Wholehearted Healthcare, P.C., Newsletter
January 2017
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January 2017

"Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come, whispering, 'It will be happier.'"
---Alfred Lord Tennyson
Celebrating Wholehearted Healthcare's First Birthday on Bancroft Avenue—and Dreaming for the Future
by Tanya R. Cochran, Editor

As she pulled up to the curb at the corner of Bancroft Avenue and 47th Street, Gena saw the owner of the house busy in his yard. Startled out of his lawn-mowing reverie, Ed paused for a moment to accept her extended hand. "Hi, I'm Gena Foster. You don't know me, but I heard you might be interested in selling your home." Image of Wholehearted HealthcareSweaty and covered with freshly cut grass, Ed smiled and asked if she wanted to take a look inside. Glancing at his shoes, bright green from his labors, Gena insisted she'd come back another time. "Fine. I'll show you around," countered Ed, as he led her toward the porch.

When they stepped through the storm door, Gena immediately noticed something stir inside her, and as they moved into the living room, its 12-foot ceilings and hardwood floors reminiscent of a tiny ballroom, Gena recalls, "I felt a healing energy. I thought, This is the place to bring people comfort. I can do my work in this space. I can practice my art." Right away, she spoke with her husband David, and the whole family later returned to explore the house and grounds. They quickly agreed that 4701 Bancroft Avenue was meant to be Wholehearted Healthcare, P.C.

In the next four months, a flurry of activity ensued. Purchasing the home and transforming it into a clinic first required rezoning. With the expert assistance of Lincoln's Historic Preservation Planner Ed Zimmer, the clinic was zoned for business and was registered as a historic landmark in mid-December 2015, one of a few structures in the city built in the Art Deco architectural style. Over the year-end holidays, with the help of Gena's family members and friends, the interior received minor renovations to make the space more comfortable for patients and equipment and other furnishings were moved into place. Gena exclaims, "The night before the clinic opened, we were still cleaning up dust from finishing the upstairs bathroom!"

On January 5, 2016, the day before her own birthday, Gena saw her first patient at this location. Her dream was coming true: to provide "intimate healthcare with a holistic artful touch" in a healing space.

A year later, the practice has grown in a myriad of ways. It has a larger staff. It has nearly doubled in size, beginning 2016 with about 300 patients and ending with almost 600. It has a newsletter. And in addition to appointments, it has partnered with many local healers. The space—both inside and outside—has been the site for public events such as True Nourishment presentations and The Slow-Down Diet Workshop with Amy Harshman, Self-Compassion Workshop with Gena, Celestial Sound Meditations with VJ Herbert, Meditation and Movement sessions with Joyce Schmeeckle, Mindful Mondays with Gena, Mothers' Connection gatherings with Gena and Annie Nienhueser, and Love, Light, and Peace: A Community Vigil with many of you.

"Some of the most memorable moments for me," says Gena, "include practicing morning meditation by the pond in the summer, watching VJ come into his own as a sound healer, and hosting the 'Be Love' vigil."

Wholehearted Healthcare is just getting started. It has much room to grow. Plans for the future include the short-term goals of a more accessible entrance and raised beds in the backyard for a patient-community garden. Several long-term goals include a renovated kitchen for individual and small-group cooking classes and a remodeled basement to provide space for body work and massage therapy. Come grow and dream with us. The future is full of possibility.
Nourishing Our Bodies and Souls: Awareness and Rhythm
by Tanya R. Cochran, Editor

Marc David's The Slow Down Diet isn't actually a diet at all. Rather, it's an approach to meals that teaches us to eat for pleasure and increased energy as well as weight loss. It's more about how to eat than what to eat. (Learn more about David's Institute for Eating Psychology.) The how rests on a fundamental principle: slowing down.
Picture of man meditation at sunset
If we slow down our hectic lives and rushed meals, claims David, our metabolisms will speed up. Thus, at the core of David's approach are eight universal metabolizers: Relaxation, Quality, Awareness, Rhythm, Pleasure, Thought, Story, and The Sacred. Last month, we considered Relaxation and Quality. This month, we look closely at the next two.

"Awareness is presence," says David. "It's our ability to be awake to what is. It's our capacity to experience what life is doing in this moment. And when we bring awareness to our eating experience, it's a wondrous metabolic force." Put another way, eating mindfully enhances our metabolism. David explains that we see awareness at work in our bodies through what scientists call the cephalic phase digestive response or CPDR. CPDR is essentially a specialized term for "the pleasures of taste, aroma, satisfaction, and the visual stimulation of a meal." According to David, researchers have shown that 30-40% of complete digestion is related to CPDR, to eating with awareness.

