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WNY employers can help boost worker health this fall

The nonprofit Wellness Institute of Greater Buffalo and its partners will soon start their fall "Eat Well Live Well Challenge," an employee wellness program designed for Western New York employers and organizations to help promote healthier lifestyles.

The program, provided by Wegmans Markets, challenges participants to increase their physical activity and make good nutrition choices. Together, these actions help people to boost their health and lower their risk for unnecessary medical costs from chronic illnesses.

From an employer and community standpoint, it also improves workplace productivity and morale, as well as job retention and job creation.

"Participants are asked to do three simple things for eight weeks," Wellness Institute Executive Director Philip Haberstro said in a news release. "All employees have to do is use a pedometer to record their steps each day, record the number of cups of fruit and vegetables eaten each day, and aim to make at least one meal a day follow the health-promoting ‘half-plate guide.’ Participants may also track their blood pressure and weight if they so choose."

For information, visit or go to the at the Eat Well Live Well tab at the bottom of the website

More than 60 percent of the region’s adult population is insufficiently physically active and overweight, according to the Wellness Institute, resulting in an increase in the number of diabetes cases. Obesity and physical inactivity account for 25 percent to 30 percent of several major cancers and put employees at greater risk of cardiovascular disease, including high blood pressure and stroke. All of these preventable chronic diseases increase community sickness care spending.

"That’s where Eat Well Live Well comes in," added Haberstro. "The Eat Well Live Well Challenge is a proven health promotion program that requires a minimal amount of time and investment for a powerful return. Participants need only walking shoes, pedometers and the desire to be healthy! It’s a very simple, confidential and productive way to engage employees and family members to lead a healthier lifestyle. Employers from all sectors will discover that the program results in greater teamwork, builds camaraderie and complements existing efforts to manage health costs."

To learn more about the challenge, enroll in one of two free upcoming informational sessions, from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. Aug. 29 Sept. 13 at the Wegmans store at 651 Dick Road, Depew, in the corporate office conference room. Advance registration is required by calling 851-4052 or emailing Up to two employees per organization may attend.

Roswell study will pay smokers, smokeless tobacco users

How willing are smokers to try different tobacco products based on the price?

Researchers at Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI) are asking that and other questions in a clinical study that examines the impact of price and other factors on the substitution of smokeless tobacco products for cigarettes.

Researchers are seeking 200 smokers who are willing to try new products and cut down on their smoking. To participate in the study, participants must be at least 18 years old, in good health, and must currently smoke at least 10 cigarettes per day. This behavioral-economics study will help to explain the motivation behind decisions about health and offer new insights on health-behavior change.

"There are few studies that have evaluated the attitudes of smokers who supplement cigarette use or switch to smokeless tobacco products," said Richard O’Connor, a researcher in the Roswell Department of Health Behavior and Director of the Institute’s Tobacco Research Laboratory, in a news release. "This study will help assess a constellation of factors that impact decisions to use smokeless tobacco products."

Smokeless tobacco – also known as spit tobacco, chewing tobacco, oral tobacco, dip, chew or snuff – is tobacco that is not burned. The health risks associated with smokeless tobacco vary considerably across products. Some studies suggest that smokers have begun using smokeless tobacco as a temporary or ongoing substitute for cigarettes, and some products have been marketed to smokers for this purpose.

"The information obtained from this study will contribute to a greater understanding of the factors that are driving an increased use of smokeless tobacco," said Dr. Martin Mahoney, associate professor in the departments of Health Behavior and Medicine and co-investigator of the study. "These results should help us to design more effective intervention strategies that will ultimately help smokers quit."

Participants will be asked to attend five sessions over five weeks and answer questions about their smoking and product use. They will be reimbursed for their time and travel. For more information, call 845-2365.

This research is supported by a grant from the National Cancer Institute.

Help for smokers looking to quit is available through the New York State Smokers’ Quitline, which is based at Roswell. "Quit coaches" provide free resources, including evidence-based coaching and nicotine patches, as well as information about smoking cessation for health-care providers. Call 1-866-NY-QUITS or visit for more info.

