To Keep You Inspired … Denise D’Amico

Our Club Fit Members Keep Us Inspired

{by Lisa Olney, Club Fit guest blogger}

To Keep You Inspired… Club Fit Member Denise D'Amico

Club Fit Member Denise D’Amico chose to take care of her health through diet and exercise.

Club Fit Jefferson Valley member Denise D’Amico is a change maker and a problem solver, a trusted force in the Yorktown community. As a local real estate broker for over twenty years, a co-founder and past president of the Yorktown Chamber of Commerce, and a charter board member of Support Connection, helping others and creating meaningful change is simply what Denise does. In 2015, however, she discovered a new person in need of help — herself.

In January of 2015 a visit to the doctor revealed a serious weight-related health issue — pre-diabetes. That was the day that forced Denise to face weight issues that she had battled for years. Her doctor laid two options before her: take several medications every day; or 2) lose weight and see if her body responds. Amidst a flood of emotions, Denise called upon her inner grit — and chose option two. She also chose Club Fit as her partner in getting there.

Quarterly doctor appointments became the new norm for Denise, and after three months her doctor noticed a difference. After six months, everyone was noticing a difference. By the time July of 2016 rolled around, Denise had lost 125 pounds, thanks to her new routine at Club Fit, her modified diet, and her steely resolve and can-do attitude. Most importantly, Denise reversed her health issue, and as a result does not need any medications.

So, how did this inspiring transformation occur? After consulting with her doctor on nutrition and exercise, as well as her daughter who is a nurse and athlete, Denise changed her diet, eliminating most carbohydrates and sugar. Over time, she switched from meats to fish and from yolks to egg whites. Water is a constant throughout her diet as well, and she drinks half her weight in ounces, daily. Advance journaling of her food has been a key ingredient in her success as well. “If you know what you’re going to eat in advance, you’re less likely to fail,” Denise says. “Food is medicine, and the planning is vital to success.”

Denise exercises at Club Fit five to six days a week and feels it sets the pace for her day, keeping her centered. Her balanced blend of activity is a vital part of her daily routine. A typical day for Denise begins in the locker room with a weigh-in, and she feels it has been one of her most important habits throughout her weight loss. “It keeps me accountable to my goals,” she explains. By 6:30 am Denise is in the Club Fit lap pool where she swims one mile, daily. At 7:50 am, she switches gears and powerwalks two miles in the Fitness Center. Next, it’s time to get her dancing shoes on, and she meets her friends for the 9am Danceology class — her favorite Club Fit activity. On specific days, she now does kickboxing as well as the Circuit for her bone strength. Denise laughs that exercising is a love-hate relationship for her. “Sometimes, I hate to do it, but I love the way it makes me feel,” says Denise. “I wouldn’t trade that feeling for anything. It’s euphoria.”

Denise’s husband, Lou, joins her daily at the gym, taking a spin class, after which they return home for breakfast at 10:30am. In the afternoon, Denise takes advantage of the track where she lives and powerwalks two more miles. At 2:30pm she has lunch—typically a large salad with homemade dressing. Many times, Lou will join Denise for her afternoon walk, as well, but forgoes the powerwalk opting for a leisurely, relaxing pace. In the evening, Lou and Denise have a dinner around 4:30 of protein — typically salmon — and a variety of vegetables. Her special treat (from time to time) has become a square of Ghirardelli chocolate.

Weaving nutrition and exercise together was key for Denise in losing weight and reclaiming her health. She credits her Club Fit routine as essential in her weight loss success — both physically and mentally. “Club Fit is #1 and sets the pace for the rest of your day,” says Denise. “Exercising makes you happy; it makes you want to engage with others.”

From Couch to 5K… and beyond!

— written by Club Fit Member and Guest Blogger Lisa Skelton

Club Fit Member Linda Adair goes from couch to 5K, and farther — losing 45 lbs and getting stronger in the process!

Linda before and after

Linda lost 45 lbs — gained speed, strength and fitness!

