— 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!
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.
Jacqui Bishop’s “Sharp Again Naturally” promotes Alzheimer’s and dementia education.
Here’s something you don’t hear every day… we have some really good news about Alzheimer’s and dementia! No, unfortunately no one has come up with the magic pill, and traditional medicine has yet to post a single turnaround. However there are people who’ve been diagnosed with the disease by highly respected researchers and physicians who have reversed their symptoms and are now living normal lives again. And there’s documentary footage available to prove it.
This news comes from Jacqui Bishop, Club Fit Briarcliff member and founder of Sharp Again Naturally, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit formed to educate the public about causes of dementia that are reversible but little known and rarely tested for or treated. The Sharp Again vision is a world free of unnecessary pain from reversible causes of dementia, and they are working to make comprehensive testing and treatment of those reversible causes part of the standard of care for all dementia patients.
Jacqui herself was directly impacted by Alzheimer’s disease, which took her mother in 2010 after an 18-year slide. At that time, even with all the money and time that could have been poured into effective treatment, it was assumed that nothing could be done. Jacqui was helpless to make more than a palliative difference for her mother.
Then, in November 2011, Jacqui saw footage from an unfinished documentary film that changed—and may even have saved—her life. Two filmmakers had discovered cases of Alzheimer’s being reversed, resolved to make a documentary, and traveled across the country filming interviews with researchers, physicians, and Alzheimer’s patients who had gotten their minds back. Upon seeing this stunning footage, Jacqui and several others from the Westchester Holistic Network decided to help the filmmakers complete the documentary. That day, Sharp Again Naturally was born.
The research is astounding, and makes clear that diagnoses of dementia, even Alzheimer’s, can be successfully treated. What percentage of cases can be arrested or reversed? Nobody knows because no one’s ever done the research. But it’s a significant number. And if it’s just 20 percent, which is a conservative estimate, that’s a million people in the U.S. alone.
The organization’s web site, www.sharpagain.org, outlines seven causes of dementia, including nutritional factors, hormonal imbalances, and stress. Another cause, which has not been officially added pending additional research, Jacqui calls stagnation. “We are finding many correlations between healthy brain function and activity—intellectual, social/emotional to be sure, but especially physical,” she says. “As a matter of fact, my mother was an athlete, a swimmer, hiker, and competitive skier, well into her sixties. It was when she could no longer exercise that her functioning went downhill really fast.”
She recommends reading Spark, The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain, by John J. Ratey, MD, which explores comprehensively the connection between exercise and the brain. It includes amazing case studies, including the revolutionary fitness program in Naperville, IL, that is credited with putting the children in the local school district fifth in the world in math and first in the world in science test scores. Jacqui also says that research has shown that people with the APOE-4 gene, often referred to as the “Alzheimer’s gene,” have generated especially impressive improvements through physical exercise.
Jacqui’s passion isn’t only about saving the rest of the world: She herself started noticing symptoms. “I was losing words, having trouble following conversations and experiencing memory loss.” After being tested by a physician trained in functional medicine, she learned she was pre-diabetic and suffering from a mild version of hypothyroidism, two factors strongly associated with cognitive decline. Based on those and other indicators, she has been practicing the following “treatments”: taking natural desiccated thyroid supplements, cutting out sugar, increasing sleep, increasing her intake of omega-3s and taking large quantities of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), an alternative fuel for starving brain cells. MCTs are most readily (and cheaply!) available from coconut oil, which has been documented as turning around a significant number of cases.
Exercise is also a big part of Jacqui’s quest for wellness. It wasn’t so hard for her as she had always been active and came from an athletic family, but she had never included regular workouts in her schedule. Club Fit entered her life when her best friend encouraged her to come in and check it out, and the rest was history. “We’d make workout dates, and we both looked forward to them. I loved laughing with my great friend—30 minutes went by on the elliptical like no time at all. To anyone who wants to get into fitness, I’d suggest buddying up with a friend!” says Jacqui. “It changed my life.”
Jacqui now gets to the gym 2 to 3 times a week and spends most of her time in the Fitness Center on the machines and in the stretching area. She also spends about 20 minutes in the pool each visit as she’s an avid swimmer and “the pool is top-notch—no chlorine.” When she doesn’t make it to the Club, she walks at least 30 minutes every day. “Carving out the time is the challenge, but my mind is so much clearer when I do.” The work at Sharp Again, she says, has become a “time-and-a-half job.” But it’s a job worth doing, and an exciting one—so many discoveries are being made every day and Alzheimer’s affects so many people and families, not just here but worldwide.
Sharp Again is making great strides, but they need help to continue their mission. “We welcome anyone who wants to help us spread the word!” says Jacqui. There’s a volunteer information meeting on March 27th in White Plains, and donations are welcomed to help fund educational materials, community presentations, website work, and additional research. Sharp Again is also building an information clearinghouse, which will include a database of holistic practitioners. Do you know a great holistic physician? Let them know!
To find out more about Sharp Again or to sign up for their informative newsletter, visit www.sharpagain.org, which contains videos, educational data, and links to associated organizations. You can also find a schedule of Sharp Again’s free presentations at libraries, churches, and other organizations at sharpagain.org/category/calendar. They are presenting next at the Awaken Fair on March 30 in Tarrytown (see AwakenFair.com).
If you or someone you know is being affected by a diagnosis of dementia, Jacqui urges you to visit the web site. “I would have gone halfway ’round the world for this information when my mother was in decline.” Or, if you want to talk to an actual human being, feel free to write Jacqui herself at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a date, or call her at (914) 997-9611. She’ll be glad to hear from you!