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The Kansas City metro’s only comprehensive print and online magazine featuring health and wellness with a practical approach may | june 2013

kansas city

Birthing Centers A different approach to childbearing


Growing and going


Local initiatives strive to combat the obesity epidemic that hits close to home



4038 W 83RD STREET 913-825-BRGR (2747) BRGRKITCHEN.COM



I am ... … a graduate of a Masters program. … a hospital laboratory director. … an Ironman competitor. … a Jayhawk for life. … a blood donor. … a single mom. … a tri-athlete. … a swimmer. … a friend. … driven.

Katie is a woman on the go; she understands the importance of staying active and fit. Even with all of her activities and responsibilities, she still finds time to be a loyal and dedicated blood donor who takes 60 minutes of her time every 56 days to help save a life in her community. communit

Who are you?

may | june 2013




14 WHICH BAR IS BEST FOR YOU? From marathon runner to busy mom, here is a detailed guide to help you choose which nutrition bar suits your everyday lifestyle.

18 remedy a hair hangover Starting at the roots, these essential oils can nurture damaged hair back to gorgeous runway looking locks.

BIRTHING CENTERS A different approach to childbearing



What local organizations are doing to combat growing waistlines.

24 workouts for type II diabetics How metabolic resistance training can help reverse type II Diabetes.

34 DIGITAL WELLNESS: Helpful applications to assist with a woman’s sexual health

39 GOING ORGANIC Choosing to go organic. A useful shopping list of items you should always buy organic.

GET DIRTY: GROW FOOD, GROW YOU pg. 36 Gardening can create a connection and appreciation for what ends up on the dinner table. 4 may | june 2013

16 vegan power-me-up breakfast smoothie

Nourishing your sexuality

27 The mind and spirit and dealing with obesity 28 curbing the obesity epidemic – is it possible? 41 HEALTHY RECIPES FOR ENJOYING ORGANIC FOOD 44 EMOTIONAL WELLNESS AT WORK: FIRE ONE CLIENT



in every issue Wellness calendar 6 Editor’s letter 7 Online news 8



ON THE COVER We’d like to give a special thanks to Powell Gardens ( for allowing us to use their location for our cover shoot. We would also like to thank our beautiful cover models grandma Maat Manyatta, mother Almitra (Mimi), baby Jennifer, Will and father Rob Buzan for taking the time to represent our multi-generational family for Mother’s and Father’s Days.

28 may | june 2013


wellness calendar mAY HEALTHY VISION MONTH May is Healthy Vision Month and the American Academy of Ophthalmology has some tips for keeping eyes healthy: wear sunglasses, don’t smoke, eat right, have annual eye exam to promote early intervention, wear eye protection while participating in sports or activities where eyes can be injured, know your family history, and be aware of eye fatigue by following the 20-20-20 rule – look up from your work every 20 minutes at an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds. For more information on vision and eye care, visit

JUNE MEN’S HEALTH MONTH June is Men’s Health Month dedicated to awareness, education, prevention and family. National Men’s Health Week is June 10-16. Visit to find events in your area. Drs. J. Brantley Thrasher and Ajay Nangia of The University of Kansas Hospital Department of Urology played a pivotal part in getting the state of Kansas to recognize men’s health week. During this week, men are encouraged to stay on top of preventive healthcare and encourage early detection and treatment of disease.

MAY/JUNE YOGA ROCKS THE PARK Kansas City has joined Yoga Rocks the Park and every Sunday morning in May and June hundreds of people will gather together to practice yoga. Each week will feature an hour and 15-minute long session with qualified instructors and live DJ’s. There will also be a children’s yoga session during adult yoga. Also available are vendor tents and enjoy delicious vegetarian food, massage, acupuncture and more. Visit for more information.

6 may | june 2013





kansas city

Volume 2, Issue 3

Publisher Deb Ducrocq-Vaknin Editor In Chief Sarah Legg Contributors Janell Bartlett Chelsea Craig, ATC Andrea Levitan Ellis Joleen Halloran Steve Hoover Greg Justice, MA, CPT Brittany Nelson Emily O’Brien James H. O’Keefe, MD Susan Ortbals Morgan Ashley Ross Dianna Sinni Vilma Subel Jay Van Loenen Kristin Wark Laura Wynn Maggie Young Cartoonist Mark Litzler Cover Photographer Tap Photo Photo Illustrations Rob and Jen Photography Layout and Graphic Design BV Design Copyright 2013 Living Wellness, LLC Living Wellness Kansas City PO Box 8695 • Prairie Village, KS 66208 All content is provided for educational and entertainment purposes only, and is not intended to be used as a substitution for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. All views expressed herein are solely those of the author and not Living Wellness, LLC or Living Wellness Kansas City. For editorial opportunities, please email resume and samples to For advertising information email


May/June 2013

From left: Rob, Maat, Jennifer, Deb, Sarah, Will and Mimi

Making wellness accessible for Kansas Citians As I sit here in late March awaiting a snowstorm, it’s hard to imagine that by the time this issue hits the streets, the weather will (hopefully) be much warmer and it will be time to get outside and start planting in our gardens and working out in the outside. We have two features in this issue that tie these two together – “Obesity is Our Epidemic” and “Organic Gardening.” Just as organic gardening is becoming more popular, our obesity problem in the U.S. is becoming more prevalent. Luckily for the metro, there are many organizations working on both of these issues, some of which are featured throughout this issue. You will also find articles on workplace wellness, sexual health, nutrition bars and more. Our goal with the magazine is to stay on top of trends and educate our readers about what is going on in the world of wellness (especially in KC) and provide resources to make it easily accessible for all members of our community. I hope you enjoy this issue and encourage you to “like” us on Facebook and give us feedback by email or social media.

Subscriptions are $19.99 a year. Mail a check to:

Happy Mother’s and Father’s Day!

Follow us on twitter:

Living Wellness Kansas City PO Box 8695 Prairie Village, KS 66208

Sarah Legg

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Or visit:

may | june 2013


online news

NEW BLOG SERIES KC WELLNESS MAKERS We feature people in the community who are promoting wellness in Kansas City. Are you that person or know someone? Tell us!

Have a question? Ask a wellness expert anonymously at

Subscribe online today! Receive Living Wellness Kansas City in your mailbox at home or work for only $19.99 a year. Visit or mail a check to: PO Box 8695 Prairie Village, KS 66208 Want more? Sign up to receive our monthly e-newsletters to get even more tips on how to live well delivered right to your inbox.



The Kansas City metro’s only comprehensive print and online magazine featuring health and wellness with a practical approach

kansas city

Follow us on twitter: Join us on facebook:

I am ... … a gymnast. … a cheerleader. … a dancer. … a future nurse. … a bookworm. … a blood recipient. … a college student. … a strong young woman. … a survivor. … a daughter. … thankful. … caring.

Katie is a beautiful and charming young woman with a brilliant smile and sunny outlook on life. She one day hopes to care for sick children with the same tenderness she received while in the hospital. She is also a blood recipient who battled Leukemia and won. She is thankful for blood donors who took just 60 minutes of their time to help save her life.

Who are you?

sexual wellness may | june 2013 NOURISHING SEXUALITY

Nourishing your sexuality WRITTEN BY Chelsea Craig, ATC

We spend a lot of time worrying about our physical health, eating right and exercising, but what about your sexual health? Taking care of yourself isn’t just about what you eat or how much you move, it’s also about being in a healthy, fulfilling sexual relationship. That’s not to say you have to be in a monogamous relationship to have a thriving sex life and get all the perks of sex extended beyond the bedroom. What is important is that you pay particular heed to your sexuality and take care of your genitals and carnal rights as sensual beings.

10 may | june 2013

spiritual wellness may | june 2013 NOURISHING SEXUALITY

The positive effects of sex

Being in the mood has significant positive effects on your health beyond the feel-goods. Many studies have been conducted to examine the relationship between sexual activity and physical health. They have found a thriving and juicy sex life fosters anything from lower stress, lower blood pressure and improved heart health to pain management and anti-aging properties. Researchers say those who have sex often, twice a week or more, respond better to stress and have lower diastolic blood pressures due to the increased release of oxytocin, which decreases how narrowed blood vessels react to stress. They also had higher levels of antibodies to fight infection and increased endorphins fighting depression, and an overall happier and healthier life. Let’s not forget, they don’t call it getting hot and steamy for nothing. Sex can be a decent cardiovascular workout and a great mode of exercise. It takes both physical strength and psychological work to do it well. Thirty minutes of time spent between the sheets burns 85 calories or more. That may not seem like much, but it’s fun watching it add up: it takes 42 half-hour sessions to burn 3,570 calories equaling 1-pound of fat lost. Double up and you could drop that pound in 21 hour-long sessions. It’s no wonder those who have an active sex life have improved heart health, better selfesteem and stronger muscles. They’re getting physical in the most enjoyable of ways. Want to look younger and live longer? Have more sex. According to research, those who reported having sex three times a week appeared seven to 13 years younger than their actual age. The youthful glow is believed to be from the release of the DHEA hormone during sex. DHEA has anti-aging properties that increase the production of collagen, smoothing out and reducing wrinkles. All these health benefits are great in theory, but how do we take them from conceptual to physical? Great sex doesn’t just happen – it takes finesse, intimacy, confidence and seduction. It’s not a simple recipe, but it’s one that

when done correctly quite literally yields orgasmic results. “(It is) important to be present when you are being intimate with your partner,” said Theresa Hubbard, a licensed clinical marriage and family therapist who owns A Journey Home wellness retreat in Dearborn, Mo. “It creates a true connection. Most people aren’t present when they’re being sexual with their partner. They’re worried about how they appear, what their partner’s thinking or how their performance is.” She recommends practicing mindfulness while being intimate with a partner. It not only helps nurture a positive sex life for you, but helps the partner feel valued and appreciated, a feeling everyone wants. “It is important relationship-wise, whether you’re married or not, to be truly connected with the person you’re being intimate with. It forms a deeper intimacy, trust, appreciation, compassion and respect,” Hubbard said. Mindfulness in all aspects of life takes practice and fosters a sense of self-confidence for a healthy demeanor all-around.

