Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Meditation for Beginner's

ThinkstockPhotos-79214896.jpgDaily stress can make you unhappy and irritated, which in turn affects your overall health. Meditation is a simple addition to your daily activities that can help improve your quality of life and put you in a more positive mindset.

How Meditating Helps You Emotionally

Although you may feel like there is no time to meditate because of everything on your plate, it actually helps you become more focused and productive to get those things done and feel more calm while doing it. You can correct your thoughts from a more negative mindset to a positive one and understand why you feel the way you do.

Your mood will fluctuate and meditation can keep things on a more even keel to prevent anxiety. You can then handle outside situations that arise without feeling out of control. Just a few minutes a day will help reduce overall anxiety, stress, and even depression.

How to Get Started

Here is a step-by-step guide to start a simple meditation practice.

  1. Take a comfortable seat with your legs crossed and ensure your posture is proper.
  2. Place your hands in your lap with both palms facing up.
  3. Let go of tension in your back and soften your jaw.
  4. Keep your eyes slightly open.
  5. Focus all your thoughts on your breath. As you breathe in, imagine it is all positive blessings that surround your life. As you exhale, blow out all negative thoughts and distractions.
  6. Continue until you feel relaxed and peaceful.

Meditation doesn’t need to take a large chunk of time. Even 10–15 minutes daily can make a big difference in your health and wellness. Try it first thing in the morning to start your day off right, at the end of the day to de-stress, or in those moments when you feel the most overwhelmed—whatever works best for you!

When a corporate fitness center isn't possible, how do you get your employees to move more?  Check out our free download for tips for adding exercise, click below!

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Topics: stress health and wellness meditation depression anxiety

3 Video Game Systems for Senior Living Communities

WP_20130424_016.jpgTwenty years ago, if someone had suggested purchasing video games for a retirement community, they would have been laughed at. “Those are for kids,” would have been the response. “No one over 60 is ever going to be interested in that.” I’m here to tell you times have changed! Now, everywhere you look people of all ages are getting in on the action and testing their skills in the virtual world.

Here are just three of the systems popping up in communities all over the country.

Nintendo Wii

This is probably the most popular one for communities because it’s been around for quite a while now and it’s fairly easy to use. The Nintendo Wii is a low-cost, commercially available interactive gaming system that gives immediate visual feedback in balance training. For most Wii games, players hold a remote and use it as the golf putter, baseball bat, bowling arm, etc. to play.

An optional add-on is the balance board for the Wii Fit game, which enables a user to test his or her center of balance with a visual display onscreen that shows what percentage of their body weight they carry over each foot. Those with an uneven center of balance will unnaturally compensate for their imbalance, which can cause their posture to become misaligned, increasing the level of stress on their bodies. The game allows users to learn about their balance and provides them with tips for improving an uneven center of balance with several different training modes, including yoga, strength training, balance games, and aerobics.

Xbox Kinect

The Kinect has been around for a few years as well, but it’s certainly newer technology than the Wii. There is no remote to hold or board to stand on. There is simply a camera that points at the general space where you’re playing and then your body is the “remote.” The Kinect generally requires a bigger space than the Wii and it’s more expensive, but the games are also more advanced. If you are working with a more active community, this may be the way to go. There is a lot more foot movement required for most of the Kinect games, so be sure to educate residents on safety before really getting into the action.

PlayStation Move

The idea of the PlayStation Move is very similar to the Wii. Each person has a remote and their motion is captured by a camera that’s plugged into the gaming system. I don’t have personal experience with this system, but from the reviews it looks like the movements and reaction time of the sensors/camera are much better on the Move than on the other two systems. Of course, that’s coming with a higher price tag, so you’ll have to weigh the pros and cons yourself. The Move offers a wide array of game options, from the mostly sedentary to the action-packed.

All three systems are great options for your senior living community. They do range in price, but you can often find a refurbished/used version of the system online or at your local GameStop store. Each system has a range of exercise options, from the traditional fitness games, to dance games, to more of the recreational pastimes. No matter which console you choose, they all encourage more physical activity in the community, and isn’t that the goal at the end of the day?

Also, there’s an added perk of having these systems available at your community. When grandkids come to visit, these consoles provide a great activity that spans generations. Think of how impressed that 10-year-old will be when grandpa shows them how to score big at the Home Run Derby on Wii!