Change is good! But only if you make the right changes. Linda Adair decided that she wanted to get back into shape last summer, and 45 pounds later, she has achieved that goal.

Last June, Linda reached a point where she was tired of being overweight, and wanted to return to her former fit, energetic self. With the support of fellow Club Fit Briarcliff member and friend, Denyse, a marathon runner, she attempted the Couch to 5K program, and by August she was running 3 miles every other day. “The first day was tough, but then I got back up on day two and did it again,” she says.

In the fall she joined Club Fit, and she feels it made a huge difference in her fitness quest. “I had adjusted my diet and increased my exercise, but Club Fit pushed me over the top with the addition of Group Fitness classes and access to the Fitness Center,” she says. Linda, a paralegal (she graduated in March!), is a regular in the Spin Studio, and uses the treadmill, the women’s circuit and the free weight area. She completed her first 5K, slowly, last July, and now she has thirteen 5Ks and one 10K planned for 2015!

So the exercise increased, but what did she change in her diet? “I eat tons of fruit, cut out carbs and replaced white rice and potatoes with healthier starches like yams and brown rice.” She adds, “My diet is constantly evolving, and I continue to do research, but I definitely don’t starve myself. If I want something that doesn’t fall into my ‘healthy’ list, I don’t deprive myself.” The key is to become educated, and learn how to maintain a good balance, something she feels should also be stressed to young people, who today can so easily succumb to eating disorders.

Speaking of young people, two of the reasons Linda was motivated to regain her health were her daughters. Both girls are active and athletic, but her younger daughter also suffers from cystic fibrosis. Because of this, Linda and her family have become active supporters of Team Boomer, a program within the Boomer Esiason Foundation that encourages people with CF to incorporate exercise into their everyday lives, and supports athletes in raising money for CF through fundraising events. The Foundation, launched by former New York Jets quarterback Boomer Esiason, works to heighten awareness, education and quality of life for those affected by CF. “One hundred percent of the money they raise goes to research, so I am happy to support them!”

At this point, Linda has achieved what she set out to do… “I am healthy now!” She dropped from a size 16 to size 6, and feels much stronger and faster since her decision to commit to fitness last summer. Her husband and daughters also are benefitting from the adjustments she made to her diet, which of course impacted the foods she brings into their Pleasantville home. “There are always things you can work on at the gym, but at this point I am simply grateful to be healthy!”

For more information on the Couch to 5K program that started Linda on her way, visit www.fromcouchto5k.com, and if you want to give a philanthropic twist to your fitness plan and join the Adairs in their support of Team Boomer, visit www.teamboomer.org.

The Health Benefits of Diet and Exercise

The new year is upon us, a time for reflection, reevaluation and change. Even if what you are doing is working, there is always room for improvement! Just ask Bill Lulow, a Club Fit Briarcliff member for 20 years who used good judgment when faced with a recent health scare. He is now taking steps to educate himself on the benefits of a good diet to supplement an exercise regimen he has fine-tuned over the course of 30-plus years.

Bill, a commercial photographer, has been working out steadily since 1979. But the 70-year-old Chappaqua resident has had a few hiccups, including shoulder surgery and a recent angioplasty brought on by some unusual symptoms. “My dad died of a heart attack, so I’ve always been on top of my cardiac health,” says Bill. “He was a doctor himself, and was experiencing chest pain. He waited a few days to get to his own doctor, and it was a few days too late. I was determined not to let that happen to me.”

This past February, Bill felt a pain in his collarbone, in the carotid artery area, and couldn’t walk up a flight of stairs. The feeling passed, but a few weeks later it happened again while shopping with his wife of 32 years, Judith. When it didn’t pass by morning, he went to the Emergency Room. An angioplasty was performed, and revealed that he did suffer from coronary disease but did not have a heart attack. His attention to the pain probably saved him from a worse fate, and he was back in the gym doing cardio rehab almost right away.

