Wellness Wednesday: All About Cross Training

jenn_foggianoJenn Foggiano coordinates and leads the group exercise and health promotion programs for Rex Wellness Center of Garner. Jenn graduated from Penn State University with a degree in Kinesiology. She earned a master’s from Slippery Rock University and is certified through the American College of Sports Medicine.

Spring has kicked off with gorgeous weather!  As long as you can make it through without allergies, you have probably gotten a good start on all those outdoor activities like gardening, home projects, landscaping, and even exercising outside.  Although exercising outdoors is a great way to enjoy walking, running, biking and hiking, don’t drop your wellness center/gym membership yet!  When we move all of our exercise outdoors, we may likely fall victim to mundane and repetitive workout habits. Cross training should be incorporated into your year-round routine.

What is cross training? It’s a training routine that involves several different forms of exercise. It limits the stress that occurs on a specific muscle group because different activities use muscles in slightly different ways.

Here are some reasons to bring your workout inside a few times per week:

  • Injury prevention Using one set of muscles repeatedly can increase your risk for repetitive injury. It is important to give them a break.  By mixing up your routine, you will give your overused body parts a chance to rest and the under used a chance to strengthen. Try lap swimming or a Yoga class in place of your normal cardiovascular exercise.
  • 051115_crosstrainingBetter overall fitness You faithfully run several times per week and occasionally add in a fun run on the weekends and feel pretty fit, right?  But, a friend asks you to go paddle boarding and suddenly you can’t keep up and find yourself with muscle soreness for several days later.  By incorporating several different modalities in your fitness routine you can increase your performance and overall fitness.  Try adding a day of core work, some strength training and some different forms of cardio to mix it up!
  • Reduces exercise boredom  Doing one thing day after day, whether in your daily life, or in this case, your exercise regimen is sure to get old over time.  By incorporating a variety of activities you’ll keep it interesting, keep your body guessing, and will be more likely to adhere to a healthy lifestyle.  As the old saying goes, “variety is the spice of life” even when it comes to exercise!  So why not commit to trying a new group exercise class?
  • Strength training Some of the benefits of strength training include disease prevention, increased stamina for activities of daily living, and an increased resting metabolism just to name a few. So needless to say it is very important to incorporate into your routine.  Maybe you have some strength training equipment at home?  Maybe a few dumbbells, or bands, but most of us do not have the wide array of equipment provided in a facility.  And let’s be honest – most of us with equipment at home do not use it at home.  It more often than not becomes a dust collector.The American College of Sports Medicine recommends strength training at least two days per week.  So, bring your workout inside and lift!  Not sure how to get started? One of our nationally certified personal trainers would be happy to help you!

Rather than canceling your gym membership for the next 4-5 months because the weather is beautiful, keep it!  You will truly find value in your membership by cross training with equipment and classes you won’t have access to outside.  And remember, there will always be rainy days.  With a gym membership there are never excuses!

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Rex NICU Stories: Dad to Dad

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Rex NICU Stories: Mom to Mom

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Nurses Appreciation Week: The Heart of Nursing

Robin DealRobin Deal, BSN, RN, CCE is the Perinatal Services Manager for Lactation Services at Rex and has over 36 years of nursing experience in women’s health.

For the last eight years, I have served as an online mentor where middle or high school students can submit questions about nursing careers.  Most often they want to know about courses to take, degrees required, hours, salary, and many other aspects of the job itself.  My goal is to answer their questions but also provide encouragement to pursue their dreams whatever they are.  So I found it reflective this “Nurses Week” to receive a question that I think gets to the heart of nursing “What is it like to care for people?”

What a great question!  This question was one no student had asked before so it got me to thinking about what one quality nurses possess that identifies the “heart of nursing.”  While there are many wonderful characteristics that help define nursing, I think the one quality that reaches far above any other is caring.

042714_Robin_baby3There have been some wonderful nurse mentors in my career that have demonstrated this quality beyond measure.  My own mother, now retired, has demonstrated that attribute.  Today at 84-years-old, people frequently come up to her and thank her for the many years she “cared for them” or their family as patients of the family doctor where she worked for over 36 years.  They use the word “care” or some form of it to define what she meant to them. Even in retirement she worked in the local Medical Ministries organization to assist physicians in providing free medical care to indigent patients in the community.  She truly has a “caring heart.”

So what is it like to care for people?  Webster defines caring as “to be interested in or concerned.”  But is there more to this word than just Webster’s definition?  Absolutely!