Learning the language on West Side streets

MAP Mobile Market director Tyler Manley enjoys dealing with customers from around the world. (Harry Scull Jr./Buffalo News)


Tyler Manley, Mobile Market director for the Massachusetts Avenue Project, deals with customers who hail from places far and wide when he makes his rounds on the West Side. Many of them are refugees who are helping breathe new vibrancy into the several city neighborhoods.

The language can be a challenge, but it’s usually manageable, Manley told me for an “In the field” story in Saturday’s WNY Refresh.

“I’m always so surprised at how much you can get through with hand motions, pointing, counting the currency,” he said.

Though he did have trouble with “pumpkins.”

After he started last year, “the African woman would come to my stand and we had a lot of squash, and they’d come and say, ‘Pumpkin? Pumpkin?’ And I’d say, ‘No, not pumpkin, spaghetti squash,’ and they’d look at me like blech, yuck, and they’d walk away,” he said.

“So I brought one of our students with me who is an African girl, and I was helping someone else and barely listening and the woman said, ‘Pumpkins? Pumpkins? And she said, ‘Yes, yes,’ and the woman bought it. And the girl, her name is Kuwu, I said, ‘Actually, those aren’t pumpkins. And she said, ‘In Africa, all squash are referred to as pumpkins. That’s the word for squash.’

"I would have never known."

So Manley has been selling a lot more “pumpkins” this growing season.

“And tomatoes,” he said. “People here have told me they don’t like tomatoes, but they’ve never had a tomato before. Going to Subway, or even Wegmans in January, they aren’t tomatoes. In January, once a tomato has been put in a refrigerator, it’s not even a tomato anymore. It’s just a flavorless oooh, ick. When you pick a homegrown tomato off of a vine and eat it, that’s real tomato flavor, but so many people don’t even experience that anymore.


 Scott Scanlon


Shane Fry's spin on the new Buffalo

Breakdancer Shane Fry brings together a group of dance-lovers from across Western New York to his Verve studio downtown. (Mark Mulville/Buffalo News)


By Scott Scanlon – Refresh Editor

Shane Fry played two guard for Emerson and Amherst high schools and wanted to play in college, too, but the dance bug bit him instead.

“I saw some kids breakdancing and I started practicing it then and there. I stopped college, got a job and started practicing dancing,” Fry told me last week during a Refresh “What are you eating?" interview for a piece published today.

We talked more about dancing than food, and it didn’t take long for me to realize that he was the latest person I’ve interviewed who belongs to the young creative class that’s reinventing Buffalo.

Fry, 36, and his wife, Heather Russell-Fry, are the principal organizers of the third annual Battle @ Buffalo Under the Lights, a dance contest that runs from noon to 10 p.m. Aug. 24 in the parking lot at New Era cap company, 160 Delaware Ave.; find out more at

“We have a lot of help,” Fry said about the organization of the competition.

Fry told me he spent every Thursday night back in the late 1990s until about 2006 at Broadway Joe’s tavern on Main Street, near the University at Buffalo South Campus.

‘The night there was called ‘Baby Steps,’” he said. “That was pretty much the pinnacle for hip hop in Buffalo. Pretty much all the notables in Buffalo that are doing things right now all had their start on these nights. There were graffiti writers, there were DJs, rappers and, of course, breakdancers.”

During those years, he taught at different dance studios until he opened Verve Dance Studio in 2005.

“Since then, there’s been performances at different schools, street performances, performances in different cities, all over the place. Toronto, New York," he said.

 Here are some other questions I asked him while visiting his Main Street studio, up a couple flights of stairs above Hyatts art studio,:

What’s harder, physically, basketball or breakdancing?

I would say breakdancing is harder on the body. You’re literally throwing yourself on the ground. When you’re learning moves, you’re not hitting the ground smoothly. Right now, I would say that when I go to do my move it’s calculated and I know exactly what to do, and hopefully I pull that move off the right way to not hurt myself. Even when you have learned, you’re still crashing and falling.

How many teachers and how many students do you have?

