Showing posts with label health. Show all posts
Showing posts with label health. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Health Tech Savvy at any Age

By Sara Scheller BSN, RN, CCRN, NBC-HWC
Integrative Nurse Health Coach

Can you easily be health tech savvy, no matter your age? If you are one of the estimated more than 237 million Americans with a smartphone, you already are and you may not even know it! While many tech developers are racing to create apps which are potentially habit-forming and may actually modify your brain in negative ways, there are others who are finding new, creative ways of building technology to help your health. More than likely here in the U.S., your phone operating system is an Android (now owned and developed by Google) or an iOs (owned and operated by Apple). Much of the technology today is intuitive and just by playing around for a few minutes, you may surprise yourself with what you can find. Now let’s explore how you can become health tech savvy. 

If you are using the iOs operating platform such as an Apple iPhone, you are already storing health data without even knowing it. All Apple iPhones with a current operating software have a Health app that looks like this:

When you click on the app, you have 4 options: Today, Health Data, Sources, and Medical ID. As a nurse, I would highly recommend you taking a few minutes to complete your medical ID (that is the option on the bottom of your screen, all the way to the right). Here you can input your name, birthdate, medical conditions, medical notes, allergies & reactions, medications, blood type, weight, height, emergency contacts and your organ donation status. This reference can be used at a visit with a healthcare provider, where you can keep your past medical history and a current, up to date medication list. This is also highly beneficial in case of an emergency as this information from your medical ID can be accessed by a first responder even if you have a passcode set on your phone. Additionally, if you enable and use the Emergency SOS function on your phone, your emergency contacts will be notified and sent to your current location. When you access the “today” function, you can see how many steps you have taken and flights you have climbed. As long as your phone is on your person, it is measuring these things and you probably do not even know! Or, if you have an apple iWatch or other wearable device that syncs with your smart phone, it is measuring these things even more accurately. Take some time to explore the “health data” function, where you can learn more about and track your activity, mindfulness, nutrition and sleep. Many health related apps you may have downloaded automatically sync to these and have additional features where you can manually enter your body measurements, health records, heart, reproductive health, results and vitals. The “sources” function aligns with our Hackensack Meridian Integrative Health & Medicine care model: The Five Pillars of Health & Well-Being. We believe these pillars -- sleep, activity, purpose, nutrition and resilience -- are essential components to living a life in which you can thrive.

If you are an Android user, you can download the Medical ID (free) ICE Contacts app from the app store. Here you can enter in your medical history and emergency contacts. Also, you phone is probably already tracking your steps and the flights of stairs you climb. Do you have goals to increase your level of activity? If not and you are ready to do so, you can begin to set some.

Most of us know what to do, but we aren’t actually doing it. We have access to plenty of health information but actually using it or practicing it in our lives may be overwhelming. Gaining the support of our integrative health providers, especially through health coaching, can help you find a partner in your health to make changes so you can live your best life. We use an integrative health approach that can support your whole health-body, mind and spirit.

Call us at 732-263-7999 or visit our website at to find out more.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

How to Make Food Your “Farmacy” for Optimal Health

By Nina Regevik, M.D., FACP, ABIHM
Co-Director, Division of Integrative Health, Medical Director, Division of HIV Services

Research continues to show how important our food is for the maintenance of our health and for disease prevention. Evidence exists showing that most of the common diseases we face such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer, and obesity are directly linked to dietary factors. Perhaps even more importantly, life expectancy overall is greater in those who have healthy diets.

There are a couple of easy rules to follow in order to ensure that your diet is healthy. Eat mostly plants, the more colorful, the better, and foods that come from above or below the ground, not from boxes or cans. This includes beans, whole grains, nuts, and seeds, among others. If animal products are part of your diet, be sure to use pasture raised organics if at all possible. Organic produce is more expensive, but buying less animal products makes the organics more affordable. 

Phytochemicals are found only in plants. They protect both the plant and the person who eats it from disease. Some of the more common phytochemicals are allicin, garlic, anthocyanins (i.e., blueberries, black soybeans, acai, eggplant, red cabbage), and bioflavonoids (i.e., tea, cocoa, banana, citrus fruit, onions, parsley). The list goes on and the names get longer, but fruits, veggies, whole grains, beans, and pulses (legumes), are all rich in them. Vitamins and minerals are also found in these foods and are essential to life. Omega 3 fatty acids are also essential for optimal health and cannot be made by our bodies. Certain seafood is a great source, including salmon, sardines, and mackerel, as are some plants; flaxseed and beans are a few. 

Nutritional information can seem complex and overwhelming but by following some simple guidelines, you can help prevent disease and stay healthier. If you have questions about your diet, discuss with your health care provider. Hackensack Meridian Integrative Health & Medicine team members can help answer your nutrition and diet questions.

Click here for more information about Hackensack Meridian Integrative Health & Medicine.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Affirmations to Create a Happier, Healthier You

By Sharon Yeskel, BA
Integrative Health Associate

Affirmations are phrases you repeat to yourself to help bring about positive changes in your life. They can also help you stop negative self-talk by choosing to state the opposite of what you believe is true. To create an affirmation out of a negative belief, change the thought:
  • I’m not lovable becomes I deserve to love and be loved 
  • I’ll never find an apartment I like becomes I trust that I will find the perfect place to live 
  • I’m always sick and tired becomes I am healthy and filled with energy to do the things I love
Affirmations should create positive images in your mind. Using words like scared, pain, or anxious make you think of those conditions. Make sure to use words like comfortable, safe, supported, and peaceful when writing your phrases:
  • I have no pain becomes I feel comfortable. 
  • I am not scared becomes I feel safe and supported. 
  • I’m not anxious becomes I choose peace in this moment.
Be sure you never start your affirmations with “I hope.” When you say “I hope this happens,” there is an underlying vibration of doubt. Say to yourself, “I hope I get the job and my boss respects me.” Now say, “I have a job that I love. My boss respects me and values my work.” Which phrase makes you feel better? Which phrase makes you feel that having that job is possible? Always chose statements that make you light up inside.