Dr. Kristen Swanson has described caring in five basic processes:

  • Maintaining Belief is sustaining faith in a person’s ability to get through an event or life transition.  Nurses recognize there is personal meaning for each individual as they face daily challenges.
  • Knowing is the second caring process and is a true understanding of the effect the event has in their patient’s life.  It helps the nurse to identify the needs of their patient.
  • Being with is a process that includes both the physical and emotional presence that allows the nurse to share meaning and be attentive.
  • The fourth process, and I believe the key to caring, involves doing for others as they would do for themselves if it were possible.  This includes safety and actions in the best interest of the patient and anticipating their needs.
  • Finally, enabling is helping the patient and their family through events and life transitions.  It is the nurse who connects all of these processes together in providing quality care for patients and their families.

What is it like to care for people?  Every nurse I know will tell you that it is wonderful!  We gain so much from our patients and their families and each time we become a better nurse and even more caring.



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National Hospital Week: Why I Love Rex

Robin DealRobin Deal, BSN, RN, CCE is the Perinatal Services Manager for Lactation Services at Rex and has over 36 years of nursing experience in women’s health.

As I think back over my thirty six years in nursing, twenty-eight have been at Rex and I can’t imagine working anywhere else.  Rex is like family and I love it!  From the co-workers who care for patients and the facility, to those who assist staff, volunteer and especially those who lead Rex, the atmosphere  is always supportive and caring, much like a family.

Robin with a brand new Rex patient

Robin with a brand new Rex patient

Quite often I talk about my “Rex Family” and how we daily encourage and support each other and our patients.  Working in Women’s and Children’s Services,  I continually see nurses, doctors, and other hospital co-workers provide excellent care and services to patients and their families.  From the smallest patients in the Special Care Nursery to the most critical in the units, the Emergency Department or in the towers, patients receive the very best from the Rex co-workers.

They go beyond providing for patients and families; they provide for each other!  Whether celebrating a wedding, new baby, college graduation or lifting up someone through difficult times, Rex Co-workers care for each other.  They donate time off to a staff member in need.  They provide needed items for someone who loses everything in a disaster.  They mourn the loss of co-workers and celebrate the new life of children and grandchildren.  They donate their time to organizations such as Safe Kids of Wake County, Open Door Clinic, and Hospice.  They run, bike, swim or walk in marathons to support the work of organizations like the March of Dimes, Angels Among Us, and the Susan Komen Race for the Cure.

042714_Robin_baby3For over 120 years, Rex has been an integral part of the community and has reached out beyond the Wake County borders to be the hospital of choice for many North Carolinians.  And just like most families, Rex has experienced a “marriage” with the UNC Health System, the “birth” of many new programs, services and facilities, and continues to grow in direction and opportunities to provide our community and surrounding areas with compassion and care.

The Rex Family has cared for several of my family members and me over the last 30 years.   It is the best place in the Triangle to work and when needed, to be cared for by wonderful people.   If you have been touched by Rex Co-workers, I hope you will share your story with us on our Facebook page in celebration of Hospital Week.   From all of us at Rex, thank you for making us your family hospital!

Robin and the birth  center management team

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Recipe: Avocado Melon Breakfast Smoothie

042714_GreenSmoothieGo green with this refreshing concoction of green fruits and veggies!

Number of servings: 2

1 large, ripe avocado
1 cup honeydew melon chunks (about 1 slice)
Juice from ½ lime (1½ teaspoons lime juice)
1 cup nonfat milk
1 cup nonfat plain yogurt
½ cup 100 percent apple juice or white grape juice
1 tablespoon honey

1. Cut avocado in half, remove pit.
2. Scoop out flesh, place in blender.
3. Add remaining ingredients; blend well.
4. Serve cold. (Keeps well in refrigerator up to 24 hours. If made ahead, stir gently before pouring into glasses.)

Per serving: 320 calories, 11 g total fat, 1.5 g saturated fat, 5 mg cholesterol, 170 mg sodium, 46 g carbohydrates, 5 g dietary fiber, 37 g total sugar, 4 g added sugars, 13 g protein, 80 percent vitamin C, 40 percent calcium, 4 percent iron. Percent daily values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

Recipe courtesy of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, recipefinder.nal.usda.gov.

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TRX – Fitness Anywhere

LaurenLauren began her wellness journey shortly after having her daughter in 2008. After gaining over 70 pounds with her pregnancy and spending a year working off the baby weight, she decided on a career of helping others reach their fitness goals. Lauren is currently a Wellness Instructor at Rex Wellness Center of Garner. She is an ACSM certified personal trainer and an AFAA certified group fitness instructor.

