Archive for September, 2011

State Street circa 1907

State Street circa 1907-pre mass-produced cars! Image via Wikipedia

By Sue Shekut, Owner, Working Well Massage, Licensed Massage Therapist, Certified Wellness Coach, ACSM Personal Trainer

OK, so it’s just for a few hours for one day. But it sounds like fitness fun for all you urban hikers!  Check out “Open Streets on State Street.”

When: Saturday, October 1, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Where:   State Street from Lake to Van Buren

On Saturday, October 1, State Street will be transformed into the ultimate urban playground—allowing pedestrians only to play, walk, bike and enjoy healthy recreation in a car-free environment. Open Streets on State Street is presented by Chicago Loop Alliance and Active Transportation Alliance. It will include activities such as a modular skate park, free yoga classes and breakdancing demonstrations. Plus, several Loop businesses are teaming up to offer special discounts for one day only at area restaurants, retail destinations and cultural institutions.

The event is free and open to the public. For more information, visit OpenStreetsOnStateStreet.org or connect on Facebook or Twitter @OpenStreetsChi.

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By Sue Shekut, Owner, Working Well Massage, Licensed Massage Therapist, Certified Wellness Coach, ACSM Personal Trainer

Liz Cascio, Wellness Club Holistic Health Counselor

As part of my experience opening our new WWM Wellness Club massage center, I’ve been getting to know the Wellness Club Team Members. This past Sunday I was able to spend a few hours with Liz Cascio and really see her smart and friendly self in action. I want to give my readers a chance to get to know Liz as well. She’s up in the Wellness Club many days, but before you meet her, I thought I’d ask her more about the Wellness Club, the Lifestyle Change Program and how she helps people learn to eat well and live a more well-balanced life!

1.  What did you do as a wellness tour guide and guest lecturer for CHEW (Complete Health Education and Wellness) Chicago?

I lead people on a 3-mile walking tour of Lincoln Park, educating people about different businesses in the community that support wellness, including Whole Foods Market!

2. What is a Holistic Health Counselor? What do you do?

The word holistic simply means emphasizing the whole instead of isolating or compartmentalizing particular aspects of a subject.  Holistic Health specifically means comprehensive, total health and well-being, physically, mentally, and emotionally.  In my practice, I help my clients to understand that their diet, lifestyle, relationships, physical activity, and career all play a vital role in their overall health.  I try to support my clients in each of these aspects of their lives in order to help them achieve the balance that is necessary for optimum health.

4. What could I expect from you as a coach to help me incorporate healthier eating into my current diet? How about fitness?

In my practice, I help my clients to create a mind-set of success in order to affect permanent, positive change in their lives.  I work with my clients to help them set realistic, specific long and short-term goals.  These goals can be a simple as eating a healthy breakfast every morning or as challenging as running a marathon.  Then we work to make gentle, sustainable, but effective changes in their daily lives in order to achieve those goals.  The key is to make changes that you can stick to and then build on those changes.  Healthy lifestyle shouldn’t be about punishing or depriving yourself.  It should be about making your life happier, healthier, and more fun!

5. Eating healthy can be boring. How do you make it fun?
A healthy lifestyle doesn’t have to be boring.  A lot of people think that eating a healthier diet means you won’t ever get to enjoy food again, that you have to force yourself to eat foods that you don’t like eating, and that you have to be hungry all the time.  This is just not true.  In fact a very restrictive diet, can actually HURT you more than it can help.  I love trying new things and playing in the kitchen, so for me, the most exciting thing about the changing my diet was learning about new foods I’d never heard of before and how to cook them.  For instance, did you know there are more than 20 varieties of grains each with their own unique flavor and texture.  For people who aren’t so keen on change, we will give you the opportunity to “Stump the Chef.”  We challenge you to come up with a favorite food for our Chef Katie to make a healthier version of!  She’ll give you the recipe and show you how to make it, so that you don’t have to give up your favorite foods!

6. What is the Wellness Club diet plan based on?
The Wellness Club is not really a diet as much as it is a Lifestyle Change Program.  The program was created by Drs. Matthew Lederman and Alona Pulde and Registered Dietician Jeff Novick.  These medical professionals have all had very successful practices treating their patients with diet and lifestyle.  They have also worked closely with pioneers in the field of plant-based nutrition such as T. Colin Campbell, author of the China Study, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn (former President Clinton’s doctor), and Dr. John McDougall.

7. What does a plant-based diet mean?
A plant-based diet is a change in overall dietary pattern.  The first thing we encourage people to do, regardless of what type of diet they are on, is to ADD more plant foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and starchy vegetables.  (How many diets tell you to eat more food?!)  Then, we teach our members how to make these foods the main focus of the meal instead of merely a small side dish, and to use foods that are more prominent in the Standard American Diet (processed foods, animal products) as more of a flavoring agent, a condiment, or a side dish, if at all.

8. Do I have to give up meat and dairy? Is this a vegan thing?
The Wellness Club is not a conventional “diet” in that we do not have lists of good and bad foods and we do not tell people what they can and cannot eat.  Our goal is to educate people about the potential health risks associated with particular foods, such as refined, highly processed foods and certain animal products. They can then make an informed decision about whether they wish to continue eating these foods and in what quantity.  People become “vegan” (choose to abstain from all animal products) for many reasons (political, ethical, spiritual, as well as health).  Our motto at the Wellness Club is “Honest to Goodness Wellness,” and that is our one and only focus. It is possible to eat a 100% vegan diet that is far from healthy.  It is also possible to eat diet that incorporates animal foods that will support optimum health.  We choose to describe the way of eating that we teach in the Wellness Club as plant-based because the most important thing is that majority of the diet is based on whole, unrefined plant foods.

9. Do you have any fun events planned for this fall?
We have a really exciting dinner and a movie series.  Each week, we will be pairing our delicious, Wellness Club-approved supper club with a film on a relevant subject. This Tuesday (9/27), we will be screening Forks Over Knives.

What’s Liz’s Background?
Liz is a Holistic Health Counselor certified through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.  Liz has a growing private practice and is currently enrolled in the Institute’s Professional Training Program.  Liz’s approach emphasizes gentle but effective lifestyle change through goal coaching and self-awareness training.  In addition, Liz has been educating the Lincoln Park community about health and wellness through her work as a wellness tour guide and guest lecturer for CHEW (Complete Health Education and Wellness) Chicago.  Liz is also a performance artist and theatre instructor who has taught and directed students from three years of age to adult.  Liz specializes in hands-on, interactive education which encourages independent thought, creative self-expression, and body awareness.

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By Sue Shekut, Owner, Working Well Massage, Licensed Massage Therapist, Certified Wellness Coach, ACSM Personal Trainer

The world of massage research is in many ways, still in its infancy.  As such there is a lot of conflicting studies that can easily lead people to draw incorrect conclusions. mainstream press often takes the most sensational points from a study and broadcast those points to the world as if it were the Gospel. How do concerned citizens, loyal readers and fellow massage aficionados cope with the deluge of conflicting and confusing information about massage research?  one magazine that does a pretty good job of reporting on massage reasearch is Runner’s World.  In his article, Massage Q+A: Does it Work?, author Sam Murphy writes about a number of studies and explains how research results can be misleading when they don’t compare apples and oranges. or in this case, when research doe snot compare the effects of multiple massage session with the effects of a  single 8-minute session. Runners and research consumers,  take a few minutes to read Sam Murphy’s article. It may clear up questions you have about using massage to improve your athletic performance and or aid recovery from muscle injury.


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Body Fat meter

Body fat meter. Image via Wikipedia

By Sue Shekut, Owner, Working Well Massage, Licensed Massage Therapist, Certified Wellness Coach, ACSM Personal Trainer

I am a big believer in being clear about our goals so that we don’t waste a lot of time pursing a fitness or nutritious goal that isn’t realistic or attainable. To me, saying “I need to lose weight” is inaccurate. What most people really mean is that they want to reduce their total body fat. If we wanted to simply lose weight, it wold mean we would lose muscle, fat and bone mass across the board. And that is NOT healthy.

I cam across a good article on fat loss and weight training myths. Check out this article for some great ideas on spot reduction, lower abdominal myths and the myth that high repetitions burn more fat from exrx.net, Fat Loss & Weight Training Myths

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By Sue Shekut, Owner, Working Well Massage, Licensed Massage Therapist, Certified Wellness Coach, ACSM Personal Trainer

I’ve been shopping and providing massage at the Lincoln Park Whole Foods market for the past few years since they built the new store on Kingsbury. I know the store well, every stairwell, every nook and cranny, every mouth-watering department. But for new clients and visitors to the newly established Wellness Club, finding our table massage location can be a daunting task. Since massage is geared towards relaxation and stress relief more than orienteering, I want to make it easier for people to find us!

Your Final Destination; The Lincoln Park Wellness Club in Whole Foods Market at 1550 N. Kingsbury!