This finding is significant because it explains what happens in our bodies when we eat while engaging in other activities, when we eat too quickly, and when we don't pay attention to how our food tastes, smells, feels, and looks. "For optimum nutritional metabolism," advises David, "when you eat, eat." Put distractions away. No newspapers, tablets, cell phones, television, work. Slow down. Prepare or purchase a quality meal, a plate filled with foods that are healthy but also appealing to you. Sit for a moment to take in the beauty of the plated food, its aroma. And then, just eat. Savor each bite. Really feel and taste the food as you chew and swallow. Before taking another bite, see if you can feel the food move through your body. Take a breath. Enjoy the next bite. (By the way, David actually encourages relaxation-inducing activities while eating—e.g., having a long and leisurely conversation with family or friends.)

Why does being aware enhance metabolism? Because when we are unaware, we eat quickly and mindlessly, without using any of our senses. When we eat in this way, our brains and bodies aren't satisfied. It's as if we've missed a meal. So the brain signals the body to eat more. We are wired to crave slow, beautiful, tasty meals. Can you eat one meal with awareness this week? See what happens when you do.

All around us, we witness the natural rhythms of the earth. David calls this universal metabolizer Vitamin T—Time. "Alignment with the rhythms of life brings our metabolism into its fullest force," he says. In practice, being attuned to the rhythm of each day—the rising sun, the sun at its highest point in the sky, and the setting sun—can help us be attuned to the needs of our bodies as well. Unless you work third shift (which poses challenges for sleep as well as eating patterns), your body works best when it has a medium breakfast, large lunch, and small dinner.

David explains that our bodies are hottest at the same time of day the sun is at its highest. As a result, that is when we need the most calories. When we awaken in the morning, we need fuel after a night's sleep and fasting from food. But we don't need to load up. Nor do we need to jump-start with caffeine, usually in the form of coffee, which can raise cortisol levels and contribute to weight gain around our waists. As our bodies wind down in the evening and also cool off, we need fewer calories. Eating a light meal at dinner can actually help our bodies prepare for much-needed rest—another metabolism enhancer. David cautions that skipping meals (except for an occasional cleansing fast) is counterproductive because doing so slows our metabolisms. And eating at irregular or unpredictable times every day can throw our digestion and metabolism out of sync.

"Choosing rhythm means understanding that metabolism is not just about what you eat," concludes David. And "rhythm is not about a mechanical timetable of feeding. It's about agreeing to be alive in a way that works. It's about learning how to use vitamin T—Time—so that metabolism is truly supported."

In the coming months, we'll continue to explore the eight universal metabolizers. Next up, Pleasure and Thought. Again, feel free to read The Slow Down Diet for yourself. There is much, much more insight in each chapter than what we can cover in this small space.
NOTE: Interested in knowing more about how the psychology of eating could benefit your health journey? Registered Dietitian Amy Harshman is also a Certified Eating Psychology Coach. Learn more about nutritional support and counseling on her website True Nourishment.
Tending to Our Telomeres
by Tanya R. Cochran, Editor

In our November article "Giving Thanks for Those Who Bless Us—Body and Soul," we shared that according to Jo Marchant, Ph.D., author of Cure: A Journey into the Science of Mind over Body, filling our lives with loved ones can literally save our lives by lengthening the protective tips of our Image of Chromosomes and Telomereschromosomes—our telomeres. In other words, having warm, supportive, close companions can help us live longer and healthier. Meaningful relationships, though, are only one way to lengthen our telomeres.

The cellular enzyme responsible for keeping telomeres healthy is telomerase. Current scientific theories and laboratory experiments on animals suggest that we can decrease or increase the production of telomerase by the lifestyle choices we make. In a 2012 study, for instance, Jennifer Daubenmier and colleagues report that "chronic stress and overeating are prevalent in modern societies and can lead to metabolic dysregulation. Chronic stress can promote overeating, which, in turn, can elevate cortisol, glucose, and insulin levels, cause weight gain, and increase inflammatory and oxidative stress processes." In common language, we shorten the length of our telomeres, which makes us age faster and allows disease to set in, when we stay stressed out and eat too much, particularly "comfort" or processed foods. Stress raises our cortisol levels, which tells our bodies to eat and store energy because we must be in danger. When we eat the potato chips, chocolate, and cheese dip in excess, our glucose and insulin levels get out of sync and we gain weight. When we are stressed and overweight, we experience inflammation in our bodies which causes a host of other medical problems—from type II diabetes to heart disease to cancer.

