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New Year, New You

by Lindsey Getz

Even small changes can put you on track to a mentally and physically healthier you.

Lainee Beigel is busy, to put it lightly. She’s a Cherry Hill mother of two, an attorney, and the founder of her own business, Career Esquire, which is a career consulting company. Needless to say, being a full-time working mom takes its toll—as it would on anyone—and is draining both on the mind and the body. Life can be exhausting after those eight-hour (plus) days of work, only to return home to care for two children instead of putting her feet up to relax.

That’s not to mean she would want it any other way, of course. But Beigel admits that being stressed and tired after work makes her feel guilty for not being the “happy and chipper mom” she wants to be. That’s why she’s come to understand the importance of “me time”—and why it isn’t just beneficial for her, but her whole family. She has turned to running, finding it to be a wonderful stress reliever. In fact, her New Year’s resolution is to make more time for herself so that she can be at her best and not always be faced with that overwhelming feeling of exhaustion when she gets home.

The end of 2012 is right around the corner and this is the time when we’re all making resolutions. We’re on the cusp of a new year and we all want to put forward a better “self.” But how can we do that? It’s not just about dieting and exercising more, which tend to be the most popular resolutions. The bigger picture is often about allowing for “me time” and taking the opportunity to simply become a healthier, happier person.

Physically & mentally fit??
Instead of putting so much focus on a specific needs-based goal—“I need to lose 10 pounds!”—Leslie Spencer, Ph.D., professor in the department of Health and Exercise Science at Rowan University, suggests putting the emphasis on wanting to feel better or wanting to have a better approach and attitude toward life.

“When you do that, the end result does still tend to be losing weight, but you’re not putting so much pressure on yourself with a specific number—which sets you up to feel like you failed when you don’t reach it,” says Spencer.

Take Nelson Chiropractic & Pilates Center in Atco, where the focus centers on achieving “overall wellness.” To begin that journey, each new patient receives a functional evaluation and, if their roadblock to being mentally and physically fit is rooted by pain, they’re referred to the chiropractic side of the business. Otherwise, they can launch straight into exercise through Pilates classes or private sessions in the studio.

“If you try to exercise and you already have pain, you are only reinforcing a faulty pattern,” says Dr. Eric Nelson, who co-owns the practice with his wife Kerri.

Pilates as a form of exercise is important because it focuses on overall well-being, Nelson emphasizes. It not only helps with one’s physical condition, but also improves their mental state. In addition, it’s also low-impact and safe, particularly when overseen by experts. Everyone at Nelson Chiropractic & Pilates Center is a health care provider of some form—whether it be a physical therapist or a chiropractic provider. “Because we’re all trained health care providers, we’re able to create a safe environment with movements that are really safe for any individual at any level,” says Nelson.

The benefits of Pilates extend into everyday life, with proper breathing, spinal and pelvic alignment movements that can be practiced at your office desk or during any other daily activity. So whether it’s Pilates—in which you can retrain your body to move more efficiency—or chiropractic, both are shown to have significant benefits, making them ideal choices for that desired mood boost. According to the Association of New Jersey Chiropractors, “true health” is not the absence of disease, but rather a total sense of well-being, one that can be accomplished through chiropractic medicine because it improves nervous system function and makes the body better able to adapt to stress—which, let’s face it, isn’t necessarily something that can be eliminated; but we can learn better ways to deal with it.

Fueling the new you
Of course, as you set out on a course of a healthier lifestyle, it’s important that you’re properly fueling your body; otherwise, it’s all for nothing. The idea of overhauling a diet may sound overwhelming—which is why you shouldn’t look at it that way. Instead, start with small healthy eating changes in the same way that you’ve eased yourself into making some smaller physical fitness goals. “I think people make these really big and lofty expectations that they simply can’t keep,” says Spencer, regarding the difficulty of maintaining most New Year’s resolutions. “Look at small ways you can make changes to your existing lifestyle.”

Julie Dorfman, a Cherry Hill-based dietitian, says simply cooking more at home is an easy change that can greatly pay off. Processed foods and eating out leads to an increased intake of calories, fat and sodium. “Plan your meals ahead of time,” Dorfman suggests. “The more people can think about their meals ahead of time and start early in the week, the more likely they are to have healthy meals throughout their day and week.”

It also helps contribute to that all-important de-stressing factor. “[Planning meals ahead] will help simplify your life when it comes to a busy work schedule,” says Dorfman. “You will have dinners planned and all the food in the house after shopping to create well-balanced and healthy meals for you and your family.”

Dorfman adds that even making some simple switches in your food choices can pay off big time. For instance, always opt for baked over fried. “Most foods that are typically fried come baked like potato chips and French fries,” she suggests.

