Healthy Eating for Your Good Health!

Healthy Eating For Your Good Health.

By Carol Penfield, M.S., Nurse Practitioner

I will be addressing healthy eating in “To Your Good Health” (an insert in the Cape Codder) on a regular basis.  My expertise is in the relatively new medical specialty of Lifestyle Medicine.  The principles of Lifestyle Medicine were developed from evidence-based medical research, and help you prevent and even reverse disease by addressing how you live your life day to day.  This includes exercise, stress management, substance abuse, sleep quality and, most germaine to this column, diet.  What you eat greatly affects your health and wellbeing. This makes sense to most of us intuitively, but up to now that knowledge has not led to behavior change in the general population.

So what is a “healthy” diet, and why should you follow it?  Dr. Dean Ornish is one of the pioneers who scientifically addressed how a low fat, plant-based diet was able to decrease and reverse narrowing of the arteries.  Not only did his seriously ill patients achieve a remarkable clinical reversal of their disease, but he used actual pictures of the heart vessels called “angiograms” to prove that those changes were real.

As a result of this and other research supporting “plant-based diet”, that term is now used more often, but what does it really mean?  It involves eating foods as grown and in their natural state, such as vegetables, fruits, legumes, and nuts.  It also involves avoiding or minimizing the consumption of animal-based products, meaning foods produced from animals, such as cheese, ice cream, or meats. An easy way to remember this is to avoid eating anything that came from something with eyes… except potatoes, they are the only plant with “eyes”!  Furthermore, it means you need to avoid eating processed foods.  The body is designed to absorb the nutrients from foods in their natural state rather than products invented over the past few decades.

OK, simple enough, but at this point you might be thinking, “I still want my steak, and butter on my toast.”  I will address in future columns how you can change your eating habits in a positive and lasting way, and in more detail what you need to do, and why you will want to.

The Answer to Sustained Fitness for Non-Exercisers is here!

The answer to sustained fitness for non-exercisers is here!
If you do not exercise regularly, there is an exciting new option in fitness that will help get you on track. The health benefits of regular exercise are indisputable, yet only 15% of the population actually do it enough to reap the benefits! If you are in the 85% who know you should, but have not; there is an answer for you. It is called “small group fitness coaching” which involves a group of four exercising under the guidance of a coach.
Small group fitness coaching offers the benefits of both personal training (but more affordable) and exercise classes (without the “one size fits all”). This approach solves many of the barriers that have prevented people from exercising.
1) Exercise is boring: Small group coaching allows you to modify and change each session based on your interests as well as your fitness partners.
2) Exercise is expensive: The fees for a coach are more affordable than a personal trainer when you split the cost with 3 other participants.
3) I don’t want to get hurt: In a small group you receive more personalized instruction and the routine is tailored to your level of fitness. You can’t get lost in the back of the class!
4) I don’t feel like exercising today: Research shows that members of a small group program are more likely to stick with their routine than individuals or large class participants. Being accountable to your fellow group members keeps you going.
5) I am too out of shape: The small group coach can specifically modify each session to allow you to progress.
6) I can’t lose weight: Routines can be adjusted to boost your metabolism. This is possible since you have access to all types of fitness equipment each session.
7) I just don’t like to sweat: No problem, some fitness coaching can be done in the pool or can be effectively toned down to your level of comfort.
Sounds great? It is! Small group fitness coaching involves a certified professional who meets with a group (typically 4 people) who are friends or participants with similar levels of fitness, who will quickly become friends! Each session is scheduled like any other appointment in your life. The session is usually 45 – 60 minutes in duration and can be experiences in a fitness room using cardio and strengthening equipment, or in a group fitness room using a variety of options such as elastics, fitness balls, balance mounds, etc. Sessions can be in a pool which is ideal for those with arthritis or back issues. Yoga and stretching can be part of the routine as well. The format may involve a circuit workout where each person is doing a different movement with modifications as needed or sometimes interval exercises are incorporated. Some may prefer a sport specific routine such as golf or ski training. The options are endless, thus allowing fun innovative routines that keep you wanting to return for more!
When individuals exercise in a small group they try harder and stay accountable.
Invite a few of your friends to join you and try it out this New Year! Chatham Health & Swim Club will be offering this unique form of exercise as part of their “Weigh to Better Health” team fitness and weight loss program. It will start Friday, Jan. 8th. Come to a FREE INFO SESSION on Sat. Jan. 2 at 11 am to learn more.

