Health Care

Good Health Takes More than New Resolve

BOARDMAN, Ohio – There’s much more to diet, exercise and a healthful life than kicking off the New Year with a resolution to lose weight through watching your diet and exercising more.

Indeed, there are many other factors and strategies people should consider when it comes to pursuing a fit lifestyle that carries on long after the first six months of the year, say health and fitness specialists in The Business Journal roundtable  Dec. 15.

Whether it’s weight loss, lowering cholesterol, battling diabetes and obesity, or controlling high blood pressure – these practitioners say that identifying the motivation behind your desire to get healthy and stay healthy is an important first step.

“You have to find your ‘why’ behind your ‘what,’ ” says Erin Mellinger, owner of Fitness Together. Discovering the driving force behind a decision to get healthier often runs much deeper than one thinks, she noted, and needs to be addressed through both short-term and long-term goals. “What do you want your life to look like 20 years from now?” she asked.

Mellinger; Amy Raabe, director of dietetics at Youngstown State University; Dr. Ted Suzelis of Ohio Naturopathic Wellness Center in Boardman; Shannon Keyes Ciucevich of Ohio Valley Hypnosis and Wellness in Hubbard; Sara Michaliszyn, professor in YSU’s kinesiology and sports science program; Dr. James Leone of Nutrimost in Boardman; Beth Scheller, chief operating officer at the Youngstown YMCA; Meri Fetkovich, health and wellness director at the Y’s central branch; and personal trainer Jeffrey Wurster participated in the roundtable.

The health and fitness roundtable will appear in the January edition of The Business Journal published this week.

“It has to become a habit,” Michaliszyn, professor in Youngstown State University’s kinesiology and sports science program, said of the pursuit of good health. “You have to develop smart goals” that are realistic and make sense, she noted.

While time is usually the biggest barrier to achieving these objectives, establishing a network and support system with those who have knowledge in the field is an important way to overcome these obstacles, she added.

“Working with people who understand how to help individuals develop these goals is important to effective exercise intervention and dietary intervention,” Michaliszyn said.

Often, those who charge head on into rigorous exercise become discouraged after a matter of weeks or months when they realize they haven’t lost the weight they thought they would, or they don’t see fitness programs pay off.

“People expect too much, too soon,” observed the YMCA’s Scheller. “They become frustrated” and then stall out on their exercise schedule.

“I like to tell them to take it in steps,” Wurster said, noting that meeting modest, short-term goals is a way to encourage his clients to stay focused and build on these achievements. Age, at least for adults, he added, isn’t often a factor in improving health through exercise. “It’s really about a lifestyle change,” he said.

A good example, noted Nutrimost’s Leone, is demonstrating to a client that although the weight isn’t dropping as fast as he (or she) would like, his body composition is changing, paving the way for these workouts to have an impact.

“You’ve flipped the switch to go from fat storing to fat burning,” he said. “It’s very useful in keeping them motivated so they continue to be on their short-term plan.”

Another key to maintaining good health and fitness is diet, participants said. Poor eating habits are linked to diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and obesity. Striking a balance between a solid exercise routine and a better diet is a good starting point to help prevent these complications.

“Food should not be manufactured,” said Raabe, YSU’s director of dietetics. Processed ingredients packed in food products today pose long-term health risks for people, she said, and it’s worth paying higher prices at the grocery store for organic or nonprocessed foods than to incur the even higher costs of health problems in the future.

“What price tag do you put on your health?” Raabe asked. “If you don’t eat clean or you don’t eat well, then we end up with a growing waist, and Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular issues, muscular-skeletal issues. How much is that going to cost you?”

To those who believe that “eating clean” is too costly for the average consumer, Michaliszyn cited a Harvard University study that found it costs only $1.50 more per day to eat foods that aren’t processed.

What are expensive are consumers looking for more healthful versions of the foods they are already consuming. “They want to get a healthier Frosted Flakes,” she said. “If you’re eating foods close to nature – healthy meats, vegetables and fruits that aren’t processed – they don’t cost that much.”

What works for one person might not work for another, Suzelis said.

The policies federal and state governments are pursuing have relaxed their standards for health and wellness, as evidenced by the lack of health education in the public school systems.

And young people today are bombarded with marketing programs that tout the benefits of energy drinks, sugary sports drinks and even caffeine. As a result, this generation is growing up more sluggish and sleep-deprived than their parents and grandparents.

“A little caffeine is OK,” Suzelis said. “But it doesn’t make more energy. You’re just squeezing that energy out of your body.”

Ultimately, the pursuit of good health and fitness is reliant on good information that you can use, Wurster said. “It all comes back to knowledge. You need to be prepared.”

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.