Fed up? WellBeingMD offers nourishing ‘March calmness’

 

     March Madness® and all the basketball-related frenzy that comes with it have become so ingrained in the American mind that the NCAA has actually registered the term as a trademark.

            But while millions of people get caught up in the madness of the annual college and high school hoops playoffs, a nationally-known, prevention-oriented health center in Palos Heights is walking a different path.

“Instead of March Madness®, we are promoting ‘March calmness,’” said John R. Principe, M.D., an internist and creator of the WellBeingMD model for better living. “We’re promoting a way to calm your life down and make it more manageable, less stressful and more integrative so that people can really get a handle on their lives.”

From his WellBeingMD Center for Life, 11950 S. Harlem Ave., Principe is focusing on three new initiatives—among a number of ongoing programs–in the weeks ahead.

“March is National Nutrition Month, and we’re taking the position that, in addition to the way that we nourish the body through food, we want to approach nourishment from three dimensions,” Principe said.

“First, clean eating,” he continued. “Second, nourishing the body through movement, and finally, nourishing the mind in very specific ways.”

What we put in our mouths and why, will be explored in the film “Fed Up” to be shown at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 18, and from 2 to 3:30 p.m. Sunday, March 22, at WellBeingMD. Admission is free to view the 2014 documentary, which explores how processed foods are “really destroying our health,” Principe said. “People are addicted to sugar, fat and salt—the three most addictive substances that are out there. Well really, there have been studies where rats are given the choice between heroin and sugar, and they take the sugar.” If people who see the film want to know more, they will have the opportunity to sign up for Dr. Prinicpe’s next Roadmap to Wellness course.

A second offering is a new movement class, Ageless Grace, a “chair-based exercise program that integrates the mind and the body,” Principe said. “It is remarkable. It can take people with cognitive disabilities, memory loss, and it activates—through 21 different exercises—different parts of the brain, causing these neuro-connections to get re-wired if they’ve been dis-wired or to actually make new connections if old connections have fallen out. It’s amazing, it’s powerful.”

Principe said the program uses “music that people love to hear and engages them in movement in the chair, but they make them do it in ways that are not conventional.

“We’re so used to routines, and that inhibits brain growth,” he added. “After the class, the instructor will tell people to take a different route home tonight. The important thing is to modify your routine, even slightly, and that can have a good impact on your brain and on your life. Equalizing the transformation of information from both sides of the brain is just amazing.

The technique, Principe said, “has been shown to work with everyone, from people who have had fairly common, mild memory loss to stroke victims and people that have had severe brain trauma. It’s all about neuro-plasticity, meaning you can build new neuro-connections.”

Classes are set for 1 to 2 p.m Wednesdays. A 10-week run costs $100, with drop-ins charged $12 a session. For more details, call instructor Theresa Suchy McGraw at 214-6799.

The third initiative is a series of meditation classes to learn how to still the mind.

Principe is a believer in the power of people using their mind to cure themselves of a range of diseases and medical conditions.

“Your mind is powerful enough to control your genes,” Principe asserted. “It turn genes on, it turn genes off. It’s absolutely amazing.”

He added that studies have shown that people who meditate are less likely than others to suffer dementia in their older years.

The key is using meditation to control one’s stress response.

“When a sabre-toothed tiger is chasing you all day, in different forms—deadlines, problems with kids, whatnot—you have no relief,” he said. “What I’m saying is that if you learn how to relax—truly relax and clear the mind—that’s when the health benefits start coming in, because now the stress response is now turned off.

“That’s important because when your stress response is always on, part of your brain actually swells and stays swollen,” Principe added, saying he believes that chronic swelling can be a contributing factor in dementia.

The meditation class will be held on all four Tuesday in March, from 7 to 8 p.m. Cost is $40 per person for the series. Group rates are available. For more details, call instructor Renee Oswald at (312) 203-3185.

For details on other classes at the Center for Life, call 448-9450 or visit WellBeingMD.com online.

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Photo by Tim Hadac

Dr. John Principe, an internist and creator of the WellBeingMD model for healthier living, with some of the life-affirming artwork that graces the walls of the Center for Life, 11950 S. Harlem Ave., Palos Heights.

 

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