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Welcome to NWI's Well Written blog. Here is a space for you, our members and our fans to contribute your voice, and spend time with others in the wellness world community who share your values. Please support NWI's Well Written blog by submitting an article (or three!) for consideration. We love the sound of your voice, and we're always listening.


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Top tags: Audacity  Brian Schroeder  Cancer  Dr. John Munson  emotional resilience  Evolution  family  Health  Kristi Leonard  Michael Arloski  nature  NWI Board of Directors  safari  Tabatha Elsberry Hyatt  travel  wellbeing  wholeness 

National Family History Day is around the corner

Posted By NWI, Friday, December 1, 2017
Updated: Friday, December 1, 2017

Bright Pink

 You may have picked out your recipes and finalized your strategy to dodge an awkward conversation with Uncle Harold, but are you prepared to tackle family health history this holiday season?

This conversation should definitely be in your holiday game plan. Over the coming month, Bright Pink will help by breaking down the why, when and how to collect this information. Let's Get Started.

Family matters.
Up to 25% of breast and ovarian cancers are familial or hereditary, so your family health history can act as a powerful roadmap for you and your healthcare provider. When you know your risk, you can manage it proactively! Read on.

Know what to ask. 
Both sides of the family are equally important in determining your personal level of risk. While breast and ovarian cancer history is important, other types of cancer can also be indicators of an inherited genetic risk—so capture everything you can. This worksheet can be your guide.

Collect, then assess. 
Once you’ve learned all you can, it’s time to put that knowledge to work. Visit to complete our digital quiz and receive a personalized report on your baseline risk for breast and ovarian cancer.

And remember, things change! Collect your family health history and assess your risk annually. Make it a Holiday family tradition! 

Gab with us!
For more inspiration and support, connect with us on social. We'll be sharing tips all month long! 

Tags:  Cancer  family  Health 

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2017’s Fattest States in America

Posted By Dr. Kelly Schoonaert, Thursday, November 30, 2017
Updated: Friday, December 1, 2017

“Fat” is becoming the new normal in America. According to the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than seven in 10 U.S. adults aged 20 and older are either overweight or obese. Rates are lower for children and adolescents but have risen steadily almost every year. So prevalent has America’s obesity problem grown that the weight-loss industry continues to expand. This year, Americans are expected to spend more than $68 billion just on programs designed to help them shed the extra pounds. The U.S. spends in total nearly $200 billion in annual health care costs related to obesity.

New findings by the Physical Activity Council suggest a need for more aggressive efforts to combat the issue. According to the report, nearly 81.5 million Americans aged 6 and older were completely inactive in 2016. Lack of physical activity is a leading cause of obesity, in addition to genetics, emotional instability and sleeplessness.

But the problem is bigger in some states than in others. To determine where obesity and overweight most dangerously persist, WalletHub’s analysts compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across 19 key metrics. Our data set ranges from share of obese and overweight population to sugary-beverage consumption among adolescents to obesity-related health care costs. Read on for our findings, expert commentary from a panel of researchers and a full description of our methodology.

For a more local perspective on the obesity and overweight problem in the U.S., check out WalletHub’s Fattest Cities report. Also to help spread awareness about diabetes, WalletHub assembled an interesting infographic exploring the impact of the disease as well as what folks are doing to fight back.


Main Findings

Source: WalletHub


Fattest States in America

 Overall Rank
(1 = Fattest)
State   Total Score  ‘Obesity & Overweight Prevalence’ Rank  ‘Health Consequences’ Rank ‘Food & Fitness’ Rank 
1 Mississippi 66.44 1 2 4
2 West Virginia 65.55 4 1 12
3 Tennessee 61.90 2 11 11
4 Arkansas 61.72 5 6 8
5 Louisiana 60.64 3 7 5
6 Kentucky 60.53 7 10 7
7 Alabama 59.07 8 21 6
8 Oklahoma 58.35 6 36 1
9 South Carolina 57.15 10 22 18
10 Indiana 56.60 15 8 16
11 Texas 56.14 9 24 9
12 Iowa 55.74 17 5 15
13 Ohio 55.02 11 25 2
14 Delaware 54.98 12 17 44
15 Kansas 54.80 13 15 10
16 North Carolina 54.73 19 13 22
17 Georgia 54.20 14 16 3
18 Michigan 54.18 18 19 13
19 North Dakota 53.56 16 37 21
20 New Mexico 53.07 28 9 17
21 Alaska 52.55 33 4 28
22 Nebraska 52.20 23 27 31
23 Florida 52.03 20 33 39
24 Maryland 51.41 25 30 34
25 Pennsylvania 51.37 24 38 32
26 Rhode Island 51.14 26 26 45
27 Missouri 51.12 27 39 24
28 Wisconsin 51.03 21 23 29
29 Maine 50.78 29 29 19
30 Arizona 50.60 31 20 25
31 South Dakota 49.98 22 49 20
32 Illinois 49.71 30 31 26
33 Vermont 48.57 49 3 41
33 Wyoming 48.57 37 35 30
35 New York 47.99 38 32 46
36 Idaho 47.89 40 28 43
37 Washington 47.47 42 14 42
38 Virginia 47.39 39 42 37
39 District of Columbia 46.99 41 43 36
40 Minnesota 46.93 34 41 23
41 California 46.86 35 45 49
42 Oregon 46.49 48 12 38
43 New Hampshire 45.90 44 33 48
44 Nevada 45.71 36 51 33
45 New Jersey 45.53 32 44 47
46 Connecticut 44.58 43 46 50
47 Montana 44.57 47 40 35
48 Hawaii 43.94 46 50 27
49 Utah 43.72 51 18 14
50 Massachusetts 43.30 45 48 51
51 Colorado 39.87 50 47 40

Most & Least Obese States

Although this report examines the prevalence of obesity, it also evaluates the levels of inactivity and overweight in each state. However, given the particularly harmful effects of obesity, we constructed a separate table below that focuses just on obesity rates to highlight the states in which the problem is most concerning. Both adults and children were considered for this separate ranking. A rank of No. 1 corresponds with the highest obesity rate.

