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Healthy Hudson Valley OCTOBER 24, 2013



Healthy Body & Mind

A couple doing the tango at Bard College's Spiegeltent this August.

Start smiling again Social dancing has many forms and many benefits By Lynn Woods


n a recent Friday night, I attended the monthly Cajun dance at the White Eagle Hall in Kingston. Since I was a neophyte, I felt a little nervous. I shouldn’t have been. Everyone stood in a circle for the basic lesson, and I was relieved to discover I could do the simple Cajun two-step following the lead of my various partners, with my upper body locked against theirs, my mind focused on the beat. The energy of the all-female C’est Bon Cajun Band was infectious, and part of the fun

was observing the more graceful dancers in the crowd of 100 or so. Some were doing swing. Others were gliding across the floor while barely moving their feet. But what a workout! Cajun dancing was much more exhausting than the free-style, soul-based rock boogying I had done over the decades. It was fun, challenging — and great exercise. The monthly Cajun and Zydeco dances scheduled over the fall and winter at the White Eagle Hall — its downstairs bar is right out of the The Deerhunter, the classic film about working-class guys going to Vietnam — are among the numerous traditional dances that have gained a following in the mid-Hudson Valley. On any given weekend, it’s likely there’s a swing, contra, English country, Texas twostep, or ballroom dance happening somewhere. There’s a first Saturday English country

dance at the Reformed Church in Poughkeepsie, third Saturday contra dance at St. John’s Lutheran Church, fourth Friday swing dance at the Poughkeepsie Tennis Club, and more. Sponsored under the umbrella organization Hudson Valley Community Dances (HVCD), a nonprofit organization whose volunteer members organize the dances — the $10 or $15 entrance fee covers the cost of the band and rental of the hall — the dances always include a beginner’s lesson (with the exception of contra, in which the moves are called out during the dance). The age of the participants ranges from 18 to 80. This is not an entertainment exclusive to couples. That said, everyone on the dance floor has a partner, which is part of the fun. “The joy for me is moving to the music with a partner, because there’s a give and take,” said Bena Continued on Page 8 PHYLLIS McCABE

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Health briefs ing medical students and share information with other medical practitioners. Baldeck’s book of the same name was published in 2012. The gallery, on the Vassar campus on Raymond Avenue in Poughkeepsie, is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.

Talk about eating Numerous Ulster County practitioners and groups will present the conference “Eating Disorders: A Community Issue” on Friday, November 1 from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Garden Plaza Hotel on Washington Avenue in Kingston. There is no cost to attend. A complimentary buffet lunch will also be provided. Space is limited and registration is required. Spearheaded by the Ulster County Eating Disorders Coalition, in partnership with MHA: the Mental Health Association in Ulster County, Inc., The Renfrew Center of Northern New Jersey, and NEDA: National Eating Disorders Association, the conference will focus on understanding the evolution of eating disorders, working with treatment teams, identifying community resources, and advocating for prevention and treatment. To learn more or to register, call 339-9090, ext.115 or visit

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Old-fashioned anatomy Preserved anatomical specimens, models of the human body and 19th-century surgical instruments are used as building blocks for art in “Bones, Books and Bell Jars: Photographs of the Mütter Museum Collection,” an exhibit at Vassar College’s James W. Palmer Gallery, running through November 14. Photographer Andrea Baldeck, a

Vassar alumna given free rein to mine the Mütter Museum of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia’s vast collection of pathological specimens, anatomical models, surgical instruments, illustrated textbooks and other 19th century artifacts to create her “cabinet of wonders” photographs. The photographs offer a contemporary fusion of art and medicine, recalling an era when artists and physicians collaborated to educate aspir-

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Fruits of research Eating more whole fruits, particularly blueberries, grapes, and apples, was significantly associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes, according to a new study led by Harvard School of Public Health researchers. Greater consumption of fruit juices was associated with a higher risk of type 2 diabetes. The study is the first to look at the effects of individual fruits on diabetes risk. The researchers looked at overall fruit consumption as well as consumption of a wide variety of individual fruits. They also looked at consumption of apple, orange, grapefruit, and “other” fruit juices. People who ate at least two servings each week of certain whole fruits — particularly blueberries grapes, and apples — reduced their risk for type 2 diabetes by as much as 23 percent in comparison


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Jewish Family Services of Ulster County will present its sixth annual Circles of Caring conference, entitled “A Celebration of Aging” on Friday, November 8, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Garden Plaza Hotel (formerly Holiday Inn) in Kingston. Speakers and workshops include Dr. Lawrence Force of Mount Saint Mary College, whose subject is “Are You Kidding Me? Aging In The 21st Century” and Dr. Genie Tartell, who will speak on “All’s Well That Ages Well.” There will also be sessions on financial and personal planning, interpreting dreams, positivity and a host of other workshops. State senator Cecilia Tkaczyk will give a welcoming address. Cost is $25 (students $12; $30 at door), which includes coffee, danish and luncheon. Call 338-2980 for reservations.



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October 24, 2013 Healthy Body & Mind to those who ate less than one serving per month, the study found. Conversely, those who consumed one or more servings of fruit juice each day increased their risk of developing type 2 diabetes by as much as 21 percent. The researchers found that swapping three servings of juice per week for whole fruits would result in a seven per cent reduction in diabetes risk. The fruits’ glycemic index (a measure of how rapidly carbohydrates in a food boost blood sugar) did not prove a significant factor in determining a fruit’s association with type 2 diabetes risk. However, the high glycemic index of fruit juice — which passes through the digestive system more rapidly than fiber-rich fruit — may explain the positive link between juice consumption and increased diabetes risk. “While fruits are recommended as a measure for diabetes prevention, previous studies have found mixed results for total fruit consumption.