Today, Bill spends six days a week in the Fitness Center, with three 20-minute days of cardio and weights and three days of an hour-long cardio workout. He’s modified his routine over time, getting tips from Assistant General Manager Ted Gilsinger after his shoulder surgery last year and help with his form from Master Trainer Sean Weil. “What I like about Club Fit is that the staff is so knowledgeable,” says Bill. “I feel comfortable taking direction from the Fitness Coaches there.”

A commercial photographer with studios in Chappaqua and Manhattan, Bill’s focus on fitness helps him maintain his active lifestyle. He spent many years teaching photography in the New York City public schools, and now does freelance corporate work and teaches photography privately and in local art programs. He also teaches in the Kaplan Test Prep program, and enjoys golf and skiing in his free time. His photography is currently being exhibited at the Katonah Village Library (click here for more information), and will be featured at the Scarsdale Public Library in April. Visit Bill’s web site, www.williamlulow.com, to view his work and to read about his journey through the world of photography. And if you see Bill in the Club, congratulate him on his proactive approach to good health — an approach we can all learn from!

Regular Exercise is important for your heart and overall health.

Regular Exercise is important for your heart and overall health.

Healthy advice from Dietitian Cathy DiSomma

Cathy DiSomma, Registered Dietitian and Health Specialist  at Club Fit Jefferson Valley

Cathy DiSomma, Registered Dietitian and Health Specialist at Club Fit Jefferson Valley

We often pick one approach over the other… exercise more so you can eat more, or eat less so you can exercise less. But a healthier approach, especially with the calorie-heavy, time-consuming holidays around the corner, is to balance your exercise and nutrition. They work together to get you optimal results, whether you are trying to lose weight or just maintain.

Just ask Cathy DiSomma, who joined the Club Fit Jefferson Valley staff this summer. Cathy, a Registered Dietitian, certified Dietitian-Nutritionist and American College of Sports Medicine Certified Health (ACSM) Fitness Specialist, is very excited to help our members out. She has an undergraduate degree in Food & Nutrition from Fordham University, and earned her Master’s degree in the same at Lehman College. She also serves as an adjunct professor at Westchester Community College.

Cathy will be playing an integral part in the club’s Healthy Holidays program, a new version of our popular Merry Maintenance program from past years. “I’ve already gotten very good input from the Club Fit members on what they are interested in, from a survey I put out for possible presentation topics, and interaction at informational tables and presentations,” says Cathy. “The topics we’ve come up with are very diverse, from food allergies to proper diet for athletes, healthy lunches, and post-cancer nutrition.”

Healthy Holidays will be a bit different from Merry Maintenance. There is no weigh-in or weigh-out, just a focus on maintaining healthy habits and keeping members moving during the holiday season. Cathy is working closely with Fitness Director Joelle Letta on weekly emails that will be sent to participants on topics such as maintaining a fitness routine, better food and drink choices, low calorie recipes, reducing holiday stress, and keeping up the motivation to stay on track.

According to Cathy, statistics show an average 5- to 6-pound weight gain through the holiday season. It starts with munching on Halloween candy, then Thanksgiving feasts, followed by Rosh Hashanah, Ramadan, Christmas, then the big finale, New Year’s. Some helpful topics Cathy wants to cover include how to approach holiday party food and drinks as a guest, how to offer healthy options if you are hosting, alternate recipes for high-calorie or high-fat dishes, and portion control. “People are very interested in portion control at this time of year. You don’t want to skip your favorites, but you don’t want to overdo it, either,” says Cathy.

“We felt the weigh-in and weigh-out process may have intimidated some people who were just interested in maintaining their weight through the holidays. What makes this program fun is that you can earn points for activities throughout the club, and for each 100 points you are entered into a raffle for great prizes rewarding your efforts,” says Cathy. No limit on entries!

Beyond Healthy Holidays, Cathy is enjoying working with the entire population at Club Fit. Even the staff members are using her as a resource. “Instructors and trainers have many questions that come to them from their clients,” says Cathy. “They want to be in the know on nutrition, so they can help our members separate fact from fallacy.” There is so much information out there that it can be confusing for everyone, even the professionals! “We can give them the real story.”

