Podcast | Episode 6: Brooks Wellness Program with Sara Falk

Clinical Expertise

Jan 6, 2020

Welcome to the Brooks Rehabilitation podcast where we talk to our rehabilitation professionals to shed light on the stellar programs and services we offer to help our patients reach their highest levels of recovery.

In this episode, we had a great conversation with Sara Falk, the Brooks Employee Wellness Coordinator where we talked about our wellness program while going off on tangents about diet culture, body image and what we can do to set attainable goals for ourselves.

Send us an email with your questions, comments or podcast ideas to podcast@brooksrehab.org!

Listen to the full episode on your favorite podcast app! Search ‘Brooks Rehabilitation Podcast.’ You can also listen online. Below is a transcript of our newest episode.

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Podcast Transcript

Tracy Davis: Welcome to The Brooks Rehabilitation Podcast. My name is Tracy Davis.

Michelle Orallo: My name’s Michelle Orallo. And today, we had Sara Falk, and she talked about the Brooks Wellness Program.

Tracy Davis: Yeah. We had some really good conversation with Sara about all kinds of things, health and fitness, and body image, and mostly about that kind of stuff, and then we got into the Brooks Wellness Program, and what that serves our employees with. I mean, there’s a whole bunch of stuff that if you’re not familiar, it’s a really, really great program for our employees to take advantage of.

But before we get into the podcast, we want to remind you that you can email us at podcast@brooksrehab.org, or follow us on social media at Brooks Rehab on pretty much any social media platform. Check out our YouTube videos to get to know more about us, Facebook. I actually just recently looked, I did 53 videos in 2019 for Facebook, so there’s a lot of videos out there for you to just get to know all kinds of different areas of Brooks and all different things that we have going on. Instagram as well, we have a lot more kind of culture of Brooks on Instagram and LinkedIn and everything, so definitely follow us on there.

Michelle Orallo: And let’s get right into it.

Sara Falk: My name is Sara Falk, and I am the wellness coordinator with Brooks.

Tracy Davis: And how long have you been here?

Sara Falk: I’ve been here a little over two years now.

Tracy Davis: Wow, okay. And then where were you at before Brooks?

Sara Falk: I worked in the hospital as an inpatient dietician with Orange Park Medical Center, so I made a big career jump coming to Brooks.

Michelle Orallo: So where did you go to school?

Sara Falk: So I actually started at UF, I’m a Gator. Go Gators. And I actually had no idea that I wanted to do nutrition or be a dietician. I had no idea. I started off as a business major, and then ended up in psychology. And then my senior year of college, I ended up losing a lot of weight. And just following my passions, following my interests, I ended up buying about … One day, I bought about eight books on nutrition off Amazon.

Tracy Davis: Wow.

Sara Falk: It felt like Christmas.

Tracy Davis: That’s a lot.

Sara Falk: Because when I’m interested in something, I love to read, so I bought eight books. And I remember opening it up just like Christmas Day, opening up all my books, and then walking them back to my room and thinking, I had that light bulb moment thinking, “Okay, this is what I need to do. I just bought eight books on nutrition off of Amazon. This is a sign.” It just hit me this is what I should do. I did always want to be in healthcare. Both of my parents are nurses, so I just always grew up with it. I was always familiar with it, but didn’t actually think about nutrition until I personally changed my eating habits. So I couldn’t graduate with a nutrition degree, I couldn’t change my major senior year, so I ended up graduating with my psychology degree and then transferring to UNF, so I’m an Osprey too. Go Ospreys.

Tracy Davis: I didn’t know that, so you have two degrees.

Sara Falk: I do.

Tracy Davis: Wow.

Sara Falk: Didn’t plan it that way.

Tracy Davis: They kind of work together though. Right?

Sara Falk: They do, yeah. They do. Luckily, I have nutrition too because psychology, you can’t do much without going into a master’s degree for that or something. But yeah, so I went to UNF for two years, graduated with my nutrition degree, and ended up working for a little bit with WIC, Women, Infants and Children. And then I did my dietetic internship with the University of Houston, so I went out to Houston for a few months, and then came back and started at Orange Park. And from there, new dieticians end up working a lot because you’re learning the field. And I again, just kind of following my interests and passion, and I started to think because I was working long hours and I had a long commute out to Orange Park, I just started to think, “Well, how do people eat healthy when they work long hours?” And then it kind of snowballed into, “How do people exercise when they work long hours? How do they fit this in?” And then more books because I love to read, but I started to buy books on people who, CEOs. How did they fit health and wellness?

Tracy Davis: Right. People with very busy schedules, how do they stay fit and healthy? Yeah, I got you.

Sara Falk: Right, right. How do they fit this into their lives? Started to read about how they fit, exercise before breakfast and that sort of thing. It was just so interesting to me, so that’s how I made the jump to corporate wellness because I just love meeting people at the work site, but especially for healthcare workers because I know as a dietician, I know what people are going through in the healthcare world.

Tracy Davis: Sure. So I know a little bit about the dietician program just through our mutual friend and just seeing. I remember her studying and telling me about how tough it was. So what was your experience going through that program? Because I know it’s not easy.

Sara Falk: Yeah. So it’s actually very tough to get a dietetic internship. About less than 50% of applicants get an internship, so I actually applied a couple times. It is very tough. It’s a very tough program.

Tracy Davis: Even the classes are tough. Right?

Sara Falk: Mm-hmm (affirmative). It is, nutrition is all science based. I had to take all of those really tough chemistry and biology classes, made it through.

Tracy Davis: My nightmare, yeah.

Michelle Orallo: [inaudible].

Tracy Davis: I barely got through statistics. Yeah.

Sara Falk: I’m not a science or math person.

Tracy Davis: Yeah, same.

Sara Falk: But yeah, it’s a very tough field. But obviously, I love nutrition. My heart’s in it. I love health in general. The reason why I love wellness so much is because, or wellness as a whole, or your health as a whole, is because if you just have good nutrition and you’re not considered healthy in a sense because everything plays in together, physical fitness and your sleep and your mental health and emotional health, all of that plays into your overall health. Like I said, I still love nutrition. Don’t get me wrong. Nutrition is my heart. I want to go back actually to school and get my master’s in nutrition.