The great news is that research is suggesting we likely can do something to increase the production of telomerase in our bodies, keeping our telomeres long and strong. In addition to having loving relationships, here are several ways to do so:
  1. Stress less. De-stressing our lives (much like de-cluttering our homes) takes time and resolve. And it may look different for each of us. Yet research points to several significant stress reducers: practicing mindfulness (see our December issue), meditation, and yoga. All of these strategies require us to be present in the here and now, aware of what's going on around and within us, and in tune with and grounded in our bodies. The more present we can be, the more able we are to identify and respond thoughtfully and calmly to the source of our stress.
  2. Eat better. In In Defense of Food, Michael Pollan advises, "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” As with de-stressing, eating better may look different for each of us. However, except in rare cases, it's best to make small, incremental changes over time. Replace white rice with brown rice, dairy milk with almond milk. The point is that we need to eat real food rather than food-like substances that come with a long list of ingredients no one can pronounce. We need to eat slowly and mindfully, listening to our bodies so we know when we are full rather than overstuffed. And we need to more often eat a colorful array of fruits and vegetables that provide us with potent antioxidants and nutrients.
  3. Move more. Kate Rockwood reports that "the more types of moderate to vigorous exercise you participate in, the longer your telomeres tend to be." According to Rockwood, a 2015 study showed that the greater variety of exercise we get, the longer our telomeres are compared to peers who don't exercise at all. Put another way, try jogging and Jazzercise, dodgeball and dancing!
  4. Sleep well. In a 2014 study published in the journal Sleep, Matthew R. Cribbet and colleagues note that, particularly in older adults, both quality and quantity of sleep matters for longevity. Sleeping well and sleeping for six or more hours (eight is optimal) is associated with longer telomeres. In our go-go-go culture, we often sacrifice sleep to accomplish our daily tasks and responsibilities. (This goes back to reducing stress.) But research shows that we're go-go-going to our graves faster if we don't enjoy a good night's rest. The National Sleep Foundation offers some tips for creating a healthy bedtime routine.
There's no fountain of youth, but there are ways we can actively participate in leading fuller, healthier, longer lives. We can surround ourselves with loved ones, take steps to reduce our stress, eat better, move more, and sleep well. Perhaps tending to our telomeres is just what the nurse practitioner orders for this new, bursting-with-potential year ahead.
Greeting the New Year with Hope and Intention
by Tanya R. Cochran, Editor

When Gena explains the difference between hopes and expectations, she often uses examples from family life. For instance, we can hope the family members who nag us every time we get together will stop their nagging, but if we expect them to stop, we're probably setting ourselves up for disappointment because Image of Woman Holding a Sparklerwe can't control other people's behaviors. And disappointment leads to a more and more frustrating relationship. On the other hand, hope makes room. In this case, hope opens our hearts to allowing others to be who they are and do what they do. As we let go of expectations and instead embrace hope, we diffuse much of the stress and tension that can come with difficult family members. Embracing hope can impact all aspects of our lives, opening us to more freedom and joy.

The contrast between hopes and expectations seems similar to that between intentions and resolutions. According to researchers John C. Norcross, Marci S. Mrykalo, and Matthew D. Blagys, nearly half of Americans make New Year's resolutions. Most of these involve losing weight, quitting smoking, and getting more exercise. How successful are we at keeping our resolutions? It depends. Research suggests that people who make resolutions to begin with are more likely to achieve their goals than those who make none. That seems obvious. Still, the majority of us break our resolutions. Not because they're impossible to keep, but because we put a lot of pressure on ourselves. Too often, we're our own worst critics. Despite what reality television tries to make us think, having an unrelenting coach driving your every move with threats and insults makes reaching your goals much harder. In other words, being unkind to ourselves is counterproductive. So what's the alternative? Kind, loving intentions.

Some of us set intentions every morning. Intentions aren't specific tasks on a to-do list or a checklist of goals. Rather, they're hopes for the day. Perhaps we intend to listen more carefully to our children or our spouse. Perhaps we intend to eat with more awareness. Like hopes, intentions make room for what actually happens throughout the day rather than expecting that things will go exactly as planned. Simply put, an intention is gentler than an resolution. In her book Radical Acceptance, psychologist Tara Brach notes that we can soften any intense longing or craving—say, for companionship or food—by using the expression "I prefer." This softening opens us to more possibilities: "I'd prefer to be with friends" instead of "I can't be alone." By setting intentions, we're more likely to treat ourselves with the same loving-kindness we'd treat a cherished family member or friend—whether our intentions are realized or not—than berate ourselves for not keeping a resolution.

"Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come, whispering, 'It will be happier,'" wrote Alfred Lord Tennyson. We can resolve to be happier—or lighter or smoke-free or more fit. There's nothing necessarily wrong with making a resolution. But we tend to be harder on ourselves when we break resolutions than if we set intentions and let life be as it is, in the moment.