Our findings provide novel evidence suggesting that certain fruits may be especially beneficial for lowering diabetes risk,” stated study senior author Qi Sun, assistant professor of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health.

The researchers examined data gathered between 1984 and 2008 from 187,382 participants in three long-running studies. Results showed that 12,198 participants (6.5 per cent) developed diabetes during the study period.

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Building strength


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Pilates is a good way for the unfit to get fitter By Jennifer Brizzi


ot just for boxers and ballerinas, Pilates (puh-LAH-teez) is for everyone of all ages and fitness levels. People with back, shoulder, knee or hip pain, with arthritis or injuries, who are pre- or post-natal, or who just want to get in shape flock to this unique pursuit, to the tune of about nine or ten million of us in the U.S.

Pilates starts with building strength at the body’s core, or trunk, rather than just the arms and legs, which can happen with more conventional strength-training techniques. But Pilates is also known for elongating muscles and making you look taller, and a whole lot more. Its proponents say Pilates, brought to America from Germany in the 1920s by creator Joseph Pilates, makes you stronger and more flexible, agile, coordinated and relaxed, with a better posture, balance, range of motion, circulation and stamina. “I choose to teach classical Pilates,” said Nora Machione-Weiss, owner of Pilates of Kingston, “because Mr. Pilates’ exercise system is a truly unique mind-body method that is simple, yet challenging enough to allow those who do Pilates to constantly deepen their practice.”

Joseph Pilates had rickets and asthma as a child, and as he grew up sought to improve his physical condition by pursuing bodybuilding and gymnastics. He worked as a circus performer and boxer before developing a system to combine Eastern meditative techniques with the development of an athletic physique. “His exercises allow me as a teacher to appropriately, and safely, challenge each client to their workout in order to build a strong body and a strong mind,” added MachioneWeiss. Pilates called his program “Contrology” and with it became the athlete he wanted to be. During World War I when he was being held in a camp with other Germans in England he trained other inmates, using straps and springs from hospital beds to create equipment to help wounded British soldiers. Once in the U.S. in 1926 he began to work with boxers and dancers to improve their form. Spring-loaded, core-focused Pilates begins with 25 to 50 repetitive strength training exercises, each with corresponding con-

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ter, focuses on the approach as designed by Pilates himself, rather than a modern development or “fusion” Pilates. “Classical Pilates refers to the exercises and their order,” said Machione-Weiss, “created by Joseph Pilates and taught with his intentions … control, concentration, centering, flow, breath and precision.” Pilates of Kingston is at 39 Broadway and can be reached at 331-0986 or Stretch, release, milk In New Paltz, at Physique, Petie Russo’s approach includes the Gyrotonic and Gyrokinesis methods, which emphasize flowing, spiraling, swimming-like motions, originally called “Yoga for Dancers.” It’s designed to stretch and release the nerves and milk the spinal column, and also tone muscles and skin. There is a focus on the “seed center,” or the furnace of the body. Gyrotonic was created by Juliu Horvath, who developed it to help his multiple herniated discs. It is said to be especially helpful for those with scoliosis of the spine or joint injuries or surgery. Gyrotonic uses apparatus, Gyrokinesis does not. Russo is certified as an instructor in both methods as well as Romana’s Pilates. She completed a year-long apprenticeship with Romana KryzaPHYLLIS McCABE

trolled breathing, emphasizing the core area that includes abs, back, hips and thighs. Floor exercises on a mat play a part, as well as specialized spring-loaded, sturdy-based machines that were designed by Pilates himself and made by the Gratz company to his specifications. Many studios still use Gratz products, which have lively names like the Spine Corrector, the Reformer, the Cadillac, the Wunda Chair, the Pedi Pole, the Ladder Barrel and the Guillotine Tower. The apparatus predates Nautilus equipment by some 70 years. “It’s called ‘apparatus’ rather than equipment,” explained Machione-Weiss, “because you do the work.” Many if not most Pilates instructors recommend starting out with one-on-one sessions with a teacher. This way the program can be tailored

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to individual needs, fitness levels and goals. Other options for those with some experience are duets, trios and small-mat classes, which people may choose or instructors may recommend, depending on experience and comfort level. “Most people start with private,” MachioneWeiss said, “ideally because when you begin you need to free your mind and concentrate on the muscle groups …. Then the majority jump into classes.” At every level, sessions are custom-tailored to the participant. At her school, Pilates of Kingston, they are by appointment only, rather than a schedule of open classes, taking place in the brightly lit, high-ceilinged space on the second floor of an 1860s building in the Rondout. Pilates of Kingston, which began in 1990 as The Movement Cen-

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Various goals and approaches Mette Coleman is a physical therapist in nearby Rhinebeck who comes highly recommended for her expertise with Pilates for those with physical problems. She advised utilizing the practice as a way to transition toward community-based exercise classes. She offers her existing physical-therapy patients private sessions or mini-mat classes of no more than three at a time. Like Russo of Physique, she received her training from Romana Kryzanowska. She has 20 years experience teaching Pilates and offers the additional attributes of being well schooled in man-


