Provena women’s wellness clinic stresses mind and body health

LaVonne Monke, 86 of Champaign, is willing to do what it takes to improve her life and make it last as long as possible. But don’t expect her to her give up her chocolate.

“I tell myself I’m not going to buy anymore chocolate,” Monke said. “But you know what? I do.”

Monke was one of about 20 women who attended a women’s wellness clinic at the Provena Center for Healthy Aging, 410 E. University Ave in Champaign on Tuesday.

Jennifer Brackenhoff, faith community nurse coordinator said the purpose of the free workshop was to promote wellness in women age 55 and older.

“We want to get people to feel empowered to take control of what they can control and to realize the connection between mind and body,” Brackenhoff said.

Brackenhoff said the center began in January, and provides disease prevention, exercise, cooking and disease management programs to help aging individuals be as healthy as they can be.

The main focus of Tuesday’s clinic was the connection between the mind and the body. Brackenhoff said understanding this connection can increase the longevity of life.

“If one is unhealthy, the other one is likely to become unhealthy at some point, and if one is healthy, the other one is likely to become more healthy,” Brackenhoff said of the mind and the body.

Three speakers discussed the importance of nutrition, exercise and communication in relation to the mind and the body.

Dr. Lenley Jackson talked to the women about the healing power of food. He encouraged them not to worry too much about counting calories so much as eating what is right for their body at that moment.

“They key thing is, is that you don’t want to stress yourself out with scales, the stress can actually be counterproductive and harmful for you,” Jackson said.

He also encouraged the women to eat a balanced diet, as food can have healing properties.

“You get the same thing in Prozac as you do in a turkey sandwich,” Jackson said.

Deb Lister, the owner and director of The Living Yoga Center in Champaign, spoke about the importance of exercise and meditation as people age. She encouraged the women to attend yoga classes to help with their balance.

Provena nurse practitioner, Kathy Marren addressed the importance of communication and healthy relationships for a person’s well-being.

Mary Sarbaugh of Rantoul said she came to the workshop to get tips on how to extend her life and make it the best it can be.

“I want to get the most out of my life, and I want to do what I need to do to get there,” Sarbaugh said.

She said she enjoyed the meditation exercises led by Dr. Jackson, and would continue to use those in her daily routine.

“I think I’m going to take some deliberate moments each day to relax,” Sarbaugh said.

Monke said the workshop was very informative, but was unsure whether she would make any changes immediately.

“At my age I think I’ll just coast along with what I’m happy with,” Monke said.