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Ageless & Inspired March Spotlight Story


A featured spotlight showcasing the exercise habits of everyday, local people ages 65 and older.

Response from: Elaine Clark

“I have been exercising all my life.  When I was young, I trained and performed in dance.  At the age of 50(?) I began having severe arthritis pain.  Doctors even suspected rheumatoid arthritis and suggested I try aqua therapy.  I followed their advice and the arthritis pain gradually dissipated. However, I was so fond of the water workouts that I became an arthritis water instructor at the YWCA.  I also instructed at Willow Knoll Country Club, which is now YMCA of Peoria.  As I aged, I became aware of my body’s propensity for osteoporosis so began Group Power classes at the YMCA.    I truly enjoy these classes, especially because of my dance background. l love hearing the “young” music and the choreography.  I will turn 77 the end of February and am proud of the fact that I can “hang” with the younger clients.  I have been able to lower my blood pressure and cholesterol levels as well. My routine now is to attend Group Power classes three times a week, do aqua aerobics twice a week, and try to walk the other two days. I really think exercise has kept me healthier, physically and emotionally. “

Whatever your story is regarding exercise; we would love to hear it. You never know, you just may empower someone to be like you. You can share your story by either mailing it to us at the Couri Center or you can email it to: .

Just answer the following five questions and share your journey with us!

  1. How old are you and on average, how long have you been working out?
  2. What type of workouts do you enjoy most and on average, how often do you work out?
  3. What motivates you to work out?
  4. What health benefits do you see as a result of your regular workouts?
  5. What challenges have you faced with your exercise and how have you overcome them?


Belila…A Favorite Egyptian Breakfast

belilaIngredients (Serves 6)

½ pound (1 cup) wheat berries (available at any local natural food store)

3 cups water

2 cups skimmed milk

1-tablespoon honey

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

1-tablespoon orange flower water

1 apple, chopped


  • Soak the wheat berries overnight in water to cover and drain.
  • Combine with the water and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce heat, cover and simmer about 1 hour, until the skins split.
  • Drain
  • Heat the milk and stir in the honey, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, and orange flower water.
  • Add the wheat and stir until the milk just reaches the simmering point. Serve, topping each portion with chopped apple.

Nutritional Information:

Calories 189

Fat 2g

Sodium 46mg

Protein 8g

Carbohydrate 37g

Cholesterol 2mg

The Truth About Your Body Mass Index (BMI) By Leslie Rusch-Bayer, RD, LDN, CPT

bmiThis is the year! Exercise is now part of your lifestyle, you have been eating more fruits and vegetables and you feel less stress. You feel good going into your yearly physical exam at your primary care doctor’s office. That is until halfway through the appointment you feel the conversation coming. Your doctor informs you that based on your body mass index (BMI) you are classified as overweight and you need to lose 20 pounds. But WAIT! What about all of your new healthy lifestyle changes- do they not count? How did this just happen?

Yes, the dreaded BMI calculation. It stresses everyone out. All of the sudden someone who is living a healthy, active and stress-free lifestyle is forced into rethinking everything she is doing because of a calculation called Body Mass Index. BMI is: Weight (lbs.) / Height (cm) 2 X 703.1 Makes total sense right? Wrong. How can a mathematical calculation tell my physician what is, or is not a good weight for MY body?

The Body Mass Index calculation was created as a quick, easy and inexpensive way for the medical community to calculate if a patient is of healthy weight, overweight or obese. It does not measure fat, it measures weight vs. height. People who fall into the healthy weight category have a BMI < 25. The overweight category falls between a BMI of 25-29.9. The obese classification is a BMI > 30. So what does this tell us about how healthy we are? Nothing.

There are two major flaws with BMI. BMI does not take into consideration muscle mass. In the last 50 years, diets and exercise patterns have changed. We as humans are eating more protein thanks to diets rich in high quality meat, eggs, nuts, beans and even the protein shake craze. Not only are we eating more protein, but we are also dedicating time to exercise. Exercise has not always been needed. Prior to the age of technology people “exercised” by participating in activities such as: working on the farm, playing, chores, walking to work and gardening. Many people, especially in this day and age, are quite active. Whether we are talking about a high schooler participating in team sports, runners, CrossFit-ers, cyclists or you average Joe at the gym, we as humans are carrying more muscle. As we all know, muscle weighs more than fat. You cannot make a claim that compares a 250-pound professional athlete with a 250-pound sedentary person. They are not the same!