Great sex through food

One way to ignite our passion flame is through our stomachs. Named after the Greek goddess of sexual love and beauty Aphrodite, aphrodisiacs are foods that have powers on our libidos evoking or stimulate sexual desires. Creating a longing in our loins or arousing the mind, true aphrodisiacs are foods that can make our bodies produce more of the chemicals associated with eroticism. According to researchers, certain ones stimulate the production of hormones or chemicals that enhance our sexual appetite. Whether because of their shape, aromas or “love” powers, there are a select few foods that are reportedly aphrodisiacs. The avocado tree, or “testicle tree” to the Aztecs, bananas, cucumbers and carrots are aphrodisiacs due to their phallic shape. Seductively tempting us to eat them, these erotic foods are rich in potassium, vitamin B and omega-3 fatty acids, having a physical impact on the reproductive organs, strengthening and giving hormonal support. The fig and

PHOTO ILLUSTRATION Rob and Jen Photography may | june 2013


spiritual wellness may | june 2013 SEXUALITY

papaya also fall under the ‘risqué foods’ category. to contain phenyl-ethylamine and serotonin, which are the Other rousing consumables include cardamom, anise, body’s feel-good chemicals. nutmeg and ginger, which are spices that increase blood flow These foods are what would be part of a healthy diet and enhance love and lust. In Eastern Medicine, nutmeg is promoting weight loss and thus libido-boosting potential. a prized aphrodisiac that may increase mating behaviors Being overweight or obese can be bad for the bedroom, with while anise has estrogenic compounds, which have reported both being well-known risk factors for erectile dysfunction, to affect sexuality. And low testosterone and A thriving and juicy sex life fosters anything infertility. Aiding in oysters may not look sexy, but dating back to ancient from lower stress, lower blood pressure and shredding pounds, these Rome they have been foods not only enhance sexual improved heart health to pain management reported to improve sexual function, but they allow you potency in men and have to feel better about yourself and anti-aging properties wholesome. compounds that aid in the and more sexually desirable. release of sex hormones. To make sure you do not become one of many who are But the mother of all aphrodisiacs is chocolate. Forever unsatisfied with their sex lives, talk about sex, share sexual associated with romance and sexuality, Mayans worshipped fantasies, experience it (safely) without judgment and cacao (the raw form of chocolate), naming it the food of the become knowledgeable about your anatomy and needs. Like gods. Rumors suggest the Aztec ruler Montezuma drank 50 anything else, your sex life needs to be nourished to thrive. cups of chocolate each day to enhance his sexual abilities. Sensually, intimately and erotically cherish and cultivate To support the ancient amative, research suggests cacao your sexual health. KC

66121 Refresh Living Wellness Hlf Pg Ad.indd 1

4/11/13 11:44 AM

Many birthing centers talk about new wallpaper and spa amenities, but you should know more about your healthcare, such as: An integrated team of 22 faculty-physician specialists and subspecialists in OB/GYN, the largest in the region A low total caesarean section rate of 23% Routine encouragement of vaginal birth after cesarean delivery for appropriate candidates, achieving success in at least 7 out of 10 candidates Special programs for the prevention of preterm birth, and the management of multiple gestations, diabetes and other important maternal and fetal health problems The support from both the regionally unique KU Center for Advanced Fetal Care and KU Center for High Risk Pregnancy A brand new neonatal intensive care unit with single family rooms, and neonatal medical home providing personalized care after discharge culminating in exceptional outcomes Being the only facility in the region to require all to participate annually in PROMPT, the only training course in obstetrical emergencies shown to improve patient outcomes

Why settle for wallpaper? (oh, we have that too) 913.588.6200

KUMC Campus 3901 Rainbow Blvd Kansas City, KS 66160

Corporate Medical Plaza 10777 Nall Avenue, Suite 200 Overland Park, KS 66211

nutrition trend may | june 2013 NUTRITION BARS

Which bar is best for you? A nutrition bar for every occasion WRITTEN BY Brittany Nelson

Registered Dietitian Nisha Mills selects and breaks down a few of the most popular nutrition bars on the market. With an entire grocery aisle’s selection

of the good nuts and it has a lot of mono fats, and

of nutrition bars out there, sometimes

has an Omega-3 and flax seed bar.”

narrowing down which one is right for you can be overwhelming. Some are good as a

The Meal Replacement: Balance

snack, others can act as a meal replacer and some

“Their concept is 40/30/30: 40 percent of their

are great after a workout. It’s important to know

calories come from carbohydrates, 30 from protein

what to look for and what to stay away from.

and 30 from fat, so it’s a

“Obviously you want to watch the sugar

good balance for a meal

content, no more than 14 grams,” says Nisha

replacer. It has 14 grams

Mills, registered and licensed dietician and life

of protein, which is good,

coach. “I’d say no to granola bars because they’re

and 20 to 25 grams of

very high in sugar and I always tell my clients to

carbohydrates, which is

watch the ingredient list. If you find any artificial


sweeteners, sucrose or corn syrup or high fructose corn syrup, it’s like you’re eating a candy bar.” Whether you’re looking to bulk up, slim down

For the runner: Clif “It’s organic and a good one for a run and has

or just have a tasty midday snack, Nisha breaks

higher carbohydrate content, and the protein is

down the best.

OK, so this would be good for a running, cardio, step class – those are really excellent for that.

The heart-healthy snack: Kind

If the bar contains anywhere from 9 to12 grams

“I’m a big fan of Kind. I would suggest this more

of protein, this will be a good choice for cardio,

for a snack. It has that salty and sweet aspect to it so people will have that instead of

activity is more

potato chips or a candy bar. It’s low in

intense, higher

carbohydrates, calories and protein so

carbs is important

this is something to have in-between meals. It’s also heart-healthy because


running, etc. If the may | june 2013

to provide adequate energy.

nutrition trend may | june 2013 NUTRITION BARS

To bulk up: Promax

For the vegan: Zing

“If you’re looking to bulk up and get bigger because

“They have two protein types:

you’re weight lifting, I would suggest higher

whey and brown rice protein,

carbohydrates, (this has 37 to 40 grams). These

which is acceptable for a

have about 18 different vitamins within them,


they’re also gluten-free, trans fat free, kosher and

Post-workout: Power Crunch

vegetarian. Protein is also higher (18 to 20 grams), so this would also be good as

“This is great because it only has 5 grams of sugar.

a recovery or before a cardio

If anyone is looking for a low-carb, low-sugar bar,

workout because of the higher

Power Crunch is really great. It is a bit higher in

amount of carbohydrates.”

fat, about twice as much fat compared to Clif, so if you are watching your heart, I wouldn’t suggest this. This is good for post-

Kid-friendly: Special K Protein Bar

workout because they

“The Special K protein meal bars have about 25

won’t have as many carbs,

grams of carbohydrates and 10 grams of protein so

but higher in protein (13 to

this would be great as a snack. They’re great for

14 grams).”

kids because they taste good, they have strawberry and chocolate flavors and they’re very cheap. Great for people on a budget and you can buy them anywhere. The regular Special K cereal bars are something you want to stay away from because of the high carbohydrates and low protein – it’s basically pure sugar.”

Watch the ingredient list. If you find any artificial sweeteners, sucrose or corn syrup or high fructose corn syrup, it’s like you’re eating a candy bar. may | june 2013



nutrition trend may | june 2013 SMOOTHIES

Vegan ‘power-me-up’ breakfast smoothies

WRITTEN BY Morgan Ashley Ross

If Heaven had a taste, this would be it. This liquid breakfast is a weight management must. Start your day with a boost of healthy fats and fiber to control your hunger cravings even through that mid-day slump. The dash of cardamom and hint of sweet from the creamy coconut yogurt and dates will have your taste buds tingling till lunchtime. Begin with a sip, and before you know it, you will be slurping for more at the bottom of your cup eager for the next batch. You may fall so hard you will catch yourself making double and saving the next batch for your afternoon snack. Who needs a dairy-loaded milkshake to get

Almond Dreamy Coconut Creamy Smoothie • Vegan, low-fat and glycemic-friendly meal replacement or snack • Makes one to two servings about 24 ounces • Ready in 5 minutes Keep this recipe vegan by using dairy free yogurt. Milk and other dairy products are common allergens and can trigger inflammatory responses, such as stomach distress, constipation, diarrhea, skin rashes, acne, hives and breathing difficulties, in susceptible people. In fact, researchers have found that around 60 percent of the world’s population can’t digest milk.

your dessert fix when you have this vegan-


friendly healthy alternative? Enjoy feeling

1 cup unsweetened original or vanilla almond milk.

and looking fabulous with this heavenly

½ cup of original coconut yogurt

guilt-free smoothie.

3 dates


½ small or medium banana about 3-4 inches in length 1 cup of frozen sliced peaches ½ teaspoon cardamom 4 tablespoons of almond meal or 1-2 tablespoons of raw almond butter 1 tablespoon of chia seeds Place all ingredients into a blender. Process on high until smooth and serve.

16 may | june 2013

Kansas City’s

First HealtH studio Are you satisfied with your current health? Are you confused by the media and entertainment health industry? Do you quest for information on how to prevent disease and to achieve a better quality of life? neW you is your answer: we are Kansas City’s First comprehensive Health Studio. Treatments and therapies that were previously only available on the east and west coasts are now available here.

centers on our commitment to the lifelong zeal for healthy and beautiful aging for our patient family. In an age where health care is dependent upon a diseased system that functions retroactively, it is past time that you come to one location for the most advanced, personalized care to achieve the results you deserve. — shelley alexander, d.o.

What is a Health studio? As the artist has their workroom, we, as healthy aging artisans; have New You Health Studio. Our Health Studio

Transforming the Art of Medicine into Beautiful Aging

Come see how we are different from traditional medicine and Med spas. Check out our website for our Grand opening specials.