Outside of Club Fit, Cathy is also Fitness Director at Kendal on Hudson, a Continuing Care Retirement Community in Sleepy Hollow, on the campus of Phelps Memorial Hospital. Her schedule is flexible, allowing her to also serve our Club Fit members, and she loves the combination of jobs because it allows her to work with people of all ages with a variety of needs. “I so enjoy working with the seniors at Kendal, but then I can mix up my day at Club Fit working with kids, athletes, and other seniors with other issues and questions.” She also notes that Kendal and Club Fit share many of the same values and practices, and Club Fit Briarcliff has shared space in the past with Kendal residents when they are in need of the pool. “Both are very community-oriented, and I’m proud to be a part of organizations that have that focus.”

Cathy, a resident of Ossining, loves the outdoors, and is an avid hiker and cyclist. She also loves Pilates, and is certified to teach but that has taken a back seat to her work helping others with fitness and nutrition. She is available evenings and weekends, but her schedule is flexible if those hours don’t suit your schedule. Cathy looks forward to hearing from you, and can be reached 914-245-4040, ext. 1214 or cdisomma@clubfit.com if you would like to set up a consult or would like more information on Healthy Holidays. “It’s great that the fitness and nutrition connection is finally coming full circle,” says Cathy. “Our goal at Club Fit is to help our members reach their goals, and by incorporating knowledge from both areas, we can do that!”

 

 

My Superhero Diet: Plant Power!

Homemade salad pizza. This is my life now - and it's delicious!

Like many of us, I have experimented with fad diets.  When you get swept up in large promises based on “new research”, it’s hard to remember that the one thing they all have in common is that they don’t work, or are only a temporary solution, and in some cases – dangerously unhealthy.  The disclaimer to “consult your physician” before beginning any diet or exercise program is serious business – but like many people, I never bothered.  Ten years ago, I fell for the fat-free fad, and ended up with some serious adverse health effects.  That was a wake-up call for me, and I knew that to start any weight-loss journey off on the right foot, I had to follow directions, and make an appointment with my doctor.

When I met with my physician, I laid it all out on the table.  I told her that my goal was to slowly and sustainably lose all of the extra weight I’m carrying, to prevent disease, and to be an active participant in my health, which meant I was looking for a manageable long-term eating plan.  She did a lot of research on my goals, my past conditions, and delivered a plan: no animal fats, no soy, no processed food, and no sugar.

Wow!  Four little “no”s that wiped out a lot of items.  Even the frozen veggie burger patties that I considered healthy alternatives were full of soy, and the ones that were soy-free are still heavily processed.  Most people are shocked when I tell them my diet, and ask me what on earth is possibly left to eat.  I tell them, lots!  Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts – it doesn’t sound like much, but the possibilities are endless when you are informed and prepared.

Like any other major lifestyle changes, this diet requires a lot of planning to adhere to, and it really took me a number of months to find my groove.  Since I’m highly active, I have to count my protein intake carefully to make sure I’m getting what my body needs without packing in too many calories that might deter my weight loss efforts.  I have to have a well-stocked pantry, and shop frequently for fresh produce (which is a joy at this time of year), in order to be able to throw a meal together on the fly.  Sitting down once a week, browsing vegan recipes for inspiration, and making a specific shopping list help me keep from feeling lost for inspiration, and there are still some delicious and easy meals that are fast to make – like my homemade salad pizza pictured above.  It’s my favorite quick meal.

One thing is for certain – this diet is not for everyone.  I hope that you will learn from my past mistakes and speak with a doctor you trust (who knows your health history), if you are considering making any major changes to your diet.  That being said, it’s definitely healthy to indulge in a plant-based meal once in a while, and now that vegan diets are increasing in popularity, it’s easy to find inspiration.  Here is my favorite veggie burger recipe (homemade, not processed) from the Candle Cafe in NYC.  It’s fast, delicious, and family-friendly – I hope you enjoy it!

Do you have a favorite plant-based meal to share?