Have you ever thought about what would bring you joy and give you a reason to get up every morning? If you don’t know the answer, try using affirmations to lead you to your life’s purpose. Try these statements and see what shows up for you:

·         I am aligned with my life’s purpose.
·         My life’s purpose is being revealed to me now. I open myself to all possibilities.

When you first start saying affirmations, they may not be true or you may not believe they are true. As you continue to say them once or several times a day, they can change the way you think about yourself and the world. Make a commitment to repeat your affirmations every day for a minimum of 21 days. Keep a list of your affirmations on your night table and read them before you go to sleep at night and when you wake up in the morning.

Overtime, you may find those statements that were once just wishful thinking, are true. Drop some and add others as the statements become a reality. Affirmations can be a powerful tool to help you let go of limiting beliefs and help you create the happier, healthier life you desire.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Summer Check-Up

By Pamela Jansky, RN-BC, CDE, HWC
Integrative Nurse Health Coach

Summer is upon us! I hope you are all enjoying the energy of this season! In the spring we talked about spring Renewal and the preparation that takes place as we begin our spring clean-up and plant our summer gardens. We talked about internal cleansing as well, and the importance of setting personalized, realistic and sustainable goals that can become new healthy habits so that you, like your garden, may remain vibrant and fruitful. As we said, “Motivation gets you started but habit keeps you going!” So let’s give ourselves a summer check-up!

If we started some new habits a few months ago, we should begin to see some growth and change in the same way we see our gardens grow and change. Perhaps you started moving more and doing some resistance training with the fruit of your labor being weight loss and muscle toning. You are eating cleaner and nourishing your body with more fruits and vegetables. You are feeling stronger and more energetic! How good does it feel to fit into your favorite summer clothes, or enjoy the new ones you are wearing? How satisfying is it to see more muscle tone in your arms with that sleeveless shirt? How much more are you enjoying summer activities with your increased strength and endurance? Best of all, how has this increased sense of well-being and vitality improved your life and relationships? Even better, you may feel motivated to set some new goals to build on your success and move to the next level. After all, in the rhythm of the seasons, it won’t be long before we start planning our fall planting beds so that we can enjoy the fruits of that season. Let’s keep the momentum going!
On the other hand, what if things did not go as planned? You set some awesome goals and had high expectations, but for one reason or another, you are not where you hoped you would be. Perhaps you started strong and your commitment fell off. Well, you are not alone. Many of us find it challenging to navigate through the business and seasons of life. Sometimes we have significant life altering events that get us off track. Often times it is simply a matter of re-learning self-care or perhaps our goals were not realistic and attainable. We are all unique and we may find there are any number of situations that present challenges to making sustainable change. Sometimes, it may seem too overwhelming to start, or we simply need some help in clarifying and setting our goals. Whatever the case may be, it’s never too late to change direction and move toward increasing wellness!

At Hackensack Meridian Integrative Health & Medicine, we offer a variety of services that support people in their journey to maximum health and well-being. As a Nurse Health Coach, we can partner with you and support you in personally identifying and addressing areas in which you may feel blocked or in need of change. A Nurse Health Coach can assist you in identifying your readiness to change and supporting you in setting personalized SMART Goals. SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time Bound. It is more important to set specific realistic goals that are achievable, that you can build upon, rather than goals that are so big you can’t even get started. Those goals must be client driven and have personal value.

Integrative health & medicine focuses on the whole person: mind, body, and spirit, while addressing our Five Pillars of Health & Well-Being. Whether it be Sleep, Activity, Purpose, Nutrition or Resilience, we have a team of practitioners that specialize in each area. We are here to support you in your health and wellness journey. Summer is a time to be more active and creative. A time to grow and flourish. A time to feel alive! Let’s keep up the momentum and live our best lives!

Visit or call 732-263-7999 to learn more. 

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

How Resilient Are You?

By Sharon Yeskel, BA
Integrative Health Associate

The late Dr. Wayne Dyer left a legacy of spiritual and practical wisdom through his many books and lectures. He always shared great stories. In his book “Inspiration, Your Ultimate Calling” he shares one about resiliency. Dr. Dyer notes that it’s not what happens to us, but how we respond that will ultimately define who we are and what kind of lives we will create. He calls this story “Carrots, Eggs and Coffee” and it goes like this….

A young woman is complaining to her mother how hard her life is. She says she feels like giving up. The mother takes her to the kitchen. She fills three pots with water and puts them on the stove to boil. In the first one she puts carrots, in the second she puts an egg, and in the third she puts coffee grounds. After 20 minutes, the carrots are soft, the egg is hard-boiled, and the coffee is ready to drink.

So what does that have to do with overcoming difficulties? The mother explains that each of the objects faced the same adversity: the boiling water. The carrots went in strong, hard and unrelenting. After boiling, they became soft and weak. The egg started out fragile, but after boiling, it became hard. The coffee grounds mixed with the water and actually changed the water itself.

We all get thrown for a loop sometimes. We can’t control what happens to us. What we can do is choose how we will respond. Adversity can weaken us and harden our hearts or it can propel us forward. New possibilities await if we open our hearts to change. It is a key to becoming resilient.

Resilience is one of the Five Pillars of Health & Well-Being (Sleep, Activity, Purpose, Resilience and Nutrition). Learn more about Hackensack Meridian Integrative Health & Medicine’s Five Pillar approach to optimize your health by calling 732-263-7999, visiting our website at or following us on social media on Facebook: Hackensack Meridian Integrative Health & Medicine or Twitter: @HMIntegrativeHM.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

How to Really Know Your Health Coach

By Kathleen Welshman RN-BC, BA, NBC-HWC
Integrative Nurse Health Coach

Health Coach? Wellness Coach? Life Coach? All trendy titles these days that catch people’s attention. But, what do these titles mean and what is the education and credentialing behind them?  If you google “health coach”, you will find varying information from how to become a health coach to where you can find a local health coach.  Consumer be aware. Because this is a new field, anyone can hang a shingle out calling themselves a health or wellness coach.  This does not mean they have any formal training or expertise.  There are many folks out there calling themselves by these titles, some with very little, if any, educational background in the healthcare field.  At Hackensack Meridian Integrative Health & Medicine, we set the bar quite high.  All of our health coaches are Registered Nurses first. Our nurses have varying backgrounds and areas of expertise, all with at least 10-20+ years of nursing experience before becoming a health coach.  This background has given these nurses a solid foundation on which to build. 