Tracy Davis: Oh, okay.

Michelle Orallo: I was just about to ask you that because I remember you saying that, I don’t know, maybe a few months ago, that you were going to go back to school.

Sara Falk: Yeah, this year, this year, or, well, 2020.

Tracy Davis: Good for you.

Sara Falk: Yeah, I’m going to go back to get my master’s in nutrition because I love it, but I also love how the other aspects of health play into nutrition too.

Tracy Davis: Sure. Kind of everything is you can be … Everything with fitness, no matter how good you are of a power lifter, or a runner, or whatever, anything in life, if your nutrition’s not good, then it’s all going to kind of … You’re only going to get so far.

Sara Falk: Right. And the same thing if just your nutrition is good. You can only go so far as well. You have to have all of those aspects. And so much of your nutrition is affected by your mental health, your emotional health. So much, I guess the psychology aspect, so much plays into your nutrition that you don’t even think. Sleep for example, those people who don’t get enough sleep at night have been, studies have shown that those people actually eat more calorie dense foods during the day, so people who don’t get enough sleep at night have actually shown to be at a heavier weight than those who do get enough sleep.

Tracy Davis: Yeah. Sleep is so vital to everything.

Sara Falk: Yes.

Tracy Davis: Yeah. I’ve absolutely learned that in my life. What’s something like a big takeaway that you kind of learned through going through with the dietician program and becoming an RD? What did they instill in you about the career field?

Sara Falk: That’s a really good question. The biggest thing that I’ve learned is that health and wellness and nutrition, it’s all so personal. It’s unique and specific to everybody. And there is no one size fits all approach. Everyone is different and everyone eats differently, and so much plays into your diet too, your background, your culture, your traditions.

Tracy Davis: Genetics.

Sara Falk: Your genetics, everything. Yeah. Everyone is different. And with nutrition too, you can’t force anything on anybody. I would never force anyone to eat foods. I think that’s the biggest misconception about dieticians is that we’re the food police.

Tracy Davis: Right.

Sara Falk: I’m definitely not the food police.

Tracy Davis: No soup for you.

Sara Falk: If you know me, I eat all foods.

Tracy Davis: It’s about balance.

Sara Falk: It is.

Tracy Davis: And teaching you balance.

Michelle Orallo: Moderation.

Tracy Davis: In the hospital setting though you were at, that’s a different ball game. Right? Because these are people with different illnesses and things, and different medications, and they need to not eat certain things and stuff, so that’s kind of a different ball game. Right?

Sara Falk: Yeah. It is tougher when you have certain dietary restrictions, then you can’t necessarily eat whatever you want all the time.

Tracy Davis: Right. But there’s a clear line between someone who is a patient in a hospital and you trying to teach us employees to eat the right foods and live a well balanced life. So I would imagine the hospital environment’s a very different thing.

Sara Falk: Yeah. And people in general too, have different food allergies, intolerances, or foods they don’t like, like they’re vegetarian, so they’re not eating meat. There’s a bunch of different things to consider of course when you’re talking about someone’s nutrition and diet and whatnot. But I think that’s the biggest takeaway, is that everyone’s unique, their diet’s unique. And there’s no good and bad foods. I think that’s a really big misconception. I can’t have that piece of cake, it’s a bad food.

Tracy Davis: Right. It’s all about relationship.

Sara Falk: Well, it’s your birthday. Eat the cake, it’s your birthday.

Tracy Davis: It’s your relationship with food.

Sara Falk: Right, right.

Tracy Davis: Because I pay attention a bit to the fitness industry and the food and what’s good food, bad food, keto, or intermittent fasting, and pros and cons and all these things. The thing that seems to stick out the most to me is just find something you can do, find something you can do consistently, then keep it simple. And if it’s working for you, then keep doing it. It seems like a lot of people get very caught up in certain diets and things like that, and they’ve got to cut this entire food group out, this entire macro nutrient out, or whatever. And that works for some people. But I know for me, I have to have balance. I want ice cream every day, and I do.

Sara Falk: Right.

Tracy Davis: At night.

Sara Falk: And there’s no one to say that you can’t have ice cream every day.

Tracy Davis: There better not be.

Michelle Orallo: I don’t want ice cream.

Tracy Davis: You’re not allowed.

Sara Falk: You can absolutely have ice cream every day if you want to.

Tracy Davis: But I balance it in other ways through, I’m not eating candy bars throughout the day, stuff like that.

Sara Falk: Right, right. So if you know that you’re really looking forward to that bowl of ice cream, watching your favorite show at night, then maybe hold off on something else during the day, because oh, wait, no. I’m going to have my bowl of ice cream tonight.

Tracy Davis: The brownie your coworker put at your desk.

Sara Falk: But if you also want that brownie and you want that bowl of ice cream that night-

Michelle Orallo: Just do it.

Sara Falk: That’s totally fine too.

Tracy Davis: Yeah.

Sara Falk: That’s totally fine too.

Tracy Davis: Just balance it out in other ways. Maybe tomorrow, don’t have anything, or whatever, just find your balance.

Sara Falk: Right. I don’t recommend cutting out any food groups. The fad diets, keto, those have shown to not work. Diets don’t work.

Tracy Davis: Because people don’t stick with them.

Sara Falk: Well, because it’s unrealistic because you’re setting all of these parameters, I can’t have sweets, I can’t have fried food, or whatnot. And because you’re putting so much restriction on yourself, you end up binging on those things later because you just keep telling yourself, “No, I can’t have my bowl of ice cream. I can’t have my bowl … ” It becomes obsessive. I can’t have the bowl of ice cream. I can’t have the bowl of ice cream.

Tracy Davis: I think, and generally, that’s true for most people. There are the weird people that are very, like Michelle’s brother, he’s very good at becoming very strict on whatever kind of thing, he’s very fit and that kind of stuff. So there are those kinds of people out there. But I feel like if you’re that kind of person, you know you’re that kind of person, so if I want to go all in on keto, then you’re going to do it and you’re probably going to do it for five years, and you’re going to be fine. But I think for most of us, no. I can’t do it.