10557 Mission road | leawood, Ks 66206 | 913-213-6900 |

Learn to live healthier at pop-up wellness centers Living Wellness Kansas City presents

Men’s Health Awareness Month with presentations from: • ClockWork Financial • Dr. James O’Keefe • Dr. Ajay Nangia • Dr. Joshua Broghammer

5:00–8:00 p.m. • Tuesday, June 18, 2013 Kansas City Public Library, Plaza Cohen Conference Center 4801 Main St., Kansas City, Missouri Please visit for presentation topics and to register for the event. Attendance is free, registration required.

Contact or visit for more information.

Essential oils

air hangover H to remedy a

WRITTEN BY Vilma Subel, Owner, Xiphium Salon


Every tree has roots, in fact the bigger the

without the team of tools? Our answer: keep it

tree, the healthier the roots. The strength

pure at the foundation, and nurture the roots.

of every tree comes from the nutrients nature

Whether your hair is over processed, over

provides. A strong foundation will help a tree

worked or just dull and lifeless, the cure for

withstand the challenges and changes that come

the hair hangover begins at the scalp. No, not

with every season. If you ask any hairstylist,

a hangover tonic like eggs and coffee at 3 a.m.,

leaves aren’t the only things that change every

but instead, use essential oils. Essential oils

season – hair trends for men and women do too.

come with an array of purposes and benefits.

After award season, we’re left lusting over

Peppermint oil is very relaxing as an aroma, but

the long golden blond locks, or the new cropped

when massaged into the scalp it increases blood

bright red bob. As a consumer, we don’t get to

circulation and works as an astringent. The scalp

see the “behind the scenes,” but every red carpet

has pores and because it is an extension of skin, it

icon starts his or her look with a team of tools –

is also prone to skin irritations, pimples and dry

hot tools, such as blow dryers, rollers, flat irons,


curling irons and an abundance of hairspray for


Another great oil is tea tree oil. Tea tree is most

the perfect placement. And the big question –

commonly found in men’s shampoos because it is

how do you get your hair that fantastic everyday,

wonderful for removing excess sebum (oil) from the may | june 2013

scalp. Tea tree is also anti bacterial, so it is

for in your clarifying shampoo. Removing

a great treatment for athletes or people who

debris allows the scalp to breathe better and

sweat a lot. Essential oils like camphor or

will allow more nutrients to reach your roots. A healthy scalp is the first step in

jojoba are a great treatment for itchy or dry scalp. Or if you feel your head is congested

producing healthy hair, but it is certainly

and in need of relief, look for eucalyptus or

not the only step. It’s important to get

menthol oils. Allow oils to become a relaxing and healing service to yourself. A scalp treatment with essential oils can be done every week or until symptoms subside. It’s always best to check with a stylist, and for serious cases of

Whether your hair is over processed, over worked or just dull and lifeless, the cure for the hair hangover begins at the scalp.

these symptoms consult a physician. Oil isn’t the only way to nurture your roots.

regular haircuts and ask a stylist about hydration masks and protein treatments.

Clarifying shampoos offer big results with

Change is inevitable and exciting and this

a little effort. Crushed walnut shells add

will allow you to change your hair while

extra exfoliation to your shampoo scrub by

preserving the integrity of it. Giving your

removing dry skin and excess oil. Ask your

hair some TLC will go a long way when the

stylist which essentials oils you should look

next great ‘do is your next ‘must have.’


We think working together is the key to better health care for you and your family. And now the doctors and specialists at Mosaic Life Care and Mayo Clinic are joining forces. Our specialists will work together to resolve the hard–to–solve medical problems and to find better answers. For you that means peace of mind and access to the finest medical knowledge available. Right here at home. Mosaic Life Care and Mayo Clinic. Working together. Working for you.

To find out more visit

Want to reach an audience across the metro that is interested in a healthy lifestyle?

Living Wellness U April 15

Your Wellness Connection

Advertise in Living Wellness Kansas City and on • New advertiser specials • Direct to consumer event sponsorship opportunities Show your support for making wellness accessible to all in Kansas City with Living Wellness Kansas City.

ABOVE: Dr. Robin kicks off the evening’s activities BELOW: Whole Foods’ employees demonstrate oil and animal product-free foods

BELOW: A juicing demo by Your Wellness Connection



wellness kansas city

Visit for information on the next program.

20 may | june 2013

Shaping up Kansas City WRITTEN BY Janell Bartlett Owner and instructor, Kempo Fitness

According to last year’s CDC rankings, more than half of Missouri citizens are considered overweight and nearly one-third obese. It’s time to take a look at the issue that’s affecting Kansas Citians and make positive steps toward getting Kansas City in shape.


Apple or pear – which body type are you? Although these body types come with inherent health benefits or risks, it seems our nation’s health issue is no longer merely as simple as what type of fruit one resembles. Instead, America’s growing waist size over the last 30 years has now reached an “epidemic” level that has government agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), hospitals, businesses and communities taking note. This is a devastating trend and it is imperative to this nation’s well-being to turn around.

PHOTO ILLUSTRATION Rob and Jen Photography may | june 2013


In 2012, the CDC came out with its most up-to-date rankings of each state’s obesity level. For us in the Midwest, it showed a sobering reality: Missouri is 12th on the list, with 65.2 percent of the population considered overweight and 30.3 percent considered obese. Kansas came in right on Missouri’s heels as 13th on the list with 63.7 percent of its population overweight and 29.6 percent obese. To get to these numbers, the CDC uses an individual’s Body Mass Index, or BMI. If your BMI is in one of the categories of “overweight” or “obese,” it’s time to take note. Although BMI does not

take into consideration the muscle versus fat ratio, you probably need to lose weight. According to the Mayo Clinic, being overweight or obese puts you at higher risk of developing diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, cancer, sleep apnea and depression (to name a few). Being born and raised in the Midwest, I know how we love our meat and potatoes. However, our extra-large, super-sized portions along with our packed-to-themax sedentary lifestyles are exacerbating the problem nationwide. We are all eating too much (of the wrong

Here in Kansas City, the path to turning this obesity epidemic around is really just beginning. Here are a few local initiatives leading the way: Healthy Hawks program at KUMC: Healthy Hawks was founded in 2004 as a comprehensive program to help children, adolescents and families learn how to life a healthier lifestyle and overcome issues with weight. The program helps participants create healthy eating habits, exercise more and receive health education. pediatrics/programs/healthy-hawks.html KC Chiefs Sports Lab Powered by Blue KC: Provides a fun, sports-driven way for children and individuals of all ages to learn about the health benefits of leading healthy, active lifestyles. The center, inside Arrowhead Stadium, features a health center, training camp, sports nutrition lab and more. Zoom to Health by Centers for Children’s Healthy Lifestyles & Nutrition: This six-week intervention program is for families with overweight or obese children 2 to 8 years-old. Families receive nutrition education, enjoy healthy meals and participate in fun physical activities. KU Weight Management Program: Founded in the 1980s, consisting of two programs: Ongoing clinical research projects and minimal-research weight management programs, which includes a weekly lifestyle clinic. The programs use a holistic approach of nutrition, physical fitness, and the emotional/

22 may | june 2013

cognitive aspects of behavior change in order to create lasting lifestyle changes. Greater KC Food Coalition (includes KC Healthy Kids Program): This organization is “working on policy and environmental change to make healthy eating and active living easier for families … helping KC be a city that supports a healthy lifestyle” says Heather Gibbons, Communications Manager. Examples of its progress include: creating nicer sidewalks, more walking trails, support for local restaurants to bring in local foods and programs like bringing in weekly food baskets from the CSA program for 230 employees at Children’s Mercy Hospital. Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City: This foundation provides funding and support for local programs committed to creating lasting change for communities to live an active lifestyle and eat healthily. The organization supports Mid-America Coalition on Health Care, which promotes healthy eating and active living in companies; Beans and Greens, which matches the dollars spent using food stamps at farmer’s markets; and Truman Medical Center’s Mobile Market, a food car providing healthy food and groceries to individuals in low income areas (individuals can use the food stamp program here as well).

kinds of food) and are not moving our bodies enough. In fact, more than one-third of U.S. adults (35.7 percent) are obese. In addition, the more disturbing statistic is that almost 1 in 3 children ages 2 to19 is at least overweight and 1 in 5 is considered obese. If we want ourselves, and our children to live long, healthy, vibrant lives, we must turn this trend around. As with most major issues, the problem is multifaceted. The Mayo Clinic attributes this current trend to genetics, inactivity, unhealthy diet and eating habits, family lifestyle, quitting smoking, pregnancy, lack of sleep, certain medications, age, social and economic issues, and medical problems. If you truly want to get yourself and your loved ones into the “normal” weight category you need to make lifestyle changes. Good health is a lifestyle, not a short-term stint. This means learning how to eat nutritious, properly portioned foods, exercising your body, managing stress and overcoming the obstacles that come in your path. If we all jump on board, making changes within our own lives, supporting these local initiatives and helping to start even more within the community, the rewards will be felt not only close to home, but widespread throughout our city, our state and our nation. Let’s make our part of the Midwest the fittest. KC

BMI Formula: weight (lb) / [height (in)]2 x 703 Example: A woman who is 5’5” tall and 150 pounds, would take (150 / [652]) x 703. This results in a BMI of 25.0 and puts her in the “overweight” category. If that same individual weighs more than 185 pounds, she is in the “obese” category. (For a 5’10” male, “overweight” hits at about 175 pounds and “obese” is around 210 pounds.) BMI


Below 18.5


18.5-24.9 Normal 25.0-29.9 Overweight 30.0 and Above Obese

may | june 2013


fitness trend may | june 2013 WORKOUT TO REVERSE DIABETES



About 20 million adults in the United States have been diagnosed with diabetes. Nearly 10 million Americans are estimated to have diabetes and not even know it since many people aren’t diagnosed with diabetes until years after they develop it. Of those who have diabetes, 90 percent have been diagnosed with type II.

