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sun-behind-the-storm

Interesting Times for Interested People

So, we are all shut in our homes and are not supposed to go to work, movies, or restaurants to dine in, and we can’t even watch live sports on TV. Life is so bad, and unfair… or is it?

I have decided to look at the bright side of this event, and see it as an opportunity. While many are not in my particular position, and are actually out of job and income due to this pandemic, I want you to reframe it. Change the paradigm of this being a negative, to this being a time for catching up, reflecting, and perhaps actually changing yourself.

We all have parts of our lives that need attention. In today’s current society, it is basically impossible to be all things to all people, including ourselves. We must try to balance job, family, social contact, social media, our own diet, hobbies, medical attention, our education — professionally or otherwise, our spirituality, and even our environment. Having balance in a variety of areas is true wellness! We are often so busy teaching and preaching the benefits of fitness and wellness to others, we deny it to ourselves. I remember doing a self-survey several decades ago by some program discussing the “wellness wheel”, which many of you have probably heard of. The survey was showing areas that needed attention. (Back then I had a very lop-sided wheel, and it is not much better now.) The wheel consisted of a mnemonic (6 components. It has shifted slightly in past few decades, but the pneumonic still works well: SPICES.

Old Wellness Areas New Wellness Areas
S-ocial Social – all interactions with people outside of ourselves
P-hysical Physical – our physiological status
I-ntellectual Intellectual – includes cognitive and emotional health
C-ognitive Career – includes educational and skill acquisition and financial health
E-motional Environmental (could include emotional) – clean, organized?
S-piritual Spiritual – interactions with entities beyond people

I want to use this as a time to clean up many things that have been neglected — both around my house and inside “my house”, my physical body and mental space. I may even use this opportunity to shift my professional pursuits away from academic teaching to wellness coaching. Maybe I can chat on the phone more, spend time with my daughter, or spend more time cooking or reading. Whatever it is, start doing it now!

If nothing else, this has opened the world’s eyes to the need to stay healthy. It has shown people the need to be sanitary and practice good old-fashioned health care techniques, like washing hands and not running out of toilet paper! (Sorry, had to throw that one in!)

As an educator in both physical health and medical applications, we are perfectly positioned to show the communities we live in how to harness the power of exercise for both preventative and rehabilitation purposes. I have learned many new applications for teaching online and most people are focused on coming together for the “greater good”, and this is a breath of fresh air.

Good luck and stay healthy as you address the holistic health agenda in our society.


Dr. Mark P. Kelly has been involved with the health and fitness field for more than 30 years. He has been a research scientist for universities and many infomercial projects. He has spoken nationally and internationally on a wide variety of topics and currently speaks on the use of exercise for clinical purposes and exercise’s impact on the brain. Mark is a teacher in colleges and universities in Orange County, CA., where Principle-Centered Health- Corporate Wellness & Safety operates.

stressed at computer

Stress and the Psychology of Heart Health

Most of us accept stress as a necessary evil that is a part of the American lifestyle. But living under stress day in and day out can lead to heart disease. According to the American Psychological Association, prolonged stress can contribute to high blood pressure and circulatory problems, and if stress makes you angry and irritable, you are more likely to have heart disease or even a heart attack.

trainer-resistance-band-senior-woman-client

You Are The Solution

This article is meant to be a wake-up call to the fitness industry. The health of our population and country are at stake. While advancements have extended our country’s overall lifespan, it has occurred primarily through the use of medications and life-saving procedures rather than through lifestyle changes. The stark reality is that the overall health of Americans is declining as evidenced by the $3.5 trillion spent every year on health care expenditures.

Another alarming statistic is that between 1997 and 2016, there were approximately 4.5 billion prescriptions written per year. 70% of Americans take at least one and 20% take five or more prescription medications (Preidt 2017). The majority of these medications were taken to address lifestyle-related diseases and the subsequent impacts of poor nutrition choices and lack of physical activity. Additionally, many prescription and over-the-counter medications are used to treat osteoarthritis, the most common cause of physical disability in the world. While genetics, weight, and age have been considered as underlying factors, the decrease in quantity, as well as quality, of physical activity have been shown to be much greater factors to the onset and prevalence of osteoarthritis in modern society (Wallace 2017, Osar 2018).