Six teachers and maybe 70 to 100 students right now. There’s breakdancing, hip hop and house. We also do a workout class doing breakdance moves.

Tell me about the artwork in here. Who does that? The boombox is cool.

Local graffiti artists and then I do some myself, too. I don’t do graffiti, I use a paintbrush. I try to ask them to do things that stimulate this space, but the body of their work is what they’re feeling.

The main goal of graffiti artists is to have some kind of fame and, I think, to take some power back. A lot of graffiti artists I think feel that the ones with money shouldn’t be the only ones allowed to advertise. Now, I would be mad if someone had a piece of property and someone just painted on it. But I also understand the other side of taking space back.

I see a stack of LPs on the floor.

I am a huge, huge vinyl record collector. I have all kinds of records. I take my daughter record shopping with me. She knows how to use a turntable, she knows what records are. If you ask any other kid her age what a record is or how to work a turntable, they would have no clue.

Do you scratch them here?

No. I can DJ but I don’t want to DJ. My records are kept in plastic. They’re for listening. Also, I’m a musician. I play bass and keyboard and I do composing. So what I do is find a drum pattern on a record, reorganize it or play drums off my drum machine and then play keyboard into my drum machine and bass into my drum machine and compose it all into a song.

Do you use some of that for your teaching?

 Yes. For records, there’s something great about something you can hold in your hands. The cover has artwork. You can hold it, you can talk about it. You can’t do that with an MP3.

Tell me more about the studio.

Most kids want to be a lawyer or a doctor. Literally, when I was 10, I wanted to have a community center and that’s pretty much what this place is. This place is here to support the community and to educate the community, and a place for positive expression and a voice for the community.

The art and the dance is very much obvious here.

What else do you mean?

Providing a place where people see other people being nice to each other. Being in the same place with all different backgrounds and exchanging ideas and coming up with new ideas to really change Buffalo and understand what’s really going on out there…

To understand how people are different and not be afraid to engage people who are different from you.

When you talk about different people who come up here, what might surprise readers of The Buffalo News?

If you take a walk around Buffalo, it can be one way in certain places. If you come here you might be surprised to see people from Amherst who are grandparents sitting right next to somebody from the West Side who’s 13 years old, and they’re smiling with each other and exchanging. I have 60-year-old men who are taking my dance class with 15-year-olds. For the battles, it’s really a beautiful sight, because there are all walks of life in this room. You don’t always get that, so it’s important for people to come and experience that.

What do you talk about when you do workshops for young dancers?

I talk about healthy eating, but the biggest thing is the stretching. I say, ‘Listen, if you plan to be an athlete in your life, you can get away with it for a while, but when you start to get into your 20s, you’ll see and feel a difference in your body, and it’s not going to be performing the way you want it to if you don’t stretch.

A massage is like an oil change. Massage, diet, exercise and stretching. If you’re going to do those four things, your body’s going to be in the best shape it can be.

The food that’s hardest for you to resist?

Candy. Chocolate in particular. I love Reese’s cups. But even a Hershey’s bar, my wife says, ‘It’s terrible. If you’re going to eat chocolate, at least get some good chocolate.’


Paddling odds and ends

Janet Snyder, left, talks with paddling instructors Laura and Jeff Liebel last weekend before an outing on the Buffalo River (Harry Scull Jr./Buffalo News)


By Scott Scanlon -- Refresh Editor

Western New York paddling instructors Jeff and Laura Liebel, Bob Van Hise and Vanessa Wazny had so many interesting things to say about kayaking and canoeing last week, that I wanted to give Refresh Buffalo blog readers an extra taste of how fun this sport can be.

It also can be dangerous to a relationship, but more on that later.

First I want to thank Charlie Helman, of Rochester, an avid Adirondack Mountain Club paddler I met a few weeks ago in Batavia, for putting me in touch with experts from Western New York.

Jeff Liebel highly recommended the kayak tours available in various parts of the region -- some of them are outlined in this weekend's WNY Refresh stories on canoeing and kayaking-- and pointed out: "It also gives people a totally different view of Buffalo than they’re used to.”