Sara Falk: It’s whatever works for the person too. Like I said before, whatever works for your brother, for example, works for him, but yeah, diets have shown, the research says that they just don’t work because you obsess over the bowl of ice cream. And the next thing you know-

Tracy Davis: I know I do.

Sara Falk: You’re eating an entire-

Tracy Davis: Gallon.

Sara Falk: Ben and Jerry’s pint or a gallon.

Tracy Davis: Right, right, right. So let’s get into the Brooks side of things. So you came over to Brooks because you wanted to get into helping employees because we have an entire healthcare system full of people that are working their hours and on their feet, or doing whatever they’re doing, working at computers and stuff like that. So what’s been some things that have stuck out to you since you started actually, instead of working with patients and their diets, helping our employees? What’s that transition kind of like whenever you first started?

Sara Falk: Yeah. So it was a big jump going from the hospital to a more administrative type job. And like I said, I’ve been so familiar with the clinical field since I was young because, like I said, both of my parents are nurses. And I worked in the hospital for a year. So I understand too what it’s like kind of from both sides to work a regular 8:00 to 5:00 job at a desk, but also what it’s like to work on the clinical side. But really, and the coolest part about corporate wellness is that you’re meeting people at their everyday lives. I think that’s one of the biggest differences that I’ve noticed, that you’re meeting people at work. And we spend a majority of our week here. And that’s why I really like promoting health at the work site because-

Tracy Davis: We spend more time together than we do our families in some ways, yeah, if you think about it.

Sara Falk: Right, right.

Tracy Davis: Yeah, that’s interesting.

Sara Falk: I read something that we eat 60% of our diet is consumed at work.

Tracy Davis: That’s scary.

Sara Falk: 60%, that’s over half.

Tracy Davis: Yeah, that’s scary because I definitely eat better at home than I do, I think at work most of the time. So I hadn’t thought about it that way. So like what you said, working with patients in a hospital, this is not their every day. This is their bad days because they’re in a hospital. But now you’re here working with employees. This is our every day, we come to work.

Sara Falk: Right, right. And the hospital, the main goal is for the patient to get nutrition, to get adequate nutrients. But in the work site, the main goal is for me to help you with your goals because that’s another thing about nutrition and health, is I’m not coming up with your goals. You’re coming up with your goals, and you’re coming up with what you want to do. And what I try to do for the wellness program and whenever I’m with anybody, I’m also getting my health coach certification, which I’m really excited about.

Tracy Davis: That’s cool.

Michelle Orallo: That’s fun.

Sara Falk: Yes, yes. It’ll be two years in the making, but it’ll be well worth it. But when I talk to people, I’m not telling anyone what to do. Every time I talk to someone, it’s what you want to do, the goals for your life. And I love meeting people where they are, and if someone has budget restrictions, or if they have different kind of, like we were talking about earlier, dietary restrictions or something that we need to work around with. I love talking to people about their cultural traditions or what they grew up with. For example, my family on my dad side’s part Italian. And my uncle will make my great grandmother’s homemade ravioli. And it’s such a special thing, I only get to eat it once a year.

Michelle Orallo: All the carbs.

Sara Falk: Yes. But I would never, ever in my life say, “Well, you can’t eat Great Grandma’s ravioli.” But have that, have that food.

Tracy Davis: So helping people, they kind of have the answer within them, they just haven’t … Your goal is to ask questions and get them to kind of reveal it to themselves.

Sara Falk: Right, exactly, and come up with the goals that they want for themselves. I would never set a goal for someone else, a health goal. They would have to come up with that themselves. And that’s the beauty of it because it’s personal. It’s their health. They should make their own goals.

Michelle Orallo: So you said you’re getting certified to be a coach. What’s that all about?

Sara Falk: Yeah. So right now, I’m doing my health coach certification through Well Coaches. In two years, I’ll be an international board certified health and wellness coach. But really, the idea with that is kind of what we were talking about before, is gaining more skills to have people come up with the goal, the health goals that they want to come up with. And health coaching is really interesting because I’m not even really saying a lot in the conversation. It’s all about the participant. It’s all about you. What do you want to do? What do you want to talk about? One of the coolest things I’ve learned so far in the health coach certification process is one of the questions that we ask is: What do you want to talk about? And it can be literally anything, anything. You could talk about anything.

And then it’s so cool. It somehow goes back to just from that one question, it goes back to your health coach and your goals. Through a series of questions, it comes out. And I’ve actually been health coached myself, and I’ve actually said things myself that have surprised me, and you don’t even realize it.

Tracy Davis: Right, because the health coach pulled it out of you.

Sara Falk: Right. Right. But the health coach isn’t-

Tracy Davis: It’s kind of like a therapist.

Sara Falk: Right, right. It isn’t … I mean, kind of similar concept. The health coach isn’t, they’re not putting any of their own ideas into the conversation. They’re not putting in any of their own judgments or thoughts. It’s all about you. That’s the coolest part of it.

Tracy Davis: Goes back to use an extreme example of an alcoholic. You can’t make them not become an alcoholic, they have to want it. They have to take the steps themselves and that kind of thing.

Sara Falk: And the health coach helps people give them the strength and the encouragement that they need. That’s what they’re there for. It’s just a way to talk to people and really help them with their health goals.

Tracy Davis: So what is the Brooks Wellness Program? If you had to describe in just a few sentences what it is, how would you do that?

Sara Falk: So the Brooks Wellness Program, my idea behind it is to make health fun and easy and enjoyable, and something that people really want to do and really get excited about because obviously, I’m very passionate about it, and I want others to be too. And I don’t want health or wellness to be this big insurmountable, heavy, shameful, guilt ridden thing. I want it to be something easy, something that you can incorporate into your everyday lives. And I’m a huge proponent too of body positivity and meeting people where they are and their fitness level right now, and their diet right now, and working from and building from that. That’s definitely what I try to bring to the wellness program, is accepting of all people, and that anyone can incorporate healthy habits into their lives.

Tracy Davis: Sure. I actually just thought of this because I hadn’t thought of it in so long. I don’t know if you knew this either, Michelle. But I used to weigh 215 in 2006. Brooks started a Focus on Fitness Program, where we were hiring the physical therapists for whenever we built the Brooks Health and Fitness Center, which is now the Brooks Family YMCA, when we owned and built that building, the physical therapists were already kind of coming in. So they were like, “Well, we’ve already hired them. Maybe let’s use them for something.” This is how I think that this whole process started.