“You can also make these foods very inexpensively with a lot less sodium on your own. Baking, roasting, or sautéing using olive oil are all much healthier cooking methods [than frying].”

Just relax
Vow to take a little better care of yourself in the months ahead. “If you don’t engage in self-care, you don’t have much to give other people,” admits Spencer, who herself is not only a busy working mom but a breast cancer survivor who learned great value in taking optimal care of herself. “Whether it’s exercising, meditating, reading a book for pleasure, or making time each day to cook yourself good food, you need to find those things that are nurturing to you. If you don’t do that, it makes you work down, tired and resentful.”

A good place to start when it comes to a healthy indulgence might be spa and skincare treatments. Dr. Pooja Malik, of Mullica Hill Skincare, says that come January, her practice is always bustling because people finally commit to taking better care of themselves—and they often accept that they “overdid it” during the holidays. Who hasn’t? Between the stress and the overeating, many aren’t exactly feeling their best come Jan. 1. “It’s a great time for detoxing and we have two nutritionists at our practice who help oversee that process,” says Malik. “Many patients even call us panicked about their weight gain, but you can get back into a healthy eating regimen with a little bit of help.”

The practice also offers an array of services that’ll give a woman the type of confidence boost that lasts long after she walks out the door, such as skin tightening treatments, Botox, cellulite reduction, or just a good old-fashioned facial.

At MediZen Wellness in Marlton, the approach revolves around feeling better by first calming the mind. For that reason, treatments may include aromatherapy, such as raindrop therapy, which uses essential plant oils to help achieve relief. “Other people may derive more benefit from a therapy such as Reiki, which helps to bring the body into balance at every level—spiritual, mental, emotional, physical and social,” explains Dr. Andrea Iannuzzelli, founder of MediZen Wellness.

People seeking non-medical treatments come to MediZen for its guidance with specific foods, nutraceuticals and vitamin supplements. “Detox” programs, which tend to be popular after this season of overindulgence, are also offered through safe, medically supervised programs, as are the more traditional craniosacral or therapeutic massages.

Once the holidays pass, Iannuzzelli expects business to pick up as people begin to focus more on self-care, but she stresses that self-care should play a bigger role in everyday life. “Stress wreaks havoc on the entire system by promoting an inflammatory response and stimulating stress hormones such as cortisol,” she says. “This may lead to symptoms ranging from insomnia, palpitations and anxiety to sinus congestion, headaches and bowel disturbances.”

Women especially need to learn to make caring for themselves a priority, she adds, rather than letting children, spouses and jobs always take precedence, even if it means literally scheduling time on the calendar. “It is important to remember that unless we give to ourselves, it becomes difficult to give of ourselves.”

And she’s not just saying that because it’s her job—it’s also her life. “As a working mom, and with a special needs child, I have learned that if I wait to ‘find’ time for myself, it’s never going to happen,” she says, which is why her “me time” begins as soon as she wakes, with yoga, meditation, or self-Reiki. During the day, she makes sure to take short breaks. “Literally just a minute or two for some breathing exercises, which are immensely helpful at keeping stress levels in check.”

So by taking the advice of these area experts and incorporating some mindful changes in the areas of fitness, eating and some pampering time, you’ll be able to put your best foot forward in 2013—for both you and your family. “‘Me time’ is so important because, if you don’t take time for yourself, you don’t have energy to be the best mom, wife or friend you can be,” Beigel says. “When you’re always taking care of others, there is very little time left in the day for yourself.

“When I am refreshed and energized, I am the best version of myself,” she concludes. “I am more patient and can give more of myself to everyone who needs a piece. In the new year, I hope to feel a little less guilty about not being perfect and make more time to de-stress and enjoy my friends and family.”

Resources

Julie Dorfman, MA, RD, LDN
52 Berlin Road, Suite 1000
Cherry Hill
(856) 448-4660
JulieDorfman.com

MediZen Wellness
767 Route 70 E., Suite B102
Marlton
(856) 505-0311
MediZenWellness.com

Mullica Hill Skincare
201 Bridgeton Pike, Mullica Hill
799 S. Delsea Drive, Vineland
(856) 478-4700
MullicaHillSkincare.com

Nelson Chiropractic & Pilates Center
289 White Horse Pike, Suite 201
Atco
(856) 767-8800
NelsonPilates.com

Rowan University, Department of Health and Exercise Science
201 Mullica Hill Road
Glassboro
(856) 256-4000
Rowan.edu

Published (and copyrighted) in Suburban Family Magazine, Volume 3, Issue 10 (December, 2012).
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