“You’ve got to love water to want to protect it,” Van Hise added.

These folks love water. The Liebels haven't picked up their golf clubs in about five years; Van Hise has hiked the 46 high peaks in the Adirondacks but has spent most of his free time in a kayak in recent years; Wazny said her garden used to look lots nicer.

“There are so many places in Western New York that are interesting and fascinating to see from on the water,” Van Hise said.

Van Hise is credited with helping paddlers understand that parts of the Niagara River are accessible and pristine.

“There was a time when if you we’re ready to go to the gates of hell, you’d just step into the Niagara River, you were going to be dead," Jeff Liebel said. "Bob, not heeding any of those warnings, started to go out on the upper and lower Niagara River every week and publish what he was doing for the ADK club. Then one brave soul would go out with him on the Niagara River and they’d both come back and say, ‘Hey, it wasn’t bad.’ Then some more brave souls started going out, and over the years he really created this aura of things.

"Then the Greenway Commission was created and more launches were built and all these things started to happen. People started realizing you could go out on the river and be with other experienced folks, you can be a novice paddler, and enjoy the experience.”

“And people don’t realize,” said Nazny, “you can go out on the Niagara River and you can see osprey – we saw an osprey catch a fish one time – you can see eagles, white egrets, great blue herons.”

Laura Liebel called paddlers "a good group of people."

“We have a core group of values about respecting nature and water and each other. It’s supportive," she said. "We have fun.”

But sometimes, paddlers do face troubled waters.

Enthusiasts tend to call tandem canoes and tandem kayaks “divorce boats.”

 It seems paddling in pairs has its downside.

“There’s a lot of yelling going on,” Van Hise said.

 “My husband’s not going to listen to anything I say,” said Wazny.

Typically, Nazny said, "The man’s in the back and the woman’s in the front and the front’s supposed to be the power seat and the stern seat is the one that’s in control of where we’re going. But when you really start to learn the sport, you find out it’s really about working together and being in cadence, and the bow has just as much ability to steer the boat and choose direction as the stern

In the end, Van Hise says, “it’s a beautiful way to work on a relationship.”

Alzheimer's walks scheduled for September

The annual Buffalo Walk to End Alzheimer's – which supports the free services, classes and outreach of the local Alzheimer's Association Chapter – is scheduled for this fall.

Across Western New York, more than 160,000 people are dealing with the disease, including about 53,000 afflicted with it. The Alzheimer's Association, Western New York Chapter, provides classes, outreach, respite and support across eight counties in the region, as well as a phone support system staffed 24/7 by trained professionals.

This year’s Buffalo Walk will take place on Sept. 21 at the Buffalo Zoo and Delaware Park, with free zoo admission that day. Register at or call (800) 272-3900.

Walks are also planned for Sept. 7 at the Chautauqua Institution and in Medina; Sept. 28 in Batavia and Lewiston; and Oct. 5 in Warsaw.

Nominate your Caregiver of the Year

Homewatch CareGivers, a home care agency, is accepting nominations for its second annual Family Caregiver of the Year Award.

The award recipient will receive a day of respite care, a $50 restaurant gift card and the title of Family Caregiver of the Year. Two runners-up will receive three hours of respite care each.

The award will be given based on the magnitude of care and support provided by the caregiver, personal challenges that have been overcome to provide care, health care industry obstacles that the patient faced, and the impact the care has had on an individual.

Nominations will be accepted from the general public through Sept. 23; download starting here.

A panel of health care industry experts involved with senior care will choose the award recipient.

Family doctor worries about physician shortage

Scott Scanlon – Refresh Editor

Dr. Amy Burke comes from a blue collar background in
suburban Syracuse.

Her dad, Edmund, worked at GE in Syracuse and retired
about the time the factory closed there.

“He was the best father ever,” she said. “My dad worked a
second job just to pay for my braces. He was a janitor. He was a typical Irish
Catholic who taught you how to work hard.”

Her mom, Bonnie, stayed home while Burke was growing up, then
went back to school and became an LPN who worked primarily with elderly patients.

