February Recipe: Ultimate Winter Bliss Bowl

Screenshot 2017-01-18 10.43.39INGREDIENTS

For the Roasted Veggies

  • 5-7 carrots
  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 teaspoons cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste

For the Bliss Bowls

  • 8-10 pieces of Simple 5 Ingredient Baked Falafel
  • 2-3 cups spinach
  • 1-2 cups chopped red cabbage
  • 1 jalapeño, cut into slices
  • ¼ cup crushed pistachios
  • tahini, lemon juice, honey, and/or olive oil for drizzling

Simple Baked Falafel

  • 2 cups cooked lentils
  • 1 huge handful (a cup or so) fresh cilantro leaves and stems
  • 1 huge handful (a cup or so) fresh parsley leaves and stems
  • half a jalapeño (if you like spicy – leave ribs and seeds!)
  • 1½ tablespoons olive oil
  • 1-2 cloves garlic
  • a squeeze of lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1-2 tablespoons all purpose flour (sub a gluten free flour if needed) 


Falafel: Make Simple Baked Falafel in advance so you have it all ready to go! It takes about 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Pulse all ingredients, except flour, in a food processor until combined. The mixture should form semi-dry crumbles that stick together when you press them.

Stir in the flour – just one tablespoon at a time, until it’s just dry enough to handle. Form into 9 patties and bake for 18 minutes. Remove from oven and use in salads, sandwiches, bowls, etc. Refrigerate for a few days or freeze.

Roasted Veggies: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Peel the carrots and cut into thin strips and place on a roasting pan (a jelly roll pan works well because then the veggies don’t slide off). Chop the cauliflower into small florets and place on a separate roasting pan. Drizzle each pan with oil and sprinkle each pan with cumin, salt, and pepper. Toss around on the pan to combine. Bake for 20-30 minutes – stir occasionally, but not too often otherwise you’ll disrupt the browning process. To get more browning, bake for an additional 10-15 minutes. When the veggies are done, remove from oven and set aside to cool. 

Bliss Bowl Assembly: Assemble spinach, red cabbage, falafel, carrots, and roasted cauliflower in the bowls. Top with jalapeño and pistachios. Drizzle with tahini, lemon juice, honey, olive oil, and salt and pepper as needed.




The Power of Plants By Leslie Rusch-Bayer, RD, LDN, CPT

Screenshot 2017-01-23 09.46.09


As we all know, deciphering, organizing and trying to understand nutrition can be very challenging. It seems dietary topics and trends are constantly revolving and changing. In a world of many “nutrition” voices including blogs, celebrities and fitness professionals, just to name a few, current healthy habits are sometimes dropped when dietary changes are made.

When women are researching or choosing a new set of dietary guidelines to try, weight loss tends to be the most popular long-term goal. The diets that I typically hear patients and friends discuss are a high protein and low/zero carbohydrate diet as well as Paleo/Primal diet. Both of these diets focus on eliminating sugar and high carbohydrate foods. Some women will go the extreme and eliminate fruit, grains, some vegetables, beans and dairy due to their carbohydrate content. When eliminating so many foods groups, and having such strong focus on protein, we not only eliminate our main sources of disease preventing phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals, but we tend to increase our animal/meat consumption.

Animal protein has been researched regarding a variety of diseases in recent years. In late 2015, the World Health Organization announced that the consumption of processed meat is carcinogenic to humans, and the consumption of red meat is probably carcinogenic to humans. Multiple studies have found that people who eat diets high in red and processed meats are at higher risk of type 2 diabetes. Most red meat is high in saturated fat and sodium, which have both been linked to cardiovascular disease. Outside the fact that animal meat is a complete protein, it is very low in nutrition. (Protein bars and shakes also tend to be high in saturated and trans fat as well as animal-based whey protein. Check back next month as we discuss this more in depth.)

I am not completely shaming animal protein as I do eat meat myself, however, I see the value in nutrition or the power in plants. Not only do plants contain the highest quantities of minerals, vitamins, fiber and phytochemicals, but plants also contain protein. I have attached a list of plant-based foods and their protein content. Plants are also low in saturated fat, calories and sodium.