How have you used gaming systems to improve your senior fitness program’s physical activity?

Download: Why is exercise important for seniors? >

Topics: balance senior fitness senior living community technology video games

My Favorite Workout: Trying New Exercises or Activities

ThinkstockPhotos-165103697.jpgSomeone recently asked me, “What is your favorite workout?” I thought about my answer for a little bit. I do like to run, and I usually run about three days a week, but is that my favorite workout? No, my favorite workout is always when I’m trying new exercises or activities!

Try a New Exercise or Activity

The workouts that I enjoy the most are the workouts that I haven’t tried before, or don’t get to do very often. Whether it’s a new obstacle course race, running a newfound path, hiking a new trail, indoor rock climbing, stand-up paddle boarding, a taking a new Barre class, or just changing up a high-intensity interval workout, new workouts and exercises can be challenging and fun.

I’m like most people, I think, and doing the same workout day-in and day-out can get old. Like I said, I still run about three days a week, but I also try to mix it up with new workouts on a regular basis. I recently went to an indoor trampoline park with my kids. I had so much fun! I also had no idea how sore I would be the next day, simply because I was having too much fun to realize how much of a workout I was really getting.

The Benefits of Trying Something New

Besides being fun, switching up your workouts and trying something new can have lots of other benefits. Changing your workouts regularly can help break through the dreaded weight-loss plateau. It can also help prevent overuse injuries and build new muscles that you don’t use during your typical workouts.

Continuously trying new workouts can help build your confidence and keep your brain healthy. When you learn something new, it can help you feel empowered, more confident and ready to learn other new skills. And, learning new skills helps keep your neurons firing and your brain sharp, and helps to prevent memory loss.

New Workouts to Try

Here are just a few ideas:

  • Group fitness classes—Vinyasa Yoga, Zumba, PiYo, Boot Camp, Barre, etc.
  • Sign up for a 5K or a 10K, or challenge yourself to a half or full marathon.
  • Ballroom dancing classes
  • Indoor rock climbing
  • Martial arts
  • Water sports—skiing, paddleboarding, kayaking, whitewater rafting, etc.
  • Ziplining
  • Outdoor obstacle courses

What are some activities that you have recently tried or would like to try?

Get your employees moving more!  Grab this free download for 7 ways you can add exercise to the workplace.  

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Topics: activities exercises workout

Nutrition Tips for Brain Health

ThinkstockPhotos-635683954-1.jpgWe already know that the foods you eat can affect your weight, heart, blood pressure, and certain cancers, but we also know that food and nutrition can affect your brain health. Whether it’s just improving your memory or helping to prevent Alzheimer’s disease, the foods you choose can help to make your brain healthier. Check out these six nutrition tips for brain health:

  • Mediterranean diet: Long known to be the best diet for heart health, researchers now know that this diet is also best for your brain, too. Compared to those on a low-fat diet, the individuals who ate more olive oil and nuts had better memory and thinking skills. Researchers believe the benefit comes from the high amount of antioxidants consumed in the diet, along with foods that help prevent inflammation.
  • Less red meat: You have heard that too much red meat (and other foods high in saturated fat like butter) isn’t good for your heart, but are those foods bad for your brain, too? Just as the fat in your diet can cause your arteries to clog, they can cause an increase in plaque formation in the brain, too. This buildup has been found to be a cause of Alzheimer’s disease. Try to decrease your consumption of red meat to 1–2 times per week.
  • Fish: If you have been watching the news at all in the last 10 years, you know how much great press omega-3 fatty acids have gotten. This is mainly due to the heart-protective effects of fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, and tuna and other sources like walnuts and flax. However, omega-3 fatty acids have also been found to be excellent for brains. From babies still in the womb all the way until death, omega-3 fatty acids are vital. They build brain cell membranes, reduce brain inflammation, promote new brain cell formation, and have been found to improve memory and mood.
  • Produce power: Antioxidants aren’t just for cancer fighting. They are also useful for brain health and can be found in any of the bright-colored fruits and veggies. Swap broccoli and dark leafy greens for typical dinner-meal sides. Reach for berries and other bright-colored fruits all day long to get the benefit of a memory boost.
  • Spices: New research is constantly being done about spices and their benefit. These have had some positive results when it comes to the brain: turmeric, saffron, garlic, cinnamon, and thyme. All of them are probably sitting in your spice cabinet now, so start adding them to your meals and reap the brain benefits.
  • Coffee and tea: One item that can be controversial is coffee due to the effect of caffeine. However, caffeine is actually good for your brain health. It can help increase alertness and attention; however, long-term studies are still inconclusive. So in the meantime, stick to the recommendation of 400 mg or less of caffeine per day, which is the equivalent of 3 cups of drip coffee. Tea can give you caffeine along with the beneficial antioxidants, so consider switching your afternoon cup of joe to a cup of tea. (See this blog for the amount of caffeine in common foods.)