 

Taking Control

My personal health philosophy, which has worked for me for about 60 years of more or less conscious life, has been to treat all aches and pains the same way: don’t say anything about them to anyone until they go away.

This has for the most part been a highly successful method. Okay, that blood clot in my leg a few years ago that I was hoping would disappear didn’t, and I won’t bore you with that whole thing. Hospitals, embolism, a little lung damage. It was an outlier for God’s sake. I’m healthy.

The second outlier arose last year. My brother, a year older than me, had a heart attack resulting in angioplasty, a stent and a pacemaker. It sent shock waves through my family (I’m one of six), especially since I had been waiting for about a year and a half for some chest pain behind my own sternum to resolve. It had gone from occasional to persistent and had me worried. I had opted as I always do, not to tell Louise, my wife. She would just make a big deal of it.

The diagnosis from the cardiologist came in and it wasn’t good. Dangerously high cholesterol, bad family history (at my age my mom had a bypass, later a stent, and a little later she passed away).”You are in trouble”, the doctor asserted, “you have Coronary Heart Disease. You are at the highest risk of having a heart attack. You have to lower your cholesterol right now, and ultimately we need to think about rearranging your plumbing”.

This happened a year ago, so I’ll just say that I went online and learned about the possibilities of reversing heart disease with diet and lifestyle, and am lucky enough to have found Dr. Rob Ostfeld, a cardiologist at Montefiore-Einstein, who, with my wife Louise, has helped me to change my life.

The diet is the same as Bill Clinton’s, actually. No meat, no fish, no chicken, no dairy, no oil of any kind, no exceptions. That’s it. “What do you do for protein? Why don’t you eat olive oil, isn’t it heart-healthy?” If you google Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, a doctor at the Cleveland Clinic, you’ll see why Bill and I did it. Scientists have proven that this diet is a powerful tool and can repair the arteries and heart – blockages can actually disappear.

So, that’s it. A month later, my cholesterol was down 100 points. My blood pressure – oh yeah, that had been borderline – was way down, heart rate down. I sleep better, rarely get sick, no more heartburn, etc. I’m historically a skinny guy but middle age had hung a 30 pound gut on me which 4 months later was gone. My 36″ waist Levi’s which were too tight went down to a roomy 32″. I feel great.

All of this happened through major pantry and diet changes. And the best part was – I did it without exercising! No running! No stretching!

Ostfeld said “Nice work” but your LDL should be a little lower, and that only comes through exercise. This is why you hate doctors. I had to start working out.

I don’t really believe in exercise, laughing cruelly at runner friends with foot and knee problems, secure that I am a 1951 Human with some body damage but very, very low mileage. That, Louise and Ostfeld said, needs to change.

And so here we are, in the present. I found Club Fit, went through the doors a couple of times, looked around and thought – No, I don’t think I can do this. These are not my people. I’m pretty sure Norwegians and their descendants like me shouldn’t exercise. We are genetically calm, slow, stiff, and we try not to lift heavy things. Change my diet, yes. Start to treat my body like a temple, no.

I mean yes. I have 3 great kids in their twenties who need my continuous oversight (although they have been pretending to ignore me for years). I’m still paying college bills and a mortgage, so the banks need me. Great friends and family – I guess I’m not done yet. Oh, and a business making and restoring violins that still makes me happy.

And although I’ve gone a good distance in the fight to repair my heart and arteries, I know there’s more to do. I get it. And I’m going to try to do it with those exercise fanatics at Club Fit.

Understanding Nutrition

THE GLYCEMIC RESPONSE:

 

 It is important for the body to maintain optimal blood glucose levels. As I have indicated, this is 80- 120 ml/dl of blood. If blood glucose level falls low you may become lethargic, irritable, extremely hungry and unable to think clearly. If glucose level rises to high, you may become very sleepy. Either instance is dangerous, and can cause severe consequences.

The body normally regulates your blood sugar levels by releasing two hormones secreted by the pancreas.  Insulin is secreted when blood sugar concentrations get to high, and Glucagon is secreted when blood sugar levels get too low. (Remember). Diabetes and Hypoglycemia are two conditions where glucose regulation is hindered.

