by Tony Schillaci and Don Church
Our personal program includes an hour’s walk three or four times a week (doctor-approved) in some of the most beautiful towns in New England – Mystic, Stonington Borough, Essex and Old Saybrook. As long as you’re walking briskly, give a smile to other pedestrians and don’t gawk into resident’s windows, most townies will welcome strolling strangers. Dress nice!
Some of these magical villages have picnic tables or other inviting places to eat your home-made or store-bought healthy sandwich or salad (plus your apple!) while re-hydrating with a bottle of water after your walk. If you clean up your own picnic spot, the town folk will love you for being a true “green” citizen.
Other great places to walk include Harkness Memorial Park in Waterford, the Niantic Bay Boardwalk (for a one mile each way walk in the sea air) and the trails at Bluff Point Park in Groton, among dozens of other great out-of-door public and conservancy lands.
Yes, we know it’s hard to put down the chip bag, get up from the recliner and turn off the TV to gear your weary self up for a walk. But, once you force yourself to try it, the endorphins get released into your brain and that feeling of well-being is more addictive than Pringles or Fritos.
Recently, we spoke with some Lawrence and Memorial Hospital clinicians and administrators who gave us a fresh look at the innovative and enjoyable wellness programs offered by hospitals today. Their goal is to keep people well by encouraging them to live a healthy lifestyle. It’s all about prevention, keeping fit and eating right. L&M is so committed to keeping people well that the hospital is a totally smoke-free environment, including the parking lots.
Lindsay Beckwith, RRT, MPH, RN, is the Wellness Coordinator at the hospital and helms the Healthier, Happier You (HHY) Program. She says, “There are numerous ways this program serves the community. We offer a nine-week cooking and nutrition class.”
Mary Ann Nash, RD, and Sal Argento, L&M’s Executive Chef, teach a plant-based Mediterranean approach to health. Participants eat a full meal during each class based on the topic of the night. And Lindsay performs weekly blood-pressure checks and tracks weight and waist measurements. Sessions are held three times a year and are limited to 20 students each. This exciting program is also presented at area churches in a four-week pared-down version.
For the next HHY class in April, call 860.442.0711 x3109 to sign up. You’ll be eating delicious and flavorful cuisine, along with the Chef’s cooking class for the nine-week program and weekly nutritional talks. Class participants will also receive recipes and related information. That’s a huge bargain for $200, inclusive. Wow, it is not only healthy and fun, but all that delicious food and a great way to expand your social network – a big part of wellness too!
Mary Ann does a school program called “Oh My, What’s In The Food I Eat?” The kids read the manufacturer’s claims on the front label and then check the reality in “Nutrition Facts” on the side.
Another L&M wellness administrator, Connie Fields, offers “Freedom From Smoking,” and “Rev It Up” programs. At this time classes are full, but they begin again in September.
“Freedom From Smoking” is a seven-week program of eight sessions on Monday evenings from 6-7:30 pm. Any smoker who seriously wants to quit is invited to attend for a deposit fee of $50, refundable in full upon completion of the course. A respiratory therapist helps to conduct the classes. The success rate is quite high and some former smokers repeat the course multiple times just to stay smoke-free and are an encouragement to the newcomers who are trying to kick the habit.
“Rev It Up” is a nine-week fitness, wellness and healthy eating program on Tuesday evenings from 5:30-7:30 pm. These classes also begin in September. The fee is $150, but the benefits of avoiding hospital and doctor bills far exceed the cost of the program. Sign up info is available from Connie at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 860.442.0711 x4284.
A “Shape Up” program geared toward seniors, overweight folks and those with hypertension is held in Mystic and Old Saybrook. These “feel-better”courses begin in March and are held three times a week for ten weeks at a cost of only $120. One of the program’s participants is 92-years young and some of the healthy seniors have been joining in the fun for over 10 years! They even recruit their friends to join them, so sign up quickly with Connie before all the slots are taken!
L&M is also giving back to the community in partnership with Tommy Majors and the New London Recreation Commission with a free shape-up program. It’s held at the Martin Center on Broad Street, New London (860.447.5230). These classes are held twice a week from 4:15-5:15 pm. The benefit of these programs is they are conducted and supervised by dedicated and inspiring health-care professionals whose goal is your well-being.
Passionate about her nutritional program, Mary Ann is “convinced that when people make changes in their lifestyle it makes a huge difference in how long they live and the quality of that life. You may never even need the services of a hospital through prevention. The body doesn’t know how to use processed foods, but the body does know how to use plant-based real antioxidants and the friendly nutrients found in real foods.”
Happily, two glasses of wine daily for men and one glass for women is part of the Mediterranean pyramid!
That proverbial apple, which once took sole credit for keeping the doctor away, is now getting lots of help from the wellness professionals at L&M to keep us fit, happy and healthy. Take charge of your own well-being and let us know how you’re doing!