Increasing the amount of plant-based foods you consume can change and improve your health. The American Heart Association actually recommends going vegetarian every once in a while to help decrease the intake of saturated and trans fat. Johns Hopkins Colorectal Center recommends a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and avoiding red meat, salt and saturated fat. Mayo Clinic recommends eating a plant-based diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and to limit the consumption of processed meats to prevent breast cancer. Mayo Clinic also recommends increasing plant-based fiber content to those who suffer from IBS with constipation.

Most Americans, especially those of us raised in the Midwest, are probably not going to become vegetarian, however, we can always increase the amounts of plants and decrease the amount of animal protein consumed. My recommendation is to follow the feet; animals with less feet tend to be healthier. When choosing meat options, quality is extremely important. Try and limit processed meats (hotdogs, sausages, luncheon meats) and red meat to rare, special occasions. If red meat is purchased, choose organic, grass-fed beef. (Remember, what it ate, we eat. Animals need plants too.) If you prefer lean, unprocessed cuts of pork, purchase organic and pasture-raised. Poultry like chicken and turkey should be free range and organic when possible. Fish is a great lean protein. When available purchase wild-caught rather than farm-raised. Implement a variety of mushrooms, beans, lentils, quinoa, seeds and nuts into your meals like salads, tacos and stuffed peppers. Every once in a while, plan a Meatless Monday meal. If you have children who tend to avoid vegetables, consider “hiding” some minced cauliflower and broccoli in their macaroni and cheese or sauté spinach and add it to their favorite soup. Remember, vegetarian dishes do not need to be bland, using raw spices like chili powder, garlic and cumin in a vegetarian chili will closely mimic the meat-based option. Plants also maintain their benefits whether they are fresh, raw, frozen, baked or sautéed.

Protein recommendations for a healthy adult are easy to calculate (0.8-1.0g protein/2.2 pounds of body weight). It is an essential macronutrient to our health; however, the source of the protein may also influence your health positively or negatively. A diet rich in plants is recommended in preventing and reversing all diseases. When considering a change in diet or source of protein intake, please always meet with a Registered Dietitian to make sure the dietary changes are right for you and your health. The Couri Center offers quick, 30- minute appointments where all your nutritional and protein questions can be answered.


Leslie Rusch-Bayer, RD, LDN, CPT

FOOD                        PROTEIN                    SERVING

Lentils 9 grams ½ cup
Tofu 10 grams 1 cup
Black beans 8 grams 1 cup
Quinoa 8 grams 1 cup
Green peas 8 grams 1 cup
Artichokes 4 grams ½ cup
Hemp seeds 13 grams 3 tablespoons
Oatmeal 6 grams 1 cup
Pumpkin seeds 8 grams ¼ cup
Spinach 5 grams 1 cup

Improving Your Health with Tai chi By Sue Lang, APN, CNM

taichi l3nhclojhds-sayan-nathLast month, Renee wrote about some positions practiced with yoga that are known to help with health issues. This month, I am adding to this by introducing the practice of Tai chi. Tai chi is an ancient Chinese tradition that has been practiced for many centuries. Created by a Taoist Monk named Zhang San Feng, it was originally developed for self defense, but also promotes body, mind and spirit balance. Tai chi is a noncompetitive, self-paced system of gentle physical exercise and stretching. Each posture is performed in a slow and focused manner that flows into the next without pause, ensuring that your body is in constant motion. It is thought that if one part of the body moves-the whole body moves. The idea is that for every force there is an opposite force. Yin and Yang, black and white, inhale and exhale, give and take and so forth.

Qigong is a practice that promotes health by balancing our life energy. According to Chinese medicine, all living things have a life force that flows throughout our bodies. Tai chi is a form of qigong. When performed, it uses both slow, gentle movements and breathing practices with that movement. There are many possible benefits to the practice of Tai chi. It is thought to improve our overall health, longevity, and internal strength.