TRX on the beach

Over the past few years I have been doing quite a bit of business and leisure traveling. With little access to a gym on my trips, I was forced into workouts that usually involved running. As much as I like the versatility of running, it’s not my favorite thing to do. I usually ended my workouts with sore knees, feet, and hips. In addition, my workouts were becoming boring and repetitive. Recently I had the opportunity to purchase a TRX suspension trainer and I have taken it with me on my trips. It has allowed me the freedom to work out on my own terms with the ability to tailor my workout to the intensity that I desire. I can workout for 20 minutes or an hour. I can push myself to the limits or take a leisurely pace and scale it back to a easy to moderate level. I can work out in my hotel room, at a park, or even on the beach. I recently purchased the TRX door anchor which allows me to utilize my suspension trainer just about anywhere that has a framed door.

TRX (Total Resistance eXercise) was born from Randy Hetrick, a former Navy SEAL. It is a full body training system utilizing body weight for a practical, functional, and versatile workout. TRX is literally fitness anywhere. When I travel for business I am able to pack my TRX in my carry-on bag. No more than 1.5 lbs and taking up less space in my bag than an iPad, I was making a promise to myself that I would work out while I was away from home. Without a gym, I was able to ensure that I could have a fun, fast, effective workout by bringing my TRX along with me.

In a nutshell, TRX uses bodyweight exercises to provide anyone at any fitness level a full body strength training and cardiovascular workout. One of the most common questions I get about TRX is “can I really get as good of a workout with TRX as I get with free weights or weight machines?” My answer is simple: yes, you can. TRX provides you with an opportunity to work your body as an interconnected chain of muscles the same way you do in all of your daily activities. Allowing your body to work as a unit allows you greater functionality and provides you with greater performance in just about any activity.

TRX works the core relentlessly: improving flexibility, muscular strength and endurance, and balance. One of my favorite things about TRX is its versatility. I love incorporating different formats to create a new type of workout. TRX allows me to combine movements used in ballet, Pilates, boxing, and yoga generating an even more intense workout. I recently began working on a vinyasa TRX routine that incorporates yoga poses and flows with the TRX suspension trainer. This has challenged my current students and has intrigued those who have not tried it in the past.

If you haven’t had the opportunity to try TRX yet, you don’t know what you’re missing. If you’re new to working out, it provides a great way to initiate yourself into weight training. You control your pace and you decide how hard you’re going to make it. For those extremely conditioned individuals, TRX will take your performance to the next level. If you have any interest in trying TRX, check out our Group Exercise Schedule for upcoming classes at our wellness center locations. There is a small fee for these classes, but members and non-members are both welcome!

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Conquering Sleep Problems


If you’ve been accused of getting up “on the wrong side of the bed,” is it because you didn’t get much sleep on any side on the bed? Some simple changes in your daily habits may be effective in helping you rest easier.

Exercise early. Activity too close to bedtime can wind you up and make it difficult to relax. Try to exercise in the morning or early evening—regular exercise at these times may even help you sleep better.

Watch what you eat and drink. Eating a large meal or drinking caffeinated beverages before bed can keep you up, and alcohol, even if it initially makes you feel sleepy, may make it difficult to stay asleep.

Help your mind stop racing. Have too much to think about when your head hits the pillow? Make time earlier in the evening to write down worries and possible solutions or make a to-do list for the next day.

Stick to a sleep schedule. If possible, try to go to sleep and wake up at the same times each day—even on the weekends. This can help your body set its biological clock for regular sleep.

Make your bedroom comfortable. Many people sleep best in a room that is cool, dark and quiet. A comfy bed is also important. A fan or white noise machine can help block out distracting noises or help lull you to sleep.

Focus on your breathing. Take deep breaths—you may even want to count them. Relax the muscles in your body—slowly working your way up from your toes to your head.

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Comparing the DASH and the Mediterranean Diets

Jennifer OzkurtJennifer Özkurt is a Dietetic Intern at the Rex Wellness Center. She currently attends Meredith College.


According to the CDC, hypertension (high blood pressure) affects 70 million Americans. It’s a condition which can lead to weakening of the arteries, stroke, and heart and kidney disease if is not controlled. High blood pressure is a measured blood pressure reading of 140/90 mm Hg or higher. Shockingly, one out of three American adults has prehypertension, which is blood pressure higher than normal between 120/80 to 140/89 mmHg. Many American do not have this condition under control, increasing their chances of developing hypertension.

The typical American diet of over processed foods and eating on-the-go affects one’s chances of developing hypertension. Research has shown that healