Cheers to a new you in 2013!

 January 2013 new year new you

The January issue of Northern Connection magazine features articles on way to help you achieve your weight loss and health goals in 2013.  Here are some below. 

The issue also features doctors and business around the Pittsburgh area that can help you achieve your goals, make sure you pick up a copy today or read it online to find a facility to help you!


A Plan for 2013 – By: Dr. Bridget Chufo. PH.D., RN

Destiny is not a matter of chance.  It is not a thing to be waited for; it is a thing to be achieved.  Set peace of mind as your highest goal, and organize your life around it.  That is the best goal I can think of when deciding to make a change in your life.  The number one resolution always is to become healthier. 

The first thing is to be positive and start the year eager to be changed.  Look at this year as a life of continual newness.  Do not cling to old negative ways as you step into a new year.  Instead, seek harmony, serenity and peace, knowing that your journey involves being transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Believe in yourself and never, ever give up.  Take the words, “it’s a new beginning” very seriously, and act like the person you want and desire to be upon awakening every morning.  This will take planning and preparing.  You are a determined person who will rise to magnificent heights in all the components of health–physical, emotional, mental, spiritual and financial.

Begin by writing down your goals.  Writing makes a real difference rather than simply thinking something through.  It becomes real and achievable.  Only pick three goals at a time, the ones that are most important to you.  Then, write an action plan of how you are going to go about achieving them, one by one.  For example, if your goal is to become physically healthier, maybe start by drinking more water every day or having a protein-laden breakfast.  Once you get those down pat (usually takes 66 days to form a habit), then write another three physical goals and know that you are a winner!

Your second goal may be to become as stress free as this world permits.  First, you have to ask yourself what you are stressed about?  Write that down.  Now, write down tangible and reasonable solutions to these stresses.  For example, you may choose to wake up 15-30 minutes earlier so that you have time to relax with a cup of tea or coffee (or better yet, a protein shake).  Sit in silence without the television, radio, or family sounds and meditate or read a book with positive and invigorating thoughts for the day.  FOCUS on what you are reading, rather than thinking of what you have to do for the day.  You need those few minutes, and know your day can really change for the better by stopping and thinking about you and your spiritual side.  What or whoever your higher power is amazing at being your guide for the day.

Financial goals are probably the easiest and hardest goal of all.  The goal of saving “x” amount of money every paycheck or weekly is the easy part because it’s a tangible amount (10 percent is the optimal goal). Then obtaining it and putting it aside as though it didn’t exist is the harder part, BUT it’s a do-able goal.  Pick a number that is realistic, and do not use it under most any circumstance (there are rare emergencies).

Finally, our bodies need to move.  That’s why we have muscles, bones and tendons.  Our ancestors from 10,000 years ago had the right idea—walk, walk, walk.  Get that pedometer and give yourself a number until you build it up to 10,000 steps a day.  Be realistic in the beginning and build up to that number.

Once you achieve these little steps, one at a time, you will be amazed at the change in your total health.  You will soar to heights you never dreamed.  You can do this. So here’s to a teachable spirit in 2013!


Northern Connection and BodyChangers Q & A

December 13, 2012

Co-Directors Jeffrey Gusenoff, M.D., and Vicki March, M.D.