So I was over at the healthcare plaza in outpatient. And I joined. I said, “I want to do it.” And I weighted 215, and then I started working with her. I only had her for a couple sessions, but she kind of kick started me, started doing cardio. That was exactly the exact time I stopped drinking soda, so that was 2006, 2007, so that’s however many years now, 12 years. And I stopped eating McDonald’s all the time like I was. The weight, I got down to 185 or something like that. So I owe a lot to Brooks Wellness Programs. And it feels like forever ago now. And I’ve stayed … It’s gone up and down over the years, but I’ve stayed pretty healthy ever since. I’ve been working out pretty much every week ever since then.

Sara Falk: Yeah. I love that. Congratulations. And also too, I love to celebrate all successes, everything. Even if someone thinks it’s too little to be celebrated, no, celebrate it.

Tracy Davis: Every journey, I love health and fitness stuff, and just seeing people taking those steps. And every journey of 1000 miles starts with one step. Right? So we’ll see people in the gym that’s maybe, you can tell that they don’t come to the gym a whole lot. They don’t look like they know what they’re doing very much or whatever. There’s always that weird gym social barrier thing, where you don’t want to go up to people. I always definitely want to do it when I see people doing exercises wrong and they’re about to kill themselves.

Sara Falk: Don’t be that person.

Tracy Davis: I’ve only done it whenever I see someone doing a dead lift or something, and they’re about to blow a disk. That’s the only time I would do it. But if I would’ve been there when you blew your disk, I would’ve said, “Michelle, stop.”

Sara Falk: I was going to say, Michelle hurt her back.

Tracy Davis: Please stop.

Michelle Orallo: I know where it was broken.

Tracy Davis: But at the gym, so but I always just want to say to some people, “I’m so glad you’re here. I’m glad you’re doing this. Don’t stop. Keep going. You might feel like you don’t know what you’re doing or whatever, but just don’t give up on yourself. It’s worth it.”

Sara Falk: And I think we need more people like that in the health and fitness industry.

Tracy Davis: Less fit tease and more encouragement.

Sara Falk: Right, more encouragement, and no judgment, no expectations or anything, just encouraging people wherever they are. I think that’s so important. That’s so important because it can be nerveracking going into the gym not knowing-

Michelle Orallo: Very intimidating.

Sara Falk: Very intimidating.

Tracy Davis: Especially daily.

Michelle Orallo: Yes.

Sara Falk: Yeah, yeah. And wouldn’t it be nice if someone, a personal trainer, or someone just came up to you and say, “Hey, I think you’re doing a great job. Way to go. Great job being here. Can I just show you one thing real quick that you’re doing wrong, just one thing? But you’re doing great.”

Tracy Davis: It’d be great if that was accepted, but that would be bombshell time in the gym because you never know whenever someone’s going to get really offended because I’ve seen other people do that in the gym before, not necessarily, it was more like, “Hey, you’re doing that wrong. Let me show you how to do it,” it wasn’t very encouraging or anything like that. But it would be nice if it was a social norm in today’s culture to be able to go up to someone and encourage them on whatever.

Sara Falk: Right, right. And I can see how some people can get offended.

Michelle Orallo: I go to the gym and I feel sometimes intimidated. People come up to me and tell me I’m doing something wrong even though I know I’m not.

Sara Falk: Still again, it goes back to it’s just so personal.

Tracy Davis: Absolutely.

Sara Falk: And I can understand why people would kind of get offended and a little standoffish because you’re like, “I’m just trying to lift this weight.”

Tracy Davis: That’s what I worry about.

Sara Falk: And then someone’s coming up to me and telling me I’m doing it wrong or something.

Tracy Davis: I don’t want to offend someone by doing that, yeah.

Sara Falk: But because it’s just so personal and so … You’re putting so much effort into it, I think there’s a little bit of pride too. But no, I mean, and also I think too sometimes that there are people out there in the health and fitness industry who are shameful or put people down, or judge others. And I think we need more people too at the same time to say, “Hey, we’re all just trying to do the best that we can, and we’re all just trying to get better.” And I think in the fitness industry too, there’s a lot of focus on what you look like. And when I’m talking to people, a lot of times it’s easy to track your progress through numbers. Like for you, example, Tracy, you lost a lot of weight. But also, why don’t you think about too, how does it make you feel? How did it make you feel?

Tracy Davis: Absolutely.

Sara Falk: Do you feel happier? Do you feel energized? The focus shouldn’t just be on the number. I mean, a number is the way to track progress. I’ll give people that. But also, when I play sports, I’m so happy. I love playing sports. I love, I actually play on a rec volleyball team in Jacks Beach because I just love it. I just love … It makes me so happy when I play.

Michelle Orallo: I didn’t know that. That’s cool.

Sara Falk: Yeah, I love sports. I love softball too. Whether I’m good at them or not is debatable.

Tracy Davis: Doesn’t matter. You’re having fun.

Sara Falk: I still have a blast.

Tracy Davis: But what you’re saying though is like, and we could get off on a tangent of Instagram and everyone, you don’t have to be a super fit model looking person in order for people to accept you as a person. You don’t have to look those certain ways. Those people just chose to pursue that. And you might be way further down the line on another area of your life, and they’re very far behind. It’s just that our bodies and how we look is the number one, we see each other. So it’s like it’s always the thing everyone focuses on, but it’s like I hope that shifts at some point, that the pendulum goes the other way with all the supplement pushing and stuff like that on … That’s why I joked earlier about fit tease and stuff like that. It’s like every fit person, if you got some absolutely, all of a sudden, companies want you to sell their products. And you don’t need any of that. You just need that passion and drive to be happier and change.

Sara Falk: Right. I would definitely be aware of what you’re reading on social media, on the news, and especially-

Tracy Davis: It’s biased, yeah.

Sara Falk: At this time of the year when we’re being just bombarded with all of these weight loss ads and advertisements and radio announcements. It’s just coming from all sides.

Tracy Davis: For your New Year’s resolutions.

Sara Falk: For your New Year’s resolutions, yeah. And just be careful of it because the diet industry can just be very harmful.