What causes type II diabetes? Type II diabetes is brought about by a lack of exercise that causes a metabolic disorder where the body stops producing and/or using insulin properly. This happens due to two causes: one from a development of insulin resistance brought upon by excess weight gain. The other occurs when the pancreas stops producing an adequate amount of insulin. The two causes are related to one another, and most diabetics end up experiencing both over time. When the body builds an insulin resistance after it starts to experience an excessive amount of weight, the insulin producing cells in the pancreas start to shut down since they are no longer needed. When this begins to happen, all hope of reversing the condition goes Greg Justice of AYC fitness shares his fitness tips for type II diabetics.

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out the window because these cells cannot be regained once they are lost. It takes a while for the body to get to this point, but most people don’t even realize they have diabetes until it is too late, since the symptoms are so mild and easily overlooked. However, if diagnosed early while the pancreas is still able to produce enough insulin,

one could reverse the condition of diabetes by simply changing diet and exercising. That’s where metabolic resistance training comes into play.

Why metabolic resistance training? Not only is it a great way to get in shape, it attacks the root of the problem that causes diabetes – metabolism. Metabolic resistance training essentially makes the pancreas workout just as much as muscles by causing it to create more insulin than it used to. The pancreas, like muscles, works better and stays fit as long as it is being put to use. If metabolism burns more energy, then the body needs more insulin and the pancreas will work overtime. With metabolic resistance training, the body’s metabolic rate increases for a longer duration than a simple workout. Metabolic resistance training helps to prevent and manage diabetes, but it could potentially reverse the condition altogether. No more pricking the finger, expensive medications or test strips. A simple dose of metabolic resistance training three days a week, along with a couple of cardio interval days, could save thousands of dollars in medical fees and products – money that could be better spent enjoying life. Traditionally, cardiovascular exercises were considered the best natural defense against type II diabetes. Now, however, studies have shown major benefits from resistance training as well. Some of these benefits include, improved blood cholesterol, increased heart function, decreased blood pressure, and improved muscular strength and endurance.

Starting a metabolic resistance workout program The first step to take when considering a workout plan for diabetics is to get an approval from a doctor and make sure the trainer is experienced in handling people with diabetes. Metabolic resistance training and cardio workouts each have their respective benefits. A plan provided on the next page uses exercises based on the latest research that combines aerobic and anaerobic activities to keep the body in shape and aid in regulating sugar. This routine is for beginners and those participating

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should be aware of training intensity and not workout if feeling dizzy or unwell. On cardio days, walk, jog or use an elliptical machine, but make sure to not over exert. The right muscle and heart conditioning takes place over time. It may take a couple of months of a regular workout routine to notice progress. Also it is important to not elevate beyond 70 percent of the maximum heart rate. You should be able to talk or recite a poem while working out without being

Metabolic resistance training three days a week, along with cardio interval days, could save thousands in medical fees and products – money better spent enjoying life. completely out of breath. Swimming and cycling are also good cardiovascular exercises; however, they do not provide the muscle and bone impact beneficial to structure. Start slowly and increase the number of rounds, or increase the resistance, only when your body has adapted to the routine. However, if you feel extremely stiff while doing a particular exercise or if you feel pain in any movement during a workout, avoid the exercise and consult your physician. All in all, a controlled metabolic resistance training program can work like a charm over a long period of time for diabetics because the body’s metabolism will increase and so will its ability to store glucose and burn it as energy. KC

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60/30’S EXERCISE CIRCUIT: Alternate between 60 seconds of work and 30 seconds of rest for each exercise in the following eightexercise circuit, followed by a one-minute rest (water break). Perform one, two or three rounds for a 12, 26 or 39-minute workout. It is important to start any workout session with a warm-up, as it flexes joints and increases body temperature to an optimum workout level. Exercise 1: Push Ups or Resistance Band Chest Press Exercise 2: Goblet Squats with Kettle Bell Exercise 3: TRX Body Weight Row Exercise 4: Alternating Side Lunge Exercise 5: Lateral Raise with Dumbbells Exercise 6: Alternating Back Lunge Exercise 7: Upright Row with Kettle Bell or Dumbbell Exercise 8: Alternating Side Squats For a video demonstration of this workout and a sample meal plan for diabetics, visit magazine and click on May/June 2013.

The solution to obesity involves more than just physical change Written bY Joleen Halloran


Obesity is a topic that is finally being discussed more frequently, which means people are beginning to become informed about it, more people are getting help with it and more health care specialists are providing appropriate care for it. But obesity is not just a physical health problem. To fully consider obesity, we must not forget to include valuable considerations of the mind and spirit. Our minds, body and spirit are one. If one part of us is suffering the other parts will also suffer, and likewise if we can improve conditions with any one of these, it will result in improvements in the other two areas. For those in the midst of tackling obesity, understanding the nature of our mental habits and mindsets can make a big difference in the success of your plan.

Here are some tips to consider in helping you or someone you know take action against obesity.

Put the past behind you You can only deal with the realities of the present. Put a plan in place to exchange any feelings of guilt, shame or discouragement with compassion, forgiveness and encouragement. Consider the past as an excellent teacher and note the behaviors that you would like to change. Every day and every moment is different with new potential for success.

Develop new habits that serve you Additionally to developing new eating and physical fitness habits while dealing with obesity, include other mind and spirit enhancing habits like meditation, yoga, prayer, learning a new skill or hobby, or serving others. The stronger and healthier your mind and spirit, the healthier your body will become.

Create inspiring and motivating affirmations Repeat your favorite “believable” affirmations often. Affirmations that feel possible to you are powerful anchoring tools when you are feeling frustrated or discouraged. Something like, “I am feeling stronger and healthier every day” or “every day is a new day and I plan to live this one fully,” post your affirmations everywhere so you are frequently reminded of your new intentions.

Stop, breathe, recite This is a skill that when practiced daily will support you in any habitual or behavioral changes you are considering. Learn to stop before you take any action towards your habit or behavior, take a few breaths (preferably deep, cleansing ones,) then recite the actions you are about to take in your head before you proceed. This process helps bring a sense of awareness to your action and allows in a little space to make the best possible choices. KC

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Curbing the Obesity Written bY Susan Ortbals, Since when did education and prevention become politically dirty words? Is our country so divided that encouraging our kids to eat their vegetables is now a form of government intrusion on our rights? Michelle Obama has been criticized for her “Let’s Move” campaign, which encourages healthier meals in our schools, urges families to eat more fruits and vegetables, and stresses the need for daily exercise. Jamie Oliver, chef and food activist, was criticized for his food revolution attempting to transform eating habits in towns and schools. Critics say our government has no right to tell people what they should or shouldn’t eat. Tell that to the Monsanto corporations of the world reaping profits from government subsidies on corn and soy. These misguided vocal missiles need to be targeted at the real terrorists of our food system. Big agriculture companies and factory farms who distort the truth to lobby for your tax dollars. They’re the reason chips are cheaper than apples. They’re the reason the Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) labeling bill failed to pass in California this past election. What about personal responsibility? After all, there are restaurant menus with healthy options (or so they say.) Whenever I see a small menu section labeled as “healthy,” I immediately wonder what hidden title is missing from the majority of the menu. Should it be labeled, “The Unhealthy Side?” Most people ignore healthier fare options in mainstream restaurants. There is a social psychology phenomenon in place because everyone around is ordering the “regular” food, so denial is effortless. It’s human nature to assume you’re giving up taste, quantity or satisfaction by selecting from the tiny “healthier fare” section. The craving for cheese, fat, salt and sugar is so strong it overrides any intellectual on-the-spot analysis. Restaurants are compelled to segregate food that’s good for you (or at least less harmful.) Why? Because including a few “heart friendly” options gives the appearance of social consciousness. Healthy folks,

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frustrated with the lack of healthy choices when eating out, cook more at home, so their forks aren’t registering a vote. We’re in a perpetuating cycle. Restaurants meet demands and the public is not demanding healthier fare. By pleasing the masses with supersized, high fat food, waiting lines extend out the door.

How do we get Americans to care, change their habits or influence businesses to lead the change?


List calories, saturated fat and sodium on all menus and menu boards. Make an informed choice on-the-spot. It’s harder to deny facts staring you in the face. This may even urge restaurants to cook traditional dishes in healthier ways.

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Simplify food labels. Instead of trying to decipher ingredients and determine what’s healthy and what’s not, let the experts do that for you and provide the conclusion at a glance. Serve only healthy food in schools. Schools are supposed to educate. By only serving food that is healthy fuel, schools are teaching nutrition by example. Don’t serve green beans and french fries and expect kids to choose the healthier option. By exposing young children to healthy food, every child has the chance to learn about good nutrition regardless of what’s happening at home. This may be a child’s only opportunity for healthy food throughout the day.


Lower medical insurance premiums for fit people. Instead of discriminating against overweight folks, give financial incentives to lose weight and exercise regularly. When they do, lower the out-of-pocket expense. Everyone wins. Insurance companies should reward those who stay fit, especially as they age.

Epidemic: Is it possible? 5

Eliminate P.E. classes in schools. Yes, you read that right. Everything about our physical education classes is wrong in America. They are a disciplinary nightmare for teachers with large class sizes and limited time. Overweight kids learn to hate P.E. and feel even worse about themselves, dreading mandatory participation in fitness challenges and timed miles where they are publicly humiliated. The kids who need it most are learning to despise exercise. Do this instead: The morning mile: An option to walk a mile with your friends before classes start to earn extra credit. A time to socialize, get the blood flowing before class and learn the importance of moving. Outdoors around school perimeter unless the weather is dangerously bad. Possibly add this midday as a movement and interaction break. Health and nutrition class: Required at least one semester in elementary, middle and high school. Start out teaching basics of nutrition and how to recognize marketing tactics. Teach real world application with menus and nutrition labels. Link fitness and nutrition choices to disease prevention in high school. Bring in passionate guest speakers and athletes. Schedule fitness field trips: In place of traditional P.E. class, occasionally take kids on an adventure or fitness excursion (i.e. rock wall, hike, weight training facility, professional sports arena). Show students fitness can be fun. Fund after-school sports: Make sure there are less competitive, recreational opportunities for every child who wants to participate.