Most of these suggestions are also important for heart health, weight management, and an overall balanced diet. So if you haven’t been choosing these items on a regular basis, improving brain health is another positive reason to start!

Benefits of meeting with a nutrition coach >

Topics: nutrition Omega 3 antioxidants brain health memory Alzheimer's Disease caffeine

Benefits of Collaborative Programming with Senior Living Communities

“Come on!”

“No pressure!”

“You can do it!”

Those are just a few of the phrases you’ll hear thrown out in the last round of the Semi-Annual Corn-Toss tournament held between several CCRCs in Indiana every spring and fall. This is one of many multicommunity events that NIFS fitness center managers put on every year. Sometimes events are competitive (such as corn-toss, water volleyball, or pickleball), and sometimes they are more educational (wellness seminars). A lot of coordination is involved (scheduling, transportation, food, and so on), but it’s always worth it!

ThinkstockPhotos-510313194.jpgHere are some of the ways the residents reap the benefits of collaborative programming with senior living communities outside of their own.

1. It’s an opportunity to make new friends.

It seems like making new friends only gets tougher as we get older. With social media, email, and easy modes of transportation, it’s so easy to keep up with the friends and family we already have in our lives, so why would you bother meeting anyone new? Study after study has shown that a healthy social life has amazing, positive effects on lifespan/longevity and quality of life.

Collaborative programming between communities creates a situation that facilitates new friendships because residents already know they have something in common. If everyone in a room is playing in a Euchre tournament, a resident can guess that the person sitting next to them at the table enjoys playing cards. Voila! Easy icebreaker! It’s also fun to see residents who consistently participate really getting to know each other. They start to make friends with residents at new communities, but also with neighbors who perhaps they hadn’t really known.

2. Staff can share ideas while residents experience a new way of learning.

As fitness staff, we spend a lot of our time trying to teach people about how to be healthy. We give advice about fitness and nutrition and staying active, but after a while, it can start to sound a little like a broken record. For residents, hearing about the same health/fitness topics from the same people means sometimes it’s in one ear and out the other. These collaborative events provide a great opportunity for residents to learn from someone else who has a different teaching style. Sometimes, hearing the same good information presented in a new way can be all it takes to make the advice “click” for a person.

3. Competition drives participation.

This doesn’t hold true for everyone, but at many communities, competition drives participation. If residents know they are practicing for a tournament against a “rival” community (however they may define that), they might be more interested. This not only means more participation on the day of the competition, but also leading up to the competition. And who knows, maybe during one of those practice sessions residents will see a bulletin board for your next fitness incentive and decide to sign up for that, too.

***

Multicommunity programs are fun and educational, and build camaraderie among residents. Whether informative or competitive, they are a great opportunity to learn from each other and about each other, and they always lead to a fun time.

Does your community regularly participate in collaborative programming with other communities?

Whitepaper+Wellness Culture

Topics: participation senior living communities CCRC Programs and Services programming competition

What Happened When I Stopped Doing Cardio; Increased Strength Training

ThinkstockPhotos-80699669.jpgSix months ago, a friend dared me to give up cardio for three months and focus on strength training. My initial response was, “No way! I’m a runner, I’ve always been a runner. There is no better exercise than running!” My friend was relentless and eventually I agreed to take a brief hiatus, although I was convinced that I would turn into a mushy ball of goo if I didn’t get in my daily run.