Tracy Davis: Oh, absolutely.

Sara Falk: And fad diets have shown to actually not work. With keto for example, I went to a dietician conference last year, and studies have shown that you drop a lot of weight quickly. That’s why it’s a fad diet, because they’re successful very quickly.

Tracy Davis: It’s the water leaves you.

Sara Falk: Right.

Tracy Davis: Carbs hold water.

Sara Falk: And then you do lose a lot of water weight, which can actually … You think you actually lost a lot of weight. But with the keto diet, it is shown to not be successful. And then you actually gain back all of the weight and even more.

Tracy Davis: So Michelle’s brother, look out, start eating this-

Michelle Orallo: Seriously.

Tracy Davis: When he starts eating those carbs, he’s going to be getting fat. I’m just kidding.

Michelle Orallo: He’s one of those people that excels in everything. Oh, I’m going to try keto, and then a week later, and he’s like, “All right. I’m going to stop.” And then he’s fine. And I’m like, “What the heck?” He runs a marathon. I’m like, “How are you alive?”

Tracy Davis: Yeah. Those are the freaks, the freak people.

Michelle Orallo: He is a freak.

Tracy Davis: Yeah.

Sara Falk: But I guess the whole point is to just be careful because all these advertisements too can make you feel really bad about yourself.

Tracy Davis: Absolutely. You have to check it. And even some studies and stuff like that, that’s why here, I kind of find certain people that I like to listen to because I know they’re going to give me an unbiased answer.

Sara Falk: Right. Smart.

Tracy Davis: A lot of those studies are backed by different companies.

Sara Falk: Right.

Tracy Davis: So that they have an interest in you believing or not believing certain studies. So yeah, you have to be very careful. But we got off a little bit. Actually, we got off a lot from the Brooks Wellness Program. So what things does Brooks offer now for its employees as far as wellness goes?

Sara Falk: So we have activities and events throughout the year. We also offer four quarterly wellness challenges, which come out through the Brooks email, so check your emails.

Tracy Davis: Yes, every employee, check your emails.

Sara Falk: Yes, please. But we do four quarterly challenges based on different nutrition and physical activity and stress, financial wellness. And we also do the, well, formerly called The Passport Program, but in this new 2020 year, it’s just going to be the Brooks Wellbeing Program. Very similar to what we’ve had in the past, but with the Passport, basically I just want people, like I said, to have fun. Make this enjoyable. Make this something that everybody can do. When I design the activities and the challenges for Brooks employees, I’m designing it for everyone. And with the new wellbeing program, you can earn points for different activities that you do throughout the year.

Tracy Davis: Okay, that’s great.

Sara Falk: So you can be incentivized. So you can earn points for wellness activities that you do at work, but also at home too.

Michelle Orallo: Is this different from Rally? Is that different?

Sara Falk: It is different from Rally. Thank you so much, Michelle.

Michelle Orallo: I do know what Rally is. I got you.

Sara Falk: Thank you. Thank you for asking that. That’s a great question.

Tracy Davis: So what is Rally?

Sara Falk: Rally is just for our employees who are on our medical plan. And it’s another incentive program that Florida Blue gives us to basically go to the doctor.

Tracy Davis: Sure. And I am signed up for my appointment in January.

Sara Falk: The health screening.

Tracy Davis: The health screening.

Sara Falk: Awesome, I love to hear that. The passport, or the new wellbeing program is for all Brooks employees, regardless of your insurance, your location, your hours worked. Rally is just for those with our medical insurance.

Tracy Davis: Benefits, okay. Sure. Yeah. And then I used to play the First Coast YMCA games every year. I haven’t in the past few years. But those are always fun, softball, soccer, basketball. I mean, there’s kind of all of them there.

Sara Falk: Yeah. We’ll be doing that again this year too.

Tracy Davis: It’s in the summertime, yep, so that’s always a good thing. But yeah, I’ve always thought that it’s such a great thing that Brooks has something that focuses on employee wellness. And like you said, you mentioned finances, it’s not just health. Right?

Sara Falk: Right.

Tracy Davis: So it’s other things other than … It’s finances and …

Sara Falk: Everything that I’ve read, financial health can be a huge stress on employees.

Tracy Davis: Sure.

Sara Falk: Even loss in productivity from the financial stress and burden, so that’s something that we added, I believe it was last year we added financial wellness. And we actually offer too, free financial coaching for employees as well.

Tracy Davis: That’s great. Awesome. Yeah. So do you have any tips for people that they can use in the new year, or throughout any time of the year? A lot of people get caught up on the New Year’s resolutions. I don’t personally really do them. I like the idea of starting new. I love that we’re going into 2020 and we have a new decade, so I’ve kind of been thinking more of: How do I want to change myself for this decade and that kind of thing? If we think back 10 years, what did I not like about myself and that kind of thing? But typically, I feel like New Year’s resolutions are something that people, they never stick to, so it’s kind of: What’s the point?

Sara Falk: The gyms are packed.

Tracy Davis: The gyms are packed. I’m not looking forward to that.

Michelle Orallo: The first three months.

Tracy Davis: I’m not looking forward to that.

Michelle Orallo: Just got to wait until that dies own a little bit.

Tracy Davis: Yeah. Maybe you should go the week after the beginning of the year when their seven day passes run out. See who doesn’t stick around. So what kind of tips would you give people?

Sara Falk: Yeah. So I actually love New Year’s resolutions. And I know that we don’t always keep up with them, and I know a lot of us make resolutions and then we don’t stick with them. But I actually love them because, I mean, New Year’s happens to be my favorite holiday.

Tracy Davis: I’ve never heard someone say that.

Sara Falk: I know.

Tracy Davis: I thought Halloween was strange, but that’s even stranger.

Sara Falk: I love Halloween too, don’t get me wrong.

Tracy Davis: There’s no presents on New Year’s.

Michelle Orallo: Why is that your favorite holiday?

Sara Falk: Because I love-

Michelle Orallo: Starting new.

Sara Falk: New beginnings, fresh starts. I love this. I also love dressing up and sparkly dresses and champagne.

