Wholehearted Healthcare, P.C., Newsletter, April 2016
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Picture of Nebraska Field at Sunrise by Gena Foster
The Road Home by Gena Foster
Pictured: The gravel road to the North Dakota farm of Gena's sister Angela.

April 2016

"We are all just walking each other home." ---Rumi
Introducing Wholehearted Healthcare's Nurse Sue Briggs
by Staff Writer

Picture of Sue and Tom BriggsIf you ask Gena, she'll say, "My nurse Sue is a phenomenal human being! She has many gifts, far more than I can list, but the things I love the most about Sue are her laugh, her eye for detail, and her compassionate heart. Also, she always questions . . . everything."

Sue received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Nebraska Medical Center in 1989, and her career began in the surgery department at St. Elizabeth Regional Medical Center. That same year, she married her husband Tom, who farms with family in Seward. This year they celebrate their 27th wedding anniversary. After a year in the surgery department, Sue realized that she preferred her patients awake, so she began working in the Short Stay Center at St. Elizabeth for an additional nine years.

After the birth of her second son, Sue made the decision to stay home with her children and added a set of twins to the family, bringing the total number of sons to four. Thankful for her 10 years at home with her children, she decided to renew her nursing license once they were in school. That's when she began working at Women's Health Care Center of Williamsburg, where both her relationship with Gena and her desire to further her education began. In July 2015, she made the transition to Wholehearted Healthcare.

Sue is currently working on her Family Nurse Practitioner Degree through the University of Nebraska Medical Center and will graduate in May 2017, which means the only books she's reading lately are textbooks. But that's okay with her, because she's excited about the opportunities that lie ahead and looks forward to one day becoming a provider herself. Sue says, "I'm so grateful for the support, employment, and personal education that Gena has provided me."

Sue's life verse comes from Psalm 46:10: "Be still and know that I am God." Being still and quieting her soul comes easiest for her when she's at the lake. At the same time, she deeply values her family and friends and cherishes spending time with them. Sue is quick to express her thankfulness for their love and support as she follows her professional dreams.
High-Quality Proteins Are Essential for Wellness
by Staff Writer

Last month, we covered high-quality fats as an essential element of the Institute for Functional Medicine's (IFM) Mito Food Plan, one that incorporates foods known "to support healthy mitochondrial function while maintaining blood sugar and inflammatory balance." In other words, these foods help prevent chronic illness, boost energy, and enhance vitality. Like most dietary plans, the Mito Plan is divided into the basic categories of macronutrients: fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. This month, we take a look at proteins.

