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Joan Pekoc Pagano Fitness Tips

Earlier this year, Joseph Beth Bookstores hosted an event which spotlighted Cleveland born fitness expert and author Joan Pekoc Pagano and local naturopathic physician and licensed acupuncturist, Dr. Tamara Macdonald.

Joan grew up in Shaker Heights and stayed there until she went to Connecticut College. She has always been athletic and interested in physical fitness. "I was given to this naturally. I was very active in all intramural sports... I loved athleticism."

Her mother and five brothers still live in the area. Her mom is 90 years old and living at Judson Manor and her brothers all live in the Cleveland Heights area.

Joan Pagano

Joan Pagano

In 1968 when she left college she realized that a woman looking for work in the Sports industry was out of luck - it was what she calls "the dark ages for women in sports." She went into other fields, including restaurant work.

Then things changed for Joan. "A friend shamed me into taking yoga because I had been sedentary since college. Then I went back to swimming… I thought I was probably in the best shape of my life, but really it just opened the door to all kinds of fitness classes… "It was now the 1980's and fitness programs were everywhere.

She became certified by The American College of Sports Medicine and became a personal trainer. Eventually Joan opened her own center on Manhattan's East Side and since then has helped thousands of people and written numerous books including; Strength Training for Women, 8 Weeks to a Younger Body , 15 Minute Total Body Workout (+DVD) and 15 Minute Abs Workout.

Her program at Joseph Beth was titled "How To Loose Belly Fat" and included floor exercises as well as discussions. She says that people are never too old or too overweight or too out of shape to start a program. The important thing, she says is to make it something that will work for you.

"Don't bite off more than you can chew - in every sense!" She says this advice applies to the foods you literally chew as well as the fitness program you start. In order to be successful and work for the long run she suggests that it be manageable and fit into your life style and schedule. A commitment to 3 hours a day at a gym as a start is not practical and as such, will fail.

Joan Pagano signs her book

Joan Pagano signs her book

Joan does not believe you should work through pain, but wants to be sure pain is being defined properly. She calls it "little awareness" rather than pain. If, for example, you are doing weight training, the last few reps should be harder and tingle a little more than the first. "You should feel that your muscles have been worked."

According to US Government Guidelines everyone should be doing a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate activity at least 5 days a week and 2 resistance training sessions. Moderate activity could include walking the Mall. She also dispels the myth that you must do your 30 minutes all at one time. She says rather that you can accumulate the same benefits by multiple increments of 10-15 minutes.

Also on the program was Dr. Tamara Macdonald who was present to offer the medical perspective on abdominal weight issues. Dr. Macdonald is a naturopathic physician and a licensed acupuncturist. Her clinic, North Coast Natural Health and Acupuncture is located in Brunswick.

Dr. Tamara Macdonald

Dr. Tamara Macdonald

Dr. Macdonald spoke of the need to lower our individual girth, saying it is not enough to just watch what we eat and exercise, but we must watch where our weight is as well. Women with a waist measurement of more than 35 and men with a measurement of over 45 tend to have visceral fat issues that lead to liver problems, insulin resistance, hypertension, heart attacks, strokes, pancreas problems and Type II Diabetes, among other things.

She says the "Easiest, best things we can do is start looking at the foods we put into our body." Specifically she asks us to look for fresh green vegetables, whole grain foods, real fish, and real chicken. She suggests that we aim toward organic dairy and meat.

As for the advice we so often hear about the perils of "white food" (rice, potatoes, white bread…) she says "My question is why eat white? Brown tastes better. Has more for the fiber, more of the nutrients we need."

Dr. Macdonald sees a lot of patients with poor heating habits, poor life style habits and who are dealing with a lot of stress She suggest we "… Get back to basics... Enjoy life… Laugh every day"

Both Joan Pagano and Dr. Macdonald had a lot to offer the participants and left us all with "food for thought"

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