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nowska of Drago’s Gym in New York. Kryzanowska, who passed away in August, had learned Pilates directly from Mr. Pilates himself and carried on after his death in 1967 at age 83. Russo recommends trying all three approaches. Physique is located at 9 North Front Street in New Paltz as well as at a new studio at 77 Cornell Street in Kingston. Call 863-9663 or go for more information. Across the river in Red Hook is Body Be Well. The owner, local Chelsea Streifeneder, went to Red Hook High School and Bard College. As a dancer suffering lower back and hip pain, Pilates helped her feel better, so she joined the ranks, certified at the Sports Center of Los Angeles, and then back to Red Hook to open the studio in 2009. She opened another location in Catskill last year. She said clients have described her approach as “supportive, positive, and understanding.” As with other studios, people of all ages and all fitness levels are welcome. There are small group classes in addition to private and semi-private instruction. Fees vary depending on whether instruction is with Streifeneder herself, or another certified teacher or a teacher trainer. Scheduling semi-private sessions with friends, to lower costs and help with motivation to continue, are encouraged. There are also classes for four focusing on the reformer or the jump board for those with experience. Besides the authentic Pilates method, there are classes in yoga, “Burn at the Barre,” cardio-springboard-tower, integrated stretch and Zumba. Then there’s “Create a Class,” where up to eight people (for equipment classes), say members of an athletic team or bridal party, get together for a custom class.


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October 24, 2013 Healthy Body & Mind ual therapy and orthopedics. Coleman practices physical therapy at 6423 Montgomery by appointment only. Call her at 876-3220 or see her website at Also in Rhinebeck village is Rhinebeck Pilates, at its current location overlooking Rhinebeck Bank Plaza. The studio was the winner of this year’s Best of the Hudson Valley readers’ pick, and last year’s as well. The boutique studio has been open for ten years. “Our goal is to transform lives for our students,” says owner Elaine Ewing, “and this designation is proof-positive that we are making a difference.” The studio recommends combining session types, for example doing one private session and one class each week. Two to three sessions a week are most useful, they say, in order for the participant to feel the benefits most effectively, although even just one weekly session will help. Special classes include cardio Pilates, Pilates ball, pre-natal and TRX, which uses suspension training equipment with the user’s body weight and gravity to develop strength, balance, flexibility and control all at the same time. There is also a mama-and-baby class taught at the nearby store Waddle ’n’ Swaddle. Rhinebeck Pilates is at 23D East Market Street in Rhinebeck. Find them at 876-5686 or www.

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Balance and gentleness The Pilates system combines elements of the mindfulness and breathing of yoga, with the muscle strengthening of weight-bearing exercises and the balancing elements of tai chi. As you progress, you build upon your skills, and the work becomes more and more challenging. But with hundreds of exercises and the versatility of many pieces of equipment to use, it surely never gets boring. With its gentleness on the joints, cartilage and ligaments, Pilates is a good way for the unfit to get fitter. It’s good for aging people whose balance, nerves and muscles are declining in power. It’s good for body, soul and mind. People new to Pilates should consult with a certified teacher prior to starting, and anyone pregnant, over 40, out of shape or with health issues should clear it with their healthcare practitioner first. “Pilates is designed to give you suppleness, natural grace, and skill,” said Mr. Pilates. “That will be unmistakably reflected in the way you walk, in the way you play, and in the way you work.” He also promised, “In ten sessions you’ll feel the difference. After 20 sessions you’ll see the difference. And after 30 sessions you’ll have a whole new body.” •

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Start smiling again continued from page 1 Silber, who coordinates some of the swing dances for HVCD. “At its best, there’s an improvisational component even though there are steps.” Dancing with a partner has its own dynamic and skill, as I learned when I danced with a guy who was one of the best dancers on the floor. He instructed me to push back against his arm with mine, locking us into a single unit, enabling me to better follow his moves and coordinating our energies, a sensation that was new and satisfying. (Silber calls it “the frame.” It’s a little bit different for each dance and dancer, but when in place allows the woman to pick up the signals from the man and follow his lead.)

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tradition. Contra, in which men and women form two lines, is rooted in English country dancing and was done during colonial times and in rural New England in subsequent centuries in grange halls. Swing has its roots in African-American culture,

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October 24, 2013 Healthy Body & Mind dating back to the Charleston in the 1920s, reaching its full flower in Harlem, and becoming a national craze danced to big bands in the 1930s and ’40s. Cajun is the dance of the white Acadians in southwest Louisiana who immigrated from France and Nova Scotia, while Zydeco is the blues-oriented dance music of the black creoles. The bands for these various types of dances are comprised of musicians steeped in these traditions, either based locally or traveling from Canada, the South, New York City, or a dozen other places. (One recent band came from Pittsburgh.) While some of the dances are accompanied by recorded music, aficionados said there’s nothing like dancing to a live band. “There’s an exchange of energy, when you have musicians who like to play for dancers. The Cajun bands will always say ‘thank you, dancers,’” said John Pagliarulo, longtime treasurer of HVCD and the organizer of the dances at White Eagle Hall. He teaches the basics in the beginner’s lesson and has no ambitions to become the best dancer on the floor. Indeed, “what makes it really fun is that everybody dances with everybody.” Susie Deane, who’s been involved with HVCD since it formed in 1979 — she also plays piano and guitar for swing and contra dances — is a particular fan of contra. “It’s faster than a walk,” she said. “It’s easy, and it’s more aerobic than a square dance” since all the partners are moving all the time (in square dancing one couple does all the action while everyone else waits). “You don’t get to stop,” Deane explained. “Some people who are beginners bounce a lot and get tired really quick. The rest of us can

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stimulation for your brain.” For some, the social component is appealing. “You see the same people year after year, month after month, and you get to know them, they do become your friends,” said Silber. “The social aspect is wonderful. It’s good for you.” It sure beats the standard alternative of nights in front of the computer screen or TV. The act of dancing itself brings mental-health benefits. When Silber was going through a tough time years ago, “I’d go out to go danc-

‘[Contra dancing] is faster than a walk. It’s easy, and it’s more aerobic than a square dance.’ — Susie Deane dance all night long,” She noted that the oldest dancer is age 90. Indeed, Silber claimed that the dancers look ten years younger. “It’s good exercise and a wonderful

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24, 2013 10 | October Healthy Body & Mind ing feeling horrible but come home feeling great,” she said. “When you’re dancing, you forget about everything else. Whatever is on your mind goes away because you’re focusing on the music, the dance steps and what your partner is doing. It takes all your attention, and it’s one of those beautiful times when you’re totally present in the moment.”