How I Changed My Workouts

Fast-forward six months. During this time, I’ve followed a low-impact exercise routine, which includes four days of low-impact strength activities such as yoga, one day of cardio, and one day of heavy weightlifting. And I have to say, the results are completely the opposite of what I expected.

How the Change Affected How I Look and Feel

What happened when I stopped doing cardio:

  • I gained 10 pounds, but my body measurements decreased. This was perhaps the most surprising change that I noticed. Muscle tissue takes up much less space than fat. After nearly six months of strength training, I’ve added 10 pounds to my frame and my clothes are fitting better than ever—not to mention it feels good to look in the mirror.
  • My energy levels skyrocketed. There is a reason why running burns so many calories: It’s HARD work! And when your body works that hard, you’re going to feel fatigued. Even if you sleep seven to eight hours a night, the physical strain of high mileage takes a toll on the body. I must admit that my energy levels are higher than they’ve ever been, even though I have a 5am alarm to fit in my exercise before work. In fact, I feel more fatigued on the days I don’t exercise!
  • I’m not as hungry. This was a “well DUH” moment for me. Many people tend to focus on the calorie-burning power of running without stopping to think that your body will want to replace all those calories. Several weeks after I stopped running, I noticed that I had a much easier time regulating my food intake. I didn’t need to eat as much, but I felt fuller with the foods I did eat.
  • I’ve noticed improvements in other areas of physical fitness. Previously, I was focused on distance, time, and miles. To me, a run wasn’t “a run” unless I ran at least four miles. Now I’m focused on how many pushups I can do with proper form (I’m getting close to 30!), how long I can hold a plank (nearly five minutes!), and how many pullups I can do (well, let’s just say I’m still working on this one).
  • I have fewer injuries. Focusing on low-impact exercise and strength training has helped my body recover from more than two decades of intense, running-focused exercise programs. My legs no longer ache if I stand for more than an hour. My tight hip flexors are starting to relax, particularly as I focus on improving the flexibility and strength of my hamstrings and glutes.

In sum, to everyone out there who is worried about limiting their cardio because they don’t want to risk gaining weight, try it for three to four months. You might just be surprised at how different you feel and the gains you make!

Looking to help your employees move more?  

Check out our free download below for more information on how to add exercise to your worksite!

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*Weight loss claims or individiual results vary and are not guaranteed.

Topics: running NIFS cardio strength training yoga weightlifting

Corporate Fitness: Why Do Your Feet Go Numb During Workouts

 

ThinkstockPhotos-484968472.jpgRegardless of whether you're new to exercise or you've been sweating it out for years, there's a good chance you've experienced the sensation of one or both of your feet going numb during a workout. For me, it's most likely to happen when I'm on an elliptical machine in the fitness center, but it's happened when I was out on a run, too. And "Why do your feet go numb during workouts?" is certainly one of the more commonly asked questions posed by our corporate fitness members. This phenomenon is common (and annoying), but it's probably not a life-threatening medical condition. There are a few things you can try to get the sensation to go away for good.

Check your routine. If you find that you frequently experience numbness during a specific activity, try changing up your routine. Maybe that particular piece of equipment or class just isn't the right fit for your body. Who knows, it might be that you just need a break, and taking a little time off can allow you to come back refreshed and ready for a new start.

FREE DOWNLOAD: 7 Ways to Add Exercise to the Workplace >

Check your laces. You may find that a simple adjustment in how tightly you lace your shoes can help. Resist the urge to snug-up the laces for a tight fit, and instead give your foot a little breathing room. Feet sometimes swell during exercise, and if you lace up tightly before you start sweating, you don't leave much room for your foot to spread.

Check your shoes. Consider the width (brand) of your shoe. A medium-width shoe is not the same across brands, and the same make/model of shoe has a different width for men and women. Men's shoes tend to have a wider toe box than women's shoes. So ladies, if you don't need a wide width, but your women's joggers aren't cutting it, try the men's version of the same shoe for a more comfortable fit. If you haven't been professionally fitted for shoes, it may be worth that investment.

[Related Content: How to find the right shoe]

Check your placement. On an elliptical or a bike, where the tendency is to keep your feet in the same position throughout the workout, think about making slight movements throughout the ride/roll. Subtly shifting how you place pressure on your feet over the span of a 20–40-minute session can help minimize numbness in the feet.

