A Healthy New Year

Ring in 2021 with a Renewed Focus on Health, with Insights from Four Local Experts

Are we ready to put the tumultuous 2020 behind us? Is everyone hoping for a healthier 2021? Area health and fitness experts are ready with suggestions, ideas, insights and experience, whether you officially resolve to take better care of yourself in the new year, or seeking general guidance on feeling better.

“Now more than ever, health is number one on people’s minds; not only physical but mental health,” said Courtney Check, Regional Marketing Manager at Orangetheory Fitness in Park Potomac.

Eric North, Founder and Owner of Performance Rejuvenation Center in D.C. agreed. “Covid should make you want to take even better care of yourself,” he said. “Take care of your body as if your life depends on it. Many of us make bad choices under stress with too poor diet, lack of exercise, too much alcohol and not enough sleep which all take a toll on our immune systems.”

Dr. Ke Wang, owner of Advanced Acupuncture and Chinese Herb Clinic in Potomac added, “A healthy immune system is our strongest line of defense. Being healthy and active can help us prevent or fight off the virus effectively. Any illness or sickness, even local inflammation in joints can suppress our systematic immunity.” She went on to explain that most chronic disease and pain develop from ignoring or taking less care of your body for a long time. “Therefore,” she said, “I suggest [you] don't hesitate to seek a health professional when you think your body needs help.”

Dr. Wang specializes in pain management and immune system support. “Chinese medicine is more comprehensive. It balances the whole body, which heals disease,” she said.

Deborah Norris, Ph.D., Founder and Director of the 501(c)(3) Mindfulness Center, is a neuroscientist, public speaker, the Founder and past Director of the Psychobiology of Healing Program at American University, past professor at Georgetown University Medical School and author of "In the Flow: Bridging the Science and Practice of Mindfulness" and many other scientific writings. In 2009, she founded The Mindfulness Center with her daughters Jessie Taylor (Education Director) and Jacqueline Hernandez (Business Director).

Her extensive team of experts at The Mindfulness Center includes a chiropractor and specialists in psychotherapy, meditation, physical therapy, yoga therapy, nutrition and acupuncture. The Mindfulness Center offers classes, workshops and private sessions in a virtual model, plus in-home sessions. Clients can choose from free community classes, memberships and class-pass options for master classes.

 “We work with people who don’t have the financial resources and now there is a lot more of that,” Deborah said. “We also work with teachers in Title One schools. They are extraordinarily stressed so we provide stress relief and social-emotional learning programs for them.”

Founded in 2011, Performance Rejuvenation Center is D.C.'s oldest hormone-optimization and anti-aging clinic that focuses on the latest anti-aging therapies, growth hormone peptides, TRT and injectable vitamins, according to founder Eric North. Clients are seen and treated by Dr. Kirt Tyson, N.M.D. (doctor of naturopathic medicine).

The Performance Rejuvenation Center is currently functioning in an all-virtual manner. “We do virtual medicine and medical consults (with Dr. Tyson) in all 50 states,” Eric said. “I also help people on social media with things they can do themselves, starting with a good mindset.”

Describing Covid’s impact, Eric said, “Adversity creates an opportunity to grow. How we learn from it determines our future.” Hormones, Eric explained, are key. “A healthy balanced hormonal system is the key to living an optimized life," he said.

At Orangetheory Fitness, Courtney said many people are flocking back to their studio for workouts (where many Covid precautions are in place). “Quite a few members are back,” she said. “They are so happy to be back. It’s one piece of something normal from pre-quarantine,” she said.

In addition, Orangetheory offers free online at-home workouts from their website and YouTube. “We have a different workout every day of the year at all our studios and online. These are not just for members. It’s free for everyone.” Orangetheory workouts are customizable for any age or fitness level. “Some are power, and some are endurance or strength, or a combination,” Courtney explained.

For a stronger immune system, Dr. Wang encourages people to exercise, get more sleep in the winter, eat more plant-based foods and healthy fats, plus fermented foods such as yogurt, kimchi, soy sauce and miso and consume less artificial sugar. She said, “Acupuncture and Chinese medicine can help reduce inflammation, relieve stress, reduce pain, promote sleeping quality, boost recovery from injuries, promote an effective metabolism system to boost your immune system and support your natural detox systems. And our special herb medicine is customized to boost and balance the immune system.”

The many online offerings at The Mindfulness Center include yoga teacher training, a class on how to meditate, and a meditation teacher training program. “We have over 300 people in the meditation teacher training program now,” Deborah said of what she described as “spreading goodness.” By early spring, watch for a new online program that will provide information about mind-body practices to help with heart disease.

Deborah said The Mindfulness Center is seeing a “lot more need for mental health and for help dealing with stress and anxiety. We are seeing co-occurring conditions like insomnia, digestive problems, more pain etc. Sometimes stress and anxiety leads to these. Some people seek mindfulness practices to deal with stress. These people might be seeking more physical therapy or acupuncture to help them sleep. We always treated people with heart health and neurological and cancer-related problems. Now with the concern about doctor’s offices (during Covid), we are seeing an increase in those needs.”

“Is Covid going to be the last trauma of our life?” Eric asked before answering himself, “No.” He added, “We have to adapt. Adversity creates opportunity to learn and grow. It teaches us how to cope and it teaches us new skills and new ways to be happy.” 

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