Carol Penfield MS NPc will be instructing and/or supervising the groups to insure safe and age-specific instruction.
Call Chatham Health & Swim Club to reserve. 508-945-3555
or email info@chathamhealthclub.com today!

Live Longer, Feel Healthier!

Live Longer, Feel Healthier!
A new approach to health care has proven successful in Chatham.
This past year, 46 people have participated in the Complete Health Improvement program known as “C.H.I.P”. The program, developed by the Lifestyle Medicine Institute, has a well-established international success rate with over 65,000 satisfied patients. The experience in Chatham showed remarkable and measurable improvements in the participant’s health.
The participants set personalized achievable health goals which most of them were able to reach or surpass by the completion of the program. A majority of the participants lost weight (up to 30 pounds in 12 weeks) without having to diet or feel hungry. Many were able to lower their cholesterol and lipids by 30% without medications. One cardiac patient went from having chest pain while walking to his mailbox to being able to walk 1-mile pain-free. For some, blood pressures returned to normal ranges as well as blood sugar levels for those pre-diabetic. In addition, all participants felt happier, healthier and had more energy.
What is the C.H.I.P program? It involves a comprehensive approach to establishing new healthy behaviors that are sustainable. This includes dietary changes, reasonable amounts of exercise and improved response to stress. The program includes a medical evaluation and lab testing in order to monitor outcomes. Each class introduces evidence-based research on nutrition, fitness and proven techniques to help you achieve healthy outcomes. Nurse Practitioner, Carol Penfield M.S., has become certified and licensed by the Lifestyle Medicine Institute to teach the course and will be offering new enrollments for the October 2015 program.
Learn more at a FREE “CHIP” Info. Session hosted by the Chatham Health & Swim Club:
SATURDAY, SEPT. 19 at 11am
SATURDAY, SEPT. 26 at 11am
Call (508) 945- 3555 to reserve and get healthy with us!
Only offered at Chatham Health & Swim Club, 251 Crowell Rd., Chatham. http://www.chathamhealthclub.com

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A comprehensive health improvement program is coming to Chatham.

Have you been told by your medical provider to “lose weight”, “exercise more”, “drink less alcohol” or make other therapeutic lifestyle changes? Often an individual is given 6 months to make changes before returning to their medical office for a new medication or an increase of an existing medication. The expense orstigma of taking pills lead many to seek alternative approaches. Where does one go for help? Information provided on the internet is where many turn to first. Unfortunately, these sources are often biased, trying to sell you trendy products and supplements and based on pseudo-science. It is difficult to obtain evidence-based information. Medical research spends only 3.4% of their funding on nutritional studies annually but the majority is focused on revenue producing supplements. The food industry is interested in wealth rather than health. So what IS a healthy diet? Despite the sea of information it is hard to sort out what foods to eat, and if supplements help at all.

One answer is a program led by Nurse Practitioner Carol Penfield that can provide you with sound medical and behavioral advice to guide you to weight loss and a healthier you! It is the Complete Health Improvement Program called “C.H.I.P.” which has helped over 65,000 people during the past 25 years. The CHIP medical and nutrition experts continuously review medical studies and sort through evidence-based literature in order to provide sound information that is easy to understand and follow. It is a comprehensive program that leads to lifelong change and may be covered by your insurance.

Learn more about the CHIP program at the following

FREE information session open to the public:
Sat. Jan. 3rd at 11am.
Only at the Chatham Health & Swim Club.
508-945-3555. info@chathamhealthclub.com

The CHIP program is a safe and successful opportunity you don’t want to miss!

What will your last 10 years look like?

Can disease be reversible?