While often attributed to causes outside one’s control (i.e. genetics), the fact is that the diseases contributing to the greatest number of deaths (heart disease, cancer, and Type 2 diabetes) and disability (osteoarthritis) are directly related to controllable factors. While each has a genetic component, lifestyle has a much greater impact on the incidence and prevalence of these diseases. One of most important and underappreciated components in the overall decline in one’s physical, physiological, and cognitive health, is the lack of physical activity. Less than 20% of the population meet the daily physical activity guidelines and less than 5% of the adult population participates in 30 minutes of physical activity. Even more disturbing is that more than 78 million U.S. adults and 12 million children are obese.

Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn has been attributed with the quote, “Genetics loads the gun, lifestyle pulls the trigger.” This suggests that lifestyle is as important as genetics in the expression of many chronic diseases. This sentiment is reiterated in a recent study from Bodai et. al (2018). “Epidemiological, ecologic, and interventional studies have repeatedly indicated that most chronic illness, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes, are the results of lifestyles fueled by poor nutrition and physical inactivity.”

The health of our population and country is at stake. This is a call for fitness professionals to step up and recognize that you are the first line of defense against the deleterious impacts of lifestyle diseases. It is your responsibility to educate your communities that lifestyle changes, incorporating proper nutrition as well as increased physical and cognitive exercise, should be the first step in addressing chronic lifestyle diseases. You can continue to change the health of our nation by implementing evidence-based nutrition, exercise, and cognitive training programs. Be the solution your clients, your community, and our country needs by investing in advanced education in nutrition, exercise, movement, and cognitive training. Create relationships with allied health professionals so that we can collectively educate, collaborate, and coordinate the changing of our nation’s health care system.

This article was featured in MedFit Professional Magazine Winter 2020 issue. Subscribe to MedFit Professional Magazine to read more great content like this!


Dr. Evan Osar, an internationally recognized speaker, author, and expert on assessment, corrective exercise, and functional movement. Dr. Osar is committed to educating and empowering fitness professionals while helping them develop relationships with allied health professionals. He is author of the Corrective Exercise Solutions to Common Hip and Shoulder Dysfunction and has developed the industry’s most complete training certification, the Integrative Movement Specialist™. With his wife Jenice Mattek, he created the online educational resource. For more info, visit IIHFE.com

References

Bodai, B. I., Nakata, T. E., Wong, W. T., Clark, D. R., Lawenda, S., Tsou, C., … Campbell, T. M. (2018). Lifestyle Medicine: A Brief Review of Its Dramatic Impact on Health and Survival. The Permanente journal22, 17–025. doi:10.7812/TPP/17-025

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Osteoarthritis. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/arthritis/basics/osteoarthritis.htm

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Leading Causes of Death. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/leading-causes-of-death.htm

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. National Health Expenditure Data. Retrieved from https://www.cms.gov/Research-Statistics-Data-and-Systems/Statistics-Trends-and-Reports/NationalHealthExpendData/NationalHealthAccountsHistorical.html

Osar, E. (2018). The Fundamentals for Training the Older Client with Osteoarthritis. Retrieved from https://www.ptonthenet.com/remote-learning

Preidt, R. (2017). Americans Taking More Prescription Drugs Than Ever. https://www.webmd.com/drug-medication/news/20170803/americans-taking-more-prescription-drugs-than-ever-survey

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Facts and Statistics. Retrieved from https://www.hhs.gov/fitness/resource-center/facts-and-statistics/index.html

Wallace, IJ., Worthington, S., Felson, DT., Jurmain, RD., Wren, KT., Maijanen, H. Woods, RJ., Lieberman, DE. (2017). PNAS. 114(35): 9332-9336.

med-fit-client-doctor-exercise

Healthcare Through Fitness

A discussion of medical fitness is rooted in an understanding of the health benefits of fitness and exercise. The documented benefits are endless and include management of chronic disease, management and prevention of osteoporosis, improved mood and sleep disorders, stress relief, management and prevention of obesity.

