Rediscovering Yourself By Leslie Rusch-Bayer, RD, LDN, CPT

bcbtlsbspqy-drew-coffmanWelcome to 2017. What will this ‘New Year’ look like to you? As we find ourselves already facing a new year, I ask you to really think about what you would really like to change about yourself.

I meet with women on daily basis who describe feelings of weakness, frustration and embarrassment due to ongoing joint pain, fatigue, bloating, weight gain and general frustration about health. As many of you know, the TLC™: Total Lifestyle by Couri program was designed by Dr. Michele Couri to help women overcome these signs and symptoms and uncover the joy and passion for life they have been missing.

We are all different. No one diet, exercise plan or medical care should be duplicated. Welcome to personalized medicine. At the Couri Center we believe that every woman has the ability to feel better and make positive changes to her own health. We strive to provide you with the tools, knowledge and motivation you need to make LIFE LASTING changes. Let us help you. Don’t let 2017 be exactly like last year. Make this the year the year you decide to take control of your health, your weight and your life.

I encourage you to read and learn about Rita. Rita finished the TLC™ program in November 2016. Her journey is quite different that anything we have shared before. Rita was generally healthy when she started the program, but was frustrated that the few concerns and symptoms she had were not being seriously addressed by her family physician. Throughout the program Rita was able to uncover a newer, healthier, symptomatic-free and much lighter person than she knew existed. The best part is Rita’s one word answer for “if the new you could talk to the old you, what would you say,” IT’S EASY.

When you first thought about the TLC program, what was your motivation?

I wanted to address not only my weight, but also some other issues like increasing cholesterol levels, decreasing energy levels, food cravings and digestive issues.  My family doctor’s response was to treat each symptom individually, usually with a medication.  I wanted to take an approach that looked at the big picture and didn’t jump to medication as the solution. 

In one word, how would you describe the way you felt on a regular basis before TLC™?  Frustrated.

Before the program, did you think you had a choice about feeling this way or did you think: “this is just the way it is?”  I knew there had to be a solution other than medication.  And I knew that some of the symptoms had to be connected, and required an integrative approach.  I wasn’t sure what that meant for sure, but I knew I didn’t want to continue down the path I was on. And I knew I wanted to stay in the best health possible as I aged, and avoid medications as much as possible.

Prior to beginning the program, what were your expectations? Were they different after finishing the program?  I was excited about the integrative approach in the TLC™ program.  I wasn’t sure what that meant, exactly, or how it was going to work.  I felt like it was my “final” option.  If it didn’t work, I didn’t know what I would do.  At the end of the program, I know that I have control over my health and how to maintain the results I achieved.  My expectations now are to do everything within my control to remain healthy and active. 

What are some of the most valuable things you have learned during the TLC™ program? The most amazing thing I learned is that this is far easier than I ever expected.  The weight and inches virtually fell off, and I never felt hungry or deprived.  Food cravings and digestive issues are gone.  Learning a simple eating plan is key.

We all know change in hard. Was it worth it?  It is definitely worth it.  I not only lost weight and inches, but I am stronger and more physically fit.  I am doing things now I never thought I could do.

If the “new you” could talk to the “old you” what is the conversation you would have?  I would say to keep it simple.  I tried different eating plans, including going vegan.  They were complicated, involved tracking calories, and generally not sustainable.  Following the eating plan in TLC is simple and easy.  Just eat real food.

 Other than weight loss, what other improvements or change in symptoms have you experienced?  I lost 30 pounds and 12 inches, and went from a size 16 to a loose size 12.  I am much more toned.  My digestive issues are gone, and I feel energetic. I don’t crave food any more, but I do crave working out at the gym every day.  It feels good to be healthy.

 Did you see improvements in your labs? Do you feel more secure in your health?  My labs definitely improved.  The before and after labs give a great detailed overview of health.  I saw improvements in all areas.  As I approached age 65, I was really becoming aware of the consequences of poor health.  I observed people losing mobility and strength due to poor lifestyle choices.  My goal is to do everything within my control to remain healthy and active as I age, and I believe I now have the tools to do that.

How do you feel about your future? Do you have any concerns about maintaining the changes you have made?  I feel very optimistic about my future.  I know I am doing my part in maintaining my health.  I know that I always have to be aware of what I am eating and make good choices.  There are a lot of social situations where good food options aren’t always available.  But I have learned how to navigate those.  I just made it through Thanksgiving holiday, and it was easier than I thought!