Tracy Davis: I guess my whole thing with the New Year’s resolutions is I think people beat themselves up too much if they fail or whatever. It’s like you definitely should try new things and try to set a goal for yourself, and things that you can do. But I think in culture, people, they start something and then they haven’t really done a lot of prep work around it. So I want to start going to the gym, I want to lose weight. I’m just going to get a gym membership and I’m going to go. And then I go, but I’m not going to get a personal trainer to teach me some things for a month, and some things to help you build a foundation to make yourself successful. They just kind of go in blind, knowing they need to make a change.

Sara Falk: Right, right. But that’s what I love about the new year is because it kind of forces us to think about what we can change.

Tracy Davis: Sure.

Sara Falk: So I think the issues isn’t with the resolution itself, it’s just with sticking with the resolution, which brings me to my first tip.

Michelle Orallo: First tip of many.

Sara Falk: Just a couple, is just making one goal at a time, making a smart goal. We’re actually going to, for our employees, we’re going to send out an email about how to make a smart goal. And we’ll have everyone make a smart goal for the beginning of the year, so a resolution. But just make one goal at a time. And just try not to do everything at one time. Try not to change your eating and go to the gym and-

Tracy Davis: I’m bad about that. When I cut out caffeine three weeks ago, I was also like, “I’m going to cut out sugar.” I was like “I’m literally going to die.”

Sara Falk: It’s tough when you go cold turkey.

Michelle Orallo: I was like, “Tracy, are you okay?” We were recording another podcast.

Tracy Davis: The caffeine was bad. That was one of the worst things ever. But I’m very happy I did it now. I feel great. I feel absolutely great.

Sara Falk: That’s so good to hear.

Tracy Davis: But I was also thinking of sugar and other things. But yeah, I definitely agree to pick a goal that you think is an attainable thing and set yourself up to win.

Sara Falk: Right, so smart goal is specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely. So instead of saying, “I want to lose 50 pounds by February,” that’s just not realistic or timely.

Tracy Davis: Or healthy.

Sara Falk: Or healthy. But why not say, “I want to lose five pounds in the next three months”? It’s healthy. It’s specific, realistic. We shouldn’t lose more than two pounds in a week. And I think sometimes even that’s pushing it. The healthy weight loss is between one to two pounds a week. So definitely making one goal at a time. Don’t go cold turkey on anything, or try not to.

Tracy Davis: I don’t recommend that for caffeine if you want to cut caffeine out. Don’t do cold turkey.

Sara Falk: Wean yourself off.

Tracy Davis: I’m either a full on or full off person, so I had to do the cold turkey. But for most people, I was actually just talking to someone recently that asked me about how I’m feeling, and they’ve been thinking about cutting caffeine. And I said, “Don’t do what I did.”

Sara Falk: Yeah. It’s tough.

Tracy Davis: Half it, and then half it for a week, and then maybe go a quarter for another week, and then slowly fade it out.

Sara Falk: Slowly wean off, yeah. It’s tough when it’s that double combo with soda because it’s sugar and caffeine, so you’re kind of weaning off of both.

Tracy Davis: The double addiction substances in one drink. Yeah.

Sara Falk: I kind of actually already mentioned my other two tips already during our conversation. But just to reiterate, my second tip is just to be aware of fad diets, Whole 30’s a fad diet too, keto.

Tracy Davis: Whole 30 is one of the worse ones to me, in my opinion.

Michelle Orallo: I don’t know what Whole 30 is.

Tracy Davis: It’s where you eat only whole foods for … I’m sure people have done it and they’re happy with it. And there are some people that live it, but my goodness. There’s cutting out processed foods and packaged foods, that’s one thing. But going that strict is you’re just bound to rebound off of that.

Sara Falk: Right. It’s very tough. If it’s been successful for you, good for you. That’s great.

Tracy Davis: Have fun with your beans and nuts. Yeah. No thank you.

Sara Falk: It’s so restrictive. There’s a reason why it’s only 30 days because it’s not something that most people can keep up with for long periods of time.

Tracy Davis: Exactly.

Sara Falk: But just be aware, especially now that it’s about to be January, and anytime during the year honestly, just be aware of diet culture, advertisements, Instagram, social media, just be aware of all of this because all of these things are designed to make you feel bad and want to buy their product. Make you feel bad about yourself, basically.

Tracy Davis: It’s all marketing.

Sara Falk: Right. It’s all marketing.

Tracy Davis: Just walk into GNC and look at the products advertised to men. And it’s got the bold letters and the contrasting colors and all that kind of thing. And then look at the women’s ones, and yeah, it’s all about this’ll do this for your body. They focus on things they know women think about and care about.

Sara Falk: Right, and men too. And that’s another … I mean, I don’t want to go on another tangent, but a lot of these things are targeted towards men too.

Tracy Davis: Absolutely, yeah.

Sara Falk: And men can fall just as victim to the diet industry as women.

Tracy Davis: Oh, for sure, probably more, yeah.

Sara Falk: And I try to, like I said, I try to help all people as well, and men too, with those types of things. But you’re bombarded with it constantly, even in the grocery checkout line, magazines.

Tracy Davis: People today, and I know I’m throwing a lot of my own thoughts into this.

Sara Falk: Go for it.

Tracy Davis: Everyone wants the magic pill. They want the magic, flip a switch, I’m skinny now. I’m fit, I’m whatever. I can run 20 miles. No one, I feel like it’s leaving our culture and it’s our generation’s job is going to be re-instilling again of hard work and patience.

Sara Falk: I’m really glad you said that because there is no quick fix. And that’s exactly what the diet industry is trying to sell you on. Lose weight quickly.

Tracy Davis: Caffeine pills, and they don’t call them that, but fat burner pills, or whatever.

Sara Falk: Right, right. And some of these celebrities are pushing the teas that you said and the detox supplements.

Tracy Davis: I even heard recently, I had bought the athletic greens or whatever, and I heard that’s just a complete waste too. They taste like absolute dirt, but I was like, “Ooh, I’m healthy. I’m putting it in my smoothie, and it tastes so good.”

Sara Falk: You fell for it, Tracy.

Tracy Davis: I mean, I’m not good about eating vegetables. So I thought, “Okay. I’ll just add it into my smoothie, and then I’ll still get it in.” But I’ve heard recently that even those are kind of not so helpful.

