May 2007   

"Support for Your Healthy Lifestyle"

Susan Fekety, RN, MSN, CNM


I'm hoping this newsletter ends up in your hands right about the same time that the tulips show up in your garden. As the sky brightens and the weather warms (and the rains dry…) I'm filled with new energy and happiness. I hope you are feeling that way too! Exciting things are happening at True North right now. If it's been a while since we touched base, make sure you're a part of the kind of health care we SHOULD have everywhere! - Susan

First Line Therapy® Update

I have to tell you that I am increasingly excited about the impact my First Line Therapy® program has had for patients with (or who want to prevent) "lifestyle diseases" -- high cholesterol, high blood sugar, inflammation, hormone imbalance, adrenal fatigue, over-weight, etc. First Line Therapy™ (FLT) is a 12 week scientifically-based, clinically-tested Functional Medicine program for people ready to take better care of themselves but not sure where to begin. Could that be you? Here's a success story that shows you the potential for this program (name and minor details changed to fool you.)

37 year old Caucasian father of two; no personal or family history of diabetes. High-stress job, plays tennis 3 times per week; big fan of cheeseburgers, Diet Coke, and popcorn. Presented to his family doctor with a skin infection (which was treated) and had labs drawn as part of the workup and because they were overdue. He was referred to FLT and began a low-glycemic, moderate protein food plan that emphasized whole foods. He also began working with a personal trainer, and attended weekly group sessions.

I have to tell you – as a health care provider, stuff like this gets me really excited! What you see in the table at right resulted solely from the FLT program; he did not use any medications or supplements other than a multivitamin and omega-3 fatty acids. He looks and feels great – and he's not done yet! Obviously, this fellow's experience with FLT is striking – not everyone will make the same changes that he did, but I believe that all of us have the potential to make some significant positive impact on our metabolic functioning with a healthy lifestyle. Please, seriously consider this program. I think that learning FLT-style living is the most important thing you can do to stay healthy for a lifetime. I'm happy to tell you more about it – call anytime and ask for a 15 minute free phone conversation appointment, or ask to have an information kit mailed to you.

ps: I'm analyzing outcomes data on the first 60 people who have completed the FLT program – watch future newsletters for the results! A BIG "thank you" to all who yielded to my requests to fill out that orange form and take the DYNA survey – AGAIN!


Prior to Program At Completion 3 months Later
Weight/BMI 258.5/32.2 245/30.6 239/29.9
Blood Pressure (goal 120/80) 152/98 122/80 110/80
Total Cholesterol (goal under 200) 221  131 142
Triglycerides (goal under 150) 349  92 114
HDL (goal over 40) 44  38 39
LDL (goal under 110) 118  75 80
Fasting Glucose (goal under 100)  279 120 136
Hemoglobin A1c (goal under 6.5) 11.4 7.7 6.5
Non-Fat body mass % (goal 83-86%) 72.3  75.4  74.1
Fat body mass % (goal 14-17%) 28.4 24.6  25.9

Great Books

Oh, there are so many good books out there! I am so grateful for good writers, good books, good bookstores, and comfy reading chairs. Check out The Slow-Down Diet: Eating for Pleasure, Energy, and Weight Loss by Marc David (2005.) If you're among the millions who have lived most of their lives on a diet (and still struggle with over-weight), or who wolf down your lunch at your desk/in your car/in front of the TV/etc – this book might speak to you like it did to me (queen of the multi-taskers.) Marc David is a nutritional psychologist affiliated with Kripalu and Canyon Ranch. He writes compellingly about how HOW we eat is as important as WHAT we eat, not only from a spiritual/soul perspective but also because it affects metabolism, digestion – everything. The exploratory "pay attention" exercises in this book are particularly good. If you have a hunch that it's time to modify your relationship with food by becoming more mindful of the process of eating, as well as how the food is prepared and how much pleasure you take from it – please take a look at this one.

HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) Vaccine

I am getting a lot of questions about the new HPV vaccine, Gardasil®, which was just released by Merck (the folks who brought us Vioxx.) It's designed to be given to girls/women between the ages of 11 and 26 who are not yet sexually active – surely you have heard about it. This vaccine deserves a real discussion – but let me give you the highlights of what I think. It's not as simple as the news-media hype would lead you to believe. Aside from the fact that it's many times more expensive than virtually any other vaccine out there (the 3-shot series is just under $400,) and aside from questions about whether it's wise to give yet one more immune-active substance to young people, be aware: Gardasil® only prevents infection with 4 HPV virus strains. These four strains are associated with about 70% of cases of cervical cancer and 90% of genital warts, but there's no protection from the viral strains responsible for the other 30% and 10%. So, a person who has been vaccinated still needs to get Pap smears and still can get genital warts AND/OR cervical cancer. Condoms will still be needed to prevent other sexually transmitted diseases (and indeed, consistent condom use

ALSO prevents about 80% of infection with HPV). Most women who get cervical cancer (and there are thousands, make no mistake) had not had Pap smear screening within the previous 5 years – to me, this says more about the failure of our health care system to welcome women for preventive services than it does about HPV. Gardasil® makes sense if you think you or your daughter are likely to join the Peace Corps or otherwise end up somewhere where they don't HAVE Pap smears, but it's not a backup method for poor self-care habits. Gardasil® has only been studied for 5 years – so be aware that there may be a future need for vaccine boosters. While it does not contain mercury, it does contain aluminum and preservatives. Clinical trials showed some troubling (to me, anyway) adverse immune system reactions in some women who got the vaccine. Personally, I'd wait a while (like a year, maybe two) till we know a bit more about this vaccine.

They Gave Me My Own Soapbox!

Speaking of writing, I now write a monthly column about nutrition topics in a nifty new local publication! Watch for The Maine Switch at your local grocery/health food store, coffee shop, or other edgy venue – the cover usually has bright colors on it. My column appears every fourth Thursday. For me this is a dream come true, really!

My Books - Duh!

One of my colleagues kindly pointed out that it's silly for me to review other people's books and neglect to remind you about my own 2 publications! Forthwith:

The Pocket Midwife: Affirmations for Healthy Pregnancy and Normal Birthing (2003) $15.00

The Pocket Midwife is a cute little sparkly spiral-bound book of 70 large-print affirmations for pregnant women, devised so that one can open the book to the page that resonates most and have it stand on a table top for ready viewing. The book has been endorsed by women's health expert Christiane Northrup MD, and also by Barbara Harper, author of the bestselling classic "Gentle Birth Choices." The Pocket Midwife makes a great gift for any pregnant (or intending to be pregnant!) woman who wants to nurture the part of her that feels positive and confident. It's available in the True North Store and at

Nurturing Baby and Me During Pregnancy (co-authored with Arlene Matthews) (2006) $19.95

This is another book I'd like to get into the hands of every pregnant woman! It's a week-by-week guide for bonding with your baby and practicing relaxation for an entire pregnancy. It comes along with a guided visualization/relaxation CD. I think the photo illustrations are particularly charming. This book has been endorsed by a lot of people I admire in the prenatal care field, and is being distributed through my professional organization, the American College of Nurse-Midwives ( or from the publisher at

My Upcoming Classes at True North

Call 781-4488 to register, or check our Web site and register online!

Monday, June 18th, 6:30-8:00 pm $20

Premenstrual Syndrome, or PMS, is an extremely common and vexing women's health problem. From a Functional Medicine perspective, PMS reflects an imbalance in hormone metabolism which responds beautifully to simple lifestyle treatments you can do yourself. If you're weeping, bloated, irritable, or feel like your life is a hopeless wreck – please come to this class. You'll notice a difference in your first cycle!

Monday July 16th 6:30-8: pm $20

Bookstore shelves are spilling over with diet and nutrition books urging you to kick the carbohydrate habit. But -- is it safe and wise to limit these foods -- or should you keep eating certain ones? We'll explore some of the popular diet programs and offer some "pearls of wisdom" to go along with your pearls of barley. (Yes, Virginia -- there IS breakfast beyond cereal and bagels!)

The Wisdom of Your Heart

If you're looking for a relaxation tool that really works, be sure to explore the powerful new heart-based techniques. More accessible for many people than conventional meditation, these approaches teach you to generate and focus on positive emotions (appreciation, love, abundance, joy, compassion) – on purpose. It feels so good – and feeling good amplifies the power of your heart, sending signals of happiness and relaxation to your brain, and changing your biochemistry. For most people this results in a deep level of calmness very quickly and easily. There is a lot of research emerging in support of these techniques, which are called "heart resonance" or "heart coherence," and one approach has even been trademarked ( To learn how to do this technique, you can work with a certified Heartmath™ coach (there's one in Portland.) True North's Shamanic practitioners (Allie Knowlton and Evelyn Rysdyk) or Energy Medicine practitioner (Cynthia Atkinson) can also teach you how to do it. Listening to the wisdom of your heart as a path to inner peace and more joy. How cool is that?

Be well, be happy, and let your heart speak out loud in your life. Call me if there's anything I can do to help you take the best possible care of yourself – you're worth it!

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

This Issue's Affirmation:

"I love to try new things."

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

© Copyright 2008 by Susan Fekety. All rights reserved.
202 US Route 1, Falmouth, Maine 04105 | (207) 781-4488 |