Fully beneficial The AARP’s website ticks off the health benefits of dancing. It strengthens bones and muscles without stressing your joints. It tones the entire body, improves posture and balance, increases stamina and flexibility, reduces stress and tension, builds confidence, and wards off debilitating illnesses, such as diabetes, high blood pres-

sure and depression. Because dancing also requires cognitive skills missing from other types of physical activities, its special benefits are particularly valuable as you get older. According to a study about leisure activities and the risk of dementia in the elderly by the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City, published in the New

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October 24, 2013 Healthy Body & Mind England Journal of Medicine in 2003, dementia decreased by 76 percent for participants who did ballroom dancing at least twice a week. The research was conducted over 21 years on seniors at least 75 years old. Not only was dancing the only physical activity in the study that resulted in a reduced Alzheimer’s rate, but it accounted for the highest decrease in rates of dementia for all the activities studied, which included reading (35 percent reduced risk) and doing crossword puzzles at least four days a week (47 percent). The lead researcher in the study, a professor of neurology at the college,

theorized that the mental challenges of dancing, such as remembering the steps, moving in time to the music, and adapting to the movements of one’s partner boosts memory and helps keep the mind agile. Pagliarulo, who frequently travels to southwestern Louisiana, where Cajun and zydeco dancing is

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a way of life, said he dances for the simplest, best reason of all: it makes him happy. A year and a half ago, he was unable to dance after having a knee replacement. “When I started dancing again, I started smiling again. It makes me feel good,â€? he said. For a schedule of upcoming dances, visit www. •





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24, 2013 12 | October Healthy Body & Mind

I’m beginning to see the light Full-spectrum sources offer relief from seasonal blues By Frances Marion Platt


or as long as I can remember, I’ve always thought of autumn as my favorite season. I’m no fan of the persistent hazy, hot and humid conditions that often pass for “glorious summer” in these parts. I’m always delighted when they’re finally over and the skies turn their brightest shade of cerulean: the perfect backdrop to the fiery tones of October’s brilliant display of changing foliage. The first chilly snap in the air, the crunch of leaves underfoot and the spicy, earthy smell as I kick them up in my wanderings all conspire to make me fall in love with the mid-Hudson all over again. But, alas, that convergence of sensual delights only prevails during the first half of autumn. By mid-November, the gorgeous blue skies and lowest humidity of the year will have inevitably given way to dense, low-hanging cloud cover, cold drizzles and a dun-colored landscape, at least until the winter snows cover it all with a brighter blanket (presuming that we get snow).


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The coming of winter’s snow and cold doesn’t faze me. I can always put on more layers, and a hefty snowfall year means more opportunities for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing close to home. But the dwindling hours of daylight once the autumnal equinox is behind us — ah, there’s the rub. ’Tis the time of year when, like so many other people, I get SAD. My energy level drops, I’m more likely to feel depressed, I feel the need to eat more (especially carbohydrates) and have more trouble waking up in the morning. Those may be appropriate behaviors for an animal preparing to go into hibernation, but not for a human living in the modern world. Sound familiar? Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a condition that afflicts about one person in five in the U.S. overall, with percentages growing higher the lower your degree of latitude. The earliest known reference to the syndrome is found in a description of the inhabitants of Scandinavia by the sixth-century Roman scholar Jordanes in The Origin and Deeds of the Goths. SAD wasn’t taken seriously by the medical profession until the early 1980s, when, inspired by his own recurring depression during the winter months, Norman E. Rosenthal, M.D. of the National Institute of Mental Health began documenting cases and conducting studies of fellow sufferers. In 1993 he wrote a book titled Winter Blues (Guilford Press, New York) that really put the issue on the layperson’s radar screen. In the 20 years since, this syndrome that was once pooh-poohed as mere psychobabble has become part of the popular lexicon. As of this year’s (admittedly controversial) update to the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), SAD is classified as a specifier, “with seasonal pattern,” for recurrent major depressive disorder, persistent depressive disorder (disthymia) or bipolar disorder, rather than as a mood

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ven if you’re not a sufferer, there’s something that just seems intuitively right about the premise that human evolution prepared us this way for several months each year of weather-enforced reduced activity. The fact that women are significantly more prone to SAD than men also makes sense. Our cave-dwelling female ancestors had to pack on enough fat in the fall to stay alive, especially when pregnant or nursing, through the months of limited foraging opportunities in order to take care of the kids. But in this as in so many other matters, evolution is far behind modern lifestyles. For those of us who live in the north and still have to work or go to school year-round, a grumpy state of mind in the runup to the winter holidays seems to be for humans what becoming roadkill is for animals since the automobile was invented. Just at the time of year when we already have many extra stressors and demands on our time and energies, those energies are likely to be at their lowest ebb. That’s not a good thing. Happily, there are healthier remedies for the miseries of SAD than breaking into that basket of holiday cheer a month too early, and less drastic ones than moving south. Neuroscientists still haven’t reached consensus on the exact biological mechanism by which fewer hours per day of sunlight trigger such symptoms as depression, fatigue, irritability, a sense of hopelessness, poor concentration, oversleeping, overeating, decreased libido, social withdrawal, inability to experience pleasure and so on. But the trigger is

For anyone who is prone to SAD, it comes as a great relief to know that we’re not crazy.