Sara Falk: Yeah. I haven’t heard of that, but you could try just adding in the spinach or something. I think it’s pineapple and banana will mask the taste of spinach or kale.

Tracy Davis: That’s good to know.

Sara Falk: Yeah. So if you’re making a smoothie-

Tracy Davis: Spinach actually doesn’t have a lot of taste. Kale does. Spinach changes the texture and consistency of it a little bit.

Sara Falk: And the color too. But I believe it’s pineapple, the citrusy orange, pineapple and banana will hide greens. But yeah, you’re totally right. I’m so glad you brought that up. There’s no quick fix. There’s none. So when you’re making your resolutions, definitely make it realistic. And the conference that I went to last year for dieticians, it actually said that there’s science to prove that healthy changes, they take a long time.

Tracy Davis: They do.

Sara Falk: The results take time and effort and work and consistency. I see a personal trainer at the gym that I go to. And he actually said … The reason why I go to him and why I love going to him is because he is realistic. He’s a realistic trainer because some of these trainers are like, “You need to cut out carbs. You need to do this, this, this.”

Tracy Davis: Bro science, yeah.

Sara Falk: The bro row.

Tracy Davis: Chicken, rice, broccoli.

Sara Falk: Right, right. And again, that’s not going to work for everybody.

Tracy Davis: It will work very well for everyone if they stick to it, but it’s like, most people, that’s just too plain.

Sara Falk: It’s not realistic. Birthday parties come up, and holidays, and there’s so many events.

Tracy Davis: I’ve ate so many cookies this holiday season. It’s ridiculous.

Sara Falk: And that’s okay. That’s okay. You can do that. You can eat the cookies.

Michelle Orallo: You’re going to the gym, right, today, Tracy?

Tracy Davis: I’ve been going to the gym every day.

Sara Falk: The point is to just get back on … I know this is a cliché term, but just hop back on that horse. So yeah, enjoy the cookies. Go all out for the holidays if you want to. But the point is to just get back to your regular routine after the holidays end, and get back to your regular diet and eating and that sort of thing.

Tracy Davis: I’ve had friends that have asked me about they want to get healthy, losing weight, or whatever. And I try and help them to kind of reshape their mindset about it. It’s like, “Well, you didn’t get to where you are now by doing it overnight. Right?” So you consistently, over a long period of time, were eating the wrong things for too many calories and that kind of stuff. So that’s why you are. So the same thing is true when you want to get fit and healthy is you consistently, you need to over a long period of time, eat better, lower your calories.

Sara Falk: So the personal trainer that I see, he’s been a personal trainer for 25 years. And the reason why I see him is because we have very similar outlook on health.

Tracy Davis: That’s great.

Sara Falk: Yeah, yeah. And I wanted to work with someone like that, or someone who also sees health as this realistic thing. And he’s actually said, “Definitely, you want to cut back on some of the higher calorie foods and whatnot,” and that sort of thing. But he said he’s worked with people who have seen results from eating what they want to eat, basically. Of course, cutting back on some of the unhealthy foods. But he said the key is consistency and staying with it. And that’s really what it is. Like I was saying with the holidays, if you want to eat a whole bunch of cookies, go for it. But hop back onto that horse, be consistent with your regular routine.

Tracy Davis: I would really encourage anyone to follow Jordan Syatt on Instagram. He, if you know who Gary Vaynerchuk is, used to be his personal trainer. He’s a big marketing executive guy. But he just recently did 30 days where he ate a Whopper every day. And the rest of his day, he was eating a big salad with chicken and stuff like that. But he was just proving, he said, “I’m not trying to prove the point that you need to eat Whoppers to get healthy.” He said, “I’m trying to prove the point that I stayed in a calorie deficit over a 30 day period.” And he got smaller. He lost weight. You could see it in his face.

Sara Falk: Wow.

Tracy Davis: So he was just proving that you can still have the things, like you said, that you want. But you just in moderation, you still have to make smart choices in the long run. You can’t eat what you want when you want all the time.

Sara Falk: Right. And the other key thing that I just thought about was if you do have, let’s say, five cookies or whatever at the holiday party.

Tracy Davis: 10, yep.

Sara Falk: 10. The key is just eat the cookies and move on. It’s so easy to feel guilty after eating a “bad food.” It’s so easy to feel that guilt and the shame. I just had 10 cookies at the Christmas party. And because what happens is that guilt and that shame, it compounds. And then we’re like, “Well, my whole day’s blown, so I’m just going to go eat a Whopper.”

Tracy Davis: Yeah, exactly.

Sara Falk: And I’m going to get a large fry because I’m now eating a Whopper.

Tracy Davis: And then you’re kind of binging.

Sara Falk: And then you’re binging. And then what would’ve just been a couple cookies at a fun holiday party now turns into days, weeks, of just binging on unhealthy food. And it’s really tough to get out of that cycle. And I think we get into that cycle too after we put so much pressure on ourselves for New Year’s and whatnot.

Tracy Davis: I seem to do the best at hitting my fitness goals when I think about it less, whenever I’m just doing what I know I need to be doing, and I’m not overthinking.

Michelle Orallo: Don’t think about it.

Tracy Davis: Yeah.

Sara Falk: Yeah. Because like I said, I love to read, and I’m always reading about health because I just love it. And it’s interesting to me, it’s my passion and whatnot. But it’s so funny, I read something, and it’s just so simple. But you’re not going to gain weight from eating a donut. If you have a donut at breakfast time, you’re not going to gain a pound from that. But if you eat a donut, and then like I said, it just kind of compounds throughout the day, that’s when you gain weight.

Tracy Davis: You’ve ate more calories than your body’s burning, and then boom. That’s how it happens. It’s like there’s smarter choices than the donut in the morning if you’re trying to … If you need the 400 calories that the donut is, yeah, so it’s a whole thing.

Sara Falk: Right. And it is really tough with weight loss and whatnot. As someone who has gone through that, it is very tough. It is very tough to lose weight. I understand personally just how tough it is to lose weight. And I understand all the effort that it takes. It takes a lot of effort.

Tracy Davis: But if you’re driven, you can do it.

Sara Falk: Absolutely.

Tracy Davis: Everyone can do it.