Knowing the New Year is upon us, if you were recommending the TLC™ program to a total stranger, what would you say? I would say that this is a great program that looks at all aspects of health and then provides a plan that is easy to follow.  I was glad I did the 12-week program, as I feel it gave me time to implement the changes and make those sustainable habits.  

Let us help you rediscover yourself in 2017. If you have questions or would like to learn more about the TLC™: Total Lifestyle by Couri program I encourage you to call the office and schedule a free consultation. We look forward to making this New Year your best year yet!

Leslie Rusch-Bayer

Being A Strong Woman By Terry Polanin, MSN, APN

qnckz4rgglu-vero-photoartAs we begin 2017, we welcome new beginnings and reflect on the past. It’s a time to reflect on those who have made a difference in your life. I would like you to consider yet another new years’ resolution: To be a strong woman, a role model and a mentor and to acknowledge those who have influenced our lives.

Do you know any “strong women” that have influenced your life? Over the 36 years that I have been a nurse practitioner, I have encountered many amazingly strong women. There are many ways to demonstrate strength. Some demonstrate strength in the multi-tasking of being a home-maker, raising a family, running a household, being a room-mother/volunteer, possibly even balancing a career while trying to maintain health by daily exercising and cooking healthy (which in and of itself takes some added effort). Some demonstrate strength as professional women organizing meetings, coordinating schedules, chairing meetings, running large corporations, running for political offices, teaching others, guiding or caring for others, etc. Others show strength in their ability to communicate thoughtfully, to overcome many obstacles physically and emotionally, or to be strong for those in need of support. All are admirable forms of strength.

Over the years I have been blessed with many strong role models. Last fall I was fortunate to meet a woman who influenced my life, as well as many other’s. I was attending a national Nurse Practitioner conference and Dr. Loretta Ford, RN, PhD, was our keynote speaker. Dr. Ford was the first nurse practitioner in the United States back in the early 1970s. Back in the 60-70s in the US, women really did not work outside the home and were not encouraged to get out into the work world, even with an education, especially when raising a family. It was a time when the majority of nurses worked in hospital settings and followed “doctors orders”, having little to no autonomy in providing nursing care. Dr. Ford was the exception…

Loretta Ford was teaching nursing at the University of Colorado in those years (which in itself required courageous independence) when she identified a need for nurses to “expand” their role.  She identified that the role of the RN in public health nursing could be vital to improving the health and wellness of children/families. She believed that nurses were educated and capable of providing well-child care, especially noting the need in under-served populations lacking medical care. She was a rebel. She was a pioneer in her time…she was a strong woman who fought the medical profession for the commitment that she believed in. Dr. Henry Silverman was the physician who supported her ideals and dreams for better health care, provided by qualified nurses-not solely by physicians. They felt it was the beginning of true collaboration and teamwork between physicians, nurses, and other health care providers. This care optimized each other’s expertise that would ultimately be the best way to provide health care to patients. Against odds, they proved it could be done, paving the way for many other collaborative practices and advanced practice nurses in the United States. Loretta Ford went on to become Dr. Loretta Ford, a Registered Nurse with a Doctoral Degree in Nursing, again becoming one of the first in the United States.

I had the privilege of meeting Loretta, and thanking her for the courage it took to be a pioneer. Back in the early 80s, I, too, felt a “yearning” to expand the role of the nurse in the central Illinois area and was offered the opportunity to enroll in one of the first Family Nurse Practitioner programs at the University of Illinois. At times, it felt like an uphill battle defending this new role in nursing as well as carving out where this role could fit into health care. Without Dr. Ford’s courage, determination, and dedication to her belief and proof that nurses could assume the responsibility as primary care providers, it would still remain but a dream. We pursued, we planned, we marketed, we compromised…and gradually, we came to be an integral part of the team by the 90s, accepted, even appreciated, by physicians and patients for the important role we could serve in health care. I later found out that she is 97 years young and still sharing her words of wisdom and encouragement to others. Her strength gave others and myself the ability to “take a risk” and “step outside the box” in a new role for nurses. Dr. Ford told me that she believed nurses could be great patient advocates and providers of prevention, restoration, and health promotion in the care of children and families. She was right. She gave others the gift of courage to take a risk…. It has been a rewarding journey. She is a perfect example of “keep going, don’t give up” and keep pursuing your dreams. If you know someone like this, tell him or her what they have meant to your life. Be like them.