Some might say Burke was born and raised to be a family
doctor, the kind that tends to be on the lower rung of the pay scale when it
comes to physicians, but who arguably is the oil that helps keep the machinery
of medicine running as smoothly as it does.

Could the U.S. health care system run much more smoothly?
Anyone who’s dealt with a chronic health condition the last couple of decades,
or their family members, knows the answer to that.

One of the problems: Primary care doctors are among physicians in short supply across the country, as well as in Western New York, and their role is expected to become even more crucial as more parts of the Affordable Care Act roll out in coming months.

“When I was in medical school, there were 140 graduates,”
Burke told me for an “In the field interview in today’s WNY Refresh. “The
number of people who went into primary care, family medicine, was eight. All
the specialties get paid more, but the primary care area is so short of
doctors. We’re not incentivizing people to go into primary care.”

Here’s what she said about the Affordable Care act when
it comes to family docs:

“Less than 10 percent of the American people don’t have
insurance. That’s about 24 million people, so 300 million have some form of
insurance. So 24 million people are going to get insurance. What primary care
doctor is going to see these people? There are no doctors taking patients in
the Southtowns besides me. I’ve been getting 10, 12 new patients a day. I’ve
only been open three months. You can only safely take care of so many people.

“So now there’s 24 million people over the next couple of years who are going to be introduced into the health care system, and the payment plan is going to be less and there’s going to be no one to take them. So here’s Obama … advertising this wonderful health care program but what he’s forgetting is what about incentivizing primary care? Because 10 years down the line, I don’t care if you give them insurance, who are they going to see?

“The average age of a primary care doctor is in the
low-60s. What’s going to happen five years from now (when doctors start
retiring)? Recruiting doctors in Buffalo? Are you kidding me, when they can go
to Miami and California? So finding a doctor is so difficult. The only people
who stay in Buffalo are Buffalonians, so how do we incentivize people in
medical school to go into primary care and then stay in Buffalo?

“If you really want more preventative services, you have
to have the doctors to do it. ... I think loan help: ‘Hey, we’re going to give
you a stipend if you do primary care.'

"The cost of services for people who don’t have preventative health care, that’s what’s breaking our system. People who don’t go to the doctor – and some people think it’s because those people don’t have insurance – they have insurance. People come into my office and say, ‘I haven’t been to a doctor in over a year because my doctor is gone and you’re the only doctor who’s taking primary care patients. I’m telling you, in less than six months my door will be closed because you can only take so many patients.

"If I have a really old population, I can take care of maybe 3,000 patients, and what that means is that when you’re sick you can get in...

“There’s talk of the federal government forcing doctors to take more patients. That’s crazy talk.

“Still, to me it’s about quality and I think that’s what Affordable Care is going to bring in.

"There’s lots of numbers. We’re trying to come up with a good balance and that balance should be centered on the patient. Yes, we need to pay our bills, but if you lose sight of that patient, you’ve lost.”

… I’m unhappy in that (numbers) system, so I’m going to work hard and make my practice successful. Am I going to make huge margins? No I’m not. But I’d rather make patients happy, and be happy, than work in a system where they don’t even care what I have to say, just ‘See 20 patients, squeeze them in. See 30 patients a day.’

Here’s what else Burke had to say:

Why did you decide to start your practice in Orchard Park?

There’s not many doctors accepting new members. Plus I admit to Mercy Hospital, which is pretty much a Southtowns hospital, and all my consulting physicians are only about five times away from me, so it really made sense to stay in the Southtowns.

What have been the biggest challenges?

Getting someone like Stacey Nicholas. She’s an LPN, but she knows ordering this, and ordering that supply. She knows how to do this. I needed her. My other challenge, I have a business plan. My challenge was getting the money to do it.

What are the pleasant surprises so far?

I’ve always liked taking care of patients, but what I have found having my own practice, there’s something different about that. I’ll take care of a woman and she’ll say, ‘My husband and my daughter want to see you because I like you so much.’

Plus many of their colleagues have sent their families to me. … I feel so honored.

What is it like to treat patients who are much older than you?