Although our body regulates these responses, it is important for us to eat properly to maintain optimal blood sugar levels, and all body responses. Every cell in our body depends on glucose for fuel, especially the brain and nervous system, which I will discuss later.

So what can you do to maintain optimum levels? First, eat smaller meals more frequently throughout the day. You should be eating approximately every 2½ hours. Second, when you do eat, make sure the meal or snack consists of carbohydrate, fat, and protein. Fats slow down the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates.  Protein triggers the release of many important substances including glucagon, which hinders the effect of insulin. By adhering to these practices, you prevent fluctuations of blood sugar level and help prevent surges of glucose in the blood .You will also feel much better both physically and mentally.

There are times when an athlete may want a surge of blood sugar to get nutrients into the cells quickly. The prime opportunity for this is directly after exercise when the “window of opportunity’ is the best. More glucose and nutrients will replenish deleted

stores used during exercise. The longer you wait after exercise the less amount is restored. How does this translate into something useful? Well, the more glycogen and amino acids that are replenished quickly, the better your recovery and preparation for the next bout of exercise. You will notice increased strength and more energy.

The glycemic effect of food is in relation to our blood sugar and insulin response. It is the effect of how fast and how high blood sugar concentrations rise, and how quickly our body lowers the levels back to normal.

Some carbohydrate foods are rated very high on the Glycemic index. This is another reason why carbohydrate foods often targeted for propaganda and fad diet claims. On the contrary to many fad diets that advocate you should not consume carbohydrates or carbohydrates eliciting a high glycemic index rating, most of these provide an excellent source of nutrients, and are healthy for you.

It is believed that these carbohydrates provoke hunger, food cravings, and cause too much of a release of insulin which claim to promote fat storage. By following special eating patterns, and consuming lower carbohydrates they claim you will lose weight, and fool the body into producing the right amounts of insulin.

Generally, it is wise to choose foods with a low glycemic rating if they are going to be consumed alone, to achieve sustained energy. However, as I have stated earlier, the overall glycemic response of a food is influenced by other foods eaten at the meal.  Keep in mind, people take a little bit of validity, and manipulate others into believing.

 

THE GLYCEMIC INDEX:

 

The glycemic index is a physiological based method used to classify foods according to their response to raising blood glucose.

 

 

  • The index compares how rapidly carbohydrates are converted to blood sugar compared to glucose, which is 100 %.

 

  • The lower the rating, the less of a glycemic response.

 

 

  • The glycemic response of a food is not dependent upon the sugar content or the content of simple versus complex carbohydrate. Carrots eaten alone will increase insulin more than a candy bar with nuts.

 At present, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) has not endorsed the glycemic index for patients with diabetes. The ADA recommends that people with diabetes moderate their carbohydrate intake to keep their blood sugar low, eat less fat, more fiber, and fewer calories to lose weight, rather than attempt to follow a glycemic correct diet. Weight loss alone can bring blood sugar down to healthy levels in type II diabetes.

                                  Glycemic Index Of Common Foods

 

100 %                         80-99%                       70-79%                       60-69%

Glucose                       Maltose                    Bread                         Brown Rice

                                    Parsnips                       Millet                          Bananas

                                    Carrots                        Potato                         Raisins

                                    Potato Chips               White Rice                  Mars Bars

                                    Corn Flakes                                                     White bread

                                    Honey

 

50-59%                       40-49%                       30-39%                       20-29%

Sucrose                     Oranges                       Apples                       Fructose

White spaghetti           Peas                             Ice Cream                 Kidney Beans

All Bran                      Navy Beans                 Most Meats                 Lentils

Yams                           Oats                           Most cheese               

Corn                                                                Yogurt

 

10-19%

Soy Beans

Peanuts

Adapted from Source: Jenkins, D.J.A., Lente carbohydrate: A newer approach to the dietary management of diabetes. Diabetes Care, 5:634, 1982: as adapted by ISSA Performance Nutrition: The complete guide, 1997.