One of the greatest advantages of protein is that it keeps blood sugar (or glucose levels in the blood) stable, which supports a healthy brain. Stable blood sugar also Picture of Indian-Style Tofu Dishreduces hunger and cravings. Feeling full longer and having few or no cravings, in turn, allows us to make healthier choices about what, when, and how much food we consume. Because of these benefits, it's best to include high-quality proteins at every meal. By "high-quality," IFM specifically recommends proteins that are organic, non-GMO, and—in the case of meats—grass-fed. Whether you choose a vegan, vegetarian, or omnivorous lifestyle, there are abundant and delicious protein options. Here's a list of IFM's and Gena's favorite therapeutic proteins and simple ways to add them into your meal plan:
  1. Wild Alaskan salmon, mackerel, sardines, cod, elk, venison, and grass-fed lamb, beef, and buffalo (bison). As mentioned last month, IFM suggests "wild-caught salmon as farmed salmon may contain hormones and toxic chemicals called polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)." Grass-fed meats are recommended because they contain more omega-3 fats, vitamin E, and antioxidants than conventionally-raised meats. As a result, they have anti-inflammatory effects. Serve these proteins broiled, baked, or poached as the center of the day's main meal. Also try homemade beef or buffalo burgers. Add to a favorite chili recipe, loaf, or a hearty tomato sauce served with a side of quinoa or spaghetti squash.
  2. Eggs. While not tolerated well by everyone, eggs can be a good source of protein for meat-eaters and vegetarians alike. Eggs are low in calories (75 per egg) and high in protein (7 grams). They contain lutein and zeaxanthin, carotenoids that may reduce the risk of macular degeneration and eventual blindness in older adults. Also, the choline in eggs is thought to enhance brain development and memory. For years, the medical community recommended avoiding eggs because of their cholesterol content, which was thought to directly correlate with high blood cholesterol. We now know through research that that advice was incorrect. Refined sugars are actually the culprit. Enjoy eggs for any meal. Eat them hot or cold, scrambled or boiled or poached. IFM recommends one egg a day taking into consideration how many other cholesterol-laden foods you eat in the same 24-hour period. It's best not to eat eggs raw.
  3. Cheese. Like eggs, cheese is not tolerated well by everyone. It also contains quite a bit of saturated fat and is high in calories and sodium. Even so, it has some benefits, including its protein and calcium content. IFM doesn't condemn the use of cheese but also recommends very small amounts—no more than an ounce or two a day and none at all if you eat eggs or other cholesterol-heavy foods in the same 24-hour period. Think of cheese as a potent condiment or flavor enhancer. A sprinkle of Parmesan or feta goes a long way. In other words, there are healthier sources of protein than cheese, but that doesn't mean it can't be enjoyed in small amounts or on special occasions. It pairs nicely with fruit or works well in salads and can make a tasty addition to a warm dish such as ratatouille.
  4. Legumes and pulses. An alternative to animal protein, legumes and pulses—colloquially called "beans"—contain B vitamin folic acid (or folate), which helps build red blood cells and DNA. Because they are complex carbohydrates, they are filling and help maintain stable blood sugar. Some of the most nutritious legumes include lentils and garbanzos (or chickpeas) as well as pinto, navy, and black beans. Add pulses to soups, use in place of meat in a taco salad, or whip up some hummus, which can act as a sandwich spread as well as a dip for raw vegetables such as carrots, celery, cucumbers, and more. IFM notes that legumes and pulses "are downplayed in [the Mito Food Plan] as they are a concentrated source of carbohydrates." They recommend eating only one serving a day and being mindful about not adding too many other carbohydrates. On the other hand, when you first start incorporating key elements from the Mito Food Plan into your diet, Gena doesn't advise limiting your intake of legumes; rather, you can use them to replace other forms of unhealthy proteins or less healthy sources such as dairy. As a sidenote, The United Nations General Assembly declared 2016 the International Year of Pulses. Read more about how beans can create a more sustainable future for our planet.
  5. Soy. Another good protein option, especially for vegetarians and vegans, is organic, non-GMO soy in the form of tofu or milk. Tofu is very versatile as it takes on the flavors of whatever it is seasoned with. Also, it's soft texture (not enjoyed by all) can become delightfully crispy if baked in the oven. It then works well in a range of dishes, from coconut milk-based curries to stir-fry. It can be added to smoothies, become the base of non-dairy salad dressings, or tossed into brothy soups like Japanese miso or Thai tom yum. Use unsweetened soy milk in place of dairy milk. Soy-based processed foods are not the best choices because they often contain many additives and high amounts of sodium.
  6. Broccoli. Yes, broccoli. And, in fact, all other cruciferous vegetables: broccoli rabe, cauliflower, all types of cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kale, collards, turnips, turnip and mustard greens, arugula, watercress, bok choy, kohlrabi, radishes, and daikon. One cup of these superstars offers 5 grams of protein! While all vegetables have health benefits, says IFM, the broccoli family plays a particular and significant role in reducing "markers for degenerative damage in the nervous system, slowing and even reversing age-related declines in brain function and cognitive performance." If that's not enough, they also help reduce the risk of heart disease and cancers, detoxify the body, and stimulate the immune system. As potent antioxidants, they can actually lengthen our lives. To get the most health benefits from crucifers, IFM recommends eating them raw or briefly steamed (1½ minutes). Use cruciferous vegetables for a wide variety of chopped salads or try broccoli with dips such as hummus. Steam lightly and dress with olive oil, sea salt, and pepper for a simple side dish.
  7. Hemp. These tiny seeds are surprisingly loaded with protein—about 3.5 grams per tablespoon. They are also packed with omega-3 and omega-6 fats, lots of fiber, and quality amino acids. Because they are high in magnesium, they can help produce a relaxation response while also assisting with stabilizing blood sugar and lowering blood pressure. Hemp has an earthy flavor, so if they aren't tasty to you when sprinkled on salads or mixed with yogurt, try them in a smoothie. 
Making an effort to include these high-quality proteins in your meals can—like therapeutic dietary fats—improve your health, your energy, and your enjoyment of the world around you. Bon appétit!
NOTE: Gena is currently working toward her certification in Functional Medicine through IFM. Why functional medicine? Read more on Wholehearted Healthcare's website. Have more questions about the Mito Food Plan and how it might enhance your wellness journey? Gena welcomes meeting with you to discuss the plan further. Contact or (402) 730-9819 to schedule an appointment.
By the Window, Over the Wing
by Tanya R. Cochran

