Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Wellness Conference Gives Tips For Staying Healthy

Mai Brooks, who runs Jump Rope Boot Camp in Inglewood as part of her family’s business, demonstrates proper jump roping technique in a workshop at the Healthy Heritage Wellness Conference.

The Rev. Bronica Martindale leads Healthy Heritage Wellness Conference participants in a dance routine that simulates planting, sowing and harvesting healthy fruits and vegetables.

Dr. Romeo Brooks, one of the main speakers for the Healthy Heritage Wellness Conference, tells guests more about how to eat well at the booth for Roots Nutrition, a business he and wife Mai own in Inglewood.

Phyllis Clark, dressed in a svelte evening gown to show how the principles of healthy living have helped her, welcomes guests to the Fifth Annual Healthy Heritage Wellness Conference.

(RIVERSIDE, Calif.) A conference jam-packed with advice for staying healthy took place Saturday, Aug. 1 at California Baptist University.

The Healthy Heritage Wellness Conference especially targeted African-Americans, but the advice presented works for all races. It is, first of all, to avoid stressing out about things. Secondarily, it is to make healthy lifestyle choices – that means eating well, exercising and avoiding tobacco.

Keynote speaker Dr. Ruth Tanyi, a certified preventive health care specialist in Loma Linda, shared the effects of stress on one’s body.

“Stress is the number one killer,” she said. “The human body works best when there is a balance in the mind, body and spirit.”

Dr. Tanyi defines stress as what an individual perceives as above or beyond their ability to cope. She also defines two types of stress – acute stress lasting from a moment to no more than two weeks, and chronic stress, which lasts more than two weeks.

Stress doesn’t have to reach chronic stages, she says.

“Depending on what we choose to believe, we can override our emotions,” she said. “We can have control over our heart rate and our blood pressure.”

For instance, if someone receives a traffic ticket, it will most likely be stressful at the time, she said. But, a person can then continue to worry about it, or say “It’s OK, I can go to traffic school, this will all work out.”

Physiologically, what often happens in an acutely stressful incidence such as the traffic ticket is an adrenalin rush, which in turn causes a person’s heart rate and respiration to increase. The adrenalin also sends a signal to one’s pituitary gland, which in turn sends a signal throughout the body to release hormones, which causes an adverse reaction to the body’s immune system.

“If you choose to get over it, the adrenalin will go away,” she said. “But if you keep worrying, your immune system is now suppressed. The immune system is supposed to ward off disease, but if it is suppressed, we become susceptible to all kinds of chronic diseases. The list is endless.”

Besides worrying, along with feelings of anger or jealousy, other causes of chronic stress are poor diets, physical inactivity and lack of sleep. Illnesses it can lead to include depression, insomnia, chronic fatigue, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, cancer and osteoporosis.

Dr. Tanyi also shared some tips for managing stress, such as taking control of situations, obtaining knowledge about situations and focusing on your strengths, rather than weaknesses. She also advocates creating “good stress” through positive thoughts and enjoyable activities.

Another important way of reducing stress, according to Dr. Tanyi, is to forgive people who have offended you.

“A lack of forgiveness causes you stress, which can cause cancer, diabetes and heart disease,” she said. “It’s about you. The people who have hurt you have moved on, they aren’t there anymore. So for you to move on, you have to forgive.”

The second speaker, Dr. Romeo Brooks, focused on reducing stress through a positive attitude. He calls this “languaging your life.”

Dr. Brooks began his presentation by asking the audience to stand up, jump up and down and wave their arms around. He then noted that the participants had willed their body into this exercise, and likewise could will their bodies into many other healthy lifestyle choices.

“The words we speak are symbolic of how we think and feel,” he said. “Life is ours to experience as we say it is.”

Dr. Brooks used the analogy of a hurdler racing around a track.

“He doesn’t say ‘who put this hurdle in my way, I’m trying to accomplish something. He jumps over it. We all have adversities we have to jump over. Life without conflict is impossible, but if you say conflict is here to make you a better person, it will.

Dr. Brooks also encourages people to live life with purpose and goals.

“You have to say this is what I want, this is where I am going, this is what I am going to do to get there,” he said. “When you live your life without a purpose, it’s listless. It’s lifeless. We need life in our body. We don’t need toxins and chemotherapy. You cannot poison the body into health. You have to deliberately start changing your language.”

In the afternoon sessions of the conference, participants were able to choose two of four workshops to attend. These included exercise demonstrations and sessions on financial health, nutrition and preventing child abuse/teen violence.

A panel of fitness experts hosted the workshop on exercise. They were:

• The Rev. Bronica Martindale of San Bernardino, who leads children’s ministries and a health ministry at The Masters’ Plan Nazarene Church. She guided the Healthy Heritage Wellness Conference participants through an interpretive dance that symbolized gathering, sowing and harvesting healthy fruits and vegetables.

• Breanne Houston, owner of Stroller Strides in Riverside. With the help of several female audience volunteers ranging from a college student to grandmothers, she demonstrated a cardio workout that she normally offers to pregnant and new mothers who perform these exercises while pushing pregnancy weight or baby jogging strollers through three Riverside-area parks.

• Mai Brooks (wife of Dr. Romeo Brooks), who runs the Extreme Jump Rope Boot Camp as part of the couple’s business, Roots Nutrition in Inglewood. With the help of male and female audience volunteers, she demonstrated how jumping rope is one of the best exercises for the cardiovascular system.

The other speakers were Gwendolyn Moore, a registered dietician and nutrition consultant in Riverside (nutrition); Deborah Monroe-Heaps of the Riverside Area Rape Crisis Center (child abuse/teen violence prevention) and Denice A. Young, CPA and owner of Brighter DAY Enterprises in Torrance (financial health.)

The Healthy Heritage Movement (www.healthyheritagemovement.com) mission is to eliminate health disparities in the Black community by providing cultural relevant resources, peer navigation, and advocacy training,” said conference founder and organizer Phyllis Clark. This was the fifth year she put on this conference.

Besides hearing the speakers and workshops, participants were able to obtain information from local health care providers, and receive basic health screenings and referrals for other free or low-cost preventive health care services.

Sponsors include The American Cancer Society, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), The Purpose Center International Ministries, City of Hope, the Riverside Community Health Foundation, Inland Agency, Abbott Vascular, and Dameron Communications.

For more information about sponsoring or participating in the Healthy Heritage Wellness Conference in 2010, go to www.healthyheritagemovement.com or email Phyllis Clark at hhwcmovement@yahoo.com, or call her at (951) 288-4375.