Source: WalletHub


Ask the Experts

Our collective medical tab of nearly $200 billion is just one of the consequences of a perpetually unhealthy lifestyle that leads to obesity. To shed more light on the issue and find solutions that consumers and local governments can follow, we asked a panel of experts to share their thoughts on the following key questions:

  1. What are some tips for eating healthy without breaking the bank?
  2. What are the biggest mistakes people make when trying to lose weight?
  3. What policies should government pursue to combat obesity and rein in the cost of health care?
  4. What is the impact of obesity on the economy and worker productivity?
  5. Should overweight people pay a higher premium for their health insurance? Do you think they will in the future, based on recent health care proposals?


Dr. Kelly SchoonaertWhat are some tips for eating healthy without breaking the bank?

  • Fresh fruits, although their prices have risen just like everything else’s, are usually available at convenience markets in gas stations, and when you compare their price to that of candy bars, chips, and popcorn, they are usually less costly. Spending a buck on a candy bar as compared to 33 cents on a banana or 50 cents on an apple just takes some getting used to. Once you actually remember how tasty they are, they become worthy of the price.
  • Avoid processed food as much as possible.
  • When forced to go for fast food, really look at the menu. Most times, healthy choices can be found. Don’t just order by the numbers -- ask that food be prepared in the healthiest way possible. There usually is no upcharge for grilled instead of fried, substituting the healthier drink (water) instead of soda.
  • Realize “the bank” isn’t just about money -- the calorie bank is just as important, and if you bust that bank, it may cost you more in the long run, both financially and health-wise.
  • Make more of your healthy dinner to bring to lunch the next day. It is less costly than eating out, and will usually be far healthier than any kind of fast food or restaurant food you can get.

What are the biggest mistakes people make when trying to lose weight? 
We want to lose the weight fast, this week, today, forgetting that it perhaps took many years to put on. Weight loss is a process. It will take time to change the habits (usually 4 to 6 weeks to stick to a new habit) that got you the extra weight in the first place. Change one or two small habits at a time. Going from eating what you want to an austerity diet is a recipe for not changing any habits at all. 

What policies should government pursue to combat obesity and reign in the cost of healthcare? 
Stop subsidizing ingredients that make processing food (taking out nutrients while exploding calories) like sugars/glucose/fructose, and high glycemic index foods cost-effective. If we are going to subsidize food stuff, it should be eligible for oversight and we should have a say in how it can be utilized. 

What is the impact of obesity on the economy and worker productivity? 
There are significant direct medical costs associated with obesity and the diseases that emanate from it. Then there are less obvious productivity costs. When workers can’t be at work due to health issues or they can be there, but are not productive because of chronic conditions that limit the scope of their daily activities, it costs both the wage earner and the company. These costs may be covertly passed along to obese workers through lower pay, less advancement and opportunity. 

Should overweight people pay a higher premium for their health insurance? Do you think they will in the future, based off of recent health care proposals? 
I do think people will move towards charging people higher insurance premiums in the future. However, weight is a complex issue, and I think that is a mistake. Supporting good employees in their health pursuits by providing a healthy work culture, through opportunities for active working, healthier options in on-site cafeterias, on-site stress reduction opportunities, financial education on IRAs and other opportunities available to them, family/work balance, and other kinds of wellness initiatives will do more to encourage loyalty, work ethic, and healthy outlooks than penalizing workers with issues. Developing healthy culture and building positive relationships will save money in the long run.


Most Popular Comfort Foods by State

Comfort Foods by State 2017



In order to determine the fattest states in America, WalletHub’s analysts compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across three key dimensions: 1) Obesity & Overweight Prevalence, 2) Health Consequences and 3) Food & Fitness.
We evaluated those dimensions using 19 relevant metrics, which are listed below with their corresponding weights. Each metric was graded on a 100-point scale, with a score of 100 representing the fattest state. For metrics marked with an asterisk (*), we calculated the population size using the square root of the population in order to avoid overcompensating for minor differences across cities.
Finally, we determined each state and the District’s weighted average across all metrics to calculate its total score and used the resulting scores to rank-order our sample.

Obesity & Overweight Prevalence – Total Points: 60

  • Share of Overweight Adults: Full Weight (~6.00 Points)
  • Share of Obese Adults: Double Weight (~12.00 Points)
  • Share of Overweight Teenagers: Full Weight (~6.00 Points)
    Note: “Teenagers” includes the population aged 14 to 18.
  • Share of Obese Teenagers: Double Weight (~12.00 Points)
    Note: “Teenagers” includes the population aged 14 to 18.
  • Share of Overweight Children: Full Weight (~6.00 Points)
    Note: “Children” includes the population aged 10 to 17.
  • Share of Obese Children: Double Weight (~12.00 Points)
    Note: “Children” includes the population aged 10 to 17.
  •  Projected Obesity Rate in 2030: Full Weight (~6.00 Points)

Health Consequences – Total Points: 25

  • Share of Adults with High Cholesterol: Full Weight (~3.57 Points)
  • Share of Adults with Type 2 Diabetes: Full Weight (~3.57 Points)
  • Share of Adults with Hypertension: Full Weight (~3.57 Points)
  • Heart Disease Rate: Full Weight (~3.57 Points)
  • Obesity-Related Death Rate: Double Weight (~7.14 Points)
  • Obesity-Related Health Care Costs: Full Weight (~3.57 Points)
    Note: This metric measures the annual incremental health care costs attributable to obesity per 100,000 adults, as calculated by Gallup, which estimates per-person cost at $1,573.

Food & Fitness – Total Points: 15

  • Share of Adults Eating Less than 1 Serving of Fruits/Vegetables per Day: Full Weight (~2.50 Points)
  • Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Consumption Among Adolescents: Full Weight (~2.50 Points)
  • Healthy-Food Access: Full Weight (~2.50 Points)
    Note: This metric measures the percentage of Census Tracts that have at least one healthier food retailer located within the tract or within 0.5 miles of tract boundaries.
  •  Fast-Food Restaurants per Capita*: Full Weight (~2.50 Points)
  • Share of Physically Inactive Adults: Full Weight (~2.50 Points)
  • Fitness Centers per Capita*: Full Weight (~2.50 Points)

Dr. Kelly SchoonaertDr. Kelly Schoonaert is an associate Professor of Health Promotion and Wellness and Certified Intrinsic Coach at the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point

Sources: Data used to create this ranking were collected from the U.S. Census Bureau, The Child and Adolescent Health Measurement Initiative, Trust for America's Health, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Gallup and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 
Original Article from WalletHub

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Timeless Beauty Using Essential Oils?

Posted By Shanna Bynes LME, Saturday, November 4, 2017
Updated: Friday, November 3, 2017

essential oils

Essential oils have been around for thousands of years—since 3,500 BC, and are used all over the world by many different cultures. These oils are organic compounds extracted from plants with tremendous healing and anti-aging properties for enhancing beauty and restoring youthful skin.

Essential oils are minuscule in molecular size, which means they are absorbed well by the skin—making them perfect ingredients in personal care items intended to heal, soften, nourish, and provide nutrients back to the skin. They do not accumulate in the body over time however—but offer up their healing properties and then dissipate.

Essential oils may be the best kept wellness secret to reverse signs of skin aging and preventing lines and wrinkles. My top (4) Essential Oils to address fine lines and wrinkles and prevent skin aging are Lemon essential oil—great for preventing wrinkles around the orbital bone of the eyes. Frankincense essential oil is ideal for addressing skin aging concerns like discoloration or age spots. Lavender essential oil combats wrinkles and promotes healing of the skin. Finally, Geranium essential oil promotes beautiful and radiant skin.

Geranium oil is also used to treat acne, reduce inflammation and wellness by protecting new skin cells. The next time you're looking for anti-aging, look at your local wellness and beauty store for pure essential oils, such as the ones listed above that can be applied directly to the skin, or, as they are quite concentrated, mixed with a carrier oil such as Jojoba oil or Grape Seed oil. Healthy skin can be achieved by incorporating essential oils into your daily skincare routine.

Skin Dermal Absorption: The skin is relatively permeable to fat soluble substances and relatively impermeable to water-soluble substances. Essential oils are able to pass through the strateum corneum (the outer layer of the epidermis). From here the oil passes through the dermis, into the capillaries and into the bloodstream.

Absorption can also occur through the hair follicles and sweat glands. The warmth of the skin increases blood flow to the surface, increasing the skin’s ability to absorb the essential oils.

Just about everything can penetrate the skin, but the areas of the skin that are the most permeable are the inside of the wrist and behind the ear, the scalp, armpits, and the palms of the hands and feet.

Essential oils can affect every cell of the body within 20 minutes, and are then metabolized. To increase your skin's smoothness and add glow to your complexion, try adding five to six drops of essential oils to your current skincare products, which can be helpful in increasing your skin's moisture retention.

Did You Know? Rose essential oil is the most expensive oil on the market. Not only is it rare, but also very difficult to extract. Rose essential oil rehydrates the skin, quickly reducing redness, and can brighten the complexion almost immediately. Clary essential oil is great for balancing your skin’s oil production and reducing itchy, inflamed skin by causing a calming and soothing effect.

For your next level of beauty and anti-aging, try essential oils. They smell wonderful and have so many therapeutic properties to improve wellness and beauty by maintaining the health of the skin, scalp, hair, nails, and eyebrows. Refresh! Renew! Regenerate!


Shanna BynesShanna Bynes is an internationally recognized leading skincare professional with more than 16 years in the aesthetic and beauty industry. She is a licensed medical aesthetician and nail technician, as well as professional makeup artist.  Shanna is also certified in Reflexology and offers her expertise to clients plus other skincare professionals. 

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Fulfill Your Bucket List! Go On a South African Safari With Dr. John Munson

Posted By NWI, Friday, November 3, 2017
Updated: Thursday, November 2, 2017

Join Dr. John Munson on African Safari

See South African animals and birds up close and personal!  Dr. John Munson, former NWI Board Member and long-time NWI leader invites NWI members to join him on a South African Photography Safari either on April 12-April 23, 2018 or September 12-23, 2018.  Each trip has openings for eight participants; and price quotes are all inclusive (hotel/airfare/food, etc.)
African ElephantDr. Munson has agreed to donate $250 to the NWI foundation for each NWI member who goes on one of these experiences. The donated money will be set aside to assist international wellness professionals and people of all nationalities to attend the 2018 or 2019 NWI National Conference.  Help us to help people who can enrich their lives through the education and rejuvenation gained through attending the National Wellness Conference.

LeopardFor complete details on these safaris email Dr. Munson.  Early registration is necessary as trips fill quickly. This bucket list experience takes people to the renowned Kruger National Park and surrounding areas. Experience nature and animals living free in their natural habitat.

Tags:  Dr. John Munson  nature  safari  travel 

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NWI Introduces New Board Members

Posted By NWI, Friday, November 3, 2017
Updated: Wednesday, November 1, 2017

The National Wellness Institute is proud to announce our new Board President and Board members. Please help us welcome them!

Michael Arloski, PhD, PCC, CWPMichael Arloski, PhD, PCC, CWP, a long-time NWI supporter and current member of the BOD, has accepted the position of President.  Dr. Arloski is a wellness psychologist and has pioneered the field of wellness coaching.  He has conducted over thirty presentations at the prestigious National Wellness Conference. Educating and supporting great wellness coaches through his company, Real Balance Global Wellness Services, Michael Arloski is dedicated to improving health worldwide. A licensed psychologist, professional certified coach (ICF), author, speaker, wellness consultant and pioneer, Michael wears many hats but with the singular focus of helping people achieve Lasting Lifestyle Change. His company has trained over 4,000 wellness coaches worldwide.

Tabatha Elsberry Hyatt, MBA, CHES, CMI, CWS, CWWPCTabatha Elsberry-Hyatt, MBA, CHES, CMI, CWS, CWWPC, has been a long-time NWI member and currently serves as co-chair of our “Heart 2 Heart” committee/family.  She also sits on the NWI Membership committee. Her wellness career combined with an electric personality made her a perfect fit for the NWI Board. Tabatha resides in Montana with her family.

