Staying on Track
By James Nold Jr. from June 2014 Issue
Credit: Joe Imel
Success stories from the Kentucky Living Health Club four-month challenge, with tips to successful aging
I've been a journalist for 30 years, but this is the first time I've ever been on the phone with royalty.
That's Bonnie Wilcoxson of Green County, a member of Taylor County RECC, who declared her monarchy this past February during our annual Kentucky Living Health Club, a four-month health challenge tied to last November's feature "Successful Aging." (If you missed the story, read it online at KentuckyLiving.com—search for "Successful Aging.")
While that article covered a wide range of age-related health subjects, such as overuse of prescriptions, advance planning for end-of-life circumstances, and the health syndromes that afflict the aging population, the KL Health Club is open to adults of any age, and usually revolves around eating and exercise to improve health.
Wilcoxson found her inner Cleopatra as a result of an Am I Hungry? class—a set of lessons about mindful eating led by group facilitator Lisa Capehart, a member of Blue Grass Energy Cooperative—as an adjunct to the KL Health Club (see "Mindful eating").
It wasn't just whimsy, it was Wilcoxson's way of expressing an insight she took from the class about taking control.
"The queen is in charge of what she eats. The queen does not have to clean her plate"—an admonition from her mother that the 63-year-old Wilcoxson says she still hears in her head. "I don't have to finish eating this piece of pizza now, because I'm the queen and I can have pizza anytime I want.
"It's a whole new mindset, so common-sense, and it has made a difference in how I eat."
Capehart notes that Wilcoxson took the insight to a deeper level: being queen isn't just an assertion of personal power and preference; she has a responsibility to her realm. "That was really profound."
The KL Health Club has always been a lively group, offering support, tips, opinions, and resources for people trying to make a meaningful change in their overall wellness. This year, the information seemed to kick into overdrive, thanks to Capehart, an exercise physiologist and wellness coach from Foster who has been involved since our first club in 2012.
Capehart conducted a number of interviews she posted as podcasts on topics ranging from successful aging, long-term care insurance, end-of-life conversations, etc. You can listen to those interviews too; see KL Health Club Interviews. She also posted a 12-class course, repeated from last year, called An Organic Approach: Cultivate the Authentic You. And she was available to answer questions; for example, where to find exercises to use with the resistance bands we sent to all club members as part of our starter kit.
Teresa Kersey, a member of Salt River Electric Cooperative, a former physical therapist technician from Shepherdsville who prides herself on keeping abreast of health information, noted the range of information Capehart and Kentucky Living Managing Editor Anita Travis Richter would share on the Health Club's secret Facebook page. They posted "sites I'd never even heard of before," she says in an impressed tone.
Favorite Health Club posts
Talk to members of this year's Kentucky Living Health Club, and the primary thing they'll say they got from it was the amount of new information they encountered. Here are a few favorite resources members mentioned:
Teresa Kersey liked an online posted article called 22 Habits of Unhappy People, which she felt had a lot of insights into the ways that people make themselves discontent. (A few examples: chronic complaining, worrying about the future, negative thinking, stop learning, speaking badly of others.) You can find it at www.infobarrel.com, search for "22 Habits of Unhappy People."
Bonnie Wilcoxson got the most from www.hasfit.com, a Web site that posts free exercise videos at all levels of strength and capacity, along with other information about health and diet. She found herself noticeably stronger after four weeks of a basic routine, following the Beginner Weight Training video.
Penny Chance liked the insights into "clean eating" from an article that offered guidelines for choosing better and less harmful foods: www.cnn.com/2014/01/23/health/clean-eating.
Chance also liked an article that listed 10 Powerful Anti-Aging Foods You Can Find at Your Grocery Store—to watch it and other videos go to www.hungryforchange.tv and click on the Articles tab. On the list: avocados, walnuts, and kidney beans.
Chance of Elizabethtown says she found lots of insights about different ways of eating from articles from the posts on the Facebook page.
An article on "clean eating" had her asking herself "What am I really craving?" when she desired her favorite foods. She liked the author's advice that a good substitute for banana-nut muffins was to cut out the middleman: "Just take some bananas, and nuts, and eat 'em!