Tai chi is different from yoga, which includes physical positions, breathing techniques and meditation. Tai chi has low impact and minimal stress on muscles and joints, which make it safe for those of all ages and abilities. It is thought to be very suitable for seniors that may not have recently participated in exercise programs. Tai chi is used to help reduce stress, decrease blood pressure and fall risks. There is no need for equipment, so the cost is minimal. There are classes available for groups or you may do Tai chi by yourself. Hult Center for Health offers various classes free to cancer survivors and $5 to the general public. Learn more here: http://www.hulthealthy.org/cancer-programs/programs/healthy-living-classes/

There are five different styles of Tai chi which date back from different periods in history and each has its own principles and lineage: The Chen style, Yang-style, Wu style (Hao), Wu-style, and the Sun-style dating from 1580 to 1932. Some focus on health, while others address self-defense or competition. Others claim that it promotes serenity and inner peace.

My purpose for practicing it is to improve health, balance and flexibility and to reduce falls. This has become somewhat more important to me since my fall last summer, which resulted in a fracture. The New England Journal of Medicine noted that Tai chi significantly improved gait and posture of Parkinson’s patients and reduced falls. Patients with chronic heart failure who regularly practiced Tai chi experienced better quality of life and mood in a research study at Harvard Medical School. Other research and studies have noticed improvement in blood sugars in diabetics and that the practice of Tai chi can have reduction in symptoms of joint pain in patients with fibromyalgia.

Whether we have any of these issues or not, the fact of the matter is that we all need to keep moving to prevent premature aging and to maintain our body’s mind and spirit in the best shape that we can achieve. We only have one body and one mind that God gave us; let’s try to keep it balanced.

Sue Lang, APN, CNM

New Law on Domestic Violence By Dana Humes Goff, CNM/APN, DNP 

LAWvq__yk6faoi-claire-andersonFor many of us, the relationship with our hairstylist is equal to that of a trusted friend. Stylists and their clients often develop years-long relationships and form a special bond. For me, no matter how often I visit; the beauty chair becomes a mini stress-free bubble where I can relax, chat about life, work and family, as well as my problems and concerns. Sylists often find themselves in the role of trusted confidantes; they lend a sympathetic ear.

As of January 1, 2017, a new law will take effect in the state of Illinois that aims to harness this trusted relationship between hairdressers and their clients in order to prevent domestic violence. Hairdressers, barbers, cosmetologists, hair braiders and nail technicians in Illinois will receive an hour of mandated abuse prevention training as part of their licensing process. The law does not require them to report any violence, and it shelters them from any liability. Instead, the training provides beauty professionals with information about local help and resources they can share with clients.

Domestic violence statistics are alarming: According to the Centers for Disease Control, 1 in 4 women have been the victim of severe physical violence by an intimate partner. In 2014, more than 65,000 intimate violence incidents were reported to Illinois law enforcement. A victim’s lack of knowledge of, or access to safety and support is paramount to favorable outcomes for these individuals.

We all can help to prevent domestic violence. If you know anyone that is in an unsafe or dangerous relationship, please share the following resources.

The Illinois Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-877-863-6338

The Center for Prevention of Abuse: 1-800-559-7233

We remain stronger together,

Dana Humes Goff, CNM/APN, DNP

Love the Skin that You’re In By Dr. Michele Couri, MD, FACOG, ABIHM

jlpbqps13o8-joe-gardnerI distinctly remember being on vacation in Jamaica with my husband in the mid 90’s. We were young and had no children at that point. I was a medical student at the time and had upcoming board exams to take. I spent hours lying in the sun on the beach studying my medical textbooks, never bothering to take time to apply sunscreen. Being full-blooded Lebanese, I tend to never burn in the sun, so I took advantage of the opportunity to work on my suntan while cramming for my upcoming exams. On one of the last days of our trip, a beautiful Jamaican woman came up to me and struck up a conversation. She was selling handmade wares to us tourists on the beach. She asked me, “Why do you bronze your skin in the sun?” I didn’t give that question any thought at the time because, to me, the answer was obvious. As a medical student, I was working 36-hour shifts at a time and practically never saw the light of day. There, in what seemed like paradise, I was making up for lost time.