"So the next time you encounter fear, consider yourself lucky. This is where
the courage comes in. Usually we think that brave people have no fear.
The truth is that they are intimate with fear."
---Pema Chödrön, When Things Fall Apart

I still don't know how I missed the flight, but I'm pretty sure I know why.

My round-trip ticket between Omaha and New York City included a layover in Atlanta. On my way home early on a Saturday morning, the flight from ATL to OMA was delayed. I didn't stray far from the gate, paid attention to updates, but still somehow missed the flight. When I finally approached the desk to ask when we were going to leave, the woman behind the desk looked at me strangely and said, "That flight left 20 minutes ago. Where were you?" Right here, I assured her. I was told my best option was to go from gate to gate hoping to get a standby seat to Omaha. By 8 p.m., I still hadn't gotten one.

At the gate for the next-to-last flight of the day, I was once again told it was full. Standing next to me was a pilot from another airline who was also hoping to get a courtesy seat on this plane, but there wasn't one for her either. Realizing we were in the same situation, she turned to me and said, "Wanna go get some coffee in the international terminal while we wait for the next flight?" I was struck by her familiar and kind demeanor and agreed.

We headed to the international terminal. Her name was Maria, she said. I blurted, "I'm Tanya, and I'm terrified of flying. I suffer from severe anxiety and usually start crying before the plane even pushes back from the gate." Maria smiled then assured me that she would fix that.

Over the course of the next three hours, Maria shared her love for flying—what drew her to it, how it makes her feel, why she wishes everyone felt the exhilaration she feels while in the air. She told me about how strange and difficult it was for her and her peers to take to the skies again after 9/11. She told me how she met her husband and what she liked to do in her free time. It turns out she is quite an accomplished artist. And then she did for me something I'll never be able to repay her for: she addressed every fear I'd ever had about flying. In my head, I knew that turbulence isn't dangerous, just unpleasant, and that planes are safer than cars and that they have redundant systems so that if any little thing fails, there is always a backup. But hearing all of that from an expert sitting right in front of me, who clearly cared for me even though I was a stranger, radically altered my perspective and my feelings about flying.

Some of Maria's final advice was to sit by the window over the wing. I exclaimed, "No way. I always sit on the aisle so I can escape faster if I need to and so I don't have to watch what's going on." She sweetly and firmly repeated that I would feel better if I sat by a window and over the wing. "The wings can bend almost perpendicular to the plane without breaking. They are strong and powerful. When you feel anxious or afraid, I want you to watch the wings and remember that." Maria caught the final flight back to Omaha that day. I remained in Atlanta. I couldn't get a flight for two days.

When I got to the airport Monday morning, my seat had been assigned to me; I had no choice in the matter. I boarded and quickly realized that I had been given a window seat over the wing. As we took off that day, I cried—this time, not because I was afraid but because I felt as if the whole universe had stepped in to care for me, and I was thankful. In fact, I felt joy.

