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This site is an archive of our Well Written Blog posts until April 2020. For the most up-to-date content visit NWIJournal.com.

The opinions and thoughts expressed here those of the authors and do not necessarily correlate with those of the National Wellness Institute. Read more.


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Wellness in 10: 10 facts about wellness coaches

Posted By NWI, Friday, August 1, 2014
Updated: Monday, July 21, 2014

Health coaching is growing in popularity, however, not all people understand what health coaches do. Below are 10 facts about health coaches to help you determine if seeing this type of professional might be beneficial to you.

  1. A Health and Wellness Coach is a guide, mentor, and aide who helps a client take responsibility for his or her own health.
  2. A Health and Wellness Coach encourages personal responsibility.
  3. A Health and Wellness Coach should be seen as a source of support on your wellness journey.
  4. Health and Wellness Coaches may help a client to focus on weight management, food cravings, sleep, energy, stress management, smoking cessation, diabetes management, among other health empowerment areas. 
  5. A Health and Wellness Coach does not diagnose, treat or take responsibility for bringing about wellness changes in a client’s life; rather, he/she guides and supports the client as they progress towards personal wellness goals.
  6. Health and Wellness Coaches tend to focus on behavioral choices along with the basic understanding of dietary patterns and overall health.
  7. Many Health and Wellness Coaches use a strengths-based approach: instead of aiming to correct what is not working for you, they work to build what is working well for you from a wellness standpoint.
  8. Health and Wellness coaches are not (unless they hold another degree) therapists, personal trainers, dietitians, nurses, etc. They are trained to aide you as you work to make positive health and wellness decisions.
  9. If you are looking for a Health and Wellness Coach, first start by checking with your employer. Many workplaces now offer this service as part of a health plan. Health and Wellness Coaches might also be found by contacting your local fitness facility, medical center, or through an online search.
  10. Because there are limited degrees specific to wellness coaching (this degree program is growing, but is still limited), individuals may want to make sure their wellness health coach has a background or degree in the specific area with which they need help (such as nutrition). 

For more information on health and wellness coaching visit: The International Coaching Federation at http://www.coachfederation.org/need/landing.cfm?ItemNumber=978&navItemNumber=567

Tags:  August 2014  Emotional  Intellectual  Occupational  Physical  Social  Spiritual  Wellness In 10 

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Cholesterol 101: What you need to know

Posted By NWI, Friday, August 1, 2014
Updated: Monday, July 21, 2014

The Basics:

  • Cholesterol is both created by your body and can be ingested through the foods you eat.
  • There is “good” and “bad” cholesterol.
  • Good Cholesterol (HDL), is considered beneficial because it helps remove LDL cholesterol (“bad” artery clogging cholesterol) from the arteries. HDL carries LDL cholesterol away from the arteries and back to the liver, where it is broken down and passed from the body. Individuals need healthy HDL levels (guide below) to keep their LDL levels in check. Think of HDL as “happy” cholesterol.
  • Bad Cholesterol (LDL), is harmful because it contributes to plaque that can clog arteries and make them less flexible. Clots can block arteries resulting in heart attack or stroke. Clots can also cause blockages in the arteries that supply blood to the legs (peripheral artery disease) resulting in constant leg pain or even open sores. Peripheral artery disease can also lead to heart attack or stroke. Think of LDL as “lousy” cholesterol.
  • Triglycerides are a type of fat. This fat stores excess energy (calories consumed) from your diet. While we need to store some energy, storing too much is associated with overweight and obesity, physical inactivity, cigarette smoking, excess alcohol consumption and a diet very high in carbohydrates (more than 60 percent of total calories).
  • Lp(a) is a type of LDL “lousy” cholesterol. A high level of Lp(a) is a significant risk factor for the premature development of fatty deposits in arteries.


The numbers: (Please note cholesterol in the US is measured in mg/dl, or Milligrams per deciliter)

  •  Total Cholesterol = HDL + LDL + 20% of Triglyceride levels. Individuals should aim for levels below 180 – 200 (sources vary on the exact number). 200-239 is considered borderline high. Above 240 is considered high risk.
  • HDL “happy” cholesterol for men should be 40 and above and for women should be 50 and above. 60 and above is considered ideal for both sexes.
  • As for LDL “lousy” cholesterol…Individuals are said to be
    • well at below 100
    • still ok with levels below 129
    • borderline high from 130-159
    • high at  160 - 189
    • and very high when above 190
  • Triglycerides are said to be
    • normal when they are less than 150
    • borderline high when they are between 150 to 199
    • high when they are between 200 to 499
    • and very high when they are more than 500

 How to improve your numbers:

  • Exercise helps to increase HDL “happy” cholesterol
  • To lower your LDL and triglycerides
    • Quit smoking
    • Exercise
    • Eat more fruits and vegetables, fish, and fiber, less carbohydrates, processed foods, and saturated fat
    • Consider medication

Note: The American Heart Association recommends that individuals 20 years of age and older have their levels checked every 4-6 years.


