrient in the "On Eating Well" section of my "articles" page at my Web site:

You may have heard on the news that Quest Labs (big, national lab system) recently copped to having done these tests incorrectly for quite a while. Quest apparently reported Vitamin D levels around 30% higher than they really were, meaning that you could think you had a good Vitamin D level when you actually needed extra. (Oops.)

If you got your Vitamin D level drawn at True North, you do not have to worry, because we do not use Quest Labs. Many other practices DO use Quest, so if you got drawn at an outside lab or at your PCP's office, you should investigate.


Two of my more dramatic FirstLine Therapy® client case histories are already posted on the True North website. They feature a fellow who made himself virtually "un-diabetic" in twelve weeks of eating well and exercising, and another who achieved his personal goal of staying off of cholesterol-lowering medications. Both gentlemen completed the program reporting how really healthy and vitalized they had come to feel.

Most people I see in my practice, though, are women. I have been imagining them (maybe you) going to that section of the Web site, reading about these two gents, and saying, "well duh, they're GUYS, everybody knows this stuff is easier for GUYS what about people LIKE ME?"

Dear women friends, let me assure you that there's ample evidence that FirstLine Therapy® will work for you too. Indeed, the first published clinical research about the program reported the experiences of two groups of post-menopausal women and it was pretty impressive. Half of them did FirstLine Therapy® and the other half did the American Heart Association Step 1 diet for 12 weeks. The women doing FirstLine Therapy® had statistically significant improvement in their cholesterol profiles and cardiac risk scores, plus they lost twice as much weight and lowered their average blood pressure as compared to the other group. (Lukaczer D et al. [2006] Effect of a low glycemic index diet with soy protein and phytosterols in CVD risk factors in postmenopausal women. Nutrition 22:2, 104-113.)

I see people make changes with this program practically every day I am in the office it is so exciting! Experiences like this "clinch it" for me as a clinician that FirstLine Therapy® really is powerful. So here's a more feminine case study from my practice archives:

"C" is a 61-year-old woman who enrolled in FirstLine Therapy® on the recommendation of her family doctor. With multiple health issues, she felt that the time had come for lifestyle changes "It's do or die." She began the low-glycemic, moderate protein, whole-foods based food plan and began to chip away at a lifelong fondness for sweet and processed foods. She also began a regular walking program of 30 minutes to an hour several days a week.

"C" was feeling better after 12 weeks, and WAY better by six months on the program. Take a look at the changes in her cholesterol profile, the inflammation marker hsCRP, and blood sugar metabolism. Note that "C" no longer meets the diagnostic definition for diabetes (fasting glucose of 126), though she did before she began FirstLine Therapy®. Now she's technically pre-diabetic (fasting glucose 100 - 110) and she intends to have normal sugars before too long.

Her body composition analysis indicates that in addition to an overall weight loss of 19 pounds, "C" increased her lean body mass percentage and burned quite a bit of fat. At her most recent visit, she reported having much more energy, felt her breathing was better, and said she'd noticed a marked decrease in the headaches which had bothered her for years.

She's not done yet we'd like to see her blood pressure and LDL come down more, in addition to continued change in her body composition but she has made a fabulous start!


Baseline 6 months later
Starting weight 182  163
Blood Pressure 132/92 130/86
Tot. Cholesterol (prefer under 200) 243 209
Triglycerides (prefer under 150) 125  122
HDL (the higher the better) 46  52
LDL (prefer under 110)  125 128
Fasting Glucose (diabetes marker=126) 128 110
2-hour Glucose (prefer close to fasting level) 212 184
Fasting Insulin (prefer under 10)  13.3  10.8
2-hour Insulin (prefer under 30) 88.9 Not done (lab error)
Hemoglobin A1c (diabetes marker=6.0) 6.2  5.9
hsCRP (inflammation marker prefer under 1.0) 5.44  0.45
Body Mass Index or BMI (prefer under 30) 36.7  32.9
Lean body mass % (prefer around 75%) 56.2  58.6
Fat body mass % (prefer around 25%) 43.8  41.4

Here's what some other FirstLine Therapy® participants have to say:

"I learned so much about my body that had not been identified in other places. I feel I am able to prevent a bunch of health problems that I'm possibly at risk for now."

"My blood pressure is back to normal; I've lost 35 pounds and I feel much more relaxed."

"Cholesterol and weight are both down, but my energy level is way up!"

"It was great to find a meal plan that is really nourishing with no hunger, and still lose weight!"

"I feel like I've been given my life back. Susan was great at reassuring me and helping me figure things out. I'm not going crazy!"

"When I started the program I was a total sugar addict. That got a whole lot better even after the first couple weeks. Now I feel my eating style is so much more balanced and I am much less 'hooked' on sweets than I used to be."

"This is the first time I've had a really good feeling about my health it's been a spiritual and emotional awakening!"

I envision and intend a world where people are supported to prevent and recover from chronic lifestyle diseases with healthy living. I invite you to set up a free "is FirstLine Therapy® right for me?" consultation anytime this can be in person or on the phone. Additional details about how the program works (logistics, fees, etc.) are online at

NEW HOT TIP: If you're not in the Portland area, or would want your far-away friends and relatives to hear about FirstLine Therapy®, check out for a national listing of the growing number of practices offering this program.