I'm still not a great flyer. I still have some fear and Picture of Sunrise from Plane Windowanxiety. And that's okay. I also have courage, courage to keep doing what fulfills me: experiencing the world, embracing new friends, sampling novel cuisine, saying "yes" to adventures. Now I carry Maria's voice in my head and heart as I sit with my discomfortusually in coach. I focus on my breathing and tell myself, "I don't have to like it. I just have to know that it's safe." Occasionally, I can even look out of my window over the wing and enjoy the stunning beauty of a sunrise as it spreads its warm hues across the clouds.
Nourishing Your Heart and Soul
by Staff Writer

Last month, we talked about a question that requires a deeper response than the usual, "I'm fine, thanks." That question isn't the mechanical and somewhat obligatory, "How are you?" Rather, it's the sincerely interested and invested query, "How is the state of your heart?" Whether someone else asks it of us or we ask it of ourselves, that question requires us to pause, to think, to wonder, to listen closely. Ultimately, it requires us to be aware, and frankly, being aware can be scary. Maybe we don't have anything to say. Or scarier still, maybe we don't want to give voice to or be present with the truth that our hearts are in pain, that we're not "fine, thanks." Maybe our hearts aren't being nourished enough or even at all.

At her True Nourishment presentation last month, Amy Hill Harshman helped those present understand what nourishment really means. Of course, most of us immediately think of food when we hear the word. But Amy pointed out that nourishment is anything that lights us up on the inside, that comforts and consoles us, that makes us feel valuable simply for being human. Being nourished means having our needs met. In other words, we might rephrase "How is the state of my heart?" as "What need does my soul have?" That can be a tricky question to answer because we use the word need so loosely that it doesn't always work well for us when it's essential to our well-being.

One day in class, an American English teacher living abroad and teaching language learners was told by her Czech students, "You Americans don't know what love means." She was taken off guard. What did they mean? They explained, "You love your slippers, you love ice cream, you love your parents, you love your husbands and wives. The word doesn't mean anything if you use it the same way for everything and everyone." They made a strong case, she realized. The same can be said of need. We talk of our needs flippantly, and we too frequently use the word in place of want. So we first must recognize that a need is something we require. And a spiritual need is no different than any other basic human need such as water, food, shelter, and love. Having our needs met is not optional; it's vital.

For homework, Amy challenged those at her talk to make a "pleasure inventory." Gena extends that challenge to you. What fulfills you? What feeds your spirit? What nourishes your soul? In his book The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion, Christopher K. Germer suggests that "spiritual self-care usually Picture of Worn Path through Wilderness Park, Lincoln, NEmeans taking the time to cultivate the values that we hold dear." What do you value, and what can you do today, tomorrow, and the next day to slow down, breathe, and cultivate your values? Here are a few examples from Wholehearted Healthcare's staff:
  • "I love running barefoot in the woods. Right after a rain is my favorite time. I feel closest to God among the trees. And the sound of my footfalls while I run becomes a comforting rhythm that keeps me rooted in the now. Running meditation feeds my soul." ---Gena
  • "Hugging and kissing my children before they go to bed, telling my family I love them when I leave them even for a few hours—these simple gestures fill my cup. Having lost loved ones, sometimes sudden or too soon, I think about the last thing I say to my husband and kids and the last thing I hear from them before we part ways. It is good to be loved, to know it, and to hear it said." ---Katie*
When we neglect to nourish ourselves, says Amy, we develop cravings, and cravings can lead to compulsions. "To some degree, we are all compulsive," writes Mary O'Malley, author of The Gift of Our Compulsions. So we don't have to struggle against or control our compulsive patterns. If instead we can be curious about them, they will reveal to us our deepest needs and point us in the direction of healing. Our hearts and souls know what to do, we just have to listen and respond.

* We'll introduce Katie Cole Holle, our new office manager, in an upcoming newsletter.
NOTE: Next month, Amy and Gena bring together True Nourishment and Notes on Self-Compassion to present "Self-Compassion: Overeating, Immune Support, and Mood" on Wednesday, May 11, 7:00-8:30 p.m. at Wholehearted Healthcare. If you missed past True Nourishment events, don't worry; this one is a standalone presentation. RSVP to or (402) 730-9819. Space in limited. Cost per person: $15. This event will not be shared on Facebook until late April, so reserve your seat early.
All events take place at Wholehearted Healthcare's healing space, 4701 Bancroft Ave., Lincoln, 68506.
Self-Compassion Workshop
Tuesdays, April 12, 19, and 26, 7:00-8:00 p.m.