Tax junk food. Taxing junk food not only brings in much-needed revenue but can also influence personal choice. We tax cigarettes that put our health at risk, why not junk food that does the same? If junk foods were more expensive, it would serve as a reminder that those items are occasional treats and not the foundation of our diets.


Switch government subsidies. Transfer government subsidies to fresh fruits and vegetables and away from the sugars, corn, soy and GMO products. Many of these subsidized products extend the shelf life of packaged junk food or are used to feed livestock. Make healthy food less expensive. Period.


Train palates young. Similar to learning a language, if you are exposed to the right foods early on, it is much easier to lock in good habits. Feed babies low sugar, low sodium food as soon as they’re weaned. Stick with pure vegetables and fruits and always serve the vegetables first when kids are most hungry.

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Give tax breaks and incentives to open up healthy food restaurants. Changing the nation’s taste buds takes time. Giving healthy eateries a jump-start would help them get rolling. Make nutrition education mandatory in medical school. Our health providers need to take the lead and use proven nutritional regimens for disease prevention and treatment. Insurance companies need to support these treatment options through reimbursement. How about a healthy recipe instead of a prescription? If we really care about the health of this country, we better care about the health of all people living in it. We all deserve a piece of this American pie: Prevention, incentive and education. KC

For more from Susan, visit may | june 2013


Birthing Centers A Different Approach to Child Bearing Written bY Emily O’Brien


Birthing centers are contemporary healthcare facility alternatives designed for women who want to have a non-medically centered birthing experience, and are known for their collaborative efforts in supporting the motherto-be to have the labor experience of her choosing. They are typically low-tech, freestanding buildings, but are sometimes enclosed inside a hospital. They offer warmer, more “home-like” accommodations with many additional features like non-traditional furniture, birthing tubs and showers, encouragement to eat and drink during labor, and customized music. These centers offer a distinctive one-on-one approach to child bearing from conception to delivery to post-partum care. Most importantly, birthing centers are meant for healthy women with low-risk pregnancies and birth complications. While they may be equipped for immediate care during emergencies, the centers will transfer the patient when medically necessary – they are not small-scale hospitals. Women who desire a labor experience centered on homeopathic

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“I learned that birthing in peace and power is something you do from the inside out. With that, you can weather the storms of change, and come through feeling empowered, instead of powerless.” – Almitra Buzan

remedies, but don’t necessarily want to deliver at home, might find a birthing center is the perfect answer. Midwives care for each woman according to her individual needs, which allows them to weigh in on decisions that affect their care. While some obstetricians are trained to “actively manage” childbirth, midwives are taught not to intervene unless it’s medically necessary. Women are then shown how to “actively participate” in labor and to get up and move more freely than they would be allowed to in a conventional hospital setting. There’s also a reduced likelihood for the use of an epidural or an episiostomy. The length of stay is considerably shorter than at a hospital, with birthing centers sending the average mother and child home just hours after a birth. This shorter stay, in conjunction without additional pain medication or anesthesia bills, makes

A birthing suite at New Birth Company in Overland Park.

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for a more cost-effective labor, and the majority of big name insurance carriers cover the charges. Take New Birth Company in Overland Park, Kansas for instance. The center’s fundamental purpose is to transform the birth experience through innovation and women’s economic power. It has nationally certified midwives on staff who are not only highly skilled and experienced birth professionals. New Birth Company worked hard to attract nurse midwives who are both passionate for natural childbirth options and who also want to empower the women they encounter through education. The center also has a sustainable environment and pushes for “less intervention, less materials, less contrived substances, more natural, local products.” As the oldest birthing center in the state of Missouri, A Mother’s Love in Independence also centers on allowing a woman to give birth naturally in a warm and comforting environment. The center also believes labor is just one, albeit important, part of the entire process of motherhood. With an intentionally small staff, mothers receive one-on-one care focusing on holistic health with plenty of diet and herbal education throughout their pregnancies. The goal is to educate women and have them, along with their partners, make whatever choice is best for them. They want the family in charge of their birth and no one else. However, sometimes the labor and delivery experience doesn’t always go as planned. When Almitra Buzan, mother of two, spent three days laboring at home hoping for a vaginal birth after



Although Almitra Buzan didn’t get her at-home birthing experience, she learned to feel at ease with the ultimate c-section route her doctor presented.

caesarean, things were not going as designed. Buzan ended up going to the hospital to augment with Pitocin. At this point what made her comfortable about not reaching her birthing dream was that she had done everything she could to reach it – and her care providers had done the same. So when the doctor presented the caesarian as an option, not an ultimatum, she had already felt much more at ease with her birthing experience switching tracks. She still was able to remain in control of her body and able to make the decision of what to do next, instead of having it made for her, and she was able to go into the cesarean operation with a sense of peace and excitement for her baby. “As a result, even though I didn’t get what I wanted (and I did mourn that loss), I gained more from the struggle than I would have if everything had gone as planned,” she said. “I learned that birthing in peace and power is something you do from the inside out. With that, you can weather the storms of change, and come through feeling empowered, instead of powerless.” KC

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technology trend may | june 2013 DIGITAL WELLNESS

Digital Wellness:

WRITTEN BY Kristin Wark

Applications for Women’s Sexual Health Whether you’re planning an addition to your family or aren’t prepared for pregnancy just yet, timing is an important factor when it comes to your sexual health and wellness. Oral contraceptives are one of the most common forms of birth control. Usually referred to as the pill, this once-daily medication typically contains a combination of the hormones estrogen and progestin. These hormones prevent pregnancy through a variety of ways, the main of which is by inhibiting the formation of mature eggs from the ovaries, preventing conception. The pill is the most effective when it’s taken at the same time every day. Emily Steinbis, MD, an obstetrician and gynecologist with The University of Kansas Physicians Group, says only women who take the contraceptive pill within one to two hours of the same time each day fall in the group of what medical professionals call perfect users. Oral contraceptives are 99 percent effective for perfect users. All other oral contraceptive users, those who miss or skip pills frequently, are considered typical use patients. For typical use patients, the pill is reported as 91 to 96 percent effective at preventing pregnancy. If your goal is to conceive, timing is just as critical. A woman only has a small window of time during her menstrual cycle in which she can get pregnant. “A woman ovulates 14 days before the first day of her next period,” Steinbis says. “Your highest probability of getting pregnant is by having intercourse one to two days prior to that ovulation day.” The average menstrual cycle is 28 days, but women

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can vary in cycle length between 21-35 days – some even experience 45-day cycles or longer – so Steinbis suggests women track their cycle for at least three months to best determine her average cycle length. “I see lots of patients taking advantage of the convenience of cycle tracking or pill reminder applications,” says Steinbis. “It’s extremely helpful for me when a patient keeps track of their cycle and has all of that information readily available at their appointments.” Knowing your average cycle length and logging the symptoms of your menstrual cycle also helps you recognize when something is abnormal. Your doctor will want to know when and how frequently you’ve been experiencing something abnormal, and having that logged all in one, easy to access application is a good way to get her accurate information. Download these smartphone applications to assist with perfecting the timing element of your sexual health goals.

Pill Prompter Pill Prompter uses an alarm and a confirmation log to help you remember to take your oral birth control at the same time every day. The main feature of this free application is a daily alert that pops up on your smart phone when it’s time to take your pill. If you choose to snooze the alert, you will be reminded again based on your chosen snooze length. The alert will continue to remind you until you respond. To respond to the alarm, open the message and tap the pill icon to confirm you have taken your pill. You can check past days of the week for assurance that you have taken your scheduled pills for the week. If you do happen to miss a pill, an alert pops up the

technology trend may | june 2013 DIGITAL WELLNESS

next time the application is opened and shows the pill as missed on the calendar. If discretion is important to you, the paid version of the app ($1.99) offers more options, including a customizable reminder message and password protection.

Period Log This is an all-in-one application to determine your average menstrual cycle, monitor your daily physical and emotional menstrual symptoms, and alert you of your ovulation and fertility days. Even more options include a daily weight tracker, a spotting log and a place to record your intimacy days. Logging the details daily will help you recognize patterns in your cycle, which helps you to better prepare for things that can sometimes seem

TIME IS TICKING. Invest the time to learn about your health benefits plan options.


Call CoventryOne. 866-795-3995

CoventryOne is a health insurance product underwritten by Coventry Health and Life Insurance Company and administered by Coventry Health Care of Kansas, Inc. CHCKS1688

unexpected like heavy spotting or mood swings. A bonus feature is a monthly reminder to perform a breast self-exam, to check for any abnormalities in your breasts that may be a cause for concern. For discretion, the free version of this application has the option of a passcode. If you’d like even more functionality, you can purchase the full version ($1.99) for access to a fertility information log, 50-plus moods, symptom customizer, support charts and more. The best way to take control of your sexual health and wellness is to become familiar with your body and its health patterns. These applications and other digital resources are valuable, innovative tools to help you recognize and reach your health and wellness goals. KC All apps can be downloaded from the app store on your mobile device.

The plants we eat have a story; a journey from seed to table, that is more often than not, forgotten and distant.

Written bY Dianna Sinni, Healthy Eating Specialist at Whole Foods Market

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My hands were wrist deep in the cool, damp soil, my fingers frantically searching. I was on a mission. I didn’t care how long I would have to scrub my fingernails afterwards, or what creepy-crawly creature I might uncover. I was like a giddy 5-year-old child on Christmas morning, eyes opened wide with surprise and a goofy smile plastered on my face. Barely bigger than a pear, undoubtedly misshapen and completely coated in dirt, I found them: my very first potatoes.