Health agencies across the spectrum of public health and disease-specific organizations recognize and promote exercise and fitness as an integral part of the management of chronic disease; diseases that include diabetes, cardiovascular disease, Parkinson’s, depression, multiple sclerosis, and arthritis, among others.

If fitness and exercise are well accepted as part of the management strategy for multiple diseases, why is it that access to organized exercise plans, and fitness professionals who can help implement those plans, are not a standard part of the medical treatment paradigm? Why is it not a standard benefit covered by common medical insurance policies?

The reasons are multifactorial and a reflection of the overall healthcare conundrum in our country today. Let’s focus, however, on how to make a change. We need to focus on how to integrate fitness professionals into the medical paradigm. A perfect model for this is an integrative medical fitness center.

What is a medical fitness center? It is a fitness facility with a multidisciplinary staffing approach and has the following characteristics:

  • Regular medical oversight by a medical director
  • Practitioners with nationally-recognized certifications and training in the care of chronic disease
  • Comprehensive health assessments and exercise prescription
  • Exercise classes geared toward specific medical conditions

These centers bring together credentialed staff in a collaborative way to provide exercise prescription plans specific to the needs of an individual with chronic disease.

The concept of the medical fitness center is not new; many currently exist in communities throughout the United States. However, an understanding of their importance in the context of the current healthcare environment has grown. The idea of creating “medical homes” that are collaborative across disciplines and provide a comprehensive healthcare approach is now being recognized to provide a high standard of care while simultaneously decreasing overall healthcare costs. This is true specifically for high-risk individuals who suffer from chronic disease.

Further integration of medical fitness centers, and broad access to exercise and fitness resources, will hopefully become standard of care and widely accessible to all individuals, especially those with chronic disease. This integration will inherently bring fitness professionals into the paradigm of healthcare and promote healthcare through fitness.

This article was featured in MedFit Professional Magazine fall 2019 issue.

Subscribe to MedFit Professional Magazine to read more great content like this!


Dr. David Kruse attended medical school at UC San Diego, after graduating from UC Berkeley. He holds board certifications in family and sports medicine. He practices sports medicine with the Orthopaedic Specialty Institute, in Orange, CA. Dr. Kruse is the Chief Medical Officer for the MedFit Network and on the Medical Advisory Board for the MedFit Education Foundation. He is currently a Team Physician for USA Gymnastics, Orange County Soccer Club, and Biola University. Visit his website, krusesportsmd.com

healthy-eating-path

Reducing Calories May Help You Live Longer

Mounting evidence suggests that we may be able to live a longer, healthier life by strategically restricting our energy intake. For many years the scientific community has known that a surplus of energy intake results in the storage of fat, which is linked to chronic disease, and premature death. However, now emerging evidence suggests that restricting calories may be able to slow the rate in which we age. Aging can be categorized as either primary or secondary. Primary aging is considered inevitable at the date of this publishing and is the biological maturing and eventual breakdown that accompanies the years of age beyond 30.  Secondary aging comes from external influences such as obesity and lifestyle factors that cause cellular damage and is not part of the natural aging process. (2)

What is calorie restriction? Calorie restriction describes a process where one limits the amount of food they consume. The term calorie is a shortened term originating from kilocalorie and is used as a measurement of food energy. When the body has an excess of calories beyond what it needs to function it stores those calories in our body as fat. Despite the diet industry’s most sincere efforts and propaganda, studies still do not support the effectiveness of one fad diet over another for weight loss. (13) This means, weight gain, and weight loss are ultimately determined by the number of calories consumed, and the number of calories expended.

Earlier we identified obesity as contributing to secondary aging. The scientific community has established that being overweight, or obese dramatically increases your risk of cancer, heart disease, and type II diabetes, among other chronic disease, thereby reducing life expectancy. In fact, people that are 100 pounds or more overweight can expect a life expectancy that is nearly 14 years less than the national average. This is a shorter life expectancy than that of someone who is of a healthy weight and smokes cigarettes. (3, 12) A calorie reduction below what your body is expending results in weight loss, and for those who have a higher than healthy level of body fat, can expect a reduction in not just their weight but in secondary and primary aging.