If you've been in my office you've seen what a ridiculous book junkie I am. (My mom likes to joke that if I had my nose in a book, she could tell me the house was burning down and I'd just say "uh-huh" and keep reading. It's true.)

I spend a lot of time reading about food and nutrition and I'll tell you some new fun stuff next issue but in this "Season of All Things New," I'd like to turn you on instead to a couple books that I hope will inspire you to reach higher than you thought you could. You know, like to live your dreams and achieve your personal goals, however elusive they may have been in the past.

I've spent years working with people who are striving to overcome various obstacles. What I know is that almost always steel yourself, because this might make you mad - the biggest boulder standing in your way is the one you put there personally, or which for some reason you won't consider moving. (Sacred cow, elephant in the corner, etc.).

Sure, logistics and technical information are important but the very first step towards any dream is the blueprint we dare to create. Many of us have scripts in our heads that keep us from accessing the extraordinarily gifted architect we have inside. So we build ticky-tacky houses instead of mansions on the coast, and wonder why the view is lousy.

Whether you're thinking about a personal goal, a mission for our culture, or a dream for the planet know that the more potent your picture and the more passionate your vision, the more likely you are to actually get what you imagine (and the more fun you'll have on the way!) These two books should be required reading for you as you learn to better access no-holds-barred thinking. Enjoy!

Make the Impossible Possible: One Man's Crusade to Inspire Others to Dream Bigger and Achieve the Extraordinary

by Bill Strickland

A friend of mine sent me this link and after hearing this man's talk, I wiped my tears and went right out to get this book. Hardcover. Retail. Let me assure you this is very uncharacteristic behavior for me. 

Bill Strickland grew up in the inner city of Pittsburgh (particularly important to me since I have family there) and, against a wide variety of odds, is successfully manifesting his dream of a network of community centers where poor people can go to be treated well and learn real work skills. From a place of clear heart-felt vision, he's managed to inspire support from some pretty heavy hitters in the business and benefactor world. (Like, Jeff Skoll of eBay.) (And a bunch of famous jazz musicians.) (Like, names even I can recognize!)

Strickland's company, Manchester-Bidwell, has built beautiful buildings in the slums, where they grow orchids and cook gourmet food, and produce Grammy-winning jazz CDs all while moving people up and out of poverty through mindful education and real-world career training. This book tells his story and more than once had me weeping. If you ever say to yourself, "Oh, but I couldn't possibly do that" remember this guy, and consider the possibility that you might just be telling yourself the worst sort of fairy tale.

Steering by Starlight: Find Your Right Life No Matter What!

by Martha Beck

Maybe you've seen Martha Beck's monthly column in the Oprah magazine. She's an author and life coach who happens to have a PhD from Harvard...and seriously, I think she is one of the best and funniest writers around. Now, I've read more than my share of self-help and self-improvement books, and by now they're all pretty much <yawn> the same old stuff. But this one well, it's different.

Beck emphasizes what I call "magic" those little coincidences and heart-hits that tell you "something is Really Important Better Pay Attention," and then helps you figure out how to build on that. She's also lucid yet gentle about how you might be standing in your own way. Both practical and funny, if you're looking for a way out of a ditch, see if you don't get ready to move forward after having a conversation with the lizards and gremlins you can learn to subdue in this book. The first story she tells will make you race to take a peek inside your wallet...and not for the reason you think! Great fun and so very witty!

Upcoming Classes

Eat Right and Exercise: Nutrition for the New Year

Thursday, February 12, 2009, 6:00 to 7:30 pm at Springboard Pilates in Portland, 143 Spring Street. $45 per person ($40 each if you sign up with a friend).

FMI or to register call (207) 841-0932.

This will be a fast-paced 90 minute introduction to the basic principles of good nutrition for peak performance. It's perfect for the person who goes numb with confusion when they hear someone tell them to "just eat a balanced diet." We'll go over some principles and myths and you'll learn more about electronic body composition analysis as used in the FirstLine Therapy® program.

(Springboard is a lovely Pilates studio owned by my dear colleague Bethany Mateosian. I'm thrilled to offer this class in partnership with her!)

...and FINALLY

Speaking of growth and new things, I've opened up additional time in my schedule to see patients on Thursday afternoons, in addition to Tuesdays and Wednesdays. If you've had trouble recently finding an appointment slot that worked for you, I'm hoping that with these expanded hours things will be easier!

Also, my gratitude to everyone who re- and re-re-scheduled your appointments over the holidays when my Dad passed away. I've really appreciated the calls and emails and cards offering sympathy and support if you've ever wondered, those seemingly small gestures really do make a difference.

To your best health,
Susan Fekety RN, MSN, CNM
Women's Health, Lifestyle Counseling


  • Thoughts on hormone replacement therapy (HRT)

  • Spring Detoxification ... and more!

This Issue's Affirmation:

"I easily move beyond all limitations."

(Download and print an 8-1/2" x 11" PDF of this affirmation)

© Copyright 2009 by Susan Fekety. All rights reserved.
202 US Route 1, Falmouth, Maine 04105 | (207) 781-4488 |