"It sounds so simple," Chance says, but "it's made me look at the things I enjoy in a different way."
What she eats and cooks has been a topic of special interest for Chance. Her husband, Thomas, (also a club member) was diagnosed in January with kidney cancer and had surgery that removed half his right kidney. (As of this writing, he's recovering well.) Penny says that Thomas' doctor stressed "the impact of nutrition on recovery...incorporating the foods that have been shown to decrease the risks of cancer."
The Chances received a number of get-well wishes from fellow club members who followed Penny's posts about his surgery and progress. But it wasn't only people facing a crisis who felt support from their fellow club members.
"The group dynamic is probably the most important thing," says Sue Jones McCullough of Louisville. "That you're not battling that whole thing by yourself —almost everybody you talk to has the same issue in one form or another."
For Lisa Capehart, the essence of mindful eating (also called intuitive or instinctive eating) is simple. The model is the way a baby eats: "You eat when you're hungry. You stop when you're no longer hungry. You eat to fuel your body and your life."
Putting it into practice, however, can be challenging, because people eat for many reasons other than hunger—to relieve stress; to entertain themselves; to comfort themselves. So, meeting your true needs is key.
Typical dieting tends to put people in what Dr. Michelle May—who wrote the material that's the basis of the "Am I Hungry?" mindful eating program that Capehart teaches—calls the Eat-Repent-Repeat Cycle, a pendulum that swings between the poles of restrictive eating, where you follow the rules of the diet, and overeating, where you are prompted by your triggers to eat, even when you're not hungry.
In the mindful eating approach, there are no rules about what you can or can't eat. Instead you become more aware, so you eat when you're hungry and stop eating when you're satisfied—well before you feel full. "If you feel full, you've eaten too much," Capehart says. You also learn to address the issues that are triggering your eating.
Capehart says the lack of rules is attractive to people, but paradoxically, it also makes the approach a hard sell: "People just don't trust themselves.
"Losing weight and eating healthier is about relearning your relationship to food. We all can do it, because we all did it when we were babies."
LONG-TERM CARE INSURANCE
Phyllis Shelton is the nation's leading consumer advocate for long-term care insurance and is also president of LTC Consultants in Hendersonville, Tennessee.
Her two books help families of all ages keep choice and dignity by planning ahead for long-term care. ABC's of Long-Term Care Insurance (updated 2014) is an easy to understand primer, and the 360-page Protecting Your Family with Long-Term Care Insurance (2013) provides cutting-edge information about all phases of planning and financing long-term care.
The books are written in a fun, down-to-earth style with the main goal of helping families avoid the emotional and financial ravages of being a primary caregiver with very little help. Now you can own both for an affordable $29.95. For more information, go online to www.gotltci.com.
KL HEALTH CLUB WINNERS
We hope the chief payoff all our Kentucky Living Health Club members received was better health and some tools to continue their journeys into better health.
But there are more tangible rewards as well. During the course of the club, we gave away wellness and successful aging books to members, drawn from the group that answered weekly questions posted by Kentucky Living Managing Editor Anita Travis Richter.
Everyone who stayed active in the club for four months through March 31
was registered in a random drawing for the grand prize, $500 worth of health products, services, or exercise equipment.
Congratulations to this year's KL Health Club Grand Prize winner Brandi Miller Page of Gracey, a member of Pennyrile Electric cooperative. This is Page's second year in the KL Health Club.
Page's overall Health Club goal was: "For us to have healthier eating habits and to be more active as a family. I will continue to lose weight and focus on becoming a better role model for my family." To do that, Page's action steps included involving all family members in menu planning; doing more healthy activities together; exercising at least three times a week for 30 minutes; and to personally continue training for her upcoming marathon. For her winning package, Page chose a Garmin watch to track her time during marathons and a boxing station and bag kit with gloves that her entire family will enjoy. Congratulations, Brandi and the Page family!