There are many misconceptions of what constitutes being overweight or obese.  A person is classified as being overweight if they have a BMI (body mass index) of 25 or higher, and obese if they have a BMI of 30 or higher. BMI is calculated by dividing your weight in kilograms by your squared height in meters. BMI is likely a fair indicator if you are relatively inactive. If you are engaged in a fitness program or are an athlete, an alternative approach to determining healthy weight is by determining percentage of body fat. A healthy body fat is typically considered to be between 8-22% for men and 20-35% for women (aged 18-34).  A classification of obese may be assigned if someone has a body fat percentage of 26% or higher for men and a body fat of 39% or higher for women. (7) As always if you’re not sure where you fit into these metrics see a credentialed fitness professional or consult with your primary care provider.

It is estimated a calorie deficit of 200-500 calories daily is required to achieve healthy weight loss. Two ways to achieve this deficit are to reduce calorie consumption and increase calorie burn (expenditure). Calorie burn can be increased through additional physical activity; however, it should be cautioned that one can consume calories at a far faster rate than physical activity can burn them. As an example, it is estimated that a 180-pound man burns approximately 14 calories per minute jogging (1). As a point of reference, a single Hershey kiss contains 22 calories.  The lesson here is to use physical activity in addition to a nutritious diet, not in place of a nutritious diet.  (For more information on a nutritious diet visit choosemyplate.gov.) Give special attention to the section on vegetables, especially non-starchy vegetables as they are high in vitamins and minerals and low in calories.

For persons of a healthy weight, calorie restriction appears to offer slowed primary aging. The current school of thought is that primary aging is slowed as a result of a protective cellular reaction triggered by the calorie restriction. There is still much we do not know about the mechanisms responsible for this anti-aging phenomenon and some debate among scientists exists. However, the most common consensus among scientists is that this reaction collectively comes from activating sirtuins, increasing AMPK, impacting MTOR, and an improvement in blood sugar. (8,10,15,16,17,18) If you do not know what any of that means here’s a quick break down but don’t fret if you are not familiar with the lingo.

  • Sirtuins are responsible for DNA expression and control acetyl groups, as well as activate the mitochondrial antioxidant function. (8,16,17) Oxidative damage is believed to play a role in primary aging. Acetyl groups are important because they control the energy that proteins use during cell replication.
  • AMPK (Adenosine Monophosphate Protein-activated Kinase) detects the presence of nutrients or prolonged absence of nutrients, which then triggers the fragmentation/breakdown of damaged mitochondrial components (mitochondria are the powerhouse of the cell) that need to be rebuilt, increasing mitochondrial health and efficiency. (4,16,17)
  • MTOR (mammalian target of rapamycin), specifically TORC1 regulates protein building and cell growth. It is theorized a reduction in TORC1 and in turn a reduction of cellular division results in reduced DNA damage, and less inflammation. (11,17)
  • In terms of handling blood sugar, there are two important molecules at work. These proteins are Thioredoxin-interacting protein (TXNIP), and Thioredoxin-1. When TXNIP is stimulated by insulin (which results when we eat) cell stress resistance is reduced resulting in increased oxidative damage to DNA. It is theorized that during calorie restriction, Thioredoxin-1 increases which increases oxidative stress resistance, increases nonoxidative glucose disposal, and increases insulin sensitivity (improves use of insulin and absorption of sugar) as well as reduces damage to DNA (and thus slowed DNA aging) (10,15).

Regardless of how precisely these mechanisms work or interact what we currently believe and have pieced together is a reduction in calories likely:

  • Triggers a protective response in the body that helps:
    • Protect mitochondria from free radical damage (mitochondria are the energy makers of the cells)
    • Increases cell sensitivity to insulin and in turn increases absorption of blood sugar into the muscle
    • Induces cellular stress resistance and cell cleansing, which shuts off cell replication. Think of cell replication like a copy machine, if you do not use the original for each copy, but instead use a copy to make a copy, each time the copy gets blurrier. This is thought to also occur in our cells, therefore the less copies we make or the slower we make them the slower the aging process occurs.
  • Appears to reduce risk of age-related diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.
  • Begins at 10%-40% reduction in calories per day (from normal)
  • Starvation is too far! You still need to get the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients required to aid your body in recovery, and immune function otherwise your efforts will be counterproductive, which can be done by increasing your consumption of non-starchy vegetables.
  • Calorie restriction can be accomplished by all types of fasting schemes. For example, fasting can take place daily for 12-16 hours, every other day, or over the weekends only. The important thing is achieving that 10%-40% reduction while still getting the proper nutrition necessary. (5)

The takeaway here is achieving and maintaining a healthy weight is the first step to a healthy lifespan and the incorporation of strategically fasting, may bring additional health and longevity. Fasting has been embedded in our culture in many ways from traditional religious observances as well in the fitness industry, but the question is what scheme and plan will work best for you. Most would agree it’s the health span (length of superior quality of life attributed to good health) more than the lifespan that’s important, and while there is currently no fountain of youth this appears to be a good place to start.

Remember, of course, to consult with your primary care provider before undergoing dietary changes.


Jeremy Kring, holds a Master’s degree in Exercise Science from the California University of Pennsylvania, and a Bachelor’s degree from Duquesne University. He is a college instructor where he teaches the science of exercise and personal training. He is a certified and practicing personal/fitness trainer, and got his start in the field of fitness training in the United States Marine Corps in 1998. You can visit his website at jumping-jacs.com

References

  • American Council on Exercise. (2009). Retrieved from https://acewebcontent.azureedge.net/assets/education-resources/lifestyle/fitfacts/pdfs/fitfacts/itemid_2666.pdf
  • Anstey, K., Stankov, L., & Lord, S. (1993). Primary aging, secondary aging, and intelligence. Psychology and Aging8(4), 562–570. doi: 10.1037//0882-7974.8.4.562
  • Tobacco-Related Mortality. (2018, January 17). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/health_effects/tobacco_related_mortality/index.htm.
  • Cantó, C., & Auwerx, J. (2011). Calorie Restriction: Is AMPK a Key Sensor and Effector?Physiology, 26(4), 214–224. doi: 10.1152/physiol.00010.2011
  • Derous, D., Mitchell, S. E., Wang, L., Green, C. L., Wang, Y., Chen, L., … Speakman, J. R. (2017). The effects of graded levels of calorie restriction: XI. Evaluation of the main hypotheses underpinning the life extension effects of CR using the hepatic transcriptome. Aging9(7), 1770–1824. doi:10.18632/aging.101269
  • Hadad, N., Unnikrishnan, A., Jackson, J. A., Masser, D. R., Otalora, L., Stanford, D. R., … Freeman, W. M. (2018). Caloric restriction mitigates age-associated hippocampal differential CG and non-CG methylation. Neurobiology of aging67, 53–66. doi:10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2018.03.009
  • Howley, Edward T., and Dixie L. Thompson. Fitness Professionals Handbook. Human Kinetics, 2017.
  • Imai, S. I., & Guarente, L. (2016). It takes two to tango: NAD+and sirtuins in aging/longevity control. NPJ aging and mechanisms of disease2, 16017. doi:10.1038/npjamd.2016.17
  • Jacobs, Patrick L. NSCAs Essentials of Training Special Populations. Human Kinetics, 2018.
  • Johnson, M. L., Distelmaier, K., Lanza, I. R., Irving, B. A., Robinson, M. M., Konopka, A. R., … Nair, K. S. (2016). Mechanism by Which Caloric Restriction Improves Insulin Sensitivity in Sedentary Obese Adults. Diabetes65(1), 74–84. doi:10.2337/db15-0675
  • Jossé, L., Xie, J., Proud, C. G., & Smales, C. M. (2016). mTORC1 signalling and eIF4E/4E-BP1 translation initiation factor stoichiometry influence recombinant protein productivity from GS-CHOK1 cells. Biochemical Journal, 473(24), 4651–4664. doi: 10.1042/bcj20160845
  • Kitahara CM, et al. Association between Class III Obesity (BMI of 40–59 kg/m) and Mortality: A Pooled Analysis of 20 Prospective Studies. PLOS Medicine. July 8, 2014. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1001673.
  • Kuchkuntla, A.R., Limketkai, B., Nanda, S. et al. (2018). Fad Diets Hype or Hope?. Current Nutrition Reports 7: 310. doi.org/10.1007/s13668-018-0242-1
  • Mitchell, S. E., Delville, C., Konstantopedos, P., Hurst, J., Derous, D., Green, C., … Speakman, J. R. (2015). The effects of graded levels of calorie restriction: II. Impact of short term calorie and protein restriction on circulating hormone levels, glucose homeostasis and oxidative stress in male C57BL/6 mice. Oncotarget6(27). doi: 10.18632/oncotarget.4003
  • Oberacker, T., Bajorat, J., Ziola, S., Schroeder, A., Röth, D., Kastl, L., … Krammer, P. H. (2018). Enhanced expression of thioredoxin-interacting-protein regulates oxidative DNA damage and aging. FEBS letters592(13), 2297–2307. doi:10.1002/1873-3468.13156
  • Picca, A., Pesce, V., & Lezza, A. (2017). Does eating less make you live longer and better? An update on calorie restriction. Clinical interventions in aging12, 1887–1902. doi:10.2147/CIA.S126458