Directions to the Wellness Club inside Lincoln Park Whole Foods Market
Our actual street address is 1550 N. Kingsbury. From September to likely our first snow in Chicago, North avenue is under construction from Ashland to Kingsbury. I don’t recommend you access the store from North Avenue heading east from Ashland for that reason. And, as construction season is still upon us, Halsted is also under construction and access to Halsted between Division and Chicago avenue is blocked off.  The best way to access the Wellness Club AND avoid traffic congestion, is to enter Evergreen from Halsted just North of Division, turn right on Kingsbury and then enter the Whole Foods parking garage rear entrance a few blocks north of the Evergreen/Kingsbury intersection. For a pdf file showing driving directions of the map, click on Driving Directions to Wellness Club

A great table massage is just around the corner, inside the Wellness Club!

The Wellness Club is located on the Mezzanine (aka balcony over in store restaurants and deli) of the Lincoln Park Whole Foods Market.  You can access the Mezzanine in the store in one of two ways:

1. If you park in the garage on level 2 or 3, simply walk to the rear of the parking lot (facing the River) and take the stairs or elevator to the Mezzanine (M on the Elevator). Exit the stairwell and walk along the Mezzanine (aka balcony) towards Kingsbury until you reach the Wellness Club.

2. If you park in the garage and take the escalator or elevator to the main floor or if you walk to the store, you need to walk up the stairs in front of Express Checkout and the Working Well Massage Chair Massage Station to reach the Mezzanine.

You can see the Wellness Club in the distance in this photo taken from the bar aisle in front of Express Checkout!

These stairs lead to the level known as the Mezzanine (aka the balcony). The Mezzanine is only accessible from the stairs shown below or the rear entrance of the store. If you take the elevator or escalator in the front of the store tot he second floor you won’t find us. Don’t fret, though, just return to the main floor and then take the stairs to the Mezzanine in the South end of the store. Your massage will be worth the walk!

If these directions are unclear, hopefully the photos will help you orient yourself in the store and find us in the Wellness Club! If all else fails, call just directly at 312-202-6444 and we will direct you to us!

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By Sue Shekut, Owner, Working Well Massage, Licensed Massage Therapist, Certified Wellness Coach, ACSM Personal Trainer

While I’ve been interviewing and setting up the new massage services at the Lincoln Park Wellness Club, I’ve been able to receive demo massages from a variety of talented massage therapists. And at the same time, I’ve been extremely aware of my own muscle issues and tension. As a massage therapist myself, I frequently feel my client’s tight muscles, work out muscle adhesions and try to educate them as best I can about proper body mechanics at work and how to stretch. But I myself find that, when times are stressful and my workload is intense, I don’t always have time to practice what I preach, exercise-wise. And that’s where massage therapy really saves me.

I don’t see massage therapy as a luxury these days. Without a few weekly chair massages and a table massage every other week, I would be in too much pain to function properly. When people tell me they can’t afford  a massage, I think, I can’t afford to NOT get a massage. Massage therapy is part of my wellness routine. Just like drinking water, getting enough rest and exercising as much as I can, time permitting. But why is massage so important to me and why do I promote massage, not just at my own Working Well Massage locations, but in general?

1. Massage therapy offers me a few minutes or an hour of time that is just for me. I don’t have to answer emails texts or phone calls. I don’t have to talk to the massage therapist if I don’t want to. My massage time is devoted to me and my wellbeing. The rest of the week I may be working hard, attending to my own clients but My massage time is just that MY time!

2. When I’ve been recovering from muscle injury or chronic tension, I can try to work out the muscle tension myself, but even for an experienced massage therapist, it’s tough to work my own neck and shoulders!

3.  For stress management, I can either hop a plane to somewhere warm and snorkel out in the ocean or I can go get a massage. Cheaper than a plane ticket, easier to do more frequently than a few times a year, and certainly less expensive!

4. I find that most massage therapists and certainly the ones I select to work at Working Well Massage locations, are warm, kind people. They care about my well being and my pain and they try to help me. I like my dentist too but even though he is super nice and tries not to hurt me, I don’t run to see him as often as I get a massage.

5. In our fast paced world, it’s s easy to lose touch with our physical bodies. I can spend hours in front of the computer and not move. I try not to but I know that many of my clients are in the same boat. When your job involves computer work, it’s difficult to get enough movement in during the day and it’s easier to forget that our bodies need movement and rest. On days I am computer bound, I tend to feel more muscle tension and even feel a little cranky. But within about 10 minutes of a good massage, my mood lifts, I feel less tension and I know I will feel much better at the end of my massage. And I do!

6. I am not an anti-Western medicine fanatic. I go to the doctor for my checkups, I get mammograms and take prescription drugs when needed. But I don’t tend to need a lot of prescription drugs.  Due to my relatively healthy living habits, most of my pain tends to come from allergies or muscle aches and pains. So instead of taking a pill every day or needing frequent medical care, I get regular massages to help me manage the aches and pains of an active aging body.

There are many other reasons I get regular massage, but enough about me!  What about you? Why do you receive massages? Tell us in your comments.

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