I thought about doing family medicine because I absolutely love children but I realized I absolutely love older people, too. I realize they’ve done so much in their lives. A 90-year-old has gone through generations of changes. … The older patient tends to respect the doctor a lot, although they will make comments like, ‘Are you old enough to take care of me?’

What so far has been the funniest thing you’ve experienced?

I tell patients I went into medicine as my second career. My first was a standup comic. Now you have to pay me, and listen to my jokes.

When a husband and wife come in, I always turn to the husband and say, ‘You robbed the cradle.’

Often times, women will come into appointments alone. Older men, the wife is always there and she’s always in the background like this, shaking her head (no) while her husband is talking.

What has been the most rewarding thing so far?

There was a patient I really took care of for a while at another practice. She was in the hospital and had a bad stroke. We decided to put her on hospice care. The whole family came, and after she died, they just hugged me to know that I helped to make someone comfortable toward their end. It’s
about the memories that families will have as they go on, that when they think about the death of their mother, they’ll think about a doctor who helped them. … Just listening. That’s all it took.

Maybe because it’s that my mom died suddenly at 54, my dad died in hospice, that I’m very personal with my patients. Sometimes it’s good to say to your patients, ‘I understand, my dad died in hospice.’

What top three tips can you give on how people can stay as healthy as possible?

Don’t smoke, lose weight. Do what you love. If you’re going to be a doctor, love it. If you’re going to flip burgers at Burger King, love it. Because when you’re happy, everything’s fine. You’re more likely to be healthy, to lose weight…

Be inspired.


It takes the right foods to fuel her physique

Rhonda Rotterman gets her power from protein, veggies and complex carbs. (Matthew Masin/Buffalo News)

By Scott Scanlon – Refresh Editor

Rhonda Rotterman had so many interesting things to say for this week’s Refresh "What are you eating?" Q&A – which will be published Saturday – that I wanted to share lots more from her in this blog.

Rotterman, 47, of Kenmore, has found it easier to eat well and exercise more during the last couple of years. It shows. Since last year, she has been the overall winner of the National Physique Committee Miss Buffalo, Miss Rochester and Miss Northern Kentucky competitions.

Program director for the University at Buffalo Institute for Person-Centered Care– which looks to set better and more compassionate standards for elder care – she also is featured this month in No Nonsense magazine, which targets those really, really, really serious about fitness.

You’re ripped. What was key, nutrition-wise, to build your body?

Off-season or getting ready for competition, because there’s two different methods?


When getting ready for competition, you’re not looking to build muscle at that point, you’re looking to drop body fat. The cardio becomes key, primarily in the morning on an empty stomach. You’re still lifting weights but you’re not lifting weights for size, you’re just looking to maintain what you already have. You’re no longer in the building phase. You’re just looking to lean out to prepare your body to hit the stage, so you’re stripping away all of your body fat and eventually you strip away all your water, too, because you only want to see skin and muscle.

So dietary-wise, you’re focusing on proteins, primarily from animal sources – chicken, turkey, fish – and you’re eating a lot of vegetables instead of complex carbohydrates, because even though people think of vegetables as merely vegetables, vegetables do contain carbohydrates, although it’s lower and they are primarily in fiber and water and vitamins.

What about when you’re building muscle?

You have to have the complex carbohydrates with the good proteins and the vegetables. Your muscles have to have a certain amount of sugar in order to grow, in addition to the protein sources. So you’re having carbohydrates with all of your meals, with the exception of later in the day when your body tends to slow down. And when you’re working those weights, you’re really working them very hard, so you’re tearing down those muscle fibers and fueling your body with protein and sugar so that they, in turn, grow. When you hear competitors refer to off-season, you might see them and they don’t look like they’re stage ready. They’re fluffier, if you will. You don’t see a lot of the striations and the definition. We just look bulky till it’s time to take that all away.