With the technological advances of today, our children, and probably most of us too, have lost connection with the food we eat. No longer do we dig our hands into the ground, hold seeds in our hand or relish in our first spring harvest. Ask a child where a beet comes from, and most likely they will name a celebrity musician, not the Earth. In today’s society it can be easy to forget that the plants we eat are more than a package of prewashed salad greens on the grocery store wet rack. The plants we eat have a story; a journey from seed to table, that is more often than not forgotten and distant. We take carrots and lettuce home from the grocery store, but fail to appreciate or recognize its journey. We are not a part of the story until the end – until the food is on our forks. What about those ugly little yellow potatoes plucked from my garden, taken inside like trophies and showcased on the kitchen counter? Their story is different. I know it from beginning to end; I was an integral part

of it. I planted the eyes, watered and mounded the dirt, trimmed the greens and patiently waited months until they were ready to harvest. Their journey became part of my own. Humans have been gardening for more than 10,000 years, and Americans have an especially deep-rooted history with kitchen gardens. Home and community gardens, known as victory gardens, have sustained Americans during critical wartimes. Gardening is not just about planting seeds and waiting for something to sprout. It is a symbiotic relationship, connecting gardener and plant, both needing each other for nourishment and progress. Growing food cultivates a creative mind and enhances culinary skills in the kitchen. All of the time, energy and hard work gardening demands produces a satisfying harvest and a new-found respect for each bite. Perhaps you’re an avid gardener, or maybe you’re on the fence about getting your hands in the dirt. Regardless, growing your own food fosters positivity and respect for Mother Nature.

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For more information on how to get growing, check out Kansas City Community Gardens (, Cultivate KC (, Get Growing KC (, and the Master Gardeners of Johnson County ( and Kansas City ( for resources, advice and inspiration.

Here are a few compelling reasons why you should continue, or start, growing:


Size doesn’t matter. You don’t need acres of land. Utilize the outdoor space you have whether it’s a back or front yard, balcony or rooftop. Try container gardening, find a local community garden, build a raised bed or grow your favorite herbs on your windowsill. There is no space too small.


Shrink your wallet, duh. Obviously, growing your own food means you can cut down on your grocery bill. Plant more of what you eat. For me, leafy greens are a staple, so I make sure to plant lettuce, spinach, arugula, chard and kale all throughout the growing season.


Taste something new. Growing your own food is a great way to try new ones. Maybe you’ll even find a new favorite. Plant something you’ve always wanted to taste and have fun experimenting with new recipes. Or perhaps your neighbor has an abundance of okra? Swap your harvest with a neighbor to try something you didn’t plant.


Homegrown tastes better. It’s fresh, seasonal and grown according to your own personal food standards. Children can even be gardeners and learn to appreciate their food. Studies show that kids who have a hand in growing and cooking food are more apt to taste it. Creating interest and personal ties is important.

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Appreciate Mother Nature. Before I started gardening I really didn’t think much about the food on my table. Gardening makes you realize the beautiful energy all around us in the sun, soil, wind and rain. Grow yourself. Gardening teaches patience, organization and culinary skills, just to name a few. Each growing season brings new challenges and kitchen adventures, and an opportunity to learn each day. KC

Dianna is the Healthy Eating Specialist at 119th Street Whole Foods Market in Overland Park. She provides in-store culinary classes and tours based on the Four Pillars of Healthy Eating: Whole Foods, Plant-Strong, Healthy Fats and Nutrient-Dense. For more information, visit

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going organic Written bY Maggie Young


Everywhere you turn you hear about the next new organic product. Food labels are embellished with “natural” or “chemical-free” slogans. The value of eating foods that are as close to nature as possible is more than just a passing fad; it’s a lifestyle. To eat organically, you must avoid foods with chemical residues, pesticides, herbicides and fungicides. It’s not an easy feat in the evergrowing world of processed and chemically-altered eats. That’s where organic gardening comes in the picture. The expanding industry starts with local farmers to bring fresh food to your kitchen table. Organic is a relatively new term to hit the food industry, but the process has been around for decades. Nancy O’Connor, Director of Education and Outreach at The Merc, a Lawrence-based organic food store, said it’s funny that people think of organic as a new-age method. In reality, our grandparents grew organically, but didn’t label it that way. In the past it was intuitive because most people who lived on farms understood they needed to keep the soil replenished for crop health. “I think organic gets labeled as some kind of hippie, yuppie or exclusive philosophy and it isn’t at all,” said O’Connor. “In many other parts of the world, organic is the norm and it’s just naturally grown that way.” Each individual has different reasons for going organic, but among the most common are holistic wellness and environmental sustainability. Processed foods are injected with chemicals and contain traces of hormones from pesticides and

antibiotics given to animals and sprayed on plants. Organic foods are free from these chemicals and hormones, which can be better for overall health. To put it in perspective, the average conventional apple contains 40-plus pesticides, while the organic apple contains zero. It is beneficial for personal longevity as well as the life of farming land. Shane Hanson, director of Door-to-Door Organics in Kansas City, emphasized the importance of maintaining farms for the long run. “Sustainability is important because it will enable people to farm on the land 50 years from now,” said Hanson. “With chemicals, that won’t happen.” The organic benefits are longlasting and worth the money. “Most of the time it’s more expensive because the food comes from small-scale family farms as opposed to big companies, so it reflects the true cost of each item that people aren’t used to,” said O’Connor. If money is a concern, but the thought of organic is appealing, you can make smart choices while grocery shopping and buy organic for necessary items. Environmental Working Group ( conducts studies to analyze produce for pesticide and herbicide residues and rank them as either part of the “dirty dozen” or the “clean 15.” The “clean 15” are foods that consistently test the lowest for pesticide and herbicide residue, so it is still safe to buy non-organic for those items. On the other hand, the “dirty dozen” are the ones that test higher for chemicals and are best bought at organic stores. The EWG website offers a full-

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shopping guide

colored card with this information to print off and carry in your wallet for shopping convenience. That way, the items bought at the organic store are cost-savvy choices. The labels and lingo will tell you whether the item is organic or not. For starters, the item should be stamped with a USDA organic symbol. In addition to the stamp, the meat and eggs should be grass fed with no antibiotics and organic produce should start with the number nine on the price look-up code. Hanson said the organic items are usually on the top shelf so that the conventional produce doesn’t leak onto the chemical-free goods. Luckily, eating organically grown foods is convenient. There are many organic food stores like The Merc, which feature cooking classes, community outreach programs, prepared dishes and organic groceries. “The

Dirty Dozen Plus™ Buy these organic 1. Apples 2. Celery 3. Sweet bell peppers 4. Peaches 5. Strawberries 6. Nectarines – imported 7. Grapes 8. Spinach 9. Lettuce 10. Cucumbers 11. Blueberries – domestic 12. Potatoes Plus + Green beans + Kale/Greens + May contain pesticide residues of special concern Clean 15™

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Merc is the connection to local growers and has a deep commitment to supporting those small family farms,” said O’Connor. If a store visit isn’t likely, then a company like Doorto-Door Organics ( can deliver fresh and seasonal groceries delivered to your doorstep. The website lists food items in sections with everything from breakfast to spices to nut butters and provides recipes for the respective ingredients. The company is based on the fact that eating well should be easy as its motto reads, “good makes simple.” Organic gardening is not only a healthier way to eat, but a sustainable way to support local farmers and keep the wholesome food cycle in place for years to come. “Think about what you want to keep out of your food,” said O’ Connor. “It’s simply just trying to keep foods as clean as possible.” KC

Lowest in Pesticide 1. Onions 2. Sweet corn 3. Pineapples 4. Avocado 5. Cabbage 6. Sweet peas 7. Asparagus 8. Mangoes 9. Eggplant 10. Kiwi 11. Cantaloupe – domestic 12. Sweet potatoes 13. Grapefruit 14. Watermelon 15. Mushrooms


HEALTHY RECIPES Affordably enjoying organic food in Kansas City Written bY Jay Van Loenen, Bread & Butter Concepts

Take it from a stay-at-home dad: feeding a family is no easy task. The process of planning meals, making sure ingredients are “in stock,” prepping and cooking is a lot of work. It’s no wonder so many people have taken to eating foods that are pre-prepared, frozen, packaged, processed or delivered. It’s quicker, easier and less stressful. But it can also be less healthy and more expensive. So, as we strive to use fresh, healthy foods and ignore the beckoning voice of the frozen and processed food sections of the supermarket, it’s sometimes frustrating to be inundated with more choices like, “all-natural,” “market-fresh,” “local,” “gluten free” and “organic.” These options can be even more disconcerting if we don’t really know what the labels mean to begin with. “Why is this tomato more expensive than that one?” “Is this zucchini better for me than the ones over there?” “This quinoa stuff is supposed to be good for you, but what the heck is it?” With these questions running through our heads, it’s tempting just to ignore the signs and grab the cheapest – perhaps even just the closest – items at the store.