Thankfully, a new study published in the International Journal of Obesity is showing that body mass index is “ineffective, since millions of ‘perfectly healthy’ Americans are being mislabeled as either overweight or obese.” This study took data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey and examined the link between BMI and other vital health factors such as blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol. The study concluded that 34.4 million people with a BMI between 25-29.9, 19.8 million people with a BMI between 30-34.9 and 2 million people with a BMI greater than 35 were healthy by all other biomarkers. Therefore, we question: should we use BMI as a marker of health?

Jeffrey Hunger, a co-author is the study stated, “BMI does not speak to behaviors, although our study can’t speak directly to this issue, I suspect that lifestyle factors, such as being active, are more important that BMI in predicting actual health. Generally speaking, we need to end the laser focus we have on weight and start truly focusing on health.”

If you are concerned about your weight, we offer a more in depth and accurate form of measurement called a bio impedance analysis. This form of measurement uses four sensors, two on your hands and two on your feet, and a small electrical current to measure body fat. This test is quick and efficient. The outcome of this test will show whether a patient is overfat or carries a healthy amount of fat. Again, this is not a marker of health, but this test will show whether the amount of fat you are carrying could be impacting your health in a negative manor.

If you are interested in our bio impedance testing, I encourage you to call the office or schedule an appointment online:

Leslie Rusch-Bayer





The Joys and Health Benefits of Pets By Terry Polanin, MSN, APN

krista.horseI have been blessed to have pets in my life. From the time I was a little girl, my parents appreciated having pets as part of our family. My past is filled with many cats and dogs-Bootsy, Taffy, Pugsley, Buffy, Lucky, Lydia and Mamma Kitty, Puya, Frosty, Walter, Eutektik, Sam, Macho Man, Hansel and Gretel, Callie, Molly, and Smudge.   Currently, we enjoy our Valley Bulldog, Brutus (though he does eat anything he can get his paws on when we are not looking); our daughter’s horse, Silly Filly, and my “ senior citizen” horse (age 29), Copper.   Each, in their own unique ways, brings us much joy, happiness, and unconditional love.     It was not until recently when we lost our 17-year-old cat, Spunky that I began to reflect on just how important animals can be- not only with the unconditional love they bring, but also in the proven health benefits. Unconditional, non-judgmental love…asking for only love and care in return for loyal, faithful companionship. Accepting us as we are…forgiving and devoted friends.

These qualities can be found in many types of animals, not just in dogs and cats, but in hamsters, fish (who eagerly swim to the edge of the bowl when they see you), guinea pigs, hedgehogs (RIP Marilyn Pearl and Sonic), and yes—even horses as large as they are- that become devoted pets faithfully serving their owners and only expecting loving care in return. Because of these qualities, we humans gain much more, according to the research, beyond the love we receive from our pets. Pets impact our bodies, our minds, and our spirits! They promote a sense of well being as they give love. They are funny and make us laugh. Laughing boosts our immunity and feelings of well-being!   Pets are non-judgmental– not caring about how we look or even act. They don’t care about your finances, your age, your socio-economic status, and the color of your skin, your religion, or the state of your health. Pets provide unconditional acceptance…. and they can be a vital support in times of sadness or grief.     Research has shown that when older people lose a spouse, they may experience less depression if they have a pet in their life.   Pets, in fact, do impact our health in many positive ways.IMG_2974

Medical research indicates that pets may increase the life expectancy of someone who has had a heart attack. Pets are proven to reduce blood pressure. According to a study from the University of Minnesota, it was found that people without cats were about 30-40% more likely to die of heart disease. Other studies indicate that people who owned pets had lower cholesterol levels. Stroke risk may be lowered in people that own cats, as well.

Pets may help boost your immune system—the happy feelings that you get with a cat, dog, or other pet, helps to improve your immunity.

Animals also sense when their owners are ill or sad and provide comfort, thus boosting healing. Pets satisfy the need to touch and to be touched. Just petting or rhythmic stroking of a cat or dog can be soothing to the animal but also relieves stress in humans. Stress is also reduced when your pet snuggles with you. Did you know that just 15-30 minutes of quality time with your pet could elevate your mood and improve your production of the brain chemical serotonin, so that you feel better emotionally which also   reduces the stress hormone, Cortisol. Cortisol elevations can then increase blood pressure and hypertension.