(-) “When and+ accumulates, such as during scarcity of nutrients especially glucose, sirtuins are activated….”

  • Son, D. H., Park, W. J., & Lee, Y. J. (2019). Recent Advances in Anti-Aging Medicine. Korean journal of family medicine40(5), 289–296. doi:10.4082/kjfm.19.0087
  • Speakman, J.R. & Mitchell, S.E. (2011) Calorie Restriction. Molecular Aspects of Medicine, Jun:32(3):159-221. doi: 10.1016/j.mam2011.07.001

 

 

 

Prescription for good health diet and exercise flat lay overhead with copyspace.

A New Era Begins

The rallying cry is, “Let’s change healthcare!” From all corners of the medical universe, there is agreement that change is necessary. The biggest questions are, “What is the change?” and, “Who will make it happen?”

team hands

Collaborative Thinking in Health & Wellness

Over the past 18 months, I have seen my primary M.D. three times, enjoyed the services of my favorite massage therapist six times, visited my chiropractor nine times, chatted with a local R.D. twice and seen my personal trainer regularly. And not one of them even asked if I was seeing any of the others, much less inquiring what their treatments or approaches to treatments might be. To me, that is like trying to achieve success with a baseball team where the 1st base coach, 2nd base coach, 3rd base coach and pitching coach never communicate with each other.

Success cannot occur in a vacuum, neither can true individual health & wellness, yet for decades these medical, fitness & wellness providers have proffered their services in distinct and distinctly separate spaces.

Even as the internet has made access to information easier and facilitated the sharing of knowledge, including private, HIPAA compliant information, these providers continue to operate in “informational silos.”

It is true that in the past some of these providers may have held less than favorable opinions of some of the other providers, but that is, and certainly should be, a thing of the past. No longer will M.D.’s consider Chiropractors “quacks”, R.D.’s claim nutritionists “just don’t know enough”, and Physical Therapists think of Personal Trainers as ”wanna-be P.T.’s who couldn’t hack the education.” Science, knowledge and time have evolved all these disciplines into valuable, useful and incredibly beneficial specialties, each offering specific training and specific methods to apply to their patients/clients. And all those patients/clients typically can benefit from their combined expertise and knowledge.

No longer is it sufficient to simply treat the symptoms. Real wellness needs to encompass the patient/client holistically… address the symptoms, understand the cause, strengthen the mind, examine the diet, resolve the issue and prevent future occurrences. And isn’t that best accomplished by viewing patient/client wellness as a Team Sport?

Over the years I have had the pleasure of knowing and speaking at length with many of these medical, fitness & wellness providers, and not one of them indicated there is anything in their training that says “Thou Shalt Not Collaborate.”