Picture of Self-Compassion, a book by Kristen NeffDynamics of the Workshop

Join Gena on an intimate journey of exploring what self-compassion can do for your emotional, physical, and spiritual wellness.

Each person who attends will bring different gifts to this private group; thoughts, feelings, emotions expressed and shared by group members will be kept between those present. Members will create a safe space for everyone to share and support each other as they delve into the powerful, healing concept of self-compassion.

What to Expect

The group will read Self-Compassion by Kristin Neff, Ph.D., a research psychologist who uses empirical research, personal stories, practical experiences, and humor to explain how to heal destructive emotional patterns so that we can be healthier, happier, and more effective—our higher selves.
There are activities and personal growth exercises throughout the book that each member will complete before each session, writing them down in a journal. Then time will be allotted for personal sharing of responses—as members feel comfortable.
Gena will also incorporate findings on self-compassion, mindfulness, and self-care from other sources.

The group will follow this reading and discussion schedule of Neff’s book:
  • April 12—Part One, Chapters 1 & 2
  • April 19—Part Two, Chapters 3, 4, & 5
  • April 26—Part Three, Chapters 6, 7, & 8
  • May 3—Part Four, Chapters 9, 10, & 11
  • May 10—Part Five, Chapters 12 & 13
Flow of the Workshop
  • Presence and intention for healing to take place
  • Five-minute guided meditation for gathering of self
  • Gena will share a few opening thoughts followed by open discussion from group members
  • Five minutes of journaling recognition of personal suffering followed by five minutes of journaling self-affirmation
  • Open discussion from group members
  • Sharing of the exercises completed from the reading—as members feel comfortable
  • Gena will share closing thoughts
What to Bring to the Workshop
  • Self-Compassion by Kristin Neff, Ph.D.
  • Journal with completed exercises
  • Pen or pencil
  • An open heart
  • $100, check or cash (can be paid in full or $20 on the day of each workshop)
NOTES: This event is full; however, we have received so much positive feedback and expression of need for an additional workshop on self-compassion that Gena will hold the same workshop in late July 2016. If you'd like to reserve your spot for the July workshop, RSVP to or (402) 730-9819.

Finally, Gena is developing a workshop on self-compassion geared toward young girls (ages 9-13) and their mothers. If you are interested in this group, please specify the age of your daughter when you RSVP. Dates are to be determined.

Mothers' ConnectionTea, Conversation, & Coloring
Thursday, April 14, 7:00-8:00 p.m.

Picture of Gena Foster and 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 tea, supportive conversation, and some relaxing adult coloring (supplies provided). 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—one foster and two biological. 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.
Meditation and Movement
Wednesday, April 20, 7:30-8:30 p.m.

Picture of Joyce ScheemckleUsing 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.

You will want to wear comfortable clothing and bring a meditation cushion or supportive pillow. Space is limited. RSVP to or (402) 730-9819. 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, the area Gena and her family served with medical care in March.

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.
Rachel's Story
Thursday, April 28, 7:00-8:00 p.m.

Picture of Rachel Roberts and HusbandRachel has been Gena's patient for many years and has given Gena permission to invite you to an event celebrating the "Year of Rachel," a journey of one woman and her husband learning self-care. Specifically, Rachel will share her thoughts on why she wasn't successful with her lifestyle goals for so long and what factors made the major difference in her current success. Come celebrate and learn about the inspiring work these two have done to become healthy and well. RSVP via, or (402) 730-9819. 

Rachel is a Registered Nurse who works for a group of eye surgeons in Lincoln. She enjoys spending time with family and traveling the world. Rachel and Adam have been married six years, and together they have lost over 60 pounds with the support of Gena and her staff.
Love, light, and peace to your soul,

Gena Foster
Copyright © 2016 Wholehearted Healthcare, P.C., All rights reserved. Edited by Tanya R. Cochran.

Our mailing address and phone number are:
4701 Bancroft Ave., Lincoln, NE  68056
(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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