Brian Schroeder, MHABrian Schroeder, MHA, is a health and wellness administrative professional experienced in clinical, education, financial, and research operations.  He currently serves as Administrative Director - Corporate Wellness, Occupational Health, and Volunteer Services for Eskenazi Health. Besides being a Board member of NWI, he is also a Board member of The Wellness Council of Indiana and Jump IN for Healthy Kids.

Kristi Leonard, EdD, CWPKristi Leonard is the Assistant Dean of Students, Wellness and Well-Being at Central College in Iowa.  She was previously an Associate Professor of Wellness, the Wellness Department Chair, and Faculty Chair at Waldorf College.  Besides earning her CWP, she holds Master Degrees in Community Health Education and Student Development in Postsecondary Education. She also has a Doctor of Education (EdD) in Community Health; and bachelor’s degrees in Psychology, Secondary Ed, and Spanish.

Tags:  Brian Schroeder  Kristi Leonard  Michael Arloski  NWI Board of Directors  Tabatha Elsberry Hyatt 

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The Global Wellness Summit—A Special Report

Posted By NWI Member Elisabeth Doehring, Friday, November 3, 2017
Updated: Thursday, November 2, 2017
Global Wellness Summit

From Left to right: Susie Ellis, Dr. Andrew Weil, Dr. Mehmet Oz, Dr. Dean Ornish, Dr. Michael Roizen, Elissa Epel, Ph.D., Louie Schwarzburg, Sue Harmsworth, Dr. Elke Benedetto-Reisch (Medical Dir, Lanserhof) Mindy Grossman (CEO, Weight Watchers), Dr. Paul Limburg & Dr. Richard Carmona 

Well-being leaders descended on Palm Beach for the Eleventh Annual Global Wellness Summit (GWS) in October. This year’s event was held at an iconic 121-year-old landmark, The Breakers. GWS is an international gathering that brings together leaders and visionaries for the purpose of creating and enhancing a positive impact on wellness as well as shaping the future of the global wellness industry. Team collaboration thrives within the daily programs. Trust is a constant at the Summit. 

Held on October 9-11, this year’s invite-only event featured over 600 delegates representing 43 countries. The Breakers proved the perfect host to this year’s event, which included panel-led discussions, general sessions, small group breakout sessions, and dining conversations. 

Sponsored by the Global Wellness Institute (GWI), a non-profit 501(c) (3), the leading global research and educational resource for the global wellness industry, the Summit drew attendees and presenters from science, medicine, well-being, research, and other sectors. GWI introduces major industry initiatives and regional events that bring together leaders as they chart the future of wellness. With a mission to empower organizations worldwide by educating public and private sectors about preventative health and wellness, GWI empowers wellness organizations by facilitating collaboration, providing global research and insights, triggering innovation, and advocating for growth and sustainability. 


“Living a Well Life”, the 2017 theme, took on an enhanced meaning for the Summit. The three-day event featured an unprecedented lineup of over 50 speakers. Presenters included Louie Schwartzberg, Dr. Andrew Weil, Dr. Michael Roizen, Dr. Mehmet Oz, Dr. Dean Ornish, former United States Surgeon General Dr. Richard Carmona, and Elissa Epel, PhD.

First day sessions opened with the brilliance of Louie Schwartzberg, founder of Moving Art. Overhead screens offered a stunning display of the movement of flowers at high-speed resolution film. Schwartzberg linked nature as a truism for problem-solving for individual and team performance. In addition to this nature provides a link to a reduction in stress related to death and disease.  A connection to nature provides for faster hospital recovery time, decreases blood pressure and heart rate, lowers the level of stress hormone, and improves short term-memory.

Richard Carmona, MD, 17th Surgeon General of The United States, noted that the United States spends 19% of the gross domestic product on health in his program “The Imperative for a Well life: 75 Percent of the Cost of Chronic Illness is Preventable”. In addition- more than 75 cents in every dollar is spent on preventable diseases that are all caused by lifestyle choices. 

Chris Jordan, Director of Exercise Physiology for Johnson & Johnson Human Performance Institute hit full stride with “We Don’t Need More Time…We Need More Energy!”.  Jordan supports managing energy and not just time, which is best done by focusing and being in the moment.  He also explained the four dimensions of energy – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual as well as how energy expenditure needs to be backed up with energy recovery. 

Mohommad Gawdat, Chief Business Officer for Google (X), presented “Solve for Happy—Engineering Happiness”. Google is known as a well-being leader and Gawdat presented the case for happiness in all aspects of work and life.

With a culture of caring, The Breakers operates from a familial standpoint and spirit. Denise Bober, VP Human Resources at the Breakers, Garrett Kirk Jr, Board Executive Committee Member, and Paul Leone, CEO, shared the stage with “Health & Well-Being: The Breakers Story”.  The program at The Breakers is one of the best well-being programs in the world, and Bober and team presented the business case for Well-Being, Breakers-style. 

Kirk, Jr. started out with, “Our A Game today is our B game tomorrow. First, we make our people better. When they are good we make them even better. Then we keep going until they are extraordinary. We have to see possibility. An effective workplace wellness program is the toughest challenge for a company today but the most important benefit a company can give its employees.”

Bober started the Workplace Wellness Program project 12 years ago, and credited its success from the get-go to her executive team. 

Leone closed out the program by sharing measured balanced scorecard results. Since the inception of the well-being program, The Breakers has experienced increased team satisfaction, which in turn has generated an increase in customer satisfaction and growth. 

In his presentation “The Plague of the Modern Era is Insanity”, Mehmet Oz, MD, explained that in the 19th century the major plague in the world was infection. Once we entered the 20th century it moved to chronic conditions like heart disease. Now in the 21st century it is the inability of people to be happy. Oz further discussed programs treating addiction, with the world of addiction treatment now a highly profitable business.

Andrew Weil, MD, challenged attendees to make well-being “fashionable” in “How to Really Help People Make Healthy Lifestyle Choices”. While advocating removing fast food restaurants and vending machines from health facilities and changing government food policy, Weil also encouraged people to spend time with those who have the good habits they admire and want for themselves.  Moods are contagious. Weil showed the value in hanging out with happy and positive people to move forward in life.