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disorder unto itself. Folks who fall into these categories of seasonally varying clinical depression make up about 6.1 percent of the U.S. population, while those suffering from the milder form known as Subsyndromal Seasonal Affective Disorder (SSAD) make up an estimated 14.3 percent of Americans. While saying that you have SAD if you’re not diagnosed with a more serious form of depression may no longer be technically correct, it’ll do for our present purposes. For anyone who is prone to SAD, it comes as a great relief to know that we’re not crazy. Our brains are just secreting the wrong chemicals at the wrong times or in the wrong amounts in response to daylight deprivation.

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generally thought to involve the neurotransmitters serotonin and melatonin, which play key roles in our circadian rhythms as well as in our moods. Some folks presume a connection with low levels of vitamin D, the production of which in the body is stimulated by exposure to ultraviolet-B radiation from sunlight. But studies thus far have not been promising for vitamin D supplementation as a remedy. It has, however, been shown that Icelandic and Japanese people are significantly less prone to SAD than other nationalities residing at the same latitudes. This may be related to the high levels of fish in their diets, or it may just be genetic. â&#x20AC;˘


o, while a healthier diet canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t hurt, thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s little evidence that it will help much with SAD either. You can attack the problem as you would any variety of depression: with

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24, 2013 14 | October Healthy Body & Mind evidence has consistently pointed to light therapy as the most effective mode of treatment for SAD. One study comparing the efficacy of light therapy and Prozac in 2006 found both equally effective in alleviating symptoms, helping two-thirds of the trial subjects. The light therapy patients experienced relief sooner â&#x20AC;&#x201D; generally within a week of beginning treatment. Getting outdoors in the sunshine for as many hours as possible is of course the optimal form of light therapy, but for most of us, thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s not practicable â&#x20AC;&#x201D; a specially designed lamp or light box is the way to go. The Achilles heel of light therapy is the fact that you have to stay in one place, your face within a couple of feet of the therapy lamp, for a minimum of 20 to 30 minutes daily, as early in the day as possible, until the days have lengthened significantly once again. That doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t jibe with the busy


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schedules of many working Americans, who fly out of the house on weekday mornings without even sitting down long enough to eat a bowl of cereal. The attrition rate for those who try light therapy is therefore rather high. The trick is to find the right lamp for your lifestyle, and to install it in a place where you can consistently spend the proper amount of time â&#x20AC;&#x201D; preferably not too long after you wake up, since the goal is to get your circadian rhythms back in sync. That may be at your desk at work rather than at the breakfast table. There are many models from which to choose your lamp. Freestanding floor models are bulkier and tend to be more expensive, but offer the most flexibility in terms of positioning. Tabletop models have different styles of bases, so if you want to use it while youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re working at the computer, you may want to purchase one with widespread, narrow legs that can straddle your monitor. There are units specially designed for the nightstand, with timers that gradually increase the intensity of light to wake you up with a simulated dawn instead of an alarm clock. The length of the power cord is also a consideration. Many models may require an extension cord. But the most crucial design parameter is the type of illumination offered. To be effective with 20 or 30 minutes of daily exposure, the unit needs to emit 10,000 lux of illumination at a comfortable sitting distance. While arguments have been made in favor of blue or green light, the general consensus these days seems to be that full-spectrum white light is the most effective. To avoid glare, the unit ideally should project the light downward toward the eyes, rather than up from below. You wonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t be staring directly into the light, but it does need to reach your retinas in order to get to your pineal gland. So there should be a translucent, not transparent, cover over the bulbs; white plastic is the norm.


esearching light therapy lamps on the Web can quickly become overwhelming. There are a lot of models and manufacturers out there, some more reputable than others,

with prices that range from $20 or $30 to $350 or more. Look for documentation that the product has been tested successfully in peer-reviewed clinical trials, and that UV emissions are negligible. In my online shopping, I found comments by past users of the product most helpful, right down to the detail that â&#x20AC;&#x153;This model will smell bad when lit up if you donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t remember to take off the cover and discard the rubber bands that keep the bulbs from rattling around during shipment.â&#x20AC;? Since I work at home, I opted for a lamp with a single pillar base, stable enough to move to the kitchen table while I eat and do paperwork each morning and then take away for storage on a cabinet top for the rest of the day, without fear of knocking it over. I wish that the power cord were a little longer, and that I could sit more than a foot away from it, but in general Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve been very happy with my Daylight Sky, manufactured by Uplift Technologies. It has a small footprint, but the base is quite heavy, and in general itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s sturdily built. The list price for this particular light therapy lamp is $220, but itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s usually available on Amazon. com for about $140. The light, though very bright, is cool, flicker-free and not at all uncomfortable for me to have right in my face. When my teenage son tried it, he complained of headaches and gave up on it almost immediately; with light boxes in general, such side effects are said to wear off within a week for most users who experience them. But the proof is in the pudding. I started using the Daylight Sky last winter, and noticed significant improvements in my mood and energy levels within a matter of days. I started using it again shortly after last monthâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s equinox. Although I canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t claim that Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve given up potato chips altogether, it is definitely making a difference in staving off that seasonal downward emotional spiral. If you suffer from SAD, by all means talk to your doctor first about all your options; but hereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s one satisfied customer giving light therapy an unequivocal thumbs-up. For more information on SAD from a most reputable medical source, visit health/seasonal-affective-disorder. â&#x20AC;˘