I also wish to acknowledge two other strong women and special friends of mine – Dr. Bonnie Cox, RN, PhD and Dr. Margo Tennis, RN, PhD. I met both women when we were chosen to be part of the NP program at University of Illinois in 1978. Dr. Cox, one of the first NPs who traveled to Chicago to obtain her PhD as a Nurse Midwife (very rare to be a nurse with a Doctorate degree in the 80s), bringing nurse midwifery, Lamaze, and “fathers in the delivery room” to Peoria. And Dr. Tennis, a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, and one of the first to provide primary care as a nurse in the OSF Community Clinic. Both impacted health care in the Peoria area. Strong women. Strong mentors for others.

Those of you reading this article also share with me the appreciation for another strong professional woman who has influenced lives and continues to be a role model and advocate for women in central Illinois: Dr. Michele Couri. Dr. Couri is a multi-tasking mother of six. She is also a professional woman who seeks to continually “expand her horizons” and improve the patient care we provide to women. She has the courage to bring new ideas, treatments, and therapies to women. The Peoria area is fortunate to have Dr. Couri. She has also expanded her women’s health practice by implementing the “team approach” and continues to support the role started by Dr. Loretta Ford, as she collaborates with 3 APNs and two Physician Assistants, believing and trusting in our ability to provide quality health care utilizing this team approach.

Lastly, I would like to end with appreciation for probably the most influential and strongest woman in my life…my own mother. Norma Bush is 91 years young. She is the epitome of gentle strength. She lived her life selflessly giving to her family and friends. My mother found herself single in her late 50s. As I look back on her optimism and strength as she went forward into her senior years, not looking back with regrets, but forward with a positive attitude, I think how amazing she is. As a child, I didn’t appreciate enough the impact she made in her hometown in the late 1950s when she opened the first preschool in the area, “Kiddy College.” Mom was a teacher and wanted to stay home with her children, so she decided to open her own business. Mom still maintains many friendships from grade school, high school, college, and from her careers over the years. She lives in her own home and still pursues her exercise water classes three times per week. She has always been and continues to be the kindest, strongest woman I have been blessed to have in my life.

It is my privilege to know these professional women, to have practiced as an APN, and to continue to support strong women in the 21st century. I encourage you to be strong, to raise strong young women and men, to mentor others and thank those influential in your life. You never know the lives you are touching and influencing, just by being who you are.   May you have a wonderful, healthy, fulfilling 2017!

Terry Polanin, MSN, APN

Defy Gravity in the New Year! By Renee Alwan Percell, MMS, PA-C

renee-yogaOne of my New Year’s resolutions is to make some time for my yoga practice. When I am consistent with my practice, I not only feel better but, I think better! There are two inversion poses that I routinely do after a long day of chasing children or working. An inversion is most generally categorized as any asana in which the head is below the heart. They are:  the wide-stance forward bend (Prasarita Padottanasana) and leg extension up the wall (Viparita Karani).
We all know that gravity has a significant effect on the physiological processes of the human body. Gravity slowly but surely will weigh you down. We not only see the effects but feel the effects. As years pass, subcutaneous fat sags and varicose veins and hemorrhoids erupt because blood pumping has to fight gravity.

There are four major systems in the body that the practice of inversions is said to positively influence: cardiovascular (heart health), lymphatic (immunity support), nervous (message center) and endocrine (hormone regulation). When you are upside down, blood flow to the heart occurs more easily thereby giving your heart a break. The receptors in the brain sense this change thereby lowering blood pressure and pulse. The lymphatic system benefits by helping ease circulation, allowing more efficient waste removal, fluid balance and immune system support. As lymph moves through the body it picks up toxins to be eliminated. Lymph moves as a result of muscle contractions and gravity, so when upside down, lymph moves more easily through our system. When inverted, blood flow increases the freshly oxygenated blood to the brain, which allows it to work more efficiently. Blood also flushes the adrenal glands, which stimulate the release of endorphins that allow you to immediately feel uplifted and can even counter act depression.

In the New Year I encourage you to defy gravity. Inversion poses are not for everyone and should be done with caution. However, the two poses that I mention are simple and do not take much time. My co-workers have always been a little caught off guard when they walk in to the office and find me doing a pose! All you need is a little space, so give it a try and start experiencing its many health benefits!

Be Well.