We scale back on the cardio. We still do cardio, but not as much. You want your body to respond when you’re getting ready for competition. I think a lot of people, whether it’s fitness or competition, especially females, they hit that cardio ad nauseam, and what that does is your body adapts. Our bodies are very, very smart, and if you’re hitting your body constantly with cardio, then it gets used to that. And if you try to scale off and you don’t change your dietary habits, you can get into a metabolic syndrome where you’re actually putting weight on relatively quickly. So the more cardio you do, the more you have to do to get your body to respond.

When you talk about carbs, what sort of carbs are you eating?

Complex carbs would be things that have fiber in addition to the carbohydrates, so you’re talking about sweet potatoes, brown rice or wild rice, oatmeal, any of the fiber cereals.

You want a carbohydrate that is not going to spike your insulin, so you want something that’s going to burn slower over a longer period of time. When you spike your insulin, it tells your body to store energy that is not being used, so you want to keep your insulin at a pretty steady state throughout the day so you’re not spiking it with simple carbohydrates and having it plummet. That also triggers your hunger response.

What are your energy foods?

If I’m looking to get energy quickly, that’s when I would use a simple carb. So a white rice or white potato or something that’s going to give me that quick energy. The quickest form of energy is always a sugar, so a honey or something that’s going to get into your bloodstream. I’m not a real big proponent of high fructose corn syrup or any of those additives, so if I’m going to have a sugar, it’s going to be a real sugar, and not a molecularly modified or fabricated sugar. So an iced tea with regular sugar or honey.

The staples of your diet?

Clean proteins: Chicken, fish, turkey. I don’t eat a lot of red meat, ever, even if it's off season ... complex carbs and vegetables with every single meal that I eat.

Do you have any favorite vegetables?

In Western New York we don’t have access to a lot of fresh things regularly, so summer’s great because you get all of the tomatoes and cucumbers and squashes and beans, and all of the fresh things from the farmers markets. Those are my favorites. Off-season when we’re having to rely on imports, I’m still a big fan of sweet peppers, cukes, celery.

I don’t eat a lot of fruits for my complex carbs. If I do, it would be a grapefruit or apples, which are my go-to fruits if I have them.

In salad, romaine lettuce, cabbage ... I try to get whole foods as best that I can.

A food you can’t resist?

I do resist it, but my favorite cheat food is pizza. When I tend to have a cheat meal, that tends to be my go-to thing.

How often does that happen?

Off season, far more likely than I would like to admit to your readers. Off-season is probably once or twice a week for a cheat meal. Which is why I don’t compete in the fall typically. I do enjoy the summer. It’s such a finite amount of time in our region, so we have a lot of family picnics and weddings and showers, and a lot of functions that involve some great food. If I’m competing, I can’t really indulge in any of those, so I tend to compete in the spring. My go-to time is right after the holidays, and so I’m in the zone, which works out perfectly for me.


Stella Niagara to host Women's Respite reception

The Women’s Respite Program will celebrate 25 years of service at a reception from 3 to 5 p.m. Saturday at Stella Niagara in Lewiston.

Each year, the Respite Program, a nonprofit organization, provides time away to rest and renew for single mothers with low incomes, grandmothers raising their grandchildren and women with cancer.

Diane Gianadda, a social worker doing home visits, recognized that women with the most chaotic and stressful lives rarely get time to themselves with an opportunity to recharge their batteries. Gianadda, a Franciscan nun, made some calls and started the program with the help of volunteers, donors and members of her Stella Niagara order.

Each year, women from Erie and Niagara counties come to the Stella Niagara Center of Renewal for a few days away from their routine where, in a safe, peaceful environment, they can develop friendships and support networks, enjoy group activities, eat healthfully, even get a massage.

The program, which has two part-time staff and lots of volunteers, has served well over 1,000 women. Many of them will be among the guests attending the Saturday reception. Playback Theatre, an improvisational company that has been performing for the Respite Program for several years, will perform at 4 p.m.

For information about the program or the reception, call 893-0931.

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About The Refresh Buffalo Blog

Scott Scanlon

Scott Scanlon

Scott Scanlon is an award-winning reporter and editor who has covered various topics in his quarter-century as a journalist in South Florida, Syracuse and Buffalo. He is aiming to pass along what he is learning these days about health, fitness, nutrition and family life.

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