How to make 2010 a better year

Whether you call it a resolution, a lifestyle change or a goal, the new year is a great time to get started on improving your health. To give you a little inspiration, we’ve asked several Stark County health and wellness experts for advice on achieving wellness in 2010.

What is living well? It’s doing whatever makes you feel emotionally, spiritually or physically healthy. It’s what makes us strong and confident — and what makes us better.

In the pages that follow, fitness expert Summer Montebone, chiropractor Dr. James Powell, dentist/orthodontist Dr. Mike Bernard, general internal practitioner Dr. Louis Shaheen, nutritionist Beth Matthews, and psychologist Abbas Sadeghian will offer their take on living a better life in 2010.

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SUMMER MONTEBONE, CSCS

OWNER, SUMMER’S FITNESS 24/7, PROFESSIONAL TRAINER, FORMER PROFESSIONAL FITNESS ATHLETE, MODEL IN NATIONAL FITNESS MAGAZINES AND DVDS.
For Montebone, balancing a healthy diet and a fitness routine is the key to a healthy lifestyle.

“The biggest thing I tell people who are engaging in a new fitness or nutrition program is to start slow,” she said.

A balanced exercise regiment of weight or resistance training, cardiovascular activities, and stretching, she said, actually can combat aging.

“As we age, we lose muscle mass and flexibility,” she explained.

She advises keeping your workout fresh by trying a variety of exercises. It will keep exercise fun and prevent your body from simply getting used to the workout.

Variety and balance are the keys with nutrition, as well, Montebone said.

Keep a food journal and set small goals, she said, and if you notice you are not getting enough fruit, add one serving. As you get used to that, then add more.

And surprisingly, she said, even if you eat the healthiest foods possible, your weight still can plateau. The body may need to be “shocked” with a change in diet to jump-start weight loss.

“Balance is the biggest thing,” she said. “If you overdo it in one area, it can cause a problem in another.”

DR. JAMES POWELL

CHIROPRACTOR, POWELL CHIROPRACTIC CLINIC
The best thing you can do for yourself in 2010, said Powell, is be proactive about your health. Powell said typically he sees patients for the first time when there is a problem. Once that pain is dealt with, the real work begins.

“Most chiropractors utilize some form of natural health care,” Powell said.

For him, it is emphasizing the importance of staying well without the unnecessary use of surgery or drugs. He recommends focusing on the structure of the body and how that structure affects how your body functions. Proper nutrition is the key.

“I encourage people to use some form of supplements to add to the nutritional realm,” he said, explaining that vitamin and mineral deficiencies are common and many of us are missing entire food groups in our diets.

Proteins, essential fatty acids such as those found in fish, and Vitamin D and A are some examples. And eating properly, he said, helps not only our bodies, but our minds.

Exercise is a key factor as well, he said, citing a statistic that 66 percent of Americans are overweight. It all points to his motto: “Eat well, move well, think well, and you will be well.”

“It’s a positive approach to living,” Powell said. “And when you feel well, you are much better inclined to take care of your body.”

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MIKE BERNARD, D.D.S., M.S.

DENTIST AND ORTHODONTIST
So you haven’t been to the dentist in a long while and you’re not all that concerned. No pain, no worries, right? Wrong, of course. Adults need regular exams to ward off the start of gum recession and periodontal disease.

“Germs that cause tooth decay and periodontal disease can actually get into the blood stream and cause chronic problems like heart and lung disease,” Bernard said.

The best thing we can do for oral health, he emphasized, is get an exam every six months. This starts at the age of 2.

But good dental hygiene starts even sooner than that. Parents need to be reminded that sugary liquid in a bottle is bad for babies, even those without teeth.

“A pacifier or a bottle of water can prevent early decay, and parents should know not to give kids anything
with sugar for a prolonged time,” he said, citing lollipops as an example.

There’s good news for gum chewers. Gum with the ingredients Xylitol or Recaldent actually can be good for your teeth. Bernard recommends chewing gum for only 10 minutes at a time to avoid damage to the jaws.

Smoking can cause a different set of dental problems. Besides the risks of cancer, periodontal disease will rapidly take over your mouth if you are a smoker, and many dentists won’t do implants on smokers, he explained.

And of course, age-old advice: Brush after every meal.

“Tooth decay starts soon after you eat,” Bernard said.

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LOUIS SHAHEEN, M.D.

INTERNAL MEDICINE, AULTMAN HOSPITAL
Shaheen says most people already should know the basics of getting well — exercise, stop smoking, stop drinking alcohol and cut out fatty foods — so he gives some advice about things that may not be as well known.

One tip, “a big one,” he emphasizes, is “get a yearly physical.” Shaheen said he realizes many people carry health insurance with very high deductibles in order to afford their policies.

“Who goes to the doctor with a $3,000 deductible?” he asked.

What might not be known, however, is that many of those policies have wellness coverage. In other words, many insurance plans pay for doctor visits when we are healthy. Some of those exams may include mammograms, prostate exams and other preventive measures.

“Be better informed on your policies,” advises Shaheen.

And secondly, he said, make sure to schedule immunizations. Tetanus, which is recommended every 10 years, is one “we still don’t talk about enough.”

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BETH MATTHEWS

REGISTERED DIETITIAN, MERCY MEDICAL CENTER
Variety is the spice of life and your diet. Matthews said it is important to incorporate lots of fruits and vegetables in your diet and choose a variety of colors.

“Each color offers different vitamins and minerals, all of which are important,” she said.

Matthews recommends also incorporating low-fat meats and dairy products, whole grains, and plenty of water in the daily menu.

“Limit simple sugars, aka. pop,” she emphasized, adding, “Any diet that limits an entire food group, I would question. Each (food group) has something to offer in regards to vitamins and minerals.”

Matthews said she always emphasizes the importance of exercise to her clients.

“We tend to overestimate the calories we burn,” she said. “Exercise helps maintain our weight. It’s difficult to do it by diet alone.”

Again, she said, variety is key. Aerobic exercise burns calories and weight training is important for bone and muscle strength.

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ABBAS SADEGHIAN, PH.D.

CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST
“Resolutions don’t work.” That is first and foremost the advice Sadeghian wants us to remember. Not only do they not work, he said, but when they fail, they add to a person’s guilt to a degree that puts them in worse shape than when they started.

“Resolutions are decisions based on superstitions, family ties and cultural beliefs,” he explained. “They are usually about something that is very important to us.”

That’s why he advises to not make the decision to lose weight lightly. We shouldn’t decide to change our lifestyle because of a date on the calendar.

“Think about it, read about it … so when you go for it, you are informed and the decision is well thought out,” he said.

Then, to increase the likelihood of success, ask for help.

Sadeghian recommends finding a consultant or expert to guide you, help you and hold you accountable.

“Neurotic behavior is doing something over and over again that doesn’t work,” he said with a chuckle.

So instead of making a New Year’s resolution, he said, make a plan and attack your problem from a different angle.

“Human problems are not superstitions,” he said. “Human problems are science.”

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Lisa Reicosky

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