Renee Alwan Percell, MMS, PA-C

Empowering You to Be Your Best By Dr. Michele Couri, MD, FACOG, ABI


couri-34The other day I was reflecting about work and my practice. This is an amazing time to be in women’s healthcare. Now, more than ever, do we have safe and effective options for the multitude of issues that we as women face throughout our life, from adolescence through menopause. Because I share a passion for Integrative Medicine, but also because I am a staunch advocate for safety and evidence-based medicine, I have modeled my practice to be a traditional Gynecologic practice offering Integrative elements for wellness and lifestyle medicine. I am grateful that our practice is still locally owned and operated. The numbers of practices now being acquired by large hospital systems is increasing at staggering rates, and with this trend unfortunately comes a loss of continuity and personal connection for patients.

After recently reading an article about how physician burn-out is at an all time high, I thought about what it is that makes me happy and fulfilled as a physician. It is by far the fact that we truly have the best patients in the world. I have repeatedly said that our patients inspire me daily with their strength, compassion, sense of humor and love of life in general.   It is a privilege to be able to serve such amazing women. In order to show my gratitude, I feel strongly about making sure that we here at the Couri Center continue to offer services that improve the lives of our patients and empower them with the tools needed to live life to the fullest. The following is a small compilation of some of my favorite “tools” in women’s healthcare today.

harmonié bioidentical hormone replacement system – This plant-based hormone system is truly one of my favorite services that we provide. Hormone balancing is critical for optimal health and well-being, and this system is so successful because it is tailored to each patient individually. Women who use this system are noticing increased energy and libido, the elimination of hot flashes and night sweats, improved sleep and mood, better mental clarity and less vaginal dryness and pain with intercourse. I highly recommend.

MonaLisa Touch™ vaginal laser therapy – This treatment is FDA approved for vaginal dryness and pain with intercourse that typically comes with menopause. Menopause often causes symptoms such as vaginal dryness, burning, itching as well as pain with intercourse, urinary urgency and frequency and possibly even mild urinary incontinence. Unfortunately, many of the common treatments for breast cancer can also cause these vaginal symptoms due to decreasing estrogen levels in the body. MonaLisa Touch™ is a non-hormonal treatment option that is safe for all women, especially well suited for women with breast cancer or other female cancers in which estrogen replacement is contraindicated. This laser therapy is a quick, painless in office procedure that restores the vaginal tissue to its premenopausal state. This translates into no more pain with intercourse, more vaginal moisture without the need for lubricants, less vaginal burning or itching and improved bladder symptoms. It is truly life changing, and the results that I am seeing in my patients are nothing less than amazing. You owe it to yourself to learn more. The next informational lecture about the MonaLisa Touch™ laser treatment will be held on February 02 at 5:30 pm.


Novasure endometrial ablation and Mirena IUD – Both options are quite effective in treating heavy menstrual bleeding. Let’s face it – heavy periods can be very disruptive in our lives. Life is difficult enough – parenting, working, cooking, cleaning, volunteering, etc. Women are taking on more and more roles and are caregivers to everyone while putting ourselves on the “back-burners”. This is yet one more stressor that affects our quality of life and detracts from our productivity. We don’t have to live with it anymore. Both of these options are FDA approved, minimally invasive, and designed to improve or eliminate heavy menstrual bleeding. Don’t put up with heavy periods any longer. Ask us today how we can help.

da Vinci® Robotic Surgery – When the need arises for a hysterectomy or removal of one or both ovaries, the da Vinci® robotic surgery option offers numerous potential benefits over traditional approaches including significantly less pain, minimal blood loss, shorter hospital stay, quicker recovery and return to normal activities, and small incisions for minimal scarring and a better cosmetic outcome. For me, some of the benefits include greater surgical precision, increased range of motion, improved dexterity, enhanced visualization and improved access to the surgical area. I have been performing robotic surgery now for over 5 years and am in continued awe of its versatility and superiority in advancing surgical care for women of all ages.

Alletess food sensitivity testing- Food sensitivities may be caused by many factors such as stress, infections, overeating, artificial preservatives, additives, molds, pesticides, antibiotics, and environmental pollutants. Unidentified food sensitivities can then contribute to many chronic health conditions: including Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Rheumatoid arthritis, headaches, autism, ADD/ADHD, eczema, chronic ear infections, gut malabsorption, insomnia, joint pain, and many others. Food sensitivity testing at the Couri Center also includes a visit with our Registered Dietitian, Leslie Rusch-Bayer to review results and individualized treatment and dietary plans.