Dr. Michael Roizen, Chief Wellness Officer of the Cleveland Clinic, presented “Living to 160”. Chronic disease management is responsible for 84% of all medical costs and 67% of those costs are in under 65-year-olds, noted Roizen. The major culprits are tobacco, poor food choices and overeating, physical inactivity, and unmanaged stress. Spending on Alzheimer’s Disease is predicted to go from $184 Billion in 2010 to $1,167 Billion in 2050. Healthcare in modern economies is becoming more expensive as we are treating chronic lifestyle diseases instead of implementing programs that prevent or reverse them.

Mary Anne and Thierry Malleret presented “10 Good Reasons to Go for a Walk and Other Wellness Ideas” as they championed daily walking as part of overall well-being. Walking is the path to creativity in the Silicon Valley workplace – witness Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg. This fitness form has strong implications for corporate leaders and teams.

Elissa Epel, PhD, discussed telomeres, the ends of DNA strands, which resemble plastic tips at the end of your shoelaces. The longer the telomeres, the more likely a person will enjoy longevity. Telomeres shorten as humans age. DNA and experience of life, known as epigenetics, have a significant impact on the length of telomeres.  

The co-author of the ground-breaking book, The Telomere Effect, Epel discussed adversity versus nurturance. Fear versus love. She also offered insight into creating happiness and purpose with those around us. Telomere health increases with the practice of meditation, and studies show that mind body activities actually boost telomere enzyme activity. 

Wellness Moonshot Initiative 
A global crisis is affecting the world both physically and mentally. Stark reality is that roughly 70% of all deaths each year are a result of preventable diseases (CDC), while the global cost of largely preventable chronic disease could reach $47 trillion by 2030, according to the World Economic Forum. Clearly the GWI has been watching these numbers.

On the opening day of the 2017 GWS a major initiative was launched. Health and wellness leaders united behind the first global commitment to achieve a world free of preventable disease, a Wellness Moonshot that is arguably as urgent as it is massive in scope. Wellness Moonshot was delivered to an enthusiastic overflow crowd at the Eleventh Summit.

GWI Chairman and CEO Susie Ellis said “The time has come to pool our resources—knowledge, access, funding—and use our collective megaphone on the world stage to work towards achieving a world free of preventable disease. Unlike President Kennedy’s famous moonshot to send a man to the moon, where it was clear when the ‘mission was accomplished’ – this moonshot will require not one, but many incremental steps forward for humankind.”
GWI’s initial focus will be on information campaigns to bring global attention to the Wellness Moonshot: from which prevention initiatives are most needed, and where – to educating the world about high-impact global projects that are tackling preventable disease, and to drive new interest and resources to them. In addition, Ellis noted that GWI will catalyze stakeholders from both the private and public sectors to coordinate, collaborate, and commit to the Wellness Moonshot.

Ellis further added, “As each wellness and integrative medical leader came to the stage to offer support and ‘best ways forward’ to achieve the Moonshot, I felt profound excitement and hope. Every one of them has already contributed mightily to a world free of preventable disease – and their work has, for years, been moving the needle. Also as each luminary came to the stage, it was really the first time that I didn’t see them as individuals: as representing Dr. Weil's ideas or Dr. Oz's ideas – or the Cleveland Clinic’s or Mayo Clinic’s – or the US or German perspective. I realized that we were all on the same strong team, and the entire audience was as well. These top wellness experts didn’t ‘lead’ the audience, they were representatives of the audience - where everyone's input is helpful and equal. 
Following the announcement Schwartzberg added, “I was deeply honored to be included in the group announcement. What we need is a new story, a story about Wellness and preventive medicine being the practice and the path of medical care instead of the treatment of disease when doctors are caring for the patient when it’s too late.  As a filmmaker and story-teller I hope to enable my fellow moonshot leaders and doctors to get their story out, about the paradigm shift in consciousness that we need in our healthcare system and in each individual’s worldview.”

According to GWS attendee Fikry Isaac, MD (former Chief Medical Officer of Johnson & Johnson) and previous program presenter, "When I was in the room I immediately sensed excitement –that we were no longer talking about addressing disease but the prevention of disease. Making engagement and setting the bar higher to what should be done. I have full confidence that Moonshot will be a game-changer moving us worldwide from an ill care system to a well-care system.”



Elisabeth A. DoehringElisabeth A. Doehring, PHR, GPHR, SHRM-SCP, CWWPM, WELCOA Faculty, RYT-200 is an award-winning writer and human resources/well-being professional. She served as Wellness Director for the Alabama State SHRM Council Board and presents keynotes on well-being, resilience, and trust at major universities and benefits events as well as at State HR Conferences, most recently at the HR Florida Annual Conference. Her works appear in books, journals, magazines, and newspapers in the United States and in Europe.  Elisabeth has been a member of NWI since 2012.


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Wellbeing: A Holistic Approach to Health

Posted By Alliance of Community Health Plans, Friday, October 27, 2017
Updated: Friday, October 27, 2017

What if there was a way to think more positively, be more productive at work and build stronger relationships? Enhancing your wellbeing could be the key.

Wellbeing is a measure of how you feel you’re doing mentally, physically and spiritually.

It’s made up of the six elements below — which are also depicted in this fun video:

  1. Career: Enjoying how you occupy your time; liking what you do every day
  2. Financial: Managing and planning your personal finances effectively to avoid stress
  3. Physical and mental: Being in good health and having enough energy to get things done each day
  4. Social and interpersonal: Having strong, positive relationships in your life
  5. Community: Having a sense of engagement with the areas where you live and work
  6. Emotional: Being resilient; able to handle everyday stresses


Research shows that wellbeing boosts creativity, collaboration and contributes to a culture that helps people thrive. It also boosts productivity and is directly tied to a highly-engaged and high-performing workforce. Business and health care leaders are moving toward this holistic approach to address mental health, emotional connection and opportunities to thrive. Communities, businesses and policymakers are also seeing the benefits and getting on board the movement.

Strengthening your wellbeing takes work — fortunately, there are organizations that are here to help.

