Archive for July 2012

Will the PPACA (aka Obamacare) make us healthier?

It’s been over two and a half years since our lawmakers passed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.  Until last month the details of the bill hadn’t been finalized due to the enduring controversy over the individual mandate. I’m not writing this article to debate the constitutionality of the mandate, there are plenty of places on the web you can engage in that banter. But, I do want to examine the measures passed to improve public health, some of which have already begun.

It’s fairly clear that the mere fact of possessing health insurance will not necessarily make you healthier. But, of the over two thousand pages included in the document, only fifty of the pages within the section “Title IV – Prevention of Chronic Disease and Improving Public Health” address the importance of preventative medicine and the steps the President will take.  Much of Title IV revolves around the organization and creation of governmental councils aimed at improving the well being of Americans, thus, boosting the budget of the Department of Health and Human Services by over two billion dollars.  Below I’ve highlighted some relevant changes discussed within the document:

1.  Establishment of the “National Prevention, Health Promotion and Public Health Council (Sec. 4001)

a. Chaired by the Surgeon General and composed of over 12 top federal agency directors

b. The council is advised by a group of the nation’s top 25 non-federal licensed health professionals with expertise in various areas of wellness.

c. The council in 2010 unveiled a national prevention, health promotion and public health strategy that’s since led to the USDA “MyPlate” overhaul of the previous nutrition pyramid, the First Lady led “Let’s Move” program and numerous other goals and objectives for improving the health of the United States.

d. The council is tasked to report each year to the President and Congress on the progress of federally funded programs.

2.  Universal coverage of preventative screening services and immunizations (Sec. 4002-4004)

a. A Presidentially appointed task force will continually review research to determine what screening services are vital and should be covered at no cost or with low deductibles.

b. This section includes appropriations for education and outreach through a national media blitz.

3.  Establishment of School-based health centers (Sec. 4101)

a.  These centers will provide comprehensive primary health services to prevent and treat a wide array of physical and mental health ailments in children.

4.  Oral Healthcare Prevention Activities and Education for Children and Families (Sec. 399LL)

a. The focus of this section is on federally funded oral disease management techniques for children

5.  Grants galore for creating healthier communities (Sec. 4201)

a. These grants are released only after adherence to strict requirements governmental oversight

6.  Nutrition labeling of standard menu items at chain restaurants (Sec. 4205)

a. Regardless of the type of ownership, if a restaurant has 20 or more locations it will now be required to post the number of calories next to the name of the menu item.

7.  Technical assistance and research for employer-based wellness programs (Sec. 399MM)

a. The government will begin providing web portals and other resources to help employers measure the wellness of employees.

In general, I am very pleased with the current and slated changes to preventative healthcare.  Also, keep in mind that there are several other sections I omit for both brevity and importance.  In the future I’d like to see either state or federal governments begin offering research proven incentives to living a healthy lifestyle.



Healthy Recipes: Watermelon & Spinach Salad

Did you know National Watermelon Day is right around the corner? That’s right, August 8th is the one day a year we pay tribute to this fine fruit enjoyed so much during warm summer months.  Prepare this Watermelon & Spinach Salad recipe this Friday in honor is the holiday! 


4 cups Spinach, fresh

4 cups Watermelon, cubed

2 ounces Goat cheese, crumbled

2 ounces Mirin Flax Splash (see recipe below)


  • Toss fresh spinach with mirin flax dressing.
  • Plate 1 cup of spinach, top with watermelon cubes and goat cheese crumbles.
  • Enjoy

Serves: 4 (1 cup of spinach)

Calories: 110

Sodium: 90 mg

Carbohydrates: 14 g

Fiber: 2g

Protein: 4 g


Mirin Flax Splash


2 ½ cups Mirin

2 ½ teaspoons Fresh ginger, grated

15 teaspoons Soy sauce, low sodium

2 ½ teaspoons Sesame oil                       

5 tablespoons Ground flax seeds

5 teaspoons Sugar


  • Combine all ingredients and whisk

Chef’s Note:  Mirin can be purchased at Asian markets and health food stores.  Mirin is a fermented rice seasoning liquid.


Serving Size: 1 Tablespoon

Calories:  9.5

Carbohydrates:3 grams

Sodium:30 mg





Summer DIY Project: Create a Vision Board

What is a vision board?

A vision board is a visual representation of who you are, what you enjoy, where you want to go, what you want to achieve in your life… or more simply, it is poster board covered in a collage of torn out pictures from magazines.

How to create a vision board

  1. Buy a poster board and cut to whatever size you would like. Tip: larger boards require more pictures to cover; I believe the best boards are packed with pictures. Enjoy filling it up completely.
  2. Flip through old magazines. Tear, cut or rip out pictures that speak to you. Try to have a variety to magazines; it can be difficult to build a vision off of one gardening mag.
  3. Glue down photos onto your poster board. Try laying everything out first and then gluing into place. Make sure everything fits and looks good!
  4. Share with others. Display on your desk, in your room, somewhere you will see it regularly and stay attached to that vision.