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s a diabetes educator at the HealthAlliance Diabetes Education Center, my job is to keep the community updated on all diabetes-related issues. A healthy lifestyle helps you control your blood sugar levels along with these five tips: 1. Control your carbohydrates. Since carbohydrates turn to sugar or glucose, we recommend that people with diabetes monitor their carbohydrates and consume a consistent amount every day. Striving for this consistency does help improve your blood sugars. 2. Focus mainly on whole grains. The quality of carbohydrates really does matter. The first word on the ingredients list should say “whole.” That means it includes all parts of the grain and your body actually has to process and break it down. With that being said, we should reduce the amount of refined, processed carbohydrates that do not provide much nutritional value. 3. Test your blood sugar more often. Looking for patterns is what’s really important. We encourage people to test around different meals—before a meal and two hours from the start of a meal—and to strive for no more than a 50-point elevation from pre-meal to post-meal. That tells us that the carbohydrate amount that you had during the meal was appropriate. 4. Move as much as possible. Any movement is better than not moving at all. If your blood sugar is high, simply walking around your house or taking a walk outside to the mailbox and back—even a five to 10 minute walk really helps. So try to be as active as possible. When you’re watching TV, even getting up and moving during commercial breaks helps. 5. Use the plate method for meal planning, especially for your largest meal of the day. Fill half your plate with nonstarchy vegetables that are low in calories and high in fiber and provide a lot of nutritional value. Then divide the other half into quarters. A quarter of the plate should be carbohydrate and a quarter of the plate should be protein. This is a great way to control your diabetes. •

Health Briefs Dr. Tack on Ticks To protect yourself from tick-borne diseases, prevention is key. “The most important thing to do is avoid getting bit by a tick,” Dr. Tack says. Take these steps to stay healthy. If you’re bitten by a tick, remove it imm e d i a t e l y. Dr. Marc Tack Your chances of getting Lyme disease are less if you dislodge the tick within 24 hours of being bitten. To detach a tick, the CDC recommends using clean tweezers and pinching the tick as close to your skin as possible. Pull straight up. If you twist or jerk, the mouth parts of the tick can stay embedded your skin. If that happens, use tweezers to remove mouth parts. Then, wash the area and your hands with rubbing alcohol or soap and water.            If you remove the tick within 24 hours, you’re safe. “An infected tick has to be on you for more than 24 hours to transmit the infection,” Dr. Tack says. If you think the tick has been attached longer

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Post-heart-attack eating

| 15

amining data from about 4000 men and women, researchers found that people whose post-heart attack diets improved the most were 30 percent less likely to die from any cause and 40 percent less likely to die of heart disease. The researchers pointed out that their results are consistent with past findings showing that Mediterranean-style diets — high in olive oil, nuts, fish, and fresh fruits and vegetables — are linked to better health.

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24, 2013 16 | October Healthy Body & Mind

Dangerous obsession “Living with an eating disorder is a lot of work” By Maria Pianelli


o an outsider, Carissa Cancel seemed to have it all – and to do it all. A gifted student and a talented athlete, the middle schooler held a steady spot on the honor roll and balanced her time between the lacrosse field and the volleyball court. When she wasn’t juggling extracurricular activities, she also gave back to her community, serving as a peer mentor and organizing food drives for U.S. troops. However, Cancel harbored a dangerous secret. She was suffering from an eating disorder. With her involvement came the pressure of perfectionism, and with that pressure crippling anxiety. Stricken with depression, she began to crack. Overwhelmed, she took refuge under blankets, where she spent the majority of the day. As her anxiety progressed, Cancel began cutting down on meals and dropped a considerable amount of weight. When she started to get better and gain weight back, however, classmates began commenting on her fuller figure. Alarmed, Cancel grew obsessed with losing the weight. At first, she tried working out and monitoring her diet, but as her anxiety grew, she resorted to more extreme measures -- crash dieting and purging after meals. “It became an obsession that overcame me,” said Cancel, now a 20-year-old student at SUNY New Paltz. “In school I got the most compliments when I was a too small for double zero and weighed less than 90 pounds.” Although Cancel noticed her eating disorder in the eighth grade, she kept it hidden throughout high school. In order to lose weight, she continued to skip meals, binge, purge, and rely on coffee and snacks to keep her energized. It wasn’t until her freshman year of college that she began receiving help. “Living with an eating disorder is a lot of work,” she said. “I pretended things were fine, but I was always exhausted and light headed. I was so unhealthy and malnourished. Even my skin looked sick.”


he is now in recovery. Cancel’s experience has inspired R10ts not Diets, a campus support group designed to help students battling or recovering from eating disorders. Cancel’s vision began with an assignment. As part of her Women Images and Realities course, the media management major was told to com-


Carissa Cancel on the SUNY New Paltz campus.