Our registered nurse health coaches have all attended and graduated from coaching programs in “integrative health coaching,” not just “health coaching.”   Their knowledge in integrative approaches to health and well-being are based on evidence-based practices.  Our health coaches have attended programs at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and The University of Arizona, Center for Integrative Medicine.  Both of these schools have met all the standards and requirements by the International Consortium of Health and Wellness Coaches (ICHWC).  The ICHWC has joined with The National Board of Medical Examiners to develop a national standard for Health and Wellness Coaches.  They have set a measure of foundational competencies, knowledge, tasks, and skills essential to the practice of health and wellness coaching.  The application of coaching knowledge is assessed by the Health and Wellness Coach Certifying Exam.  Our health coaches have sat for the very first qualifying exam, have passed and are now National Board Certified Health & Wellness Coaches. They are among the elite, approximately 1,000 NBC-HWC in the country.  Add to this, the requirement of coaches at Hackensack Meridian Health, also are Registered Nurses.  So, when seeking out a coach to partner with on your wellness journey, do your research first and turn to Hackensack Meridian Integrative Health & Medicine for highly qualified and credentialed RN/Health Coaches. 

Meet our health coaches and learn more about health coaching here. 

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Understanding the Science of Health

By Sara Scheller, BSN, RN, CCRN, NBC-HWC
Integrative Nurse Health Coach

All natural. Organic. Cage free. Grass fed. Free range. Pure. Real ingredients. What does it all mean? For many people it can mean confusion. How can you make good choices on food products, bath and body products, and other things you may put on or in your body? How can you be sure that if you value your health, you are making the best choices to care for your body and mind? The key is to become an educated, empowered consumer. 

The truth is that globally, health & wellness is a trillion dollar industry. Marketing and advertising agencies have found ways to trick us with fancy labels and clever taglines. How do you know if the choices you are making are scientifically the best or healthiest? How do you know what to believe, or even where to start with making healthy choices? A great place I can recommend to visit to educate yourself is the The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) website, a branch of the National Institute of Health (NIH). This webpage, “Know the Science” is a beginner’s resource to helping you understand health research so you can make the best decisions regarding your health. It includes interactive modules, videos and articles about clinical research, complementary and integrative health, and understanding medical words. The main website also serves as a great resource for health information from A to Z, and includes tips on how to find a complementary health practitioner with proper licensing, education and credentialing. 

Another great resource to visit is the Environmental Working Group website. The Environmental Working Group is a, “non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to protecting human health and the environment.” Their mission is to “empower people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment.” The website includes research and education around key issues including consumer products, cosmetics, energy, farming, food, water, toxins, the Midwest and children’s health. If you are visiting this website for the first time, it’s easy to become overwhelmed or even feel paralyzed with the wealth of information you can find here. When you partner up with a complementary practitioner, they can help you make sense of all of this information and serve as a guide to help you optimize your health and well-being. 

As a health coach, I find a person may know what to do or the best thing to do, but they are not actually doing it. Or, someone may hear from a healthcare provider, family member, or even their own inner voice that they need to make a change but ultimately it is up to the individual to do it. A health coach can help you to find ways to make small changes and reduce your overwhelm. What we often find is when we can build confidence around making small changes it begins to create momentum to even greater possibilities of health and well-being. A health coach can serve as an accountability partner so that you can take action on making choices that are aligned with your values and strengths so you can lead your best life. Click here to learn more about health coaching or call 732-994-7855 to make an appointment with someone on our team. 

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Spring Renewal

By Pamela Jansky, RN-BC, CDE, AAACN

Spring is just around the corner! Signs of life are blooming all around us as the crocuses begin to emerge from the snow. Days are getting longer, temperatures are rising and the air is fresh and clean. Our excitement begins to build as we anticipate the annual renewal of life, symbolizing new beginnings and growth. We begin to think about the areas in our personal lives that may need a breath of fresh air. Our homes await their spring cleaning and our yards need to be tidied and prepared for spring planting. All in preparation for the summer when we will enjoy the fruits of our labor.

So too, we think of our internal housekeeping and renewal. Many of us wholeheartedly committed to our New Year’s Resolutions as we began the annual celebration of a new year, full of promise. We start off with great zeal but as the coldest days of winter descend upon us, we may fall back into hibernation mode. Such are the cycles of life. But what is the key to sustained change that brings about the results that we can enjoy in our renewed health and vitality?

What are the areas that you are looking to take to the next level or even find yourself struggling in? At Hackensack Meridian Integrative Health & Medicine, we are committed to supporting people in their quest for health and wellness through many different modalities such as acupuncture, nutritional counseling, health coaching, health psychology, massage therapy and more. Integrative health and medicine focuses on the health and well-being of the whole person—mind, body and spirit. Our approach is based on the Five Pillars of Health & Well-Being which are Sleep, Activity, Purpose, Nutrition and Resilience. Every person is a unique individual with needs that change throughout the different seasons of life.

Our diversified team offers the support we all need to strengthen these five pillars that help us to form the habits needed for sustained health and vitality. This of course is what we all desire. Motivation gets you started, but habit keeps you going. Our summer gardens continue to need our time and attention if they are to continue to be vibrant and fruitful. An Integrative Nurse Health Coach can partner with you to help you identify the areas where you are blocked and strategies to overcome any obstacles or barriers you may face. They will work alongside you in setting personalized, realistic, sustainable goals that can become new healthy habits so that you too may remain vibrant and fruitful. Click here to learn more about health coaching or call 732-994-7855 to make an appointment with someone on our team.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

How to Stay Healthy According to a 9 Year Old

By Isabella Kerris, age 9

Ice cream, cake, brownies, cupcakes, lollipops, smarties, skittles, jolly ranchers! 