5 reasons to create a vision board today

  1. An alternative to journaling. Journaling is a great practice; it allows you to write out your thoughts, plans for the future, current challenges and strategies for being successful. But often we write these things down, close the cover on the journal and do not look at these things again. A vision board puts a visual on these ideas and keeps them present right in front of you. Remember: if you can see it, you can achieve it!
  2. It reminds you of who you are. Flipping through those magazines opens you up to dream. What do you want, where do you want to go, and what do you want from life? It opens you to new ideas and adventures. I found the words “Return to Sonoma,” it reminded me of a trip to Napa Valley when I was young, a place that I have always wanted to go back and visit again.  It reminded me of this place that I want to see again in my lifetime.
  3. It inspires self-knowledge. Flipping through old magazines looking for something that shouts “that’s totally me!” is an opening experience. When building my board I was happy to find things that stood out to me, such as the word cardigan and a picture of a cup of coffee; the former a staple in my wardrobe and the later an essential part of my morning routine.
  4. Unlock your inner creativity. We are all creative people, but this can tend to get buried under work reports, workouts and our daily schedules. When you tap into that inner creativity, it can expand your world and the way you view it. Step outside your comfort zone and create!
  5. A fun activity to do with the kids or friends! The act of creating a vision board can be a lot of fun, sitting around on the floor cutting out pictures. It can be even more fun, sharing the finished project with family or friends. It is a great way to share stories and get to know people more. I have a picture of a black lab on my board. This is for my black lab I had growing up who was around for 17 years. When I think about growing up at home, I always think about sweet Abby.


Mission: Find Healthy Nutritious Meals While Traveling

It is difficult to find fresh healthy food while traveling. Between the lack of time and availability of good fresh food, we have limited choices. Trust me, this mission is possible! Often we are so focused on our arriving to our destination in a timely manner rather than concerning ourselves with our own health and well-being. However, nutrition is the key to feeling good and fresh when you arrive to your final destination.

  1. Communicate with your Server.  Specify no butter, grilled proteins, and dressing or sauce on the side just to name a few. Many restaurants have the ability to cook items lower calorie, they just might not advertise it on the menu.
  2. Fruits and Vegetables!  These two are important, load them on any meal. Watch any extra additions of butter or sugar. Ask to have your vegetables steamed to avoid additional butter and verify that the fruit is not stored or served in syrup.
  3. Water, Water, Water! Drink a lot of water throughout your busy travel day. Doing so will keep you full and satisfied longer and will keep you hydrated ensuring you arrive to your destination fresh and feeling well.
  4. Break the menu down. Look at what is on the restaurant’s menu and ask to have those items prepared differently for you (You are worth it!) Ask for scrambled eggs at McDonald’s, order oatmeal from Starbucks without added sugar, and grilled chicken salad on a bed of greens with dressing on the side from a corporate restaurant.
  5. Plan and bring a few snacks with you while traveling: Carrot sticks; baked pita chips, oranges, hard boiled eggs, and a prepared smoothie are great options to ensure that you will have something health to depend on.

Traveling can be fun, make eating healthy and nutritious a fun game while traveling. Just bob and weave through the unhealthy choices.  When in doubt remember Bob Wright’s Unwise, Better, Best.

Do you accept my mission?



Friday Fitness: Wall Ball Workout

Only have 10 minutes? No problem. Watch the video, grab your soft medicine ball and knock out this 10minute, 10 rep Wall Ball Workout. Make sure you’ve warmed up properly and double check your technique. Chest up, knees out, weight in your heals! Please post how many total rounds you end up getting to the comments section. If you don’t happen to have a soft medicine ball, feel free to modify with squats and sit-ups.

10min (as many rounds as possible)

  • 10 Wall Balls
  • 10 Wall Ball Sit-Ups

Modify with:

  • 10 Squats
  • 10 Sit-Ups



Lean Into The Discomfort

I recently watched a Ted Talk by Brene Brown that explored the concept of vulnerability. It reminded me, once again, that true resilience is associated with both acknowledging unpleasant emotions and having the ability to lean into the discomfort. Doing so gives way to vulnerability, but vulnerability itself can be the birthplace of tremendous personal growth.

We unplug from our emotions just about every chance we get. Let’s face it, who wants to sit in despair, loneliness, shame, guilt, and betrayal? Yet, our feelings have an evolutionary purpose. Feelings help us reconcile the impact that the outside world and human interactions have on us by providing an internal barometer. What if we didn’t have them? How would we protect ourselves from unhealthy, destructive or dangerous relationships? How would we experience the joy associated with love or the gift of empathy which provides us motivation necessary for meaningful human connection?