Sara Falk: Absolutely. But I understand, I understand why people want a quick fix because it’s a lot of work. I’m not even going to pretend that it’s not.

Tracy Davis: It’d be a lot simpler if you could just snap your fingers [inaudible].

Sara Falk: Right. Right.

Tracy Davis: I like the saying too that, it’s not a saying, but don’t rely on motivation because motivation is an emotion and it’s going to come and go. You have to be driven and passionate about your goal. And that’s when you’ll attain it.

Sara Falk: Another great tip is just to find someone, find an accountability partner. And find other people to help you, support you, reach your goals. Someone that you can trust I think is a huge thing. But find someone that you can trust, that you can talk to about your health goals, your successes and setbacks, and when you’re feeling down, or you’re not seeing progress, to go to that person. Or if you’re just not feeling like going to the gym, or not feeling like you want to meal prep for the week, that one person that you can talk to that’s like, “No, you’ve got to meal prep. Get that food ready for the week.”

Tracy Davis: Worth it, yeah. We’re running out of time. So what’s some other rest of the tips you have?

Sara Falk: My last tip was regarding actually the gym and physical fitness. Again, I alluded to this earlier in our podcast, but you don’t necessarily have to go to the gym to lose weight. I think that’s why a lot of people sign up for the gym during this time of the year in January and New Year’s, because they want to lose weight. You don’t necessarily have to go to the gym.

Tracy Davis: You don’t. It just makes it a lot easier.

Michelle Orallo: Really does.

Sara Falk: If you don’t like the gym, don’t go to the gym. Seriously.

Tracy Davis: There’s stuff you can do at home.

Sara Falk: There’s stuff you can do. There’s so much. I do a bunch of different things because I like going to the gym, I just, like I said earlier, I don’t like doing the same thing every day. So I have to mix it up, so I actually go to the gym twice a week.

Tracy Davis: Having a trainer’s good for that too. They mix it up.

Sara Falk: Yeah. And a trainer that you trust, and someone that you feel comfortable with, and that takes time to find too. I don’t see him one on one, so I see him in more of a group setting, but someone that you trust and that you can talk to, and someone that’ll help you and encourage you and motivate you is absolutely essential.

Tracy Davis: For sure.

Sara Falk: But the other days of the week, I don’t go to the gym, so I go probably twice a week. And the other days, I’m doing yoga. I love yoga.

Tracy Davis: Something to stay active.

Sara Falk: Sports, yeah, just something to stay active. I really want to try a boxing gym.

Tracy Davis: Those are good.

Sara Falk: I’ve boxed before.

Tracy Davis: That’s a great workout.

Sara Falk: That is a great stress reliever. I highly recommend.

Tracy Davis: I took a boxing class once. It’s very hard.

Sara Falk: It is. It is very hard.

Tracy Davis: It’s a lot of abs and stuff too.

Sara Falk: Yes, yes.

Michelle Orallo: I did that at UNF one time, and I was like, “This is really rough.”

Sara Falk: But it’s so much fun. I love it. It is a great stress relief just to get all of that stress out by punching a bag. It’s awesome.

Tracy Davis: That’s a good point. You can’t out train a bad diet. So if you don’t have to go to the gym to lose weight, like you said, you can just clean up your diet and you’re going to lose weight.

Sara Falk: Yeah. And I’ve read that too, nutrition is a huge part of it. I mean, I’m not going to lie, losing weight, getting healthy, it is a huge part.

Tracy Davis: It’s like 80% of … Yeah.

Sara Falk: Right. I read something interesting a while back that was 100% of your energy comes from the food that you eat. But when you think about calories burned, we’re burning calories now just sitting here because our body, bodily processes, and our organs are working to digest our food and whatnot. And then we’re also burning energy through the gym and whatnot. 100% of what you eat is … Or 100% of the calories in is what you eat, but not necessarily 100% of the calories out are from the gym, or from exercise. So nutrition, when you’re losing weight is very important.

Tracy Davis: Absolutely.

Sara Falk: It is very important. And just being healthy in general too, I found for me personally that food very much … Or I guess my physical, physicality, very much affects my mood. So I know when I eat something unhealthy, it’ll affect my mood, or I’ll get that sugar crash. I can actually feel it.

Tracy Davis: Exercise helps with the hormones released in your brain and all that.

Sara Falk: Yeah. And I’ve read too, that when we’re stressed, there’s a lot of hormones going on. And there’s a lot going on in your body, that fight or flight response. And a way, and which kind of raises your blood sugar too, so a way to combat that is being active. So a way to break down those kind of extra sugars is from being active. But like I said, just do what you love to do for physical activity, whatever’s fun, whatever you enjoy.

Tracy Davis: Yeah. Was that your last tip?

Sara Falk: That was my last tip.

Tracy Davis: Okay. Well, great. Thank you so much for coming and taking the time to tell us more.

Sara Falk: Thank you.

Tracy Davis: We got off on a lot of tangents.

Sara Falk: Yeah, we did.

Tracy Davis: But I was good… We talked about the Brooks Wellness Program. I love health and fitness, so I always have, so I’m really glad that we … I hope more people take advantage of the things that Brooks offers, that you offer through the wellness program.

Sara Falk: Thank you. Yeah. And I’m always available if anyone has any questions. They can always reach out to me.

Tracy Davis: Yeah. How can they do that, just email you?

Sara Falk: Email, phone call, if you’re here at Brooks. But also, for Brooks employees, we have a Brooks Wellness Facebook group. So I definitely recommend signing up for the Facebook group if you’re on Facebook. Like I said, it’s a judgment free zone. Anyone can share anything that they want to. And the main goal of the Facebook group is just to encourage and motivate each other and be that support for someone who may not have other support.

Tracy Davis: Right. So they can email you at Sara.falk@brooksrehab.org. S-A-R-A.

Sara Falk: S-A-R-A-F-A-L-K at Sara.falk@brooksrehab.org. Or if it’s easier to remember, brooks.wellness@brooksrehab.org.

Tracy Davis: Perfect.

Sara Falk: I check that email as well.

Tracy Davis: Perfect. Thank you so much.

Sara Falk: Thank you, guys.

Michelle Orallo: Thanks.

 

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