Two nonprofit, regional health plans are helping people fight stress, improve relationships, manage mental health and access the tools to stay healthy.  

In Minnesota, HealthPartners is working to change the way people think. Emotional resilience helps you combat stress and bounce back after a difficult event, but it takes practice. An eight-week, online program, Beating the Blues helps participants build skills that lead to healthier thinking — offering tips on how to identify negative thoughts and replace them with positive feelings and behaviors. The program is FREE for HealthPartners members and patients. Of the more than 5,000 people who have taken the course, more than 90 percent found the program to be helpful in their work and personal lives.

Through their WELLfluent campaign, Florida-based AvMed is helping people focus on the things that matter most — health, happiness, and a balance of mind, body and soul. AvMed fosters access to diverse and personalized programs to help all community members achieve a balanced life. This includes supporting activities like bike shares, road races and programs to get kids moving; social connections, entertainment and learning opportunities for seniors; rewards for healthy behavior; access to care management programs for health support; and through a mobile pantry, healthy food options in areas that need them most.

While we often put physical health first, diet and exercise alone aren’t enough to strengthen our total wellbeing. All the elements of wellbeing work together to help you realize your full potential. By going beyond just the physical, strengthening your wellbeing could help you lead a healthier and happier life.

To learn more, click here.

The Alliance of Community Health Plans (ACHP) is a national leadership organization bringing together innovative health plans and provider groups that are among America’s best at delivering affordable, high-quality coverage and care.

Tags:  emotional resilience  wellbeing 

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Probiotics – Are the Health Benefits Real or Hype?

Posted By By Rechà Bullock, Friday, October 20, 2017

Most people do not realize the importance of gut health. However, when you learn that 80 percent of our immune system relies on our gut health, then we can put the importance of gut health into perspective. As an example, if you catch a cold very easily or have bouts of tummy aches with diarrhea, have consistent eczema, psoriasis, or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), you may really benefit from taking a daily probiotic.

Learning which probiotic is best for you is important, as is understanding the important ingredients to look for in a probiotic due to the number of products on the market. I have provided a list below of what to look for when purchasing a probiotic.

Probiotics offer some really good health benefits that many of us should take advantage of to help us boost our immune system. Daily consumption of probiotic supplements or fermented foods allows for balancing good and bad bacteria which helps us digest our food and keep our gut healthy and strong.

Fermented foods are probiotic sources that you can eat if you want to avoid the expense associated with taking a daily probiotic supplement. However, the problem with eating fermented foods is most people do not eat enough fermented foods regularly to receive the beneficial gut health protections needed to keep our gut healthy. 

Fermentation is simply a process used to break down the enzymes in foods to allow for live cultures or organisms to thrive and support our gut flora or bacteria and immune system. If you would like to consume foods that support your gut health without taking a probiotic supplement look for fermented foods with “live” cultures like sauerkraut, pickles, kimchee, pickled vegetables, salsa, miso (only unpasteurized), kombucha tea, kefir, and yogurt with live cultures (that has less than 16 grams of sugar). In order to reap the benefits of fermented foods, you must make certain you carefully read the word “live” cultures or “live” food on the label. Also, you should try to aim to eat a variety fermented foods, so that you can get a variety of different strains to support your gut health and immune system. 

If all of this sounds way too complicated for you to add to the mix of your life, I hear you. That’s why I like to take a daily probiotic pill to help make certain I am consistently providing my gut with healthy bacteria to support my immune system. Since there are so many probiotics on the market, let’s get straight to what ingredients are needed in a probiotic to make it a worthwhile investment. As mentioned above, consuming a variety of strains is the best option for promoting a healthy gut. A probiotic in a pill form is no different. 

A great probiotic should contain at least 10 different strains, with the most important ingredients being Lactobacillus Acidophilus, Bifidobacterium Lactis, Bifidobacterium Longum, Bifidobacterium Infantis, Bifidobacterium Bifudum, Lactobacillus Helveticus, Lactobacillus Plantarum, Lactobacillus Bulgaricus, Lactobacillus Rhamnosus, Streptococcus Thermophilus, and Enterococcus Faecium. When shopping for a probiotic, you will most likely find them in a health food store in the refrigerated section due to the live cultures which need to be kept cool. However, there are some probiotics that work well that do not require refrigeration.

When purchasing a probiotic aim for a formula that allows for a slow or delayed release into your small intestine and one that has 5 to 50 billion microorganisms or cells, which will be clearly presented on the box or bottle. Since live cultures do not live long, make certain you pay attention to the best by date prior to purchasing a probiotic.

Finally, make certain you purchase a brand that does not add unnecessary and unhealthy ingredients like food coloring or chemical fillers. I like to purchase vegetarian-based probiotics. If you decide to take a probiotic and also have chronic health conditions, make certain you talk to your doctor. Especially, since supplements are not regulated by the FDA and some supplements can cause adverse reactions with some medications. 

Be well. 

Disclosure Statement
*Supplements are not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). 
**If you take medication for chronic conditions, you should consult your doctor prior to taking any supplements. 

Sources:, Gut Microbiota and Bacterial Translocation in Digestive Surgery: The Impact of Probiotics., Retrieved on July 17, 2017., Probiotics in Digestive Diseases: Focus on Lactobacillus GG., Retrieved on July 17, 2017., It’s More Than a Gut Feeling.

Rechà Bullock is a Certified Wellness Practitioner, Certified Worksite Wellness Specialist, Health Coach, Yoga Teacher (200-RYT), public health professional, and plant-based foodie. Her passion for health and wellness comes from a lifelong love of fitness, health, nutrition, yoga, and a desire to help people transform their health by eating foods that are nutrient rich.

Rechà's goal is to provide information to help people make food choices that are healthier for them and their families. "We cannot afford to continue to purchase and consume foods that are at odds with our health, such as genetically modified foods, steroids, antibiotics, artificial ingredients, and processed sugars." 

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The Audacity of Wholeness and the Evolution of the National Wellness Institute

Posted By Joel Bennett, PhD, Tuesday, September 26, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Fragmentation of man into areas over which various groups struggle appears to be nonsensical... Harmony can come to pass only when each special interest group realizes that it cannot have a monopoly over a particular area of the nature of man.




