Healthy Habits to Prevent Heart Disease

By Julie Hasenberg

Heart Health is dear to my heart….My daughter Faith was born with aortic stenosis and had her first open-heart surgery at five weeks old.  Her second surgery (The Ross Procedure) was done when she was seven.  Another will be forthcoming in the next few years, which will entail a mechanical valve and blood thinners for the rest of her life. Many of us make choices every day that affect our heart health.  Caring for your heart through a healthy diet and regular physical activity is the secret weapon to preventing heart disease.  Remember…You have a choice with your heart health! Go Red for Women says there are seven easy ways to help control your risk for heart disease.

1. Get Active!  Consistent, moderate intensity of physical activity of about 150 minutes per week is recommended. Also minimum of two days/week of muscle strengthening activities as well.

2. Control Cholesterol Good fat vs bad fat!  Good fat HDL (High density Lipoprotein) shuttles the LDL (low-density protein, bad fat) out of the arteries and protects the lining of the arteries from developing plaque. Most of bad cholesterol comes from animal products. A diet in good fats can consist of avocados, olives, coconut oils, and nuts.

3.  Eat Better!! Healthy foods are the fuel our bodies use to make new cells which create the energy we need to thrive and fight disease. EAT FRUITS and VEGTABLES, unrefined fiber-rich whole grain foods, fish, and good fats

4. Manage Blood Pressure. Eat a heart healthy diet, manage your weight and stress.

5. Lose Weight. Too much fat, especially if it’s at your waist, equals higher risk for health problems such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes.

6. Reduce Blood Sugar.  Most of the food we eat turns to glucose (blood sugar) that our bodies use for energy.  Our body makes a hormone called insulin that acts like a carrier to take food energy into our cells.

7. Quit Smoking. At Highland Fitness we have helped hundreds lose thousands of pounds through whole food nutrition, exercise, and the guidance of an accountability coach and trainer.  Our members have lowered their blood pressure, reduced or eliminated medications for diabetes and cholesterol, and have gained energy to live abetter quality of life.

Visit! We’d love to serve you and keep your heart strong. Julie Hasenberg is the owner of Highland Fitness and Results Weight Loss, 715-833-2100

First Step: BREATHE through Guided Imagery

By Sue Peck PhD, GNP-BC, APNP

Research shows that 75 to 90 percent of the visits clients make to their doctors are stress related. Stress comes in both good and bad forms. An upcoming prom or graduation for a teen: something they’ve dreamed of for weeks! The wedding of a close family member to someone we believe is their perfect match. The death of someone dear to us. A long-term illness of ourselves or a family member. A poor work situation.  And then there’s the day where the alarm didn’t go off, you got a speeding ticket or a flat tire on the way to work, steppe in an ankle-deep puddle running into the work site, and the person next to you was. These are examples of stress we’ve all experienced.  When stress keeps building and we are unable to get away from it, our body works harder to maintain an even keel.

During stress, the adrenal gland, which sits just above the kidneys at the bottom of the ribs on our body, kicks out adrenaline. That adrenaline is a prod that keeps poking the organs and reminding them that they aren’t doing enough! We can tolerate short-term bursts of the prodding, but if it goes on for a long time, our body runs out of steam. If we drive a team of horses and keep whipping them to go faster, they will, until they become too tired. The horses will slow and may even become injured if we keep urging them to perform. Our body works the same way when we’re under constant stress. No matter how much we sleep or slow down, it’s not enough. When our body becomes worn out, we get sick; we get colds, flu, or other illnesses; we have flare ups; and cancer cells mit grow.

The opposite of the stress response is the resting and repair (R&R) state. Our body does its healing work, nutrition goes out to the cells and tissues of the body, and repairs are made. The R&R happens mostly during sleep. But when we are very stressed, sleep is affected, too! We wake up at 2:00 a.m. worrying about what we have forgotten, have to do, how we will do it, and where to go next…and then it’s 6:00 a.m., and we have to get up, and we feel exhausted. Then we have to move into another day of stress when we have not even recovered from yesterday!

So what do we do about it? It’s not our fault the electricity went off last night! It’s not our fault our co-worker has some issues! And even for that prom or wedding, we need to fitthe planning in alongside of how the rest of life just goes on! First step: BREATHE.  That’s right. BREATHE. Take a huge deep breath and let it out. As you see the breath come into your lungs, it brings clean, healthy air. And as you let it out, it releases the tension. More cleansing occurs with the next breath in, the problem releasing more as you exhale.