The Irish poet John O'Donahue, in an interview with On Being's Krista Tippett, explains, "If you go back to the etymology of the word 'threshold,' it comes from 'threshing,' which is to separate the grain from the husk. So the threshold, in a way, is a place where you move into more critical and challenging and worthy fullness. . . .  a threshold is a line which separates two territories of spirit, and very often how we cross is the key thing." Because the topic of their conversation is beauty, Tippett asks O'Donahue where in a threshold beauty resides. He responds, "Where beauty is—beauty isn’t all about just niceness, loveliness. Beauty is about more rounded substantial becoming. And when we cross a new threshold worthily, what we do is we heal the patterns of repetition that were in us that had us caught somewhere. So I think beauty in that sense is about an emerging fullness, a greater sense of grace and elegance, a deeper sense of depth, and also a kind of homecoming for the enriched memory of your unfolding life."

As we cross the threshold of 2017, may we greet it with hope and intention. And may life this year be beautiful.
All events take place at Wholehearted Healthcare's healing space, 4701 Bancroft Ave., Lincoln, 68506. Note that cancellations and updates are posted to the clinic's Facebook page.

Celestial Sound Meditation
Wednesday, January 11, 7:30-8:30 p.m.

Picture of VJ HerbertA spiritual immersion in the therapeutic vibrations of singing bowls, tuning forks, bells, gongs, koshi chimes, and more led by VJ Herbert with Angela Barber.

Space is limited for this month's session. To reserve your spot, RSVP to or (402) 730-9819.

You will want to bring your own mat, pillow, or other articles of comfort to support you while you are bathed in this healing experience. Free will donation at the close.

VJ is a musician, composer, conductor, spiritual teacher, and vibrational sound practitioner. In 2012, he began his work with music and sound as an instrument for healing through meditation, using crystal bowls, tuning forks, and solfeggio frequencies as methods for self-mastery.

Follow Celestial Sound Ministry on Facebook for additional events.

Mindful Mondays
Monday, January 16, 23, and 30, 7:00-8:00 a.m.

Join Gena, Joyce, or Tanya—depending on the day—for a mindful start to the week. The morning will begin with a grounding exercise, a bit of inspiration, some conversation on mindfulness, and a sitting, walking, or lying meditation as the spirit moves. This will be an ongoing event, free and open to all. Come as you are. Meditation mats and cushions provided. No RSVP required.

Meditation and Movement
Wednesday, January 18, 7:30-8:30 p.m.

Using the body to help us center back to ourselves through movement in addition to the practice of quieting the mind can help to release stagnant energy and increase the flow of positive energy through our body while enhancing our sense of well-being. This easy, gentle practice requires no previous experience and is led by Joyce Schmeeckle.

Space is limited for this month's session. To reserve your spot, RSVP to or (402) 730-9819.

You will want to wear comfortable clothing. Meditation mats and cushions will be provided. Free will donation at the close to support Pan American Health Services and sponsor a child's education at a bilingual school in Peña Blanca, Honduras.

A practitioner of Zen Meditation and T’ai Chi Chih (TCC), Joyce combines the practices with other guided or body movement for a full spiritual practice of connecting inward and outward. Joyce has engaged in spiritual practices for almost ten years. She has led groups in meditation and TCC for over six years.

Mothers' Connection
Wednesday, January 25, 8:00-9:00 p.m.

Picture of Gena and Her DaughterA group to support women who are mothers along their journeys. Led by Gena and Annie Nienhueser. Nursing infants are welcome.

Join us this month for hot tea, supportive conversation, and relaxing Valentine's Day card making. RSVP via, or (402) 730-9819.

Originally from Sioux City, IA, Annie has been a Lincolnite for eight years now. She and her husband Jeff have three girls. Among other interests, Annie is passionate about her family and holistic health. As a Certified Health Coach and a mom, she gets especially excited when she can support other moms and families on the path of healthy living.
Love, light, and peace to your soul,

Gena Foster
Copyright © 2017 Wholehearted Healthcare, P.C., All rights reserved. Edited by Tanya R. Cochran.

Our mailing address and phone number are:
4701 Bancroft Ave., Lincoln, NE  68506
(402) 730-9819

Disclaimer. The information in this newsletter is provided as a resource only and should not replace professional diagnosis and treatment. Please consult your healthcare provider before making any healthcare decisions or for guidance about a specific medical condition.

Advice from Gena. Personalized medicine is always the best type of medicine.

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Wholehearted Healthcare, P.C. · 4701 Bancroft Ave. · Lincoln, NE 68506 · USA

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