Over the last eighteen years since that vacation, I have often thought of those words of that Jamaican woman. I can still see her face plain as day. Her words echo in my mind when I see the effects of the sun on my skin. I am starting to see sunspots appear on my chest and upper back. It is no question that many people love the sun. The sun’s rays make us feel better, and most of us like the way we look when we are sporting a beautiful tan. Let’s face it, how many of us feel that we look thinner or healthier with a tan? But our love affair with the sun is one-sided: Exposure to the sun causes most of the wrinkles and age spots on our faces. We often associate a glowing complexion with good health, but skin color obtained from being in the sun can actually mean accelerated effects of aging and an increased risk for developing skin cancer.

Sun exposure causes most of the skin changes that we think of as a normal part of aging. Over time, the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) light damages the fibers in the skin called elastin. When these fibers breakdown, the skin begins to sag, stretch, and loses its youthful tone.   We may go years without showing any signs of sun damage, but it will likely find us later in life.   The following is a list of changes in the skin related to sun exposure:

  • Precancerous (actinic keratosis) and cancerous (basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma) skin lesions caused by loss of the skin’s immune function
  • Benign tumors
  • Fine and coarse wrinkles
  • Freckles
  • Discolored areas of the skin, called mottled pigmentation
  • “Sun spots”, “age spots” (Solar Lentigines) –these pesky brown or gray areas aren’t really caused by aging, though more of them show up on your body as you get older. You get them from being out in the daylight. They often appear on your face, hands, and chest.
  • Telangiectasias: the dilation of small blood vessels under the skin

How can we protect our skin from the deleterious effects of the sun? Unfortunately, nothing can completely undo sun damage, but it is never too late to make changes that will help to protect our largest organ, our skin. And now that I have 6 children, I have to be their role model for safe sun exposure and optimal skincare.   The following are some simple tips to maintain healthy skin, courtesy of the Cleveland Clinic’s website.

  • Stop smoking: people who smoke tend to have more wrinkles than nonsmokers of the same age, complexion, and history of sun exposure. The reason for this difference is unclear. It may be because smoking interferes with normal blood flow in the skin.
  • Apply sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 50 or greater 30 minutes before sun exposure and then every 2 to 3 hours thereafter. Reapply sooner if you get wet or perspire significantly.
  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water and eat a healthy diet rich in plant-based nutrients (lots of vegetables and fruit are low in sugar and processed carbs).
  • Select cosmetic products and contact lenses that offer UV protection.
  • Wear sunglasses with total UV protection.
  • Avoid direct sun exposure as much as possible during peak UV radiation hours between 10 am and 3 pm.
  • Perform skin self-exams regularly to become familiar with existing growths and to notice any changes or new growths.
  • Relieve dry skin using a humidifier at home, bathing with soap less often (instead, use a moisturizing body wash), and using a moisturizing lotion.
  • Become a good role model and foster skin cancer prevention habits in your child. Eighty percent of a person’s lifetime sun exposure is acquired before age 18.

If you are bothered by sun-damaged skin, we at the Couri Center have some exciting news. The Couri Center now offers the Icon™ Aesthetic System, the next generation of platform technology. Offering multiple devices in one machine, it enables us to provide a comprehensive suite of the most popular treatments, from hair removal to wrinkle reduction to scar and stretch mark treatment.  In addition, only Icon offers the ability to perform the ThreeForMe™ Laser Treatment – the proven way to solve wrinkles, sun damage and facial veins all at the same time. If you want to love your skin again and want to learn more about what the Icon can do for you, come to the launch party for our new Aesthetic Studio on Thursday, February 2nd from 5:30 to 7:00 pm. RSVP online at: http://www.couricenter.com/event/aesthetic-studio-open-house/


To Your Health,

Dr. Couri



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