Kentucky Living Health Club interviews
Mindful Eating interview
Dr. Michelle May, creator of the Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating Programs and author of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat: How to BreakYour Eat-Repent-Repeat Cycle, shares how you can "eat mindfully, live vibrantly"—learn a simple way to eat the foods you love without guilt or fear. No more diets!
Q&A with Lisa Capehart interview
Kentucky Living's Health Club facilitator Lisa Capehart, who is also an exercise physiologist and certified wellness coach, answers questions posted by Health Club members.
Eating Healthy Without Deprivation interview
An interview with Kathy Marker from the blog, Hungry Again (hungry-again.com), talks about eating healthy without deprivation and non-diet weight management and shares favorite recipes.
End-of-Life Decisions interview
No one likes to talk about death, but it's perhaps the most important part of successful aging—planning ahead for all types of things, including end-of-life planning. At least 60 percent of people say that making sure their family is not burdened by tough decisions is "extremely important" yet 56 percent have not communicated their end-of-life wishes. One conversation can make all the difference. Kate DeBartolo of The Conversation Project explains what it's all about and how to make the conversation easier and meaningful.
Did you think that hormone replacement therapy is just for menopause? Learn how bio-identical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) can safely and naturally help in your quest to age successfully—weight loss, thyroid issues, hot flashes, etc. Listen to an interview with Lyn Hogrefe of The Happy Hormone Cottage to learn more.
Dr. Roger Landry, author of Live Long, Die Short interview
Dr. Roger Landry, author of the book, Live Long, Die Short: A Guide to Authentic Health and Successful Aging, how to embrace and take control of your own aging. Landry talks about his research on aging, which affirms that how we age is mostly determined by lifestyle, the choices we make every day.
If you've wanted to know more about what Hospice is and how it may factor into your end-of-life wishes, take a listen to this interview with Cassie Mitchell from Hosparus.
Planning for the Future interview
Donna Farmer of The Pillars Assisted Living Community in Shelbyville, Kentucky, talks about the importance of planning for housing in our later years (great info for yourself and for you in your caregiver role).
Long-term Care Insurance interview
Do you want to learn more about long-term care insurance? Check out this interview with Phyllis Shelton, a leading authority and consumer advocate for long-term care insurance, of LTC Consultants, Hendersonville, Tennessee.
Affordable Care Act/Healthcare Insurance interview
Susan Dunlap from Kentucky Health Cooperative talks about the Affordable Care Act and the healthcare insurance required as of January 1, 2014, including how to apply, subsidy eligibility, etc.
Financial Planning for Retirement interview
Suzan Ross, a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and Personal Financial Specialist (PFS) with Baldwin Wealth, LLC, shares valuable information on the subject of Financial Planning for Retirement.
Medicare In's and Out's interview
This week's interview with Michelle List of Senior Medicare Patrol the in's and out's of Medicare and what you need to know to get signed up. Even if you're not yet 65, this is some great info to know now!
Care for the Caregiver interview
An interview with Rev. Kate Hauk, a minister who has worked in hospice and as a hospital chaplain, shares the challenges of being a caregiver and the importance of self-care for the caregiver.
Polypharmacy is a term that refers to taking six or more prescription medications. Listen to this interview with Pharmacist, Mary Enzweiler, about what problems might crop up and what to do.
Aging in Place interview
"Aging in place" or "thriving in place" as our guest, Alicia Heazlitt, refers to it, is the idea of remaining in our homes for as long as we can as we age. And, who doesn't like the sound of that? Listen to our interview about all the cool products that will help us accomplish that.
Geriatric Medicine interview
What is geriatric medicine and who needs a geriatrician? Find out in this interview with Dr. Laura Morton with University of Louisville Geriatrics.
Wellness Coach Lisa Capehart interview
Listen to Kentucky Living's Health Club facilitator, Lisa Capehart, who is also a certified wellness coach and exercise physiologist, who shares tips to help you stay on track with your wellness promises. She asks questions such as: What are your priorities in life? Are your behaviors congruent with those priorities? Are you walking the talk? Learn tips to making successful, long-term change for overall wellness in your life. Remember, "Practice is Progress."