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Healthy Body & Mind 2013.indd 16

plete a liberating action. Cancel decided to create a blog to help her recount and recover from her experience. “Our society glorifies being that thin, even though they say eating disorders are bad,” she said. “R10ts is designed to be a support group. It’s hard to come to a new place and keep healthy habits, so [through the group] we can all help each other.” R10ts not Diets features daily exercise tips, recipes and inspirational quotes. Cancel also posts warning signs of disorders, as well as facts about the conditions. Above all, she hopes to educate the public while offering a listening ear to other survivors. Though many suffer from eating disorders, few receive the proper attention. The “10” in R10ts not Diets represents the ten per cent of people who seek help for an eating disorder. As Cancel built upon her project, her fanbase flourished. With every post, more students began following the blog and using Cancel’s insights to shape healthy behaviors. Even after presenting her project, Cancel’s blog continued to thrive. Since its debut, she has been approached by a number of students in recovery, thanking her for her efforts. “The most meaningful thank you was from a girl who said I helped her through one of the roughest relapses she had,” said Cancel. “Since R10ts started, it’s helped her stay in recovery. That’s what R10ts is about -- being a support group and helping others get to recovery and stay in recovery.” Cancel also uses her blog as a means to com-

10/22/2013 6:15:03 PM

October 24, 2013 Healthy Body & Mind municate with students suffering with eating disorders. While she is not qualified to offer professional medical advice, her own experiences with body image have helped her form a special kinship with her followers. â&#x20AC;&#x153;R10ts shows others that they arenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t alone,â&#x20AC;? said Cancel. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I answer questions and give advice to those who ask. I also refer them to therapists and nutritionists on campus that can help a lot too.â&#x20AC;? Through those conversations, she began to see how effective her campaign had become. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Ten different people on Tumblr asked me to make R10ts a club,â&#x20AC;? said Cancel. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t think it would ever come to anything, just a blog. But after realizing that it can -- and has -- helped people has helped me stay strong. Everyone needs some extra help sometimesâ&#x20AC;ŚI felt like if I didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t push for this to be a club, Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d fail everyone who follows us.â&#x20AC;? Cancel quickly developed a Facebook page to supplement the blog and began laying the foundation for the new club. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We just got approved so the first meeting is in a couple of weeks,â&#x20AC;? she said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve been working with the National Eating Disorder Association and the school to set up an awareness walk. Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m also hoping to team up with the Feminist Collective and the Body Peace Project Club to make New Paltz a bigger community.â&#x20AC;?


10ts not Diets meetings involve such icebreakers as team building, discussion and exercise. Above all, Cancel hopes to raise awareness for eating disorders. â&#x20AC;&#x153;TV and other media need to be a lot more aware of the content they put out,â&#x20AC;? she said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;While Americaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Next Top Model is a cool show for aspiring models, I will never look like those girls on TV, no matter how hard I try. I would love to see more relatable people in media.â&#x20AC;? According to the National Eating Disorder Association, eating disorders -- such as anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder â&#x20AC;&#x201C; include extreme emotions, attitudes and behaviors surrounding weight and food issues. Individuals may also suffer from EDNOS, or eating disorders not otherwise specified. In these situations, a person adopts a combination of behaviors associated with anorexia and bulimia. Although Cancel has founded a strong support group, she continues face her own struggles. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Recovery takes time,â&#x20AC;? she said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Even now, thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s always that voice in the back of my head that tells me Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m eating too much, Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m putting on too much weight and that I could be so much skinnier and prettier.â&#x20AC;?Â

The group that she built to help others offers Cancel support. â&#x20AC;&#x153;R10t is an important reminder that Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m not alone and that people are looking to me for help,â&#x20AC;? she said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t want to let them down and that gives me the strength to fight the urges.â&#x20AC;? This Thursday, October 24, R10ts not Diets will hold a meeting in the Student Union Building (Room 407) from 6 to 7 p.m. It is open to all. â&#x20AC;&#x153;This has been one of the greatest things Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve accomplished, [but] I think we have a lot to work on as a society,â&#x20AC;? said Cancel. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Eating disorders, and other mental disorders, are looked down upon -we need to work on fixing that...I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t think people realize how life threatening an eating disorder can be. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s all about raising awareness.â&#x20AC;? To learn more about R10ts not Diets, please visit â&#x20AC;˘

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24, 2013 18 | October Healthy Body & Mind

Rick Soshensky, at left, with guitar, sings with music therapy client Michael and others.

Enlarging worlds through healing harmonies Therapist uses music to unlock human potential By Carrie Jones Ross


n April, scientists Mona Lisa Chanda and Daniel Letivin released the results of “a meta-study” on music’s impact on the brain by reviewing and summarizing over 400 smaller-scale studies. The meta-study, published in the Journal of Trends in Cognitive Sciences, determined that music, in addition to enhancing our life experiences, delivers a physiological experience. Its benefits range from stress reduction to boosting the immune system to aiding the development of language skills. The slew of capital letters trailing music therapist Rick Soshensky’s name — MA, LCAT, MTBC, NRMT — means that he has a master’s degree in music therapy, is a state-licensed creative arts therapy and a board-certified music therapist, and that he is also certified in the Nordoff-Robbins. Soshensky, former creative arts director at the Northeast Center for Special Care, started Hudson Valley Creative Arts Services (HVCATS) at 638

Broadway in Kingston two years ago to work with those suffering brain damage, neurological issues, mental-health issues, autism, developmental disabilities, spinal-cord injuries and addictions. Though music means something different to everyone, it means at least something to everyone. That something is a key Soshensky uses to unlock potential. According to the national organization, autism affects one in 88 children, one in 54 boys. It often leaves those afflicted with a reduced ability to communicate and connect with others. Parents of autistic children challenged come to Soshensky looking to expand their children’s expression skills. Soshensky said those with brain damage, dementia, neurological disorders and autism are often unable to speak but still be able to sing. There is a “neurological, holistic” effect with music, said Soshensky. “The music gives them experiences that they might not be able to have. I use the music to help them expand out. People with autism and neurological disorders have very small worlds, but music can help lead them outside of that.” Music-therapy clients perform music, ranging from simply banging a drum to recording their own compositions. They dance, sing, and learn