TLC™ Program – The Total Lifestyle by Couri program is the ultimate “Executive Wellness” program that is geared towards optimizing health and making sustainable lifestyle changes that are guaranteed to improve overall health and wellbeing. This program has been known to reverse diabetes, lower cholesterol and risk of cardiovascular disease as well as promoting healthy weight loss. This program includes food sensitivity testing, personal training sessions, individualized dietary planning, detoxification, and so much more.   Learn more at our Wine & Wellness event as we host a casual panel Q & A on TLC™ Tuesday, January 10 at 5:30 pm. RSVP:

You have asked for it. I have listened, and now it is available at the Couri Center. The newest tool in our toolbox to empower women to look and feel their best is our Laser Aesthetic System. This state of the art laser provides a comprehensive suite of the most popular treatments, from hair removal to wrinkle reduction to scar and stretch mark treatment, for all skin types. In addition, it offers the ability to perform a three-in-one laser treatment – the proven way to solve wrinkles, sun damage and facial veins all at the same time. The laser hair removal treatments for the face and body will launch the Couri Center’s Aesthetic Studio, this January, and we couldn’t be more excited to bring these services to you. Watch the newsletter, Facebook, and our website for our special introductory pricing-available now.

The Couri Center Retail Center – Our way of helping you select the safest and most effective supplements for your individual needs. Relax in knowing that we have done our homework when it comes to choosing the very best supplements from reputable brands. This way, you can save time because we have done the research for you.

Lastly, one of my very favorite tools in our toolbox is not a procedure or a treatment at all. It consists of our amazing staff. I am blessed with the most talented and compassionate staff around. The Couri Center employs 3 Advanced Practice nurses (Sue, Terry and Dana) and 2 Physician Assistants (Hope and Renee) as well as our Registered Dietitian (Leslie). In addition, the clinical staff includes 4 RN’s (Theresa, Susie, Kris, and Geni) as well as an LPN (Gail) and an MOA (Lisa). We have a sonographer (Amber) who is also my Laser Assistant. Our clerical staff includes our Insurance Billers/Coders (Rhonda, Tara and Debbie), our Surgery Scheduler (Alyce), and our front office schedulers (Kelly, Jill, and Vic), and our Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy Pellet Coordinator (Becky). Our Marketing Director (Cheryl) is the brains behind all of our branding, printed materials, social media, events, newsletter and website. Finally, our laboratory would be completely dysfunctional without our Phlebotomists (Carmen and Kelly). In August 2017 I will proudly welcome Dr. Kaleb Jacobs, DO, a Gynecologist, and Peoria native, to join us here at the Couri Center!

This entire team of talented and devoted individuals has one goal in mind when they come to work each day – to improve and enrich the lives of our patients through their hard work and dedication. They often work late, work weekends, and miss family functions to make sure that the health and well being of our patients is never sacrificed. As the “captain of the ship” per-se, I cannot think of a better group of women to share this journey with. To them, I am forever grateful.

And to all of you, our cherished patients, let me also express my gratitude for your trust in us as your healthcare provider. It is truly an honor to serve you.

To Your Health,

Dr. Couri




screenshot-2016-12-11-18-29-03yield: SERVES 4 prep time: 10 MINUTES cook time: 20 MINUTES total time: 30 MINUTES



3 tablespoons butter

8 ounces whole-wheat pasta (or Gluten-Free)

1/2-cup hazelnuts

1-tablespoon olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1-tablespoon shallot, minced

2 cups chopped brussels sprouts, stems removed

1/3 cup Parmesan cheese

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


First, brown the butter. In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat and continue to cook, swirling occasionally, until butter turns golden brown, Skim foam from top, and remove from heat. Pour into a bowl to stop the cooking, leaving any burned sediment behind; set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to boil. When the water comes to a rolling boil, add a little salt, then add the pasta. Cook pasta to al dente, cooked through but still a little firm. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, in a small sauté pan over medium heat, toast the hazelnuts until they become lightly browned and fragrant, about 5-7 minutes. (You can also toast the hazelnuts in the oven at 350 degrees F for 8 to 10 minutes — watch closely to prevent burning.) Place the toasted hazelnuts on a towel and rub together to remove the skin. Roughly chop the hazelnuts and set aside.

In a large pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and shallots and cook for 2 minutes. Add the brussels sprouts and cook until tender, about 5-7 minutes. Stir in the pasta and hazelnuts. Pour browned butter over the pasta and sprouts. Stir well. Cook until pasta is heated. Stir in the Parmesan cheese and season with salt and black pepper, to taste. Serve immediately.