This article is written by Joel Bennett, PhD, by invitation from the staff at National Wellness Institute (NWI). And this invitation is now extended to all others— to you — to share your own ideas, truths, or opinion. To submit your own article or blog, or respond to this one, please do so here. Your voice matters!


Let us pause right there. This is an invitation.




In its truest form, well-being is and has always been an invitation to wholeness. The National Wellness Institute was founded in 1977 on the basis of this invitation to wholeness. Every conference has invited wellness students, professionals, friends (and often, family) to show up BOTH as a professional and as a person seeking health, renewal, and community. This invitation to wholeness – combining professional advancement with personal growth – is unparalleled in a field that is increasingly subject to forces of fragmentation. Indeed, a hallmark of NWI’s identity is inclusiveness both within (self) and without (community).


We can forget this most simple and basic truth: that well-being is and has always been an invitation to wholeness. We cannot force, cajole, incentivize, or otherwise manipulate someone to be well. We can, instead, set up the conditions, role model, inspire, and compassionately guide or nudge others to get in touch with their own sense of wholeness.


well-being is and has always been an invitation to wholeness


When we treat wellness as a commercial endeavor, a product, or a commodity, we communicate — often unwittingly — that an external agent will fix things (i.e., outside of us: a pill, a regimen, a diet, an app). This “romance of the fix or the rescue” is quite compelling, given great strides in the sciences of treatment, medicine and pharmacology. These are wonderful advances; many have been helped and lives have been saved as a result. At the same time, these sciences can tend to reduce human beings to those parts – biological, psychological, etc. — that are the targets of treatment. As a result, we often end up with a fragmented view of our human being. Wholeness is left behind.


The Audacity of Wholeness

The NWI staff invitation came after the 2017 facilitated “Key Note” presentation and workshop I helped with, titled “The Audacity of Wholeness: Self-reflection and Dialogue in Six Dimensions”. 


You can download the entire slide-deck for this presentation here.


You can access the audio presentation through the NWI conference store, hereThe Audacity of Wellness presentation product code is 201714156.


Here is the basic idea behind the audacity of wholeness:


Society and our upbringing can sanction or otherwise attempt us to identify with ONLY one idea, code, group, tribe, religion, or paradigm. These attempts often come from a tribal loyalty or family-centered dictate to “guard our secrets” and can lead to a myopic, fragmented view of our self, our health, and of others — e.g., “us versus them” or “either-or thinking” or “political polarization” or “in-group versus out group” or “my way or the highway,” etc. In the wake of such, it takes a certain boldness and vitality to go against social expectations. When everyone else is taking sides, it is audacious to promote unity. When everyone else is being negative, it is audacious to be positive. When everyone else is touting one “wellness fix” against another, it is audacious to embrace multiple solutions. When everyone else rejects the outsider, it is audacious to welcome the stranger. (Take That! You Xenophobes!)


Other sources on Positive Audacity:

The Seven Traits of Positive Audacity (Spirituality & Health Article)

Nineteen Tips on Social Wholeness



Part 2: The Evolution of National Wellness Institute


It Starts with Story. At a primal level, the invitation to wholeness is really an invitation to tell, embrace, and share in the story of our own becoming. In the 2017 key-note facilitation, we emphasized the dual importance of personal story and tribal authenticity. I was honored to hear other NWI members present a part of their own very personal journeys toward wholeness. These co-presenters were Hailey Hoepner, Michele Mariscal, Emily Brainerd, Lisa Medley, and Danielle Burrell. They spoke about intimacy, grief, overcoming perfection, dealing with the trauma of racism, and embracing the wisdom of mind-body-soulfulness. Again, you can listen to them here.


The importance of story was also reflected in a visuo-poetic interview we did with Elaine Sullivan, who was the first female NWI board member. You can watch that here:




The bottom line message of this work is this: Our story cannot be separate from the challenges that surround us. We absolutely need to stop talking AT each other and start sharing with each other. Our healing starts with sharing stories in a safe community that honors wholeness and inclusiveness. And this invitation is also one to have fun in the process. Our previous past President, Meg Jordan, shared about this as well (see here).


You cannot succeed in one department of life while cheating on another, life is an indivisible whole

— Gandhi

The Root of the NWI Story. I believe that the break from wholeness is a break from our deep, ancestral roots and from the natural recognition that humanity is one living and evolving unity.  And that, really, we are all — alone and together — being sent an INVITATION to recover and redeem that wholeness.




Imagine that you are being sent this invitation now.


Remember.  All three of these words have the same etymological root: Holy, Whole, and Health. In the old English (Halig, Hǽlþ, Hal).


Over the past 40 years, this common root, this vibration, or tri-source fountain has helped drive the growth and evolution of the National Wellness Institute and conference. Without my even asking, over the years that I have been coming to the conference, I will hear different participants tell me.

“This feels like coming home”

“I now come here for vacation time”

“This is the only place where I can be both myself and also learn as a professional”

“The connections I make here, the friendships, last a life-time”

Of course, not everyone says this. But, there is something in the genetics of NWI that gives rise to this experience of coming home.

How NWI is Evolving. From my limited perspective, with the data I have at hand, I believe that the National Wellness Institute has evolved—or, rather, is evolving—across five different phases. I call them phases rather than stages because I believe that NWI is still evolving, mutating, organically moving forward and backward and is currently faced with many challenges. But this is what it means to be healthy: organic, resilient, changeable, vital, open.


Phase 1: The Foundation - Embracing the Six Dimensions


Phase 2: Belonging - Emergence of Communities


Phase 3: Inclusion - Embracing Multi-Cultural Values


Phase 4: Intimacy - Empowering Membership


Phase 5: Transformation - The Emergent School



During the facilitated key-note, participants were asked to complete the wholeness exercise AND share their experience with others.

Both steps (internal reflection and safe sharing) are key.

As part of this exercise, participants watched this message from Howie Mandel.

Please feel free to share these instructions with others.