I am sure I have named one of your favorite desserts but all of these things I listed are not healthy and they are loaded with sugar. They should not be on your plate! Maybe once in a while you can have one or two or maybe three, but it is not healthy. Keep on reading if you want to learn more about staying healthy.

My first way to stay healthy is you should LIMIT SUGAR! It is not good to eat food with sugar in it for your whole life. If you eat too many sugary foods you can develop diabetes. For breakfast you can have eggs with a side of fruit. For lunch you can have salad and some grilled chicken. For dinner you can have whole wheat pasta or maybe more grilled chicken. And always, always, always try having more fruit and veggies, they are better for you. One time I was sneaking candy when I wasn't allowed to, it was early in the morning and I did not have breakfast yet. My dad caught me and said, “Sweetie I know chocolate is very addicting but we can’t have it all the time because it is not good for us.” He was right! My favorite healthy foods are carrots and toast with sun butter. Now you know all about why you should limit sugar. On to the next way to be healthy.  

The second way you should stay healthy is by eating a lot of fruits and veggies. Here are some of the healthy things you can eat: carrots, potatoes, broccoli, spinach, kale, tomatoes, banana, olives, kale, pickles, coconuts, salad, greens, apples, oranges, pears, strawberries, blueberries, grapes, celery, fennel, pumpkins, blackberries, almonds, cashews, and more. My mom and dad drink a gross smoothie every day with broccoli, greens, spinach and kale. It is the color green. One time my mom made extra of that smoothie and she asked me, "Do you want some?," so I said, “NO PLEASE NO I WANT NONE!!!!!! Please no, I don't like that.” I didn't have any but I should have tried it. Now you know why you should eat fruits and veggies.

My third and final way to be healthy is that you need to exercise. To exercise you need to warm up your muscles so you can do jumping jacks or splits. You can even run around the gym. One time my coach said it was very important to warm up and if you don't your muscles will be cold so when you are trying to stretch it won't work all the way. Now you know why you need to exercise and now you know how to be healthy and you can go try it yourself! 

You are practically an expert now! Go try it! Remember stay healthy and you will feel great. 

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Self-Care: It’s Not a Luxury, It’s a Necessity

By Paula O’Neill, M.S., RN-BC
Clinical Program Manager

Quick…name the top 5 individuals who are most important to you. If you are like most people you did not include yourself in that list. You stay late at work, care for loved ones, drive the kids to activities… the list goes on and on. We often think of ourselves last, if we think of ourselves at all. But caring for ourselves is so important. Anyone who has flown on a plane is familiar with the safety directions given at the beginning of the flight: put on your own oxygen mask before trying to help someone else with theirs. If you can’t breathe you certainly cannot help anyone else. Likewise, if you don’t take care of yourself, you certainly cannot care for others.

According to Dossey and Keegan (2013), self-care is defined as the “practice of engaging in health related activities and using health-promoting behaviors to adopt a healthier lifestyle and enhance wellness.” Many people think of self-care as a luxury or "fluff." Nothing could be further from the truth. Taking time to care for yourself can help to decrease stress, help you feel calm and relaxed, support your physical, mental and emotional well-being, and help you to be at your best so you can be present for your loved ones. It is a necessity, not a luxury.

You can use Hackensack Meridian Integrative Health & Medicine’s Five Pillars of Health & Well-being as a guide to self-care. By selecting activities in each category you will be on your way to a great self-care plan. Below are some suggestions, but it is important that you find things to do for yourself that you enjoy. That way you will be more likely to continue doing them and maintain your self-care routine.
  1. Exercise—The benefits of exercise include improving your physical and mental health and well-being and it can help reduce stress. Try a yoga class; take a walk or a run; dance; garden; when you shop park at the parking spot furthest from the store. Try to exercise at least 30 minutes, 4-5x per week. Remember to check with your physician before starting an exercise routine. 
  2. Nutrition—Food provides the nutrients for a healthy body and mind. Therefore, the quality of the food we eat has a tremendous impact on how we feel, physically and mentally. Eat three meals/day; eat a variety of fruits and vegetables (a rainbow of colors); limit the amount of sugar you consume; prepare your own meals (make meals on the weekends and freeze them so you have them readily available during the week); limit your salt intake; use herbs and spices (which have health benefits of their own) to flavor your food. 
  3. Sleep—Good quality and quantity of sleep benefits your body and mind. According to the National Sleep Foundation, being well rested contributes to being more productive and happy, and being in a better mood. Lack of sleep can contribute to heart disease, inflammation, and depression. They recommend 7-9 hours of sleep per night for adults and 7-8 hours per night for adults over 65 years of age. Create and stick to a sleep schedule; dim, or better yet turn off, electronic devices-even small amounts of light can interfere with sleep; try Dr. Andrew Weil’s 4-7-8 Relaxation Breath Exercise to help you relax and fall asleep: inhale through your nose for a count of 4…hold your breath for 7 counts…exhale for a count of 8…Repeat 3 more times. 
  4. Resilience—The ability to adapt to adversity and respond to stress. Managing stress is key to well-being and self-care. Try yoga; meditate; 4-7-8 Relaxation Breath Exercise; listen to music; exercise. 
  5. Purpose—“There’s no greater gift than to honor your life’s calling. It’s why you were born. And how you become most truly alive.” - Oprah Winfrey. Knowing your purpose leads to a more meaningful, fulfilling, and satisfying life. Determine your life purpose. 
There is no better time than now to start your self-care plan. You owe it to yourself and your loved ones.

“The best health care plan is a self-care plan.” ~ Nina Leavins

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Living Purposefully in the New Year

By Kathleen Welshman, RN-BC, BA, NBC-HWC
Integrative Nurse Health Coach

As we enter another new year, we often think of a new year’s resolution. What will I resolve to do this year? “New year, new you” is often a thought. This is a common time of year for people to join a gym, vow to lose weight and eat healthier. These are all great ideas and important to consider in terms of making healthier changes in our lives. BUT, have you ever stopped and thought about the reason behind these resolutions? What is the reason you want to lose weight or exercise more? Why do you want to be healthy? What is the driving force behind these ideas of change? Think about what is important in your life, your values and beliefs. Think about why you get out of bed in the morning!