When you embrace vulnerability, which is often a by-product of allowing yourself to experience difficult emotions, then you expand your emotional courage. You allow yourself to be imperfect. Imperfection is the place where personal growth embarks. Without it, our journey would be uninteresting and unproductive.

So, how does all of this play into your healthy lifestyle journey? For many of us, food, alcohol, cigarettes, compulsive spending, etc. are the distractions we use to avoid uncomfortable emotions. They numb us so we don’t have to truly feel the vulnerability. In the end, however, the distractions not only bolster our poor health but also suppress the courage inherent in vulnerability. If you want emotional resilience, you have to lean into the discomfort to allow growth. Brene Brown says it much better than me, so watch the link below and ask yourself if it’s time to truly feel.



2012 Olympic Games: We’ve Already Won

The Olympic 2012 opening ceremony is just days away! This time of year the entire world is tuning in to cheer for their countryWOMEN in all sorts of challenging athletic competitions. Yes, that’s right. This year the games are all about women! The 2012 Olympic Games will mark the first time each participating country has a female representative on its team. Now that’s what I call progress :-)

Beginning in 1896, the Olympics were originally only open to male athletes; but as the times have changed, so have the Games. In 1996, twenty six teams did not include women and in the last Games, in 2008, only three:  Brunei, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. This year, however, each country includes at least one female athlete and the United States is making even more history by sending more female competitors than male competitors!

Other interesting facts about this year’s Olympic Games: London was the first country to dazzle the world with a modern Olympic opening ceremony and this year it will be the first country to host the modern Olympic Games more than two times. 

Yes, I think we’ve come a long way since 1896 when male athletes greased themselves up and competed in the nude—yes, a very long way indeed. The costumes competitors wear now (varying formations of each country’s flag) are symbols of pride and reflect the importance of celebrating both past and future.

So as you tune-in for the opening ceremony this Friday, take a moment to think about your own past and future. Think about your heritage and how you can lift up your family and your country!



One Step at a Time

What stage of change are you in? Focus on one habit or healthy lifestyle change you’d like to focus on and consider which stage you are in out of the ones listed below. Next, write the steps you need to take to get to the next level. Consider what is realistic for you and make SMART goals to help you get there!

Stages of Change

Pre-Contemplation: No intention or acknowledgement for need to change

Contemplation: Acknowledging that you need to change but not sure if you really want to or are ready to just yet. Considering or planning to change sometime within the next 6 months.

Preparation: Getting ready to change. Preparing for change within the next month.

Action: In the act of changing behavior. Committed to change and making steps toward success.

Maintenance: Maintaining change for at least 6 months to indetermined time. I would like to point out that maintainance never really stops. This is what we preach at Hilton Head Health, that getting healthy isn’t necesarily about losing weight, but adapting a healthier way of living.

Relapse: Returning to old beharior or discontinuing change. Relapse is a normal part of any behavior change. The key to overcoming relapse is acknowledging that it will happen but being prepared when it does. Know the signs, have a plan of action and don’t dwell on mistakes but stay opptomistic for the future.



Healthy Recipes: Raspberry Popsicles

Talk about simply refreshing! This Raspberry popsicle is sweet, tart and will cool you off on a hot summer day.


2 pints Raspberries, fresh or 1 cup frozen

1 tablespoon Sugar


  • Puree raspberries and sugar in a blender.
  • Strain raspberry puree through a fine strainer.
  • Pour raspberry mixture into popsicle molds.
  • Place molds in freezer and allow popsicles to set for 6-8 hours.

Chef’s Note: You can substitute your favorite fruit for the same amount as the raspberries.

Serves: 4

Calories: 60

Carbohydrates: 20 grams

Sodium: 0 grams

Fiber: 8 grams

Protein: 1 gram



Coaching Corner: 8 questions that will lead you to success

Being a Wellness Coach, I like to stay up with the times. I feel like it is my duty to constantly look for new and ways to ask my clients intuitive questions in hopes that they’ll take a different perspective on their lifestyle goals. Each week I am not only encouraging progress, but looking for new innovative ways to push my clients close to their goals. This week, I came across a recent Ted Talk on the “Secrets to Success,” by Richard St. John and bam! I knew I had uncovered excellent perspective to share in future coaching calls.

So here’s your Sunday Challenge. Watch the 3 ½ minute video below and after you’ve unveiled the secrets of success, ask yourself these 8 questions in the direction of 1 LIFESTYLE GOAL you’re currently working on.  This exercise will help you discover if you’re really doing everything you can to be successful!

1)      Passion – what drives you to meet this current lifestyle goal?

2)      Work – how much fun are you having working toward this goal? In what ways?

3)      Good – how are you practicing to achieve this goal?

4)      Focus – what are your top two focuses in regard to this goal?

5)      Push – are you making excuses or pushing closer to your goal?

6)      Serve – how will hitting this goal add value to your life?

7)      Ideas – what ideas can you come up with right now that will move you closer?

8)      Persist – how are you going to move thru your biggest challenge?



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