Check your symptoms. If you can use one of the recommendations above and the numbness goes away, no worries. If you find, however, that the numbness persists through your day, always occurs in the same place on your foot, or is so severe that you have to discontinue your workouts, it may be time to see your doctor. You may be dealing with a pinched-nerve injury that will need more than the suggestions above to remedy.

 

Topics: corporate fitness shoes Fitness Center injury workouts numbness

What Is the Key for Weight Loss: Diet, Exercise, or Both?

ThinkstockPhotos-470754782.jpgLots of research has been done over the years to figuret out the best recipe for success when it comes to weight loss. Diet alone? Exercise alone? Or a combination of both? It should come as no surprise that the key for weight loss and keep it off is to combine a low-fat, lower-calorie diet with an exercise routine.

Results of a Weight-Loss Study

In a study funded by the National Cancer Institute in 2011, 439 overweight to obese postmenopausal women were assigned to four different groups: exercise only (45 minutes of moderate-vigorous activity five days per week), diet only (1,200–2,000 calories per day, depending on starting weight, and less than 30% of calories from fat), exercise and diet, and no intervention.

The yearlong study found that the exercise-only group lost 2.4% of their starting body weight, with the diet-only group losing 8.5% of their weight. However, the group that incorporated both a lower-fat and caloric diet and exercise lost 10.9% of their starting weight, which was an average loss of 19.8 pounds. One other thing that was significant in this study was that the women who lost the most amount of weight and body fat kept a daily food journal, writing down everything they ate and drank.

Tips for Losing Weight

As I said, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that a combination of more balanced eating and movement will lead to the most amount of weight loss. So here are some tips to help make this become a lifestyle for success.

  • Keep a food log. As the study showed, the most successful individuals logged what they ate. Grab a pen and jot it down, or use an app or an online program for tracking. Whichever way works for you, start today!
  • Focus on low fat. Aim for 30% or less of your intake from fat. Fat helps to make food taste more flavorful and helps to keep you fuller longer. However, aim for those good-for-you sources of fat such as nuts, avocado, olive oil, and salmon.
  • Move more. The individuals in the study did 45 minutes of exercise, 5 times per week, but any movement is better than nothing. Start walking, cycling, strength training, stretching, and just moving more each day.

More Help from NIFS

If you want to lose weight and are considering starting to decrease your calories or start exercising, hopefully this will help you to decide to do both! If you need more assistance getting started, please contact me at amitchell@nifs.org to set up a personal nutrition coaching session to help meet your goals.

Benefits of meeting with a nutrition coach >

Topics: exercise nutrition weight loss NIFS calories nutrition coaching diet

Weight-shifting exercises are key to fall prevention for residents

ThinkstockPhotos-590277470.jpgThe numbers are clear: about one-third of adults, ages 65 years and older, will sustain a fall this year. And the statistics that relate to the cost of falls are equally concerning. Because falls are a substantial risk in senior living communities, we focus a lot of attention on asking why residents fall and what can we do to prevent them. The results from a recent study provides us with some answers.


Study Shows What Causes Senior Falls

A 2014 observational study determined how and why falls occur in the aging population by actually videotaping falls in two long-term-care facilities between 2007 and 2010. The video cameras were placed in the common areas such as the dining rooms, hallways, and lounges. When a fall occurred it was reviewed with a focus on the actual cause of imbalance and the activity at the time of falling. The study captured 227 falls from 130 individuals. The researchers concluded that the most common cause of falls (41 percent) was incorrect weight shifting: basically, how an individual moves or transfers from one position to another.

Specifically, researchers noted that the majority of falls they recorded occurred in a position change from standing to walking. You see, staying balanced is about more than maintaining steady footing when in motion. The results of this study show that how we start moving can be much more crucial to staying in balance.

Read Now: The Importance of Teaching Physical Balance

Weight-Shifting Exercises are Key to Fall Prevention

If the researchers are right, then we need to make sure our senior living fitness programs incorporate weight-shifting exercises for participants. Not only do these activities teach residents about how to understand their center of gravity, but they also help with coordination and provide opportunities for modest strength and endurance gains in the lower body muscles. When taught carefully, implementing weight-shifting exercise into a balance program can provide intentional focus on more precise movement which helps overall motor control.