Breath work is a first step to stress relief. Its one of the treatments we can use to help control the stress in our lives. When we become focused on moving the breath within us, relaxation can occur. Relaxation helps initiate R&R and can help our sleep.We can build on that breath work by changing the images in our mind’s eye. A treatment clients find great success with is guided imagery.

We work together at visits to develop images of the way we wish things were and of how we act and react. We’ll explore images using our six senses: What do you see in the situation? What do you smell? What do you hear? What do you taste? What do you feel: both physically with your body and in your gut or your heart?

There are many examples of situations where clients use guided imagery successfully.  One is in preparation for labor and delivery; the mom is very relaxed and the labor and delivery goes very smoothly. In some cases, the nurses or midwife are waking the mom up with each contraction to push as she is so relaxed. Flying in an airplane, going to the dentist, or getting a shot can be smoothed with guided imagery. A child that has bedwetting can learn guided imagery using a faucet. When I worked at Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas, we used guided imagery to relieve pain in patients who had extensive burns; the patients didn’t need ANY narcotic medications with their dressing changes. A young man with massive injuries after a motorcycle accident needed NO pain medication during dressing changes while he drove his race car around the track in his mind’s eye from his hospital bed.

Make an appointment with me, and we’ll work on guiding the images you need to relieve stress and create healing for you. Call 715-832-1953.


Breathe Easier in 2016

You may be surprised to know that if your jaw isn’t in alignment, you can suffer from breathing issues. The Q & A below will help clarify what you need to know and how you can get help.

How does the misalignment affect breathing?

To begin to answer that question, we would actually start with a different question: How did their dysfunctional breathing and dysfunctional swallow cause the misalignment of their teeth?

The importance of correct breathing (the right amount of air, correct number of breaths per minute while using proper body mechanics) and its impact, either positively or negatively, affect proper jaw growth and subsequent tooth alignment. (

If the mouth is the main source for breathing, oral development is impeded. The upper palate (jaw) will be smaller than the lower (reverse of what is normal) due to constant tongue pressure pushing on the lower instead of the upper. A dysfunctional swallowing problem comes from the upper front teeth being too far back, trapping the lower jaw and affecting breathing as well as the epiglottis/throat function. There can be a problem with swallowing actually causing fluid to accumulate in the lungs, which may lead topneumonia. For videos showing the proper swallow verses improper swallow and their effect on tooth alignment see It is unnatural for a person—even more so a child—to sleep with their mouth open. The correct position of the tongue is at the roof of the mouth and the lips together at rest, and in this position it provides support for the eruption of the teeth and the proper position of the jaws and growth of the jaws.

When the teeth and the jaws are out of alignment what type of problems might someone be presented with?

Improper tongue function, which is in direct correlation with teeth and jaw alignment, can manifest itself as: headaches, neck ache, back aches, TMJ/jaw problems, grinding of the teeth, on-edge feelings, airway problems, stomach, digestive, and absorption problems.

Can you describe the treatment you offer to address these conditions of dysfunctional swallowing, crowding of teeth, dysfunctional breathing, TMJ issues, and sleep disturbance?

Problems with the jaw can be treated by stimulating growth of the jaws, realigning the teeth, bringing the lower jaw down and forward, retraining the tongue, slowing down the breath, increasing the diaphragm function, improving the overall neuromuscular balance of the craniosacral system, as well as using braces or appliances that can improve cranial functioning.

We also refer patients to other healthcare practitioners to address issues such as neuromuscular dysfunction, nutrition, homeopathy, metal toxicity, body alignment, and acupuncture meridian therapy.

Treatment time varies from case to case, dependent upon the patient’s desired outcome. Some symptomatic treatment can change breathing/oxygen/CO2 balance in as little as one visit.  Other cases, where jaw expansion, teeth alignment, and TMJ therapy are necessary, may take from two to four years. It’s not unusual for us to begin that treatment at four or five years of age to reduce crowding in the front part of themouth. Starting with young children, we avoid extraction of baby and permanent teeth and improve jaw development and function of the whole person.

How common is this issue?

These issues with breathing and sleep disturbance are considered to affect approximately 30 percent of the general population. Probably between 50 to 70 percent of the general population, have some degree of difficult.

Does insurance usually cover jaw alignment?