American Heart Association. What your cholesterol levels mean. Retrieved on July 21, 2014 from http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/Cholesterol/AboutCholesterol/What-Your-Cholesterol-Levels-Mean_UCM_305562_Article.jsp

Mayo Clinic. Peripheral artery disease (PAD). Retrieved on July 21, 2014 from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/peripheral-artery-disease/basics/causes/con-20028731

MedlinePLUS. Understanding cholesterol results. Retrieved on July 21, 2014 from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/patientinstructions/000386.htm

WebMD. 11 tips to cut your cholesterol fast. Retrieved on July 21, 2014 from http://www.webmd.com/cholesterol-management/features/11-tips-to-cut-your-cholesterol-fast?page=3

WebMD. Cholesterol & Triglycerides Health Center. Retrieved on July 21, 2014 from http://www.webmd.com/cholesterol-management/lowering-triglyceride-levels

Tags:  August 2014  Cholesterol  Intellectual  Physical 

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A Healthier Way to Get Grillin'!

Posted By NWI, Friday, August 1, 2014
Updated: Monday, July 21, 2014

Who doesn’t love a summer cookout? If you're a meat eater it's burgers, hot dogs, maybe some ribs or chicken? For the non-meat eaters it's veggie burgers, meatless hot dogs, and an array of grilled vegetables. But is there a place where these two can meet? A delicious, savory and healthy burger that doesn’t offend the vegetarian or vegan among us! Why yes! Enter the Portobello Burger.

Tested by meat eaters and given high scores on several recipe websites, below is a basic recipe for a Portobello Burger that your whole family can enjoy!


What you’ll need for four burgers:

4 Portobello mushroom caps
2 teaspoons grill seasoning
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce (Includes anchovies, try the recipe below to make your own vegan Worcestershire if need be.)
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 cup grated Cheddar (Remove for vegan recipe.)
1/4 cup mayonnaise (Substitute Nayonaise, a vegan form of mayonnaise for those that don’t eats eggs.)
4 hamburger buns, toasted (Visit your local baker for a real treat!)
A bit of your favorite lettuce or summer greens
1 tomato, sliced (This sandwich is a great excuse to try heirloom varieties.)



  1. Rub the mushroom caps with a damp cloth to clean. Remove stems if attached.
  2. In a small bowl combine the grill seasoning, oil, garlic, Worcestershire sauce and vinegar.
  3. Brush over the mushrooms making sure to coat completely. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the marinade for the aioli.
  4. Heat a grill pan or outdoor grill on medium heat. Put the mushrooms, gill side down, onto the grill and grill about 4 to 5 minutes on each side. After you flip the mushrooms, top each with 2 tablespoons of cheddar (if you are using cheese).
  5. While the mushrooms are grilling, make the aioli sauce by combining the remaining 2 tablespoons of the marinade with the mayonnaise in a small bowl.
  6. Spread each hamburger bun with aioli sauce.
    Remove mushrooms from the grill and serve on the toasted buns with lettuce and tomato slices.

Vegan Worcestershire

Combine the following ingredients in a bowl or washed salad dressing bottle.

2 cups apple-cider vinegar 1/2 cup soy sauce 1/4 cup light-brown sugar 1 teaspoon ground ginger 1 teaspoon ground yellow mustard seed or dry mustard 1 teaspoon onion powder 1 clove garlic, crushed 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


Tags:  August 2014  Cooking  Intellectual  Nutrition  Physical  Recipes  Social 

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Want More Antioxidants? New Research says “Go Organic!”

Posted By NWI, Friday, August 1, 2014
Updated: Monday, July 21, 2014

What does the new research say?

The new research, published July 2014 in the British Journal of Nutrition, finds, through an analysis of current research (343 peer reviewed articles), that there appears to be a statistically significant nutritional difference between organic and non-organic foods. Specifically, organic foods had much higher levels of antioxidants. Moreover, pesticide residues were found to be up to four times greater on non-organic produce. Non-organic produce also had higher levels of the toxic metal cadmium.

Why should I care about antioxidants anyway?

Many antioxidant compounds are linked to a reduced risk of chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease, neurodegenerative diseases, and certain cancers. The cells that make up your body (as well as all living organisms) oxidize. Essentially, they break down and die. Fish spoils, fruit turns brown, your cells change and die (and are often replaced by new cells such as skin regenerating). While oxidation and dying cells is normal, sometimes damage cells try to repair themselves by taking things from other healthy cells. Antioxidants help to keep these “stealing cells,” also known as free radicals, in check. Many human behaviors, such as smoking, exposure to pollutants externally and nutritionally (pesticides, alcohol, etc.) cause more free radicals. Too many free radicals and the body becomes weaker.

Sure. Easy enough to say, but what about the cost?

If you like statistics, http://www.statcrunch.com/5.0/viewreport.php?reportid=26512, is a great resource that compares the relative cost of organic to non-organic food. The site found that essentially, organic produce, overall, is about $0.17 more expensive per item. If that is significant to you, read below for some cost saving ideas to eat more organic produce.