The most prevalent trend in food today, and the fastest growing sector of foods in the U.S. is organic, which according to Wikipedia are “foods that are produced using methods of organic farming – that do not involve modern synthetic inputs such as synthetic pesticides and chemical fertilizers. Organic foods are also not processed using irradiation, industrial solvents or chemical food additives.” Organic produce, for instance, cannot be grown using synthetic fertilizers or insecticides. Neither can they be grown on soil where said fertilizers have been used in the past three years. The problem arises when you look at the exceptions to the standard. In certain situations, perhaps an organic option isn’t available in the area where a farmer is producing crops, then he can go ahead and use a synthetic option and still call his food organic. In order for processed foods to be labeled organic, 95 percent of the ingredients used in them must be certified organic. Overall, studies show organic foods have a lower chance of carrying pesticide residue. In general, however, studies show organic food doesn’t taste better, contain more nutrients, or provide more health benefits than non-organics. They certainly cost more, however, and this is due to the inferior sustainability of organic foods. All farmers lose portions of their planted crops to insects, invasive weeds and diseases. Organic farmers have more difficulties with this due to the restrictions set forth in the guidelines for what can be used on organic foods. They lose more crops and then have to charge more for their products. Organic farming supplies also cost more than conventional,

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again driving consumer prices up. Larger companies last a couple of weeks at home, while grocery store are buying up many small organic farms in order to produce spoils more quickly. corner the market. Horizon organic milk, a Dean Foods In addition, buying fresh, local produce directly company, is an example of this, and has been called the supports Kansas City’s local economy as a farmer puts “Microsoft of milk.” the money he makes right back into local supplies and To avoid the sticker shock of organics and still be farm needs. mindful of eating healthy foods, one must look to the Two local restaurants, Gram & Dun and Urban local farmer. We live in a large city surrounded by Table use produce directly from Fahrmeier Farms. farmland. There’s produce available to us that’s fresher “Getting the freshest local produce on the tables than what you can get at the grocery store, and all we in our restaurants is very important to us,” said have to do is visit a local farmer’s market. Executive Chef Bradley Gilmore of Gram & Dun. “It’s Bret Fahrmeier, of Fahrmeier Farms in Lexington, just healthier and more community-minded.” Mo., is one of those local farmers who takes pride One of last summer’s favorites at Urban Table in in providing excellent produce at fair prices. While Prairie Village was the locally-sourced Heirloom not technically producing organics, he uses Organic Tomato Salad using tomatoes from Fahrmeier Farms. Materials Review Institute (OMRI) approved products Chef Amanda Davis was kind enough to provide the to keep the bugs away, and puts a lot of love into recipe for us to make at home this summer. You can the produce that he sells. Bret’s passion is making even use the same tomatoes, as Fahrmeier Farms sure people eat good food, and in doing so he uses will be at both the River Market and Overland Park organic farming practices without claiming to produce farmers’ markets during this year’s season. organics. While at the market, pick up some fresh, local “Fahrmeier Bros Produce uses sustainable practices arugula and try Chef Bradley’s recipe, Arugula and in produce production,” he said. “We use as few Goat Cheese Salad with Poached Salmon and chemicals as possible and only when needed. We have Avocado. You’ll be feeding your family healthy foods an IPM [Integrated Pest Management] Program, which while supporting local farms and, in the end, the local means we only spray as the last resort when absolutely economy as well. KC necessary to maintain quality.” He also provides local Arugula and Goat Cheese Salad with customers, restaurants and CSAs Poached Salmon and Avocado (people who prepay to help fund See recipe on next page. the season’s harvest) with fresh produce. “Our produce is better because it’s fresher,” says Fahrmeier. “You don’t know how many people have handled the produce at the grocery store before it ends up on your table. With our produce you know it came straight from the farm to you.” Fresher produce also lasts much longer because it hasn’t spent time traveling from other parts of the country, or even other countries before it’s purchased. A fresh tomato might may | june 2013

Arugula and Goat Cheese Salad with Poached Salmon and Avocado By Chef Bradley Gilmore, Gram & Dun 1 shallot, minced 3 4-ounce fresh salmon fillets White wine, chardonnay or chablis to cover salmon in pan 1 sprig thyme (optional) 3 ounces arugula 1/4 avocado, sliced 1-ounce chevre, or other goat cheese, crumbled Zest and juice of one orange 1 orange peeled and sectioned Zest of one grapefruit plus juice of 1/4 grapefruit 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil 3/4 cup canola oil Salt and pepper to taste Salmon 1. Lightly season fillets with salt and pepper. 2. Place in pan or pot small enough to fit fillet and cover with wine. 3. Turn heat to medium-low for gentle cooking until cooked through. Vinaigrette 1. Combine zest, juice, vinegar and salt and pepper. 2. Slowly drizzle in oil while whisking to emulsify the liquids.

To finish 1. Fan sliced avocado to one side of plate. 2. Toss arugula with vinaigrette until coated. 3. Place a ball of arugula in center of plate, leaving avocado partially visible. 4. Sprinkle with goat cheese. 5. Place salmon on top. 6. Garnish plate with olive oil and fresh orange sections.

Heirloom Tomato Salad By Chef Amanda Davis, Urban Table VINAIGRETTE 1 shallot, minced 1/8 cup Dijon mustard 1/8 cup whole grain mustard 1/2 cup orange juice 1/4 cup champagne vinegar 2 cups olive oil 1 tablespoon fresh tarragon, chopped Salt and pepper to taste 1. In a small bowl, combine shallot, mustards, vinegar and orange juice. 2. Slowly add olive oil while whisking to emulsify. 3. Add tarragon and season with salt and pepper. Salad 4 large, ripe heirloom tomatoes, chopped 1/4 cup finely sliced red onion 3 to 4 slices ciabatta or other crusty bread, cubed 3 tablespoons olive oil 1 clove garlic 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese Freshly cracked pepper 1. Crush garlic clove and sautĂŠ in olive oil until fragrant. 2. Remove garlic. 3. Toss cubed bread in garlic oil to coat. 4. Spread evenly on a sheet tray. 5. Bake at 350 degrees 5 to 10 minutes until lightly toasted. 6. On a silicon baking sheet, divide parmesan into six evenly spaced piles and top with freshly cracked pepper. 7. Bake cheese 5 to 6 minutes at 350 degrees until evenly spread and slightly browned. 8. Cool completely. 9. Toss chopped tomatoes, onion, and croutons in vinaigrette until evenly coated. 10. Garnish with Parmesan cheese crisp and more freshly grated Parmesan if desired.

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As a business owner with a solid plan for professional success, don’t forget to consider the value of your emotional contentment. Do you find yourself experiencing unexplained increased levels of stress? The source may be more easily defined than you think. She’s one of your most loyal clients. Her projects are small but consistent, and she always pays ... eventually. Have you ever calculated overhead in maintaining a difficult client? Small bursts of attention demands accumulate quickly which ultimately results in lower revenue generation. When determining your return on investment (ROI), be sure to compensate your time spent. You receive an order from this client that yields a $100 quote, all-inclusive. You estimate spending an hour from quote to completion. At 4:59 pm you receive an email with the subject line, “Changes.” You roll your eyes and spend 5 minutes reading the overly detailed message, and another five trying to decipher the characteristically unorganized thought stream before determining that a phone call is necessary. You’ve added 10 minutes of time to your project. This is at the end of your scheduled workday, so you will need to decide whether to extend your office time or set this project aside until tomorrow. You know this client will continue to email you until her needs are acknowledged, so responding immediately will cost you less emotionally. You choose to give her 5 minutes via phone call to confirm receipt and ease

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increase sustainable revenue and fire one client

her mental load. A quick phone call to your client confirms that the changes are, in fact, minor and do not need immediate attention. You’ve added 5 minutes of time to your project. Once you complete the project and return to your client, you wait for what you have come to expect: minor discrepancies that are easily rectified with very little time or energy. A 5-minute phone call for a run down of changes results in a measly 5 minutes of updating for job completion. You’ve added 10 minutes of time to your project. She may have great intentions, but your client is a slow payer. It typically takes more than an email invoice to move her pen across a check. You send her a second invoice after 14 days (5 minutes), and a snail mail invoice after 30 days (10 minutes to locate address, print invoice, post for delivery as well as cost of envelope, printed paper invoice and stamp). After 30 days, you are still in collection stage of this completed project. In fact, your client typically waits for what I refer to as a “personal invitation to pay” phone call. You’ve added 10 minutes of time to your project. We can quickly determine that completion of this project took 35 minutes longer than anticipated. In total, you spent 1 hour and 35 minutes. Per our example rate of $100, your ROI is $63. In terms of overall business, this may not seem like a huge deal to you. The emotional impact might be more insightful. How did you feel when you saw an email come through at the end of your business day with a subject

line that indicated additional action was necessary? attempts simply adds to this anxiety. Add to that Did you have planned engagements to consider, the emotional drain of waiting and repeatedly personal or professional? Did your heart rate increase? checking account activity. This not only compounds Did you instinctively reach for a snack or unhealthy the ineffective use of time, but it’s an insult to you drink since you were going to be planted for a few as a service provider. It would be difficult not to feel more minutes? These emotional and behavioral offended by the disrespect, even if unintentional, of spikes affect your mood, concentration and slow pay behavior. response tone. “Firing” a client doesn’t need to be an ugly You opted to satisfy your client’s need for action. affair. In fact, there’s no immediate physical action This is a wise move for necessary. The key to long term professional this emotional freedom relationship is determining one maintenance and client who causes you undoubtedly aided in a more stress and time more relaxing evening than you feel their for her, but how did compensation warrants, this decision affect and deciding not to your own evening? Did accept future proposals you feel frustrated or from her. irritated during your Some of the most phone conversation? common personal Perhaps you are a commitments we make bit resentful that her to ourselves negotiate lack of preparation giving up things that before engaging your we consider to be services has caused you toxic to our wellness. to be late to another Smoking, losing weight, commitment? Does cleaning out clutter and your disgruntlement drinking fewer alcoholic surface with a negative beverages are just a few Releasing ineffective business conversation when in resolutions we easily relationships allows you more time the company of friends recognize as a loss that and family? will ultimately increase to generate new, more profitable We all take pride in in gain of happiness. I engagements. our work and in the encourage you to use feeling of a “job well this same philosophy done.” There is great value in mental relaxation and to improve your professional wellness. Releasing clarity. In our example, you cannot emotionally close ineffective business relationships allows you more this obligation because past experience tells you time to generate new, more profitable engagements. changes will likely be necessary. How much time will It’s likely that you already have an idea of which you spend pondering the upcoming work order and clients are not worth your time. So what are you potential changes? waiting for? Part your hair way over on one side, For many professionals, asking for payment feels scrunch up your face, point your index finger and flex awkward at best. Ongoing anticipation of collection your right to announce, “You’re FIRED!” KC