Insurance coverage for some of these procedures is totally dependent on the type of policy. Some patients have orthodontic coverage some have medical coverage in their policy which is also affected by the amount of money paid to the insurance company. Some opinions state that, generally speaking, the more you pay for insurance, the better the coverage.

Are there any risks or side effects to the treatment?

Compared to surgery (including extraction of teeth), there are very few contraindications. One thing that we encourage is therapeutic homework and cooperation. The patient’s level of cooperation and the level of difficulty of the case play a paramount role in success.

When should someone breathe through their mouth as opposed to their nose?  

Generally speaking, we should breathe through our mouth as often as we eat through our nose.  During strenuous exercise we sometimes need to mouth breathe. However, Dr. John Douillard of Boulder, Colorado, believes in training with nose breathing. ( Mouth breathing can be influenced by what wedo, what we are eating, and what causes us stress, real or imagined.  The influence of the modern diet ( and known/unknown pollutants have caused many allergies that can manifest themselves, among many other ways, as a plugged nose, forcing us to breathe through the mouth. Mouth breathing, in turn, causes the oxygen/CO2 levels to fall out of balance making the nose close off even more. Thus the vicious cycle starts.

How could we encourage our dentist to evaluate complimentary/integrative dentistry?

You could ask the following questions:

• Do you see tongue function as a factor affecting breathing?

• Have you studied cranial osteopathy or cranial sacral therapy

Dr. John Laughlin III, DDS and Dr. John Reed, DDS, Health Centered Dentistry, River Falls, WI

Scratching that Winter Itch

By Dr. Margaret Meier, DVM, CVSMT

During this time of year as we gather together to share the warmth of our homes with family and friends we are grateful for the glow of a warm fire or the forced air heat that keeps us toasty warm. This warmth, however, combined with the frequent trips in and out, leaves our skin dry and us reaching for the moisturizing lotion. Our pets end up with dry itchy skin just like us, but how can we help them? We field this question and others such as: Does our pet have psoriasis or some other serious skin condition? Can it be from fleas with the weather so cold? What shampoo should I have my groomer use? Is there any supplement that can help? What can we do so we can sleep at night…this scratching is driving us crazy!

Parasites, such as fleas and mange,truly can also be the cause of the itch even in the winter months, especially this year with the mild winter we have been experiencing so far. The best place to check your pet for fleas is on the back near the base of the tail. Fleas like to hang out here because it is hard for our pets to reach them there. If you notice what looks to be dirt on the skin, this could be feces from the fleas.Take some of the “dirt” you see and place it on a white paper towel that has been dampened with water. If it is truly dirt, it will just remain as a black dot on the paper towel. If it has been left on your pet by fleas,the black dirt like material will begin to dissolve into a reddish brown color on the towel. I recommend consulting your veterinarian for the best flea and tick product for your individual pet.

There are many things we can do at home as well to help prevent the dry itchy skin of winter in our pets. Supplementing our pets’ diet with essential fatty acids, especially omega 3s, has been proven to help keep the skin healthy, which in turn helps stop the itching. With cats and dogs, the best way to supplement this is with fish oil. It is important to remember, however, that not all fish oil products are created equally, and we recommend those that use Nordic processing to extrude the oil over others that use extraction techniques. With our horses and other herbivore friends such as rabbits, flax seed ground to expose the oil provides these essential fatty acids best in their diets. Many commercial diets available today have added amounts of these as well, but the levels are often not high enough to help this time of year.

Oatmeal shampoo and cream rinses applied directly to the skin can also help with dry itchy skin.  You can even make your own oat-milk spray at home by taking 1 cup of old fashioned oats and soaking them overnight in 4 cups of water at room temperature. In the morning, strain the liquid through cheese cloth and use a mister bottle to spray the dry itchy areas. This can provide some much needed relief.

Until we encounter a problem with our skin, we take for granted that it is the largest surface area organ in the body. Even on a physiological level, the skin is not considered a high priority as it only receives about 7 percent of the volume of blood sent out to the body each time the heart beats. If your pet is experiencing more than just an occasional dry flake when you brush him or he, consulting your veterinarian might be in order. Skin conditions are the number one reason people take their pets to the veterinarian according to VPI Pet Insurance. Pets can experience some of the same serious skin conditions that we do, such as primary seborrhea (dandruff), pyoderma (bacterial and/or fungal skin infection), and even auto-immune diseases (although these are more rare). If your pet is itching at an area that has a color change to the skin, is moist, or has an odor to it, your veterinarian will help you determine the best course of action to remedy the situation.