Presently we have access to more medications and cutting edge technological procedures, but unfortunately the health of Americans has not significantly improved. The growing cost of health care has allowed us to live longer but also “sicker”. The epidemic of obesity continues to rise. It is predicted that diabetes will affect 50% of the population by 2050. What has happened? The answer is that although we are good at identifying and treating disease, we are missing the mark because we are not treating the cause of the disease.

Help is on the way. More and more research has shown that how we live our lives day to day greatly affects our risk for disease and making the correct changes can potentially either prevent or ameliorate major illness! Recent research has shown that sources of chronic inflammation in our body can lead to the development of chronic diseases. For example, poor sleep, stress, fatty and processed foods are responsible for our decline in health, not just “our genes”. Our genes only account for 20 – 30% of our health destiny, our environment and lifestyle will dictate the rest. “Genes are the loaded gun, but our lifestyle is the trigger”. Most diseases, especially heart disease, are not random occurrences but the consequences of the things people do every day. In fact, Dr. Ornish has shown that heart disease can be reversed. In as little as 3 months angina and constricted vessels can dilate and stop symptoms without medications.

The new medical specialty called “Lifestyle Medicine” has emerged and addresses every area of a person’s life in order to create positive health outcomes minimizing the need for medications. There is now evidenced-based answers to questions such as:
What is a healthy diet?
How can I improve my sleep?
Am I handling my stress effectively?
Are my relationships and social connections supporting my health?
How can I stop self-sabotage and develop skills that help me stick with health promoting habits?

The most convincing research (the EPIC study, 2009) tracked 23,000 individuals (age 35 – 65) over their life span. The data showed that practicing just 4 lifestyle interventions decreased their risk for developing diabetes by 93% and all major chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease and even dementia, by 80%. These are amazing statistics! The four lifestyle interventions were:
1) They did NOT smoke
2) They had a BMI (body mass index below 30)
3) They exercised at least 3-1/2 hours per week
4) They ate a nutritious diet (mostly fruits, vegetables, whole grains and minimal meat)

Our health care system primarily focuses on identifying disease and finding the quickest most effective treatment. However, truly achieving health resides almost entirely on an individual’s choices.

Carol Penfield, Nurse Practitioner and owner of Chatham Health & Swim Club recently returned from the national convention on “Lifestyle Medicine” and is excited to share cutting edge information with the community.
Come learn more about how you can improve certain aspects of your health, potentially take less medication, have more energy and continue to enjoy your life!

FREE Lifestyle Medicine information sessions at Chatham Health & Swim Club are open to the public on the following dates:
Saturday, Nov. 22nd: 11am
Saturday, Dec. 6th: 11am
Saturday, Jan. 3rd: 11:00am
Call 508-945-3555 to reserve. Space is limited.

Drums Alive!

Does a marching band bring you joy? Do you find yourself tapping your toes to a good song?

Following the beat can improve your health.  Every person has a rhythm in their body. For example, your heart is beating 60 – 100 beats per minute and your lungs inhale and exhale approximately 18 times per minute.  Connecting with these automatic rhythms and adding other beats such as drumming, allows the potential to connect the mind, body, soul and spirit deep within us. The enjoyment of music and rhythm in the form of drumming and dancing in a group has been practiced for thousands of years.  It allows a unique style of expression, celebration with music and a sense of community.

Recent studies by Neher & Bittmann have shown that drumming stimulates the electrical activity of sensory and motor pathways of the brain.  It also affects the central nervous system and has a positive influence on the immune system. Based on this fascinating research, founder Carrie Ekins, M.A., developed a fun new form of exercise called “DRUMS ALIVE”  which incorporates the rhythms of music and adds drumming and movement.This new fitness class uses rhythm as a source of inspiration and combines the benefits of  group exercise as well.

In addition to the usual health benefits of fitness, Drums Alive uniquely offers additional benefits such as:imagesVW3Z8HP9

  • Improved neuromuscular function
  • Increased focus and concentration
  • Posture and body alignment
  • “Brain fitness” and memory enhancement
  • Overall sense of well being and decreased depression
  • Stimulation of fine motor skills/hand & eye coordination
  • Increased creative expression

The combination of dynamic movement and drumming on stationary fitness balls makes everyone and anyone a part of the beat.  You do not realize you are exercising your mind in addition to your body!