  1. Download and Complete the Wholeness Reflection Exercise
  2. Share the exercise with a friend or colleague
  3. Watch the video of Howie Mandel and ask your friend to do so as well
  4. Take turns sharing your thoughts


Use the Reflection Exercise to guide your conversation


Here is what participants said about the exercise:

“This opened my eyes to re-looking at where I am both professionally and personally”

“I will use this worksheet to help participant see that programs are more than just fitness plans”

“The idea of wholeness is awesome and the key to wellness”


Phase 1: The Foundation - Embracing the Six Dimensions. With the six dimensions of wellness — Physical, Intellectual, Emotional, Occupational, Spiritual, Social – NWI established the call to personal and professional wholeness as an integral part of its mission and identity. Despite the wider culture’s tendency to associate wellness with the physical (often cardiovascular health and fitness), NWI said we are so much more than just physical health and, also, that each aspect influences other aspects. Now that is audacious!


This means that some people join NWI for one aspect — often to learn new science around fitness — and come to realize that emotions or soulfulness or intimacy are a lot more important than their previous learning allowed. More often, they knew this all along. They just needed permission to bring their full self into the framework (haven?) of a professional conference.


Phase 2: Belonging - Emergence of Communities. Over time, these individuals — coming from different affinities for different dimensions — socialized and interacted with each other. While this happened, the Force of Wellness started making its way into the culture through different sub-communities. This included, but was not limited to: Workplace Wellness; Personal Health Coaching; Academic/Educational Wellness Curriculum; Alternative & Integrative Health or Mind-Body Medicine; Clinical/Nursing and Allied Health Wellness; Community Health and Prevention; and Human Resources/Insurance. If you don’t identify with any of these groups, that is actually well and good! The message from NWI is “Start Your Own Community!” For example, over the years there have been sessions and events for Men’s Wellness, Women’s Wellness, Yoga, Meditation, Tai Chi, etc...


Phase 3:Inclusion - Embracing Multi-Cultural Values. How can one be whole in a society that promotes prejudice, racism, and discrimination? As NWI has evolved from a foundation of multi-dimensional wellness to multi-dimensional community, I think it sent a strong message that attracted wellness professionals from many different races, ethnicities, gender identities, cultures, and nationalities. And from this message, NWI has grown its own Multicultural Competency Committee, with sessions, webinars, and conference tracks helping us to recognize the importance of inclusion. The Multicultural Wellness Wheel© was branded by NWI in 2016. This tool is a vibrant map of our humanity and a device to help us remember who we might otherwise forget in our broader wellness efforts.


Phase 4: Intimacy - Empowering Membership. In 2015 and 2016, NWI launched an extensive national survey of wellness professionals (members and non-members) with the help of staff member, Christina Petersen, and myself. As we dug into the data, we learned that one of the key drivers of interest in NWI is networking and connections, even local geographical connections. While the conference has been a mainstay “space” where people first meet, many people continue to meet, network, and enjoy long-term professional friendships outside of the conference. In other words, the conference as an event is really just a manifestation of a deeper need to have intimacy and connection. It is apparent that wellness professionals really understand both the social aspect (of the six dimensions) and the community aspect (of the Multicultural Wellness Wheel©) of wellness. They seek to embody this as NWI members who move toward thriving at social levels. As a result of this survey, last year we launched “The Wellness Connect” as a way for members and friends to get together locally. Below are some example of this and we just had our first event internationally in the Phillippines, with Marco Escareal.


Phase 5: Transformation - The Emergent School. This phase is, to me, the implicit or “inner” community of NWI—and one that is the most difficult to grasp. In the keynote, I summarized all the previous phases as follows, saying that “Yes. We come to wholeness through the dimensions, through community, through inclusion, and through intimacy. At the same time, each of us is MORE than any of those.” In other words:


I am not any dimension


I am not my community


I am not my cultural identity


I am not my national identity


Instead, what if THE INVITATION was encouraging us to evolve. What if we were really evolving into some system that represents wholeness to the rest of the world, and attracts like-minded learners/seekers who: a) wish to master their craft, b) embody personal wholeness through their work (livelihood), and c) merge these together.


At one-level, NWI can be seen as a resting place for a “meta-society” of wellness or well-being change agents who really get that their professional work and personal transformation have to go hand-in-hand. This idea is not new. The idea that a society could evolve that would reflect on itself in order to promote truth, goodness, health, and beauty has been called The New Humanity (Meher Baba), A Meta-society (Oscar Ichazo), Integral Society or Panarchy (e.g., Ken Wilber), or — in the Jewish Tradition Tikkun Olam, which translates as kindness performed to perfect or repair the world (supporting social policies and social justice).


Part 3: You, Me, and the We in Wellness

Of course, all of the ideas above mean nothing without authentic dialogue and authentic action. And authenticity only emerges as a result of an invitation. I hope that as you review the ideas, links, exercises, videos that you reflect on these thoughts: What am I being invited to? Or What if all of this was an invitation to me to deepen into my more authentic, whole self? Or What am I being called to serve? If NWI stands for anything, it stands for the freedom to come to these answers on your own, in your own time, and through your own learning. That is what NWI is here for. To provide you with ongoing, top quality learning. And — guess what?... remember Phase 4 (EMPOWERED membership)? If you are not getting that, you better let NWI know. Contact Sherri Galle-Teske, Director of Membership and Engagement, at You can email me at


Go inward and tune in to what you need to know and do.


And, if it is right, please share with the rest of us.


That is how we will evolve.

Joel Bennett, PhDJoel Bennett, PhD, is President of Organizational Wellness & Learning Systems (OWLS), a consulting firm that specializes in evidence-based wellness and e-learning technologies to promote organizational health and employee well-being. Dr. Bennett first delivered stress management programming in 1985 and OWLS programs have since reached close to 50,000 workers across the United States and abroad.

He is primary developer of “Team Awareness” and “Team Resilience,” evidence-based, culture of health programs recognized by the U.S. Dept. of Health as effective in reducing employee behavioral risks. Team Awareness has been adapted by the U.S. National Guard as one of their flagship prevention programs and it has been used by municipalities, hospitals, restaurants, electrician training centers, small businesses, Native American tribal government, and in Italy and South Africa.




Tags:  Audacity  Evolution  wholeness 

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