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Healthy Body & Mind 2013.indd 18

various spontaneous expressions, said Soshensky, to help “unrestrict” themselves.


ohn and Melissa Moser of High Falls has been bringing their nine-year-old autistic son Oliver to HVCATS for music therapy for five years. Though there are hundreds of different therapeutic services for autism, Melissa feels that music therapy has been one of the most worthwhile investments. Oliver responds very well to it. Oliver is nonverbal, but he loves music. He recently got an iPad, and his parents use music on his iPad as a reward. What’s on Oliver’s playlist? Broadway showtunes, alternative music (his mom said his favorite station is New-Wave oldies station First Wave on Sirius XM), Bob Dylan and the theme to the TV show Parenthood. Melissa said that Soshensky learns Oliver’s favorite music to play with her son. Oliver and Soshensky also do dance therapy. “He will move to the movement, move with the drum beating and banjo, helped to improve his eye contact and joint attention with another person,” said Melissa. “It stays with him for a couple of days. All weekend long [after therapy] he is very connected with his dad and I.” Oliver has now begun to vocalize and sing during his music therapy. “Can you ever take away his autism? No,” explained Soshensky. “But you can create an openness to engage in life to experience and have a higher quality life, because for people with disability, it’s about being available to life and not having horse blinders. When I work with a kid like Ollie, I am trying to be intrusive. He will be happy to sit there and bang a drum, but not necessarily with me. But I am connecting with him. When you get into music as a listener or a player, you are not thinking of your life but rather at a higher level.”

10/22/2013 6:15:10 PM

October 24, 2013 Healthy Body & Mind

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Rick explores musical instrumets hands-on with clients.

Another of Soshensky’s patients is 15-year-old “Sue” (her name has been changed for privacy reasons), who is being raised by her grandmother, Carol Netherwoods. Sue has been diagnosed with a mental illness. She has been in mentalhealth services since she was three. Recently, Sue changed from public high school to a school for special-needs students. “Sue is a shy kid and she got bullied,” explained Netherwoods. Her granddaughter is now in a school specializing in behavioral issues, learning how to let things “roll off her shoulders.” Netherwoods said Sue was bullied and even choked in several instances by schoolmates, and now posttraumatic stress syndrome has been added to her pre-existing issues. A lot of Sue’s feelings have been bottled up, Netherwoods said, and she has developed explosive anger issues. “Sue is starting to put things down on paper and writing songs with [Soshensky] and putting her feelings down on paper,” said Netherwoods. “In school she is writing her feelings down in English class. She started by sharing with songs that she had written and now that she feels safer she is starting to share the other feelings that has, which is a huge step for her. She walks in and says, ‘Here, grandma, this is a song I wrote with Rick.’ Sue is writing songs about bullying, [about] how she feels about her mother, [about] how she feels about her father. So it’s hard.” Netherwoods is grateful to see her granddaughter expressing her anger, “because she has a whole

lot of anger. She is finally getting it out instead of keeping it held in.” Sue has discovered her love of music. She loves to sing, and is learning to play the guitar. Soshensky allows Sue to pick the songs, helps her make up songs, and helps write them. “Even though Sue doesn’t get the chords right, he praises her,” said her grandmother. “It has helped. I want her to keep doing it.”


oshensky said music helps channel and “organize” a kid’s energy, partially through the intervals, structure, and comforting patterns found in it. He said music aligns body rhythms, brainwaves and the adrenal system, and creates a sense of well-being. “Everything in this world is based on rhythm in your body, and there’s rhythms

Zweig T h e r ap y

everywhere,” he explained. “The whole universe is based in rhythm. We have this ability to feel like we are in this flow of something that feels positive, being ‘in the zone.’ Music can bring us there.” Soshensky recently conducted a musical therapy session with the kids staying at Washbourne House, Family of Woodstock’s domestic violence shelter. He said the children were hyper, but very musical. He said he played the Isley Brothers’ energetic “Shout” song, and the kids danced and sang along gleefully. “It helps them channel their energy, rather than these kids running under the couch and crawling under the table.” Natalia Armoza of New Paltz said that her daughter Pearl, three, has been working with HVCATS more than half her life. Pearl had a stroke some time around her birth and then fell extreme-

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24, 2013 20 | October Healthy Body & Mind








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ly ill at five weeks old. Upon recovering from her illness, she began missing developmental milestones. As she grew, she was diagnosed with mild cerebral palsy, and has already undergone two surgeries to rebuild her hips. Pearl is delayed in speech and cognitive abilities, and has problems with attention and focus. Her mother said that Pearl showed a lot of interest in music from an early age. Armoza said she discovered Pearl’s love of music through a simple “Mommy and Me” program. Every time she would research CP she saw that music therapy was recommended. “[Soshensky] is a therapist who uses music as a tool to help Pearl, and others, achieve more than they can on their own or through conventional modalities,” said Armoza. “He has helped Pearl with speech, focus, and attention. He has also adjusted his activities to encourage her gross motor development. When Pearl was in a full body cast for ten weeks following her hip surgeries, the sessions with Rick gave her a kind of freedom from her immobility through music. She would leave her sessions smiling from ear to ear and chatting about the drums and songs.” •

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