At Hackensack Meridian Integrative Health & Medicine, we explore the Five Pillars of Health & Well-Being: sleep, activity, purpose, nutrition and resilience. Perhaps try a different approach to your new year’s resolution this year by exploring your purpose first. Purpose is what gives your life meaning, your reason for being. Purpose is the essence of who we are and what makes us unique. It is a source of direction and energy. By tapping into a clear sense of purpose, often everything else follows naturally.

Christine Whelan, Ph.D., author of The Big Picture: A Guide to Finding Your Purpose in Life, suggests you ask these questions:
  • What are my values? 
  • What are my strengths? 
  • Who do I want to impact? 
Then fill in the blanks: Because I value ___, I want to use my strengths for ___ to impact ___.

It is important to re-evaluate our purpose as we journey through life, as it may change at different phases of our lives and with changing life circumstances. As we change, our priorities and values shift; our confidence grows, may dissolve into doubt and return once again. When we make choices that are in line with our purpose or our values, it gives greater meaning to the reason we are doing something.

An integrative health coach can partner with you as you set small, achievable goals. With your purpose in mind, those goals are more likely to be sustainable. So as we journey into another new year, learn to embrace the “why” of purpose before selecting the “what” of your goals. Live intentionally – live ON PURPOSE. Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself to answer the question “Why do I get out of bed in the morning?”

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Start the New Year With a Mindful Morning

By Judson Chaney, ND, LAc

Winter Greetings everyone! As the New Year approaches, many of us begin the age old tradition of thinking of New Year’s resolutions to help improve and advance our lives. In my world, the most often encountered New Year’s Resolution has to do with improving health - exercising more, losing weight, making healthier food choices. These are all wonderful of course, and if they work for you, then please have my best wishes in the New Year. If you are searching for a different type of resolution for the New Year to improve your health, I would suggest the following goal: Start each day with a mindful morning.

What do I mean by this? The morning is an excellent way to start each day in a healthy, energized, mindful way. When you currently think about your daily routine in the morning, are your thoughts pleasing, or are they stressful? For many of us, mornings are a hurried and stressed time, we rush to get things done and prepare for our day. More often than not the mornings can leave one feeling tense or drained before the day has even begun. Therefore, I propose the following challenge to you: think about your morning, and think of three ways you can make it less stressful, more calm, and a healthier start to your day. Write them down on a note and tape it to the mirror you use to get ready in the morning as a daily reminder. When you consider these three things and how to accomplish them daily, you will begin to shift and prioritize your life towards living well every day, and starting off each day in a mindful and healthy way. Simple changes such as eating a healthier breakfast, to an extra 15 minutes to walk the dog, or a 5-minute daily stretching and breathing routine can cause a wonderful ripple effect throughout your entire day, and well into the New Year. Start simply and aim for consistency, and I wish you a healthy and happy 2018!

We are offering several Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction classes in the New Year. Check our website, or call 732-263-7999 to learn more and register. 

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Big Rocks

By Richard Lund, M.S.
Integrative Health Associate

An expert in time management was speaking to a group of business students and to drive home a point, told a story these students will never forget.

As he stood in front of this group of high-powered overachievers he said, “Okay, time for a quiz.” He pulled out a large wide-mouthed mason jar and set it on the table in front of him. Then he produced about a dozen fist-sized rocks and carefully placed them, one at a time, into the jar. When the jar was filled to the top and no more would fit inside, he asked, “Is the jar full?”

Everyone in the class agreed, “Yes.”

“Really?” he teased. He reached under the table and pulled out a bucket of gravel. Then he dumped some in and shook the jar, causing the gravel to work itself down into the spaces between the rocks.

Then he asked the group once more, “Is the jar full?”

“Probably not,” one brave student ventured.

“Good!” he replied. He reached under the table and brought out a bucket of sand. He dumped the sand in the jar and it filled the spaces between the rocks and the gravel.

Once more, he asked, “Is the jar full?”

Now the whole class was on to him. “No!” they shouted.

Once again, he replied, “Right you are!” Then he grabbed a pitcher and began to pour water in until the jar filled to the brim. Then he looked at the class and asked, “What is the point of this illustration?”

One eager student raised his hand and exclaimed, “The point is, no matter how full your schedule is, if you work hard, you can always fit some more things in!”

“No!” the teacher replied, “That’s not the point. The truth is, if you don’t put the big rocks in first, you will never get them in at all.”

Friends, what are the “big rocks” in your life? What are your priorities, the most important things in your life, which only you can decide? If wellness is a priority, are you putting your life’s purpose, exercise, good nutrition, sleep, and stress-management into your schedule? Connect with us digitally to learn about our Five Pillars of Health & Well-being and how to optimize your whole health – mind, body, and spirit.


Follow our social media for daily health & wellness info:

Twitter: @HMIntegrativeHM

Facebook: Hackensack Meridian Integrative Health & Medicine

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

The Question May Not Be Why Do We Come To Yoga…But Why Do We Stay?

By Debi Heptig, RYT
Specializing in yoga for cancer, restorative yoga, yoga and mindfulness for children

According to the Sports Marketing Survey, 8.7% of Americans are practicing yoga…that’s 20.4 million people! The survey goes on to note that 44% that do not practice said they would like to.

If you are one of the 20.4 million who practice yoga, maybe, like me, you were initially drawn to yoga because of a physical injury - or maybe you wanted to be more flexible or physically strong - or to get bendy like the people on the cover of yoga magazines! But after a while you discovered that what kept you coming back to your mat was not just the physical benefits, but how yoga made you feel in your mind, heart and soul.