Ideally, your community's fitness program is run by a qualified fitness professional who can provide a range of fitness services for seniors including customized exercises in group and individual settings for each resident's needs.

Is outsourcing fitness and wellness right for you?

Fitness professionals can administer balance-training and weight-shifting exercises through one-on-one personal training sessions, group exercise classes, or with simple recommendations of exercises for a resident to include in her typical morning stretches. Trained staff can also provide field testing to help residents understand how they score on balance and other fitness tests so that they can work toward improvement with their tailored exercise regimen.

In case you don't have qualified staff on board, here are some examples of simple weight-shifting exercises for active older adults that can be taught by anyone in your community:

  • Side Sways: While seated in a chair or standing, place the feet slightly wider than hip width apart. Leading with the upper body, lean the body gently to the right while keeping both feet in contact with the floor. Repeat 10 to 15 times in both directions. Watch a demo of the exercise.
  • Forward Steps: Standing with the feet together near a chair back or counter top to hold onto, take an exaggerated step forward with the right foot. Then take the necessary amount of steps to recover to a normal standing position. Repeat 8 to 10 times and then perform on the left leg. Watch a demo of the exercise.

For more great content like this, download our whitepaper on balance and subscribe to our blog:

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Topics: senior living senior fitness fall prevention balance training

Battling Wintertime Blues with Nutrition

Are you struggling with the winter blues? Is it cold and dark and dreary in your part of the country? When was the last time you felt and saw the sun? You could be lacking vitamin D, and this can lead to depression and a lower immunity to fight colds.

So, if you aren’t able to get your much-needed 15 minutes of sunlight each day to supply your body’s vitamin D needs, start battling wintertime blues with nutrition with these food ThinkstockPhotos-stk26325fls-1.jpgoptions:

  • Fatty fish: This includes salmon, mackerel, canned tuna, and sardines. Three ounces of salmon provides 450 IU of vitamin D—almost all of the daily recommendation of 600 IU. Canned tuna and sardines are an inexpensive way to get in seafood, giving you heart healthy omega 3s and 150 IU of vitamin D per serving. Another bonus is the long shelf life if you haven’t been to the grocery store to get fresh protein choices.
  • Milk: Almost all cows’ milk in the U.S. is fortified with vitamin D. A lot of other dairy products are, too, but not ice cream or cheese. Typically an 8-ounce glass of milk has 100 IUs of vitamin D, and most yogurt has around 80 IU for a 6-ounce container. If you are choosing soymilk or almond milk, most are fortified, but check the labels to be sure.
  • Fortified orange juice: If you aren’t a fan of milk or have lactose intolerance, 100% orange juice is an option. Typically an 8-ounce glass has the same amount of vitamin D as a glass of milk (100 IU). Just make sure you are buying the fortified kind.
  • Egg yolks: Eggs are a great way to get in vitamin D. However, you have to eat the whole egg and not just the whites to get the benefit. One egg yolk has 40 IUs.
  • Fortified cereal: Another way to double up on vitamin D is to choose a fortified cereal to have with your milk or glass of OJ at breakfast. 1 cup of Multi Grain Cheerios provides 90 IUs of vitamin D. Add milk to that and you are close to 200 IUs! Just be sure to choose cereals that are labeled as fortified with vitamin D.
  • Supplements: If you still have trouble getting all of your vitamin D needs met through food and the sun, an alternative is to take a supplement. The upper-limit dose for individuals over age 9 is 4,000 IU per day. Consuming more than this can lead to higher blood calcium levels and increased risk of kidney stones. Always talk to your physician before starting a supplement.

Recent studies have found that nearly 3 out of 4 individuals have either a Vitamin D deficiency or borderline deficiency. Most of this because we spend more time indoors compared to our parents and grandparents. Longer work hours, longer commutes in a vehicle, and more screen time indoors definitely play a part. Get outside, incorporate more of the foods above, and chat with your doctor about supplementing. All of this can mean a healthier immune system, stronger bones, and lower risk of some cancers.

Want to lose weight, gain muscle, manage diabetes, improve sport performance, reduce cholesterol, or just figure out how to grocery shop and prepare healthier meals?

Benefits of meeting with a nutrition coach >

 

Topics: nutrition supplements depression winter blues vitamins winter