What are some creative options?

  1. Plant a garden and can or freeze produce for non-growing months. If you don’t have a space for a full garden, consider container planting. Every little bit helps. Not only are gardens great because you know what your food comes in contact with, but they are a great learning tool, a way to get exercise, and can bring communities and families together. Physical, emotional, social, and intellectual wellness in one little plot of dirt. Here is a helpful link about gardening for beginners: http://www.organicgardening.com/learn-and-grow/beginners-guide-organic-gardening. For tips on container gardens, check out http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/1000/1647.html.
  2. Invest in a Farm Share or Community Supported Agriculture. If the shares are too big for your family unit, consider splitting a share with some friends or co-workers. Here is a helpful link for finding out more about CSAs: http://www.localharvest.org/csa/
  3.  Concentrate on buying the organic option for produce that would typically have the most exposure to chemicals. For instance, buy organic lettuce instead of organic bananas because you can remove the skin of the bananas and some of the harmful toxins.
  4. Visit your local farmers market. The prices are not always better, but there may be some deals, especially at the end of the day.
  5. If you must buy non-organic, make sure to invest in a produce cleaning brush and always wash your fruits and vegetables before eating them.


Baranski, M. et al. (July 2014). Higher antioxidant and lower cadmium concentrations and lower incidence of pesticide residues in organically grown crops: a systematic literature review and meta-analyses. British Journal of Nutrition. doi:10.1017/S0007114514001366

Tags:  Antioxidants  August 2014  Nutrition  Organic  Physical 

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Wellness Still Simple: Exercise proves to be a good prescription…again!

Posted By NWI, Friday, August 1, 2014
Updated: Monday, July 21, 2014

We all know that exercise is good for us, but when was the last time your doctor prescribed it?

According to a recent Queensland University of Technology study, women could benefit from actually being prescribed “exercise.” Specifically, high-intensity exercise is both good for women’s overall physical and mental health.

While health professionals often encourage exercise, they could go a step further and actually prescribe tailored exercise programs, according to the authors of the study. The study looked at the health of women over 50 for a period of five years and found that 30-45 minutes of somewhat strenuous exercise per day is most beneficial (this recommendation is more than the previously recommended 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day). The researchers found that these older women were capable of undertaking a range of activities beyond simply walking such as jogging, running, hiking, swimming, and bike riding.

The researchers' final recommendation: Doctors should be developing and prescribing exercise programs that are home-based and easy to incorporate as part of everyday activities.

Debra Anderson, Charlotte Seib, Laura Rasmussen. Can physical activity prevent physical and cognitive decline in postmenopausal women? Maturitas, 2014; DOI: 10.1016/j.maturitas.2014.06.010

Tags:  August 2014  Exercise  Physical  Women 

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August Inspiration: Spiritual Wellness

Posted By NWI, Friday, August 1, 2014
Updated: Monday, July 21, 2014

This month’s wellness inspiration is inspired by Spiritual Wellness, being connected to something greater than ourselves. During the summer months (adjust appropriately for your hemisphere), we get to enjoy warmer weather, may stay outside more, and get to connect to our surroundings and environment. Our connection to the great outdoors is so important to our overall wellness there is even a term for doctors prescribing time in the great outdoors, "Park Rx."

Below are a few sentiments to inspire you to fulfill your Park Rx while the weather is nice, stars are shooting in the skies, and the nearest body of water beckons.


There is pleasure in the pathless woods; There is rapture on the lonely shore; There is society, where none intrudes, by the deep sea and music in its roar: I love not man the less, but Nature more. -Lord Byron

In wilderness I sense the miracle of life, and behind it our scientific accomplishments fade to trivia. -Charles A. Lindbergh

I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order. -John Burroughs

I still get wildly enthusiastic about little things… I play with leaves, I skip down the street and run against the wind. -Leo Buscaglia

In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous. -Aristotle 

Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see a shadow. -Helen Keller

Knowing trees, I understand the meaning of patience. Knowing grass, I can appreciate persistence.  -Hal Borland

Let the rain kiss you. Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops. Let the rain sing you a lullaby. -Langston Hughes 

Never measure the height of a mountain until you have reached the top. Then you will see how low it was.  -Dag Hammarskjold 

We do not see nature with our eyes, but with our understandings and our hearts.  - William Hazlitt 

Nature always tends to act in the simplest way.  -Bernoulli

Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience. -Ralph Waldo Emerson 

A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.  -Greek Proverb

When preparing to climb a mountain – pack a light heart. -Dan May

Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit. -Edward Abbey

May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds. -Edward Abbey

An early-morning walk is a blessing for the whole day. -Henry David Thoreau

Now I see the secret of making the best person, it is to grow in the open air and to eat and sleep with the earth. -Walt Whitman

Nature has a funny way of breaking what does not bend.  –Alice Walker

If you are seeking creative ideas, go out walking. Angels whisper to a man when he goes for a walk. -Raymond Inmon

Tags:  August 2014  Environment  Inspiration  Nature  Social  Spiritual 

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