According to Mayo Clinic (2016), animal-assisted therapy can significantly reduce pain, anxiety, depression, and fatigue in people—people receiving cancer treatments, in long-term care facilities, people with post traumatic stress disorder and chronic heart failure have been known to improve with animal therapy. Animals assist in rehabilitation of people re-learning to walk and perform activitites. Pet therapy is being utilized in colleges and community settings to help people deal with anxiety and stress. Mayo Clinic is even implementing a program calling “Caring Canines” with dogs making regular visits to hospital departments to help reduce stress, relieve loneliness and fears . Therapy dogs are trained to comfort those that are hospitalized or in long term care facilities.IMG_3222

In the Peoria area, several programs are available utilizing horses and horseback riding to promote well-being for persons with disabilities and to improve the quality of life in individuals with mental or physical illnesses. The Central Illinois Riding Therapy (CERT) is a program serving persons with a variety of physical, emotional, behavioral, and mental disabilities. This program is primarily run by volunteers in the community and may be contacted for further information. Mended Hearts is a program in Germantown Hills, IL, utilizing Equine Therapy promoting horse-assisted mental health and therapy.

The actual care of a pet, though sometimes labor-intensive, improves your sense of well-being and responsibility . Horses, dogs, and cats also teach children responsibility in caring for and training another living creature. This provides the benefits of responsibility which improve self-confidence and that “warm fuzzy” feeling of love and accomplishment.

If a person is interested in obtaining a pet, there are many pets in need of good homes. To name a few in the Peoria area: Pets for Seniors, Foster Pet Outreach, ARK animal shelter in Marshall County, and Tazewell Animal- No Kill- Protection Shelter (TAPS) or Peoria Area Welfare Shelter (PAWS) . I would like you to consider the joys and health benefits of having a pet in your life. Or even the joys of volunteering in one of these organizations to help place pets in need of good homes.

Do you need a little fun, laughter, joy, love and better health ? Think about it… According to Clare Staples book , Everything I Know About Men I Learned From My Dog :

“One day I would like to be the person my dog thinks I am…”

Wishing you good health and well-being,

Terry Polanin, MSN, APN, Family Nurse Practitioner


A tribute to Spunky :

When tomorrow starts without me

Don’t think we’re far apart

For everytime you think of me

I’m right here inside your heart.





The Link Between Hormone Balance and Weight Loss By Dr. Michele Couri, MD, FACOG, ABIHM

woman pinch mid sectionAll too often the “change of life” results in unexpected weight gain and a change in body composition. Our pants may not fit as well, we may have acquired a “muffin top” or we may find that we have lost our muscle tone along with our skin becoming saggy. Many women find that no matter how sensible their diet or how frequently they exercise; they still start packing on the pounds once perimenopause or menopause begins.

This problem is primarily driven by estrogen and testosterone loss that occurs during menopause. The loss of estrogen and testosterone causes a number of health issues, one of which is deterioration of muscle mass. Quite often, I see deficiencies in these crucial hormones in women starting as early as their mid to late 30s. Because muscle burns more calories than fat, less muscle also means fewer calories burned, all of which adds up to a recipe for a slower metabolism.

As a gynecologist, I frequently witness my patients’ frustration with menopause related weight gain. In fact, weight gain is one of the top complaints among my patients. Quite often they say to me, “Why is this happening to me and is this a normal part of aging?”   Sudden weight gain is not only frustrating; it can have a long-term, detrimental effect on a woman’s health. Menopausal weight gain tends to be isolated to the mid-region of the body — known to many as a “muffin top.” Belly fat isn’t just unattractive. It also increases risk for a number of serious health problems, including diabetes, heart attack and stroke. Research also has associated belly fat with an increased risk of premature death — regardless of overall weight. In fact, some studies have found that even when women were considered a normal weight based on standard body mass index (BMI) measurements, a large waistline increased the risk of dying of cardiovascular disease.

The average age of menopause in this country is 51.5 years. However, perimenopausal changes and hormonal imbalances can begin as early as the mid 30s. When menopause occurs, we become hormonally deficient. A woman no longer produces estradiol (her most important estrogen), and quite often, her testosterone levels plummet as well. Endocrine hormone deficiency depletes the body of these vital substances and impacts many body functions negatively, including weight control. It’s a time of life when we become more susceptible to diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s and others. Bothersome symptoms such as fatigue, brain fog, hot flashes, night sweats, decreased libido and mood changes can start as well during this time. When estradiol and/or testosterone are restored to beneficial levels using properly administered bioidentical hormone pellet therapy (harmonié hormone balancing here at the Couri Center), patients can once again feel vibrant. In fact, properly balanced hormones can make it easier to lose weight and keep it off. Let me explain how.