  1.  What do you think is the greatest      obstacle to weight loss?  A.  (VM):       While everyone is different, and while there may be many obstacles      to weight loss, one of the biggest challenges to weight loss success,      which includes weight loss maintenance, is impatience.  People who expect a “quick fix” will      take an all or nothing approach to weight loss and either lose weight      quickly, revert to old bad habits, and regain the lost weight – and often      more – or they don’t lose weight as rapidly as they would like, and give      up completely.  Usually, weight gain      happens gradually, as an accumulation of unhealthful habits over a period      of years.  Durable weight loss      depends on establishing new, more healthful habits which can be sustained,      and weight loss may be slower.  It      takes several months to develop new habits, and up to a couple of years of      practicing these habits before they are integrated permanently into a      person’s lifestyle. (JG): Time is a huge obstacle. Results are a      reflection of time and effort. While many people want to make positive      changes in their life, it is often hard to find the time to do it. At      BodyChangers, we try to pick times right after work so people can go      directly from work to our events without interruption. Joining      BodyChangers with friends or family can make it a quality time for      everyone.
  2. What      are the elements of the program?       A.  (VM):  BodyChangers is a support system run on      a “club” model and designed to help people develop and sustain permanent      lifestyle change.   The elements      include four of the pillars of a healthful lifestyle:  nutrition, physical activity,  behavioral strategies which enable      implementation of one’s knowledge about eating and exercise, and a social      support network which provides  both      a draw to continued participation and the opportunity to interact with      people with similar health goals.       In addition, BodyChangers develops programming which includes group      exercise classes, group sessions run by a behaviorist who facilitates      discussion about changing habits, cooking demonstrations, grocery shopping      tours, groups walks, bike rides and other outings.  Members of BodyChangers receive an      e-newsletter and calendar every month and may attend as many events as      they wish. (JG): Our top level membership also includes monthly sessions      with a registered dietitian and quarterly facials at the UPMCAesthetic       Center. We want to      have a total body approach to lifestyle wellness, so we target the mind,      body , and skin!

3. Is the      BodyChangers Program open to anyone or must they be referred by a      physician?  A.  (VM) No referral is necessary –  the emphasis is social, not medical,      although The Lifestyle Program at Magee does provide a comprehensive      structure for medically supervised weight loss and many patients in The      Lifestyle Program do join BodyChangers. Physicians do refer people to      BodyChangers, though, and, in fact, many physicians are members of      BodyChangers.  Dr. Gusenoff and I      attend as many BodyChangers events as possible, because, frankly, we enjoy      them!   (JG): BodyCHangers is open      to anyone…someone just starting their weight loss journey, someone soon      after bariatric surgery, years out from a bariatric procedure, or a friend      or family member, or just interested in maintaining your own weight loss      efforts. Our participants are just that; participants or members. Not      patients. 

4. How is      BodyChangers different from other weight loss programs?  A.       (VM)  BodyChangers is not a      weight loss program per se.  Its      goal, or mission, is to encourage a healthful lifestyle through provision      of convenient, enjoyable programming within a context of conducive social      support.  There is no one diet or      exercise routine prescribed, because although the basic tenets of healthy      living are pretty much the same for everyone, when it comes to specifics,      one size does not fit all and each person must find his/her own way to      better health.  The social network      is the most crucial  and “different”      element of BodyChangers.  Research      show that our lifestyles are often a reflection of the company we keep and      of the lifestyles of the people with whom we socialize and work.  At BodyChangers, people make friends      with one another, and not only come back to visit with their new friends,      but also begin socializing and supporting each other outside of      BodyChangers events, which ends up having a positive impact on their      lifestyles and health. (JG): Another great advantage is having two      physicians, both a surgeon and an internist, coordinating the program to      ensure the quality of the events and information received. These      physicians overseeing the program also have the resources to refer any      member to an appropriate medical specialist such as an orthopeadic doctor,      cardiologist, or registered dietician if necessary.

5. What      kind of success have participants achieved from the program?  A.       (VM)  Since the program is      new, and since there is no formal measuring of weight or other health      parameters, the main criteria for success are  membership and member retention and      participation.  So far, by these      criteria the program has been highly successful.  Since inception, membership has grown      enormously, and a core of active participants has developed, many of whom      return to multiple monthly events.        (JG): Our members have achieved something that may be difficult for      people trying to lose weight: friendship. Many of our members go out      socially after our events or even keep in touch on-line. This social      network is crucial to maintaining success in weight loss.

6. How long      has the program been in existence?       A. (VM)  The program was      conceived in January of 2012, and launched on July 1, 2012. 


New Year and New You – By Joella Baker