Yoga, a Sanskrit word meaning “yoke” or union, is an ancient Indian practice of aligning the physical body (Asana) with the breath (Pranayama) and the mind (meditation) to awaken the awareness of the inner divine self. We spend most of our day reacting to the external demands of life. We are checking off our “to-do” list for work and home, managing life’s chores and people’s expectations. These activities require our constant attention to everything outside of our self. It’s no wonder so many of us are stressed and fatigued at the end of our day!

Yoga is a dive inward. A time of letting go of the “to-do” demands of our everyday life and taking a much-needed pause to just be present with yourself – your whole self – with total self-acceptance, unconditional love, curiosity and non-judgement. No place to get to, no competition. Your mat is your sanctuary for self-discovery.

And if that isn’t enough to convince the other 44% to try yoga, just google “health benefits of yoga” and read the research! Thanks to advances in science and technology we now have research showing that a regular yoga practice can help alleviate a variety of ailments. An impressive list that includes lowering blood pressure, increasing circulation and cardiovascular health, enhanced memory, better focus, improving balance and strength, and helping to alleviate insomnia, depression and anxiety.

Take yoga’s diaphragmatic breathing. This deep long inhale and exhale controlled breath activates the parasympathetic nervous system telling the brain that the body can rest and digest. The mind calms, the heart rate and blood pressure slow, and blood flow is directed to digestive and reproductive organs and to the endocrine and lymphatic systems of the body.

Now add meditation. MRI’s and EEG’s have shown that regular meditation activates areas of the brain that deal with concentration and memory while decreasing gray matter in areas related to fear and anxiety. A study published in the Journal of Neuroscience in 2011 concluded that mindful meditation can even reduce sensitivity to pain.

Combine this with the asana or physical practice and we learn body alignment, balance, flexibility, range of motion and build strength. From activating our parasympathetic nervous system and increasing the neuroplasticity of our brain, to aligning our body, we can almost say yoga is our fountain of youth!

So why not add “yoga practice” to your to-do list and make time to stop time and just be….you may just discover yourself and increase your health and well-being!


Hackensack Meridian Integrative Health & Medicine offers many yoga classes, including Survivor Yoga for Those Living with Cancer and Yoga…The Mind Body Happy Hour. Visit our website to view the class schedule.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Achieving Ultimate Wellness

By Lisa Wielgomas
Community Outreach Manager

Having grown up, attended school, and lived in Toms River for over 30 years, you could say there is a special place in my heart for this community. When I was asked to represent Hackensack Meridian Health’s Integrative Health & Medicine program on the Toms River Family Health and Support Coalition, naturally, I was honored and up for the challenge.

While this coalition has identified quite a few issues that Toms River faces, as well as potential solutions, in our upcoming blueprint for action, I believe that an upstream approach to wellness is as important as individual mental health challenges and substance abuse needs in the community. While our subgroups address these needs, an overarching theme of wellness fits across all of these focus areas.

Many call themselves “healthy,” making statements such as “I got my flu shot – I’m healthy,” “I don’t have a cold – I’m healthy,” and “I eat my veggies – I’m healthy.” This is what I grew up knowing as the definition of health: “I’m not sick. Therefore, I’m healthy.”

Not so. The World Health Organization defined health in 1948 as “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”

While we need to address the critical issues and treat those affected, we also need to teach the current and next generation how to swing the pendulum in the other direction and move toward awareness, education and growth to achieve ultimate wellness as a community. This will ensure that there will be less chronic illness, food insecurity, senior isolation and substance abuse – because it’s all connected. An overall wellness initiative works across a continuum to impact all of the challenges that Toms River faces and ensures a lasting healthy future.

It all begins with making the healthy choice the easy choice. The people of Toms River want to be happy and healthy. We can start with promoting the definition of health, then offer education, meet people where they are by refreshing our parks and making them more accessible to encourage community members to participate in physical activities. We can appeal to businesses to provide healthier choices, offer programs, collaborate and partner with our coalition. The possibilities are endless. We need to consider sustainability in our work – that what we are doing will last. We need to address the underlying challenges that prevent our community members from the opportunity to live the healthiest life possible. We need to rally together to be the healthiest community in NJ. And we will.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Being A Part of the Journey Towards Health

By Dean Nelson
Owner/Founder, Dean’s Natural Food Market
Guest Blog

None of us know where things will lead. Thus, when my natural food journey started some 20 odd years ago, who knew where it would take me? The initial premise was simple: provide people with nourishing food, free from artificial ingredients and toxic additives, and provide them with genuine warm service--the level of attention and respect every person deserves.

Though those have always been the core basics of our mission at Dean’s, truth be told, the path has taken a much more meaningful direction. I have the privilege of providing people with employment, which means I get to create an environment I believe coaches, inspires, and brings out the best in people. I have the opportunity to shape the work ethic of young people, employ minorities, and show them the respect all people have a right to.

I have the amazing opportunity to serve people -- great people -- who understand the “why” of what we do. I serve conscious people and get to create consciousness for those willing to discover it. Our customers are changing the world. Having the opportunity to play even the smallest part in that is humbling beyond question.

Our success through customers’ support allows us to influence change in the food system. We get to raise awareness about GMOs, encourage food manufacturers to provide better choices, encourage better farming practices, and ultimately, provide food that nourishes the body and spirit.

Most importantly, I have learned that all things are connected. We are no better or worse than anyone else and are but a part of the whole. I have learned there are amazing people in the world. People dedicated to positive change. People willing to make sacrifices for the sake of humanity and our planet.