We are not talking about “asking for help.” Rather we are simply saying to include those other practitioners in the conversation. Instead of the M.D. telling the patient to “walk more to improve cardio health”, why not conference call with the Personal Trainer and discuss the walking program that is most appropriate. Let the Physical Therapist inform the Personal Trainer of any specific issues to address or avoid. Allow the Massage Therapist to work with the Chiropractor to ensure optimum results from both. In other words, (and the simplicity of all this may surprise you), just TALK TO EACH OTHER.

So, let’s start to make that happen. For more than 20 years my company has helped health clubs and fitness centers create mutually beneficial relationships with Physical Therapy practices, Chiropractic offices, Registered Dietitians, Nutritionists and Massage Therapists. Now is the time to extend the conversation, and, to return to my baseball metaphor, get ALL the coaches working together to create truly Championship results.

Join Cosmo for his upcoming MedFit webinar on this topic:


Cosmo Wollan is the Senior Executive at Synergy Cubed, a premiere consulting firm providing customized solutions to the health & fitness, parks & recreation, medical fitness and corporate wellness industries since 1994. His Fitness Industry clients have engaged him as an expert problem-solver in profit center development, retention strategies, customer engagement, sales training, programming design, operational streamlining and health club management.

Health Care Collage Words Medicine Background

How Do You Define Health?

Health can be defined in a variety of ways.

  • The absence of disease.
  • The absence of symptoms of a disease.
  • The ability to achieve a specific health goal. (Weight loss or reduced medication)
  • The ability to achieve a specific life goal. (Travel or dance at your granddaughter’s wedding)

There’s no right or wrong definition of health. It’s all what’s of most importance to you. However, unless you take a moment to reflect on and define it for yourself, you may by default be guided by your physician’s goal for your health.

Their goal is well-intended and certainly well researched, however, without the understanding what’s most meaningful to you in terms of your health, you’re likely following a standard protocol. They may get you 90% of the way to your health, not realizing it’s the last 10% beyond the standard protocol that enables you to achieve what is most meaningful to you.

As we’ve entered into a New Year when health goals are more at the forefront of our minds, it can be an inspirational time to determine what health means for us.

A vision helps you determine what you’re aiming towards.

You can then communicate a clearly defined vision with your health care providers, so they can support you in achieving your goal.

So, what does this look like?

As a nutrition coach, I always take new clients through this process.

What goal comes to mind first?

Generally speaking, the most popular answer is weight loss. But nobody wants to lose weight just to have a lower number on the scale. It’s about what they can do when they’re at that lower weight. (Walk up the stairs without being winded, not need a seatbelt extender during a plane ride or feeling comfortable in a bathing suit on your anniversary vacation.)

Because I work primarily with individuals that have autoimmune disease, the motivations are much deeper. The obvious would be less pain, more energy and increased mobility. But when truly getting to understand each person, they share that they want to regain the ability to walk down the driveway to get the mail, have enough energy to do their own grocery shopping, or reduce pain so they can sleep better at night.

The latter goals have such great detail that your care team will want to get onboard in setting you up for success.

From here, you can best determine what providers and services you need most to achieve health in your terms.

This may also prompt them to offer more options for you in achieving your goal. It could be as simple as suggesting a session with a physical therapist to a mediation app that’s been helpful to other patients in managing pain.

Bottom line, you need to first define your vision for health and then clearly communicate that vision with your healthcare team – ideally starting with your primary care physician – so you can be supported with the best path to your health success.

Join Alene for her upcoming webinar with MedFit Classroom:


Alene Brennan has been featured in USA Today, Philadelphia Inquirer, Huffington Post and Mind Body Green. Alene overcame debilitating migraine headaches through diet and lifestyle and is now once again using a “Less Pharm, More Table” approach is managing her diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis. Alene holds four certifications: Nutrition Coach, Yoga Instructor, Personal Trainer and Natural Food Chef. She also completed specialized training in nutrition for autoimmune disease specifically the Wahls Protocol and the Autoimmune Protocol. Since receiving her MS diagnosis and seeing first-hand the power of using diet and lifestyle to create a healing environment in the body, she dedicated her virtual nutrition coaching practice to helping people with MS and autoimmune dieseases take back control of their health. Visit her website, alenebrennan.com.