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Big savings

Keeping employees healthy Written by Sarah Legg

Here is another hot topic in the world of health: workplace wellness. It is a term that has been thrown around for the last couple years as the Affordable Care Act was passed and slowly goes into effect and companies are looking for ways to reduce employee healthcare costs. Workplace wellness is loosely defined as any program provided by an employer to help boost employees’ health. These programs can include anything from health fairs and classes, to free health screenings and healthier foods in the cafeteria. “Not only does a wellness program positively affect a companies bottom line, more importantly, it creates healthier people resulting in a healthier community,” said Jodie Klaus of Kinetic Solutions KC, a consulting firm that works with companies to create training and wellness programs. Workplace wellness initiatives are an attractive benefit for prospective employees, plus these programs can save money for companies. According to a study published in the “Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine,” obesity costs about $73.1 billion to businesses each year in the United States. That is up to $6,000 per full-time employee. Initiating

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a workplace wellness program can decrease healthcare costs by 20 to 55 percent, shorten short-term sick leave by 6 percent and increase productivity by 2 percent. “The benefits are beginning to be more and more data driven,” said Heidi Wolf, who works as a workplace wellness consultant with Humana insurance. “We can start seeing a reduction in claims.” Humana provides an incentive-based employee wellness program called ‘Humana Vitality Program’ for businesses throughout the metro. The companies with which she works have seen lower claims and a return of about $2 per $1 invested in the program by way of lower health insurance premiums. The programs also create happier employees and high employee participation. Companies have experienced up to a 30 percent reduction in overall healthcare costs – savings they can pass on to employees. “(The employees) see the workplace is trying to work for them,” Wolf said. “It increases productivity – people who come to work tend to actually work more. A lot of (program success) has to do with the fact that senior leadership is behind the program, the employees will get behind it … it’s part of their culture.” Humana has provided physicians, nutritionists, fitness trainers and even a gardener for presentations on healthy living. It also facilitates healthy challenges for companies like walking or water challenges where employees are encouraged to walk more and replace sugary beverages with water. “We not only educate employee about health … but also about finding things in a preventative nature,” said Wolf. Employees have found out they have high cholesterol or glucose levels and have had the opportunity to treat problems before they become an issue, resulting in lower chronic condition-based claims. KC

What’s in your bag


Demi French, Aquatics director and NASM certified personal trainer

Written by Brittany Nelson

“You never know where you’ll be when an opportunity to workout comes your way,” says personal trainer Demi French. For her, it’s all about being ready to workout anywhere, anytime. So as a personal trainer and aquatics director at Prairie Life Fitness in Overland Park, Demi is constantly on the go. Here are her eight gym bag essentials:

Gym Bag: Nike

5. Antiperspirant/Deodorant

1. Nike running shoes

“Always stay fresh!”

“I carry my tennis shoes in my bag so I am always prepared to workout wherever I may be.”

6. Snack

2. Water bottle “It’s important to stay hydrated before, during and after your workout.”

3. iPhone and headphones “Music is a must when I’m working out, so I can get in the zone and stay motivated.”

4. Sports bra, tank top and spandex “You never know where you’ll be when an opportunity to workout comes your way, so always be prepared.”

“I usually pack an apple, orange or banana just in case I need energy before or after my workout.”

7. Protein powder and shaker “I’ll take a pre-workout or post workout supplement to repair my body tissues and muscles.”

8. Book of workouts “I carry a binder full of workouts that I have created for when I’m in a hurry and don’t have time to come up with a good workout plan.” KC

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Refinancing Life Insurance: A Timely Opportunity Written by Steve Hoover, The Retirement Pilot Thanks to lower interest rates, refinancing a mortgage has saved millions of Americans a lot of money over the past few years. Car refinancing has also become a popular way to save, but there’s another refinancing opportunity available that most people don’t even know about. Because life insurance rates are now based on updated Census Mortality Tables, it is possible to save a bundle by refinancing a term, universal, variable or whole life insurance policy. Taking advantage of this opportunity is doable if your policy is more than 10 years old. Like any investment plan, you shouldn’t just set your insurance policy in motion and then ignore it. Getting the best coverage for your money requires reviewing it on a regular basis to see if any adjustments – in this case refinancing – might be beneficial. You may think that because you’re older, insurance will be more expensive, but competition and lower mortality rates mean that insurance premiums are getting lower. In fact, you can pay less at age 50 than you did at age 40. Starting two years ago, life insurance rates have been based on the 2000 Census Mortality Tables, which show a higher life expectancy for Americans than the previously used 1980 tables. Now it is possible to take cash value out of your policy and transfer it tax-free to a new policy of the same type. This is because of the IRS 1035 Tax Free Exchange, which allows you to ‘exchange’ any outdated contract – or policy – for a more current and profitable one. For example, if a 62-year-old has a policy with a $14,000 cash value and a death benefit of $26,000, he

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can transfer it to new policy and get a new death benefit of $48,000, which is guaranteed until the insured is 121 years old. This applies to people of all ages. Getting the best coverage for your money requires staying current on your premiums and reviewing your policy on a regular basis to see if any adjustments, like refinancing, might be beneficial. “People should assess their life insurance needs at least once a year as part of any fiscal fitness examination,” said Jack Dolan, media relations director at American Council of Life Insurers. Refinancing is a great way to get more coverage for less; however, you do have to qualify. A physical examination and health assessment are required, but this can work in your favor if your health is good or has improved. This process also gives you the chance to make sure that your policy is right for you and your family. Needs depend on whether or not other people are relying on you for income, if you need life insurance for estate planning purposes, and whether or not you want to leave a legacy at an organization. Refinancing your life insurance is a big decision and you want to do it right, so a consult with a financial planner is recommended. If you have had your current policy for at least ten years or if your financial needs have changed, schedule a time to talk with a financial planner about your needs and what plans are available to meet them. KC You can contact Steve Hoover at or visit Steve does not provide tax or legal advice. Please consult your CPA or attorney before taking any action.

The story of Henri and my mother Written by James H O’Keefe, MD


For the first time in 80 years my mother, Leatrice, found herself living alone after Gus, her 15-year-old dog, died. Starting about then, we noticed she seemed to be walking less and didn’t have her usual spark. For a half a century she was the calm, gentle and caring spirit at the center of a whirlwind of a household. Now being by herself in her home left her feeling lonely and sometimes a little blue. Despite our repeated pleas, Leatrice refused to consider adopting a new dog, insisting she was too old to put up with all the inconveniences of a new pet, especially the house training. So, we took matters into our own hands. With the help of our friends at the Wayside Waifs animal shelter we found Henri – a frisky, 6-pound, affectionate 3-year-old Yorkie/Poodle mix who is the cutest little dog ever. I packed him in a little carrier, boarded a plane with my sister Kerry and a few hours later the three of us arrived on Mother’s Day, without any advance warning, on our mom’s doorstep. Leatrice was outraged that I had so brazenly ignored her wishes. She told us how this animal would be “a terrible inconvenience that is completely out of the question.” I apologized, but firmly explained that Henri’s ticket was for a one-way flight; he wasn’t there to visit – this was his new home. To be sure, the first few months were a bit rocky. It took Leatrice a while to adjust to her new roomie and sometimes we weren’t sure Henri was going to win over his new best friend. Slowly but surely, the tenor of our daily phone conversations changed. At first it was nonstop complaints about accidents on the rug, night-time awakenings for bathroom breaks, having to go outside walking with him, sometimes in rain, sleet or snow.

may | june 2013


I often write a prescription that reads: “One dog. To be taken for a walk once daily (or more often as needed.) Refills: unlimited. Generic substitution permitted.”

As time passed, she began to express how endearing it was to have Henri curl up by her feet when she snuggled into her bed at night, and how he was enthusiastically wagging his tail whenever she returned home from an errand. Or how he would give her affectionate doggy kisses when she picked him up, and how at happy hour Leatrice relaxed with a glass of wine before dinner while Henri sat on her lap and enjoyed a carrot or a little cheese. When she Leatrice and discovered how much he her walking loved to ride in the car, she companion, brought him with her when Henri she was out and about. Soon Henri was welcome everywhere Leatrice went – the post office, the coffee shop, the grocery store and the homes of her friends and neighbors. Her local physician, Dr. Tony Kotnick, spontaneously remarked to me, “That little dog has been very good for your mother; I see the two of them out walking every day.” Now every Sunday afternoon, Leatrice and Henri visit the nursing home in her little hometown of Grafton, N.D., where the two of them brighten up the day for many of the residents. John, an 81-year-old man who has been unable to hear or speak since birth, may be Henri’s biggest fan, as I witnessed during one of their visits recently. Henri scampered into John’s room, spontaneously hopped up on the wheelchair and into his lap and excitedly licked his face. As he petted the little white dog, a tear rolled down John’s cheek. He looked up and smiled at Leatrice, and in that quiet scene, in the language of the heart, an unmistakable message of joy and gratitude came through loud and clear.

Leatrice is a very social person with a nurturing soul who needs a housemate with whom she can grace with her love and attention. Henri gets her out for a walk four to six times a day. She has become friends with other dog walkers in the neighborhood, and the local kids love to run over and pet Henri when they see the two of them out walking. It almost killed me when my mother would say things like, “My friends tell me that they can’t believe my son would be so inconsiderate as to burden me with a new dog at my age.” Although in the beginning all of us, especially Leatrice, had doubts that this little experiment would work out for the best, in fact it has exceeded our hopes. The saga of Leatrice and Henri has confirmed our convictions that pets, especially dogs or cats, can provide unique and powerful benefits for both mental and physical health. From improved fitness and weight loss, to a happier mood, better sleep, and lower blood pressure, pet ownership has been scientifically proven to be one of the best things a person can do for his or her health and sense of well-being. For my mother, Henri was just what the doctor ordered. It is amazing how sometimes a very small thing, in this case a tiny dog named Henri, can make such a big difference in someone’s life. For my patients who, like my mother, are living alone, are physically inactive, and/or are indoors too much of the time, I often write a prescription that reads: “One dog. To be taken for a walk once daily (or more often as needed). Refills: unlimited. Generic substitution permitted.” KC

Dr. O’Keefe is the resident wellness expert for Living Wellness Kansas City. He is a cardiologist at Saint Luke’s Hospital and a leader in preventive health and wellness in the metro.

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May/June 2013