I for one am blessed to be a part of the journey.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Minding your Spirit

By Sara Scheller, BSN, RN, CPN, CCRN
Integrative Health Coach

What part does our spirit play into how we move through our life? Spirit is the essence of our being. It is what lights us up and makes us feel alive. We cannot see it, but we know it is there. Spirituality is not the same as religion but it is in religion; it is the connection to something bigger than us. One formal definition from a group of experts defines spirituality as, “…a dynamic and intrinsic aspect of humanity through which persons seek ultimate meaning, purpose and transcendence, and experience relationship to self, family, others, community, society, nature, and the significant or sacred. Spirituality is expressed through beliefs, values, traditions and practices.” (Puchalski et al., 2014). In an environment overrun by technology and constant stimulation, it is important now more than ever to have a connection to our human spirit because it can keep us grounded, motivated and living our lives on purpose. It can help us feel peace when we cannot answer some of the big why questions we have in our lives. It can help us heal when we are faced with challenges in our lives. So how do we build or improve our connection with our human spirit? Here are four ways to get started:
  1. Practice presence. We are human beings not human doings. Are you taking time to just be?When we are present, we are paying attention to what is happening in the here and now. We aren’t rehashing the past and we aren’t anticipating the future. It is estimated the average person only spends about 10% of their time in the present moment. If you find yourself in this category, start with the simple action of awareness. Are you aware of how often your mind is wandering in conversations with others, while driving in the car, or while taking a shower?When we take time to simply be present, we calm and balance our nervous system which can build our resilience and allow our mind and body to do what it knows how to do best. In doing so, we can tune into our body, mind and spirit, and what we truly need in order to live our best life.
  2. Live life on purpose. Do you know your purpose? Why are you here? Purpose is fundamental; it’s what gets us out of bed in the morning. It’s what keeps us going when times get tough. It may change throughout our lives and even one simple moment can split our path and send us in an entirely new and different direction. When we know our purpose and we make choices in our lives that are aligned with that, we can develop a deeper sense of meaning that can keep our spirit alive.
  3. Get out in nature. Most of us probably spend the majority of our days inside. We are working, the weather isn’t ideal, or we are just too busy to get out. Did you know that exercising in nature can release hormones that make you happier and improve your overall well-being? Fresh air has more oxygen which can help our brains think more clearly. When we can appreciate the beauty in nature, we activate primal regions in our brain. Can you feel the wind in your hair, the sun on your skin and appreciate the unlimited view of the sky? Spending time in nature helps us connect with our spirit.
  4. Find support. Maybe you get in touch with your spirit in your community -- church, synagogue, ashram, or other religious structure or organization. Or maybe you feel more at one with your spirit in conversation with a friend or loved one. Caring for our spirit in this way is fulfilling one of our core human needs -- social connections. While alone time to reflect is also important, we were placed on this earth as social beings. Experiment to find a balance of alone time and together time with people who can support your spiritual needs.

  5. Studies show that spiritual distress often can have a negative impact on health. When we improve our spiritual well-being, it gives us an additional coping strategy to build our resilience and live a purposeful life. Spirituality can be found along the entire illness to wellness continuum; we can use it in times of illness and death, in times of great joy and thriving, or anywhere in between. At Hackensack Meridian Integrative Health and Medicine, we believe in caring for a whole person--body, mind and spirit. We follow a patient-centered, team approach to caring for our patients. Our five pillars of health and well-being include sleep, activity, purpose, nutrition and resilience. Call us for more information at 732-763-7999 or visit our website at       

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Tips on Reducing Environmental Toxins

By Vivian Kominos, M.D., FACC
Integrative Physician 

I thought I was doing a good job protecting the environment: I recycle, grow organic vegetables, try to walk for chores instead of getting in the car, and buy food that is locally sourced. Then I read that my dental floss was toxic! It is coated with PFCs - perfluorinated chemicals. These are man-made slippery compounds that help the floss glide easily between teeth. PFCs are also the substances that are used in many products to make them waterproof, stain resistant and non-sticky. They are found in clothing, cookware, carpeting and furniture that are treated with Gore-Tex, Teflon, Stainmaster, and Scotchguard.

So what is the problem with PFCs? They have been linked to thyroid and fertility problems, immune system damage and hormone instability. So if we are using dental floss, the PFCs can be absorbed in our blood. And when we dispose of articles that contain PFCs, they eventually enter the waterways where they pollute our environment. We are surrounded by many toxins besides PFCs --- bisphenol A and phthalates in plastics, pesticides in fruits and vegetables, and antibiotics in meat, to name a few. Luckily, there are just as many ways to reduce exposure to these poisons.

We each have a responsibility to care for our earth the same way we care for our bodies. Follow these 10 tips to make our homes and planet safer:
  1. Use dental floss that is made with natural fibers, such as silk or flax, which is coated with beeswax.
  2. Use only organic teas. Non-organic teas may contain toxins; the longer you steep non-organic tea, the greater the chance you will be drinking metals and poisons. 
  3. Store food in reusable, lidded glass containers to cut down on plastic, foil and paper.
  4. Recycle paper, glass and appropriate plastics. Do not put paints or electrical appliances in your regular garbage. Instead check with your town to see if they have a special and safe depository. 
  5. Buy local, seasonal and organic food. This decreases the amount of fossil fuels used to transport food. Organic farmers do not use toxic herbicides or pesticides. Shop at farmers markets. 
  6. Use public transportation, share rides, walk or bike when you can.
  7. Eat less animal protein. Raising meat uses more resources than plants.
  8. Turn off lights when you leave a room, unplug electrical appliances when not in use and turn off the faucet while brushing your teeth. Run the dishwasher and washing machine only with full loads. 
  9. Use environmentally safe cleaning products for your body and your home. Refer to (Environmental Working Group) for specific product information. This site has a wealth of information regarding safety in everything from cosmetics to fish to sunscreens. 
  10. Start an organic vegetable garden if you have the space and time. It is easy to grow herbs and salad greens in pots even indoors by a sunny window. And if you garden, use organic pest and weed control products. Look at for a list of products.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Red Light, Green Light, 1, 2, 3: Notes From The Field On Coping With Chronic Health Conditions

By Judson Chaney, ND, LAc

It is no secret that I love what I do. As an acupuncturist, and naturopath, I am provided a unique opportunity to work with individuals to encourage greater health and well-being, to reduce stress and pain, and hopefully to improve quality of life. What I love the most about what I do is that it feeds my love of learning. I love to learn about new information and research regarding health conditions, and treatment approaches. More so however, what really impacts me is what I am able to learn from my patients’ experiences and challenges, as they share and communicate with me during the therapeutic process. Everyone has a story. These stories are all unique, and special in different ways. Through the stories my patients share, I am provided a unique window into other ways of experiencing and living this life, and what that can entail. It is both an honor and a privilege.     