What is the class like?  The participants can be standing (or seated) in front of a fitness ball placed on a stationary frame. The fitness class is designed to include a warm up and an introduction of single, double, and other combinations of beats using drumming sticks on the fitness balls.  The cardiovascular fitness section includes the break down and add-on of varying levels of rhythm combinations and movement patterns.  At the end of the class there is a cool down using slower beats and finishing with relaxation and stretching.

Drums Alive is a program that fosters a healthy balance physically, mentally, emotionally and socially.  Join a class and experience for yourself a fun and inspiring form of exercise!

Master DRUMS ALIVE instructor, Rene King will be offering FREE demonstrations on Wednesday, July  16th : at 9:15, 10:00, & 10:45am. Class size is limited. Call Chatham Health & Swim Club to reserve. 508-945-3555.

Weight and Blood Pressures are dropping at Chatham Health & Swim Club

The annual 6-week “Weigh to Better Health” Team weight loss program has helped 80 participants lose 521.7 pounds this year, making a total of 2978 pounds spanning 5 years.  Not only that, but this year many lowered their blood pressures too.  For example, H.K. dropped her BP from 186/92 to 144/82, M.M from 153/84 to 118/74 and A.C. from 138/98 to 108/72.

Sure, weight loss can assist with a drop in blood pressure, but more immediate changes were noticed.  How? By practicing a 1:2 deep breathing technique introduced by Nancy Samotis, MFA, LicSW and RYT (Staff Restorative and Seated Yoga Instructor and psychotherapist) during one of the weekly nutrition and lifestyle medicine workshops.  Each participant’s blood pressure was measured by Dr. David Penfield (co-owner & ER physician), then Sally Moore coached the 1:2 breathing practice and a follow-up blood pressure was obtained after 3-5 minutes.  “It was amazing to find that it didn’t take long to see a significant difference in almost everyone’s blood pressure” stated Dr. Penfield.

There are multiple forms of yogic breath, but “1:2 breathing” is easy to practice and helps calm the nervous system.  The breathing technique involves inhaling through the nose for 2-counts and slowly exhaling through the mouth for long controlled 4-counts.

Practicing this style of breathing during times of physical or mental stress helps to manage the “fight or flight” response to negative stress and lower blood pressure. Taking fewer but deeper breaths each minute temporarily lowers blood pressure and calms the sympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for generating stress hormones. The mind and body are very intimately connected; when the mind is completely at ease, the whole body also gains complete relaxation.

Other key components of the weight loss program included weekly educational workshops and ongoing support to help the participants to:

  • Choose a personal form record/log keeping
  • Minimize daily sodium intake to less than 2,300 mgs per day,
  • Increase daily exercise to 30 – 60 min./day  or 10, 000 steps/day
  • Eat at least 2-1/2 cups of vegetables
  • Take fun new classes such as indoor rowing or water interval classes

In addition to learning how to sustain healthy behaviors each week, a cooking class was included this year.  Chef Dana Dunbar, owner of Beach Plum Chef in Brewster demonstrated unique and tasty ways to prepare vegetables with minimal usage of salt.

Interested in learning the 2:1 breath?  Come try a Restorative Yoga class Thursdays 5:30 – 6:15pm or a Seated Yoga class on Fridays 10 – 11am.  Drop-ins are welcome at Chatham Health & Swim Club.

Thank you to our event T-shirt sponsors:

Acupuncture with Hope,Cape Cod Ambulance, Cape Cod Chronicle, Cape Cod Emergency Assoc., Chatham Candy Manor, Chatham Village Market, Jennifer Eldredge Stello Photography, Kinlin Grover Realty, Pine Acres Realty, Schumacher Properties, Stello Construction Ent. Inc., W. Vernon Whiteley Plumbing & Heating

Weight and Blood Pressures are dropping at Chatham Health & Swim Club