BHRT & Weight Control

  1. Hormonal balance means better sleep. Research has linked sleep deprivation with obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and depression. Estrogen is a key sleep-supporting hormone. Beneficial testosterone levels allow for deeper sleep. More hours of sleep will help lower your cortisol level, which can result in weight loss.
  1. Testosterone replacement can increase muscle mass and help you lose fat. Many women suffer from muscle wasting as they age. At the same time, low testosterone contributes to the “fat tire” around your middle. Achieving healthy blood levels of testosterone through bioidentical hormone pellet therapy can help burn fat. You’ll once again see positive results from exercise and working out.
  1. Healthy hormone levels increase metabolism, restore energy, boost motivation and are key to fitness, weight loss and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. On the flip side, hormone deficiency decreases your quality of life. Estrogen deficiency has been linked to slow metabolism. Hormonal imbalance increases the likelihood of depression, low energy, and lack of motivation, all of which contribute to weight gain or inability to lose unwanted weight.

If you are struggling with unwanted weight gain that you think may be due to a hormonal imbalance, please do not hesitate to call or schedule an appointment online to discuss your concerns. We have dedicated our lives to empowering women like you.

To Your Health,

Dr. Couri

Fundamentals of Clean Eating By Hope Placher, PA-C, MMS

Fundamentals of Clean EatingEat as close to the past as possible.

Here’s what to eat as much as possible: plants and animals that are whole, unprocessed, organic/wild crafted/natural, free-range, pastured, grass-fed, consciously sourced. Here’s what to try and avoid or limit: processed grains, legumes, refined sugar, artificial anything, processed garbage.

What food isn’t.

Real food is not chemically processed. It does not have added sugar. It does not have more artificial ingredients than real ones. It does not need artificial color or dyes to make it look more appealing.  Bottom line – if your grandmother would not recognize the ingredient list, it’s not real food.

Spend wisely.

Some organic products offer the consumer more value than others, so if you’re on a budget, it’s important to buy organic strategically.  Get to know your local farmers. You will find great pricing on food that is locally sourced. Focus your ‘organic dollars’ on fruits and veggies that are on the dirty dozen list. Go conventional on the clean fifteen. Plus, think of all the money you won’t be spending on processed, food-like substances.  I want you to have the freedom to spend your hard earned money on food that will nourish you from the inside out. I don’t want you to be forced to spend your life savings on medical bills due to chronic disease. Feel like you can’t afford to eat clean? You can’t afford not to.

One step at a time.

Clean eating is about the journey. It’s not about all or nothing. Everyone’s on his or her own path. It takes years to develop new habits and unlearn old ones. Be honest with yourself, but don’t be so hard on yourself that you make yourself miserable. How to be honest: keep a journal, and look back on yourself, 4 weeks ago, six months ago, a year ago. See progress? You’re doing well.

We are human, not perfect.

Not only that, but most of us spent our formative years developing cravings and comforts around the Standard American Diet (SAD). It’s impossible to go back in time 10,000 years, so don’t sweat the occasional pizza, if it makes you happy. It’s about larger eating patterns, not the occasional “cheat.” In fact, I don’t even like the word “cheat,” because it frames the world from the perspective of deprivation, not abundance. When you get to a good balanced place, you will always eat exactly what you need at any given time, and it will be just right.

Clean eating taste good. Really good.

Health food has become synonymous with bland, joyless eating.  Clean eating is really about focusing on the enjoyment of life, not depriving oneself. It’s about the experience of eating wonderful foods created by people who bring consciousness and care to what they’re doing. It’s about delighting in amazing ingredients — textures and flavors and spices and layers of goodness.

Hope Placher, PA-C, MMS

Vote Couri Center: Best of Peoria 2016

BlueSteelFor years, YOU have been telling us what excellent customer service we provide.   Thank you so much for allowing us the opportunity to take care of you!  Providing you with outstanding medical care & patient service is our priority and it’s our privilege to give our best to YOU.

Each year, Peoria Magazines conducts a Best of Peoria contest whereby you can nominate ‘the best of” in multiple categories.  We encourage you to take a moment now and choose Couri Center for BEST CUSTOMER SERVICE in the business category.

Voting is EASY.  


State:  “I Vote for Couri Center for BEST customer service, 2016!”

Won’t you please vote for Couri Center?

Thank You for your help.