A common reason why people come to see me as an acupuncturist is for chronic health conditions.  The most common and striking example of this of course is chronic pain, but there are so many other chronic health conditions that affect people on a daily basis. I would like to share with you an insight I have gleaned from my work, in hopes that it may help you, or someone you know. The title of this post is a reference to a children’s game involving a traffic light - the reason being is that a traffic light can be a wonderful metaphor to help us deal with the challenges of a chronic health condition.  

Most of us, whether we are in good health, or suffering from a chronic complaint, have good days and bad days. For most, we shrug off the bad days and move on. However, when someone is experiencing the challenges of a chronic health condition, those bad days can take a much greater toll. The return of a symptom, or the worsening of pain after it had been lessened for a period of time, can have a cascading negative impact. I have witnessed this effect and impact first-hand, as I have seen patients deal with the toll of a flare-up in pain or auto-immune disease after a period of improvement or remission. The resulting outcome at times is that not only does this affect them in the present moment, but it can also steal from their future experiences as well. People understandably start to wonder about the future, "What will I, or will not, be able to do?," "What can I expect tomorrow, or next week, or how might this affect the vacation I was planning?" The emotional impact of this process can be significant. As someone who has dealt with both auto-immune disease and chronic pain personally, I can empathize and understand this reaction. I also have worked to understand the reaction and to navigate around it. This is where the traffic light comes in….

When we are driving from point A to B, invariably we may be confronted with the ever present traffic light -- the wonderful red, yellow, and green moderator of traffic flow which keep our roads running smoothly and safely. The traffic light, however, does not consider your individual needs and destination when it changes from green to red. It just happens, it just is. You may be late for work, or just on a weekend cruise, it does not matter to the traffic light. It changes red to green, green to red, cars go, and cars stop.

How often, when at a red light, does this affect your outlook on the future? In the course of my lifetime, I cannot think of one example. It may be an inconvenience surely, but ultimately when the light turns green, we press on and continue down the road.  

The perspective I am trying to convey and share is that when dealing with a chronic health condition, there can be set backs, flare-ups, and even times when we feel like we have to start over.   It is helpful therefore to think of these occurrences in a way similar to how we experience a red light.  They represent an unexpected, yet understandable delay, and a temporary one. In a way, by doing so, we give ourselves permission to experience our lives in the present, even if it is unpleasant, without letting that experience cascade into our future. This perspective can allow our resources to focus on the challenges as they arise in the present moment. More importantly, in my opinion, is that it allows us to acknowledge and recognize the possibility of a positive change in the future. 

I wish you patience and understanding when waiting for the red light to change. May you encounter many green lights ahead farther down the road. 

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Let Me Share a Secret: It’s Not Easy, But It’s Worth It

By David C. Leopold, M.D. 
Medical Director

As our elected leaders continue to struggle with healthcare, we need to remember that all of us directly affect healthcare in our country by the way we approach our own health. As I discussed in my previous blog, we have a tremendous burden in this country for diseases that are largely preventable and modifiable. One of the most powerful things we can do for ourselves and for the healthcare system in general is to become proactive with our own health, to optimize our wellness and to prevent disease conditions from ever establishing.

In this blog, I will continue to discuss ways that anyone can improve their health. But first I want to take a slight detour to talk about some things that directly affect our ability to make healthy life choices.

Here is a secret you may not be aware of--something that healthcare practitioners do not like to discuss or even whisper among ourselves: the reality is most of these interventions are not easy. Most take some work and some actually take a considerable amount of work. Let’s admit it, exercise is hard! Trying to come to terms with what is causing you stress is hard, let alone doing something about it once you actually identify your stressors. Eating right is hard and we are constantly barraged with messages of instant gratification and satisfaction coming from food and food-like substances. Starting a lifestyle that focuses on physical activity, healthy nutrition, and stress management all require work and constant effort in the choices we make. 

I believe we do a disservice to people when we imply that these difficult changes should be easy and simply "flow." There is vast misinformation and messaging that these interventions and these changes should come naturally; that they are simple. Nothing could be further from the truth. These lifestyle changes are decidedly better for you, but they are not easy. This misconception places an undue burden on a person to succeed immediately which is something that is almost always not going to happen. This leads to people ultimately feeling even more frustrated, discouraged and it actually increases their stress. Who needs one more thing to try to do and to fail at it? So most people never even try, or they try and then after not succeeding immediately they go back to their old habits, more entrenched in those bad patterns than before. The reality is doing the right thing is almost always hard, and this is especially true when it comes to taking care of our own health.

I remind my patients all the time that medicine is an art, not a science, and therefore there are really very few guarantees in patient outcomes. I also tell my patients that something I can virtually guarantee is that most, if not all, of these interventions and lifestyle changes will make you feel better and significantly improve your health if you incorporate them into your daily lifestyle.

Are you ready for another secret? Everyone fails at these things before they ultimately find a way to make them work. Failure is the rule, not the exception. We know that almost no one makes changes and sticks to them without many failures along the way. The trick is to recognize that this is normal, it’s not just you and it does not mean you cannot do what you have set out to do! Failure at lifestyle change happens to everyone; in fact it usually takes about 12 weeks of doing something new before it even starts to become something that is incorporated into your "new lifestyle." So when, not if, you fall off the path, don’t be too hard on yourself--it’s totally normal. First and foremost, congratulate yourself for the courage to even try to make changes in the first place, and then really think about and examine why you fell off. Then get yourself back on the path, and try to be just a little bit better, more aware next time. "If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again."

I’ll end my blog today with one of my favorite quotes, one I have relied on since I was an overworked, underpaid, and thoroughly exhausted medical resident. I would often not want to even let it come into my consciousness because it inevitably meant I was going to do more work and probably go home much later. But it never let me down, and because of it I was able to sleep at night knowing I had done what I could.

“The truth of the matter is that you always know the right thing to do. The hard part is doing it.” --- Norman Schwarzkopf