Dr. Meier obtained her certification in veterinary spinal manipulative therapy at the Healing Oasis Wellness Center in Sturtevant, WI.  In 2007 she was certified by the American Veterinary Chiropractic Association in animal chiropractic, and in 2012, Dr. Meier was also certified by the International Veterinary Chiropractic Association. Dr. Meier also uses other non-traditional modalities such as Reiki and other energy work to help her veterinary patients heal; she has begun her acupuncture training through the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society, and is looking forward to being certified in veterinary acupuncture this fall.


Natural & Easy Stress Relief: An Introduction to TRE®

By Christine Varnavas

Tension Release Exercises (TRE®)  are a set of exercises (movements) created by Dr. David Bercelli designed to help us two-legged animals shake off stress and tension. It’s easy and everyone can do it, anywhere, anytime. Really? Yes! After a period of time, once learned in a safe environment with a certified practitioner, you can do it on your own.

TRE assists the body in releasing deep muscular patterns of stress and tension and has been known to help release current day stress due to past trauma. Based on the work of Dr. Peter Levine, who has worked in the field of stress and trauma for over forty years, Dr. David Berceli, PhD, created the series of movements known as TRE that safely activates a self-controlled natural reflex mechanism of shaking or vibrating, known as neurogenic muscle tremors. These tremors release muscular tension at its core and calm down the nervous system. When this muscular shaking/vibrating mechanism is activated in a safe and controlled environment, the body is encouraged to return to a state of balance.

TRE is a result of Dr. David Berceli’s work with large traumatized communities while living in Africa and the Middle East, war-torn countries and areas affected by natural disaster. What he observed over many years was that repeatedly, all adults, regardless of culture and background, take on the same physical posture when in trauma. This posture is recognized as fetal position and is the body’s natural response to protecting our vital organs. He also observed that children and animals do not take on this posture. They shake, and by doing so release the immediate physical impact of stress on the body.

How does TRE work?

It’s simple and everyone can do it. Yes, everyone. Individuals from any age, ability, and background can do the exercises that encourage the shaking mechanism that we all have in us. If you’ve ever seen an animal shake after experiencing a fight or a child tremble after hearing a distressingly loud noise, that shaking and or trembling is the body’s natural defense mechanism trying to release the stress and tension from the body as a result of the stressor in the moment. Think about how parents rock or gently bounce an infant who is distressed. Our bodies already know what to do. However, we as adults hinder that shaking due to social norms.

To learn how to do the exercises you must first work with a certified provide. Over time and after having worked with a provider, individuals can do TRE on their own. You can locate a provider on the global website Christine Varnavas, MS, RYT, is a certified provider and lives in Eau Claire,Wisconsin. She has been working with clients and holding small group classes in the Eau Claire area since 2014.

The series of exercises is designed to stretch and stress muscles in the body from the feet to the shoulder region. The first movement is done with the provider and client together, and then subsequent movements are demonstrated by the provider and then recreated by the client/student in the way their body will allow. After completing the first few exercises, the client then relaxes on the floor, completes a few more movements, and the tremors begin. The client is always in control of the shaking and can stop it at any time. Once done, a resting period is advised, similar to savasana at the end of a yoga practice. A typical session, although it varies from client to client, lasts an hour, and that includes the exercises, the shaking, and the rest.

What it helps?

TRE can be used to aid in everything from handling daily stress to helping reduce the fight/flight/freeze response individuals with PTSD and other acute trauma. The beauty of this self-help tool is that it is a very gentle, user-friendly, calming and healing tool designed for anyone to use. It has been reported to help decrease worry and anxiety, reduce symptoms of PTSD, improve relationships, decrease emotional reactivity, and lessen workplace stress. It can encourage better sleep, reduce muscle and back pain, provide greater emotional resiliency, help heal old injuries, and help with chronic medical conditions. In Los Angeles it is currently being used as a workplace wellness and conflict-resolution tool.

By simply being a human being we have stress, tension, and trauma. It varies for all of us and can be anywhere on the stress/tension/trauma continuum from low to high, small to gargantuan, frequently to infrequently, and all the other areas in between.

To learn more about TRE, visit, or call Christine at 715-828-3378. Drop-in group classes are currently taught at The Center on Highway 12 in Eau Claire, Fridays at noon. There is an opportunity to try TRE on Saturday, February 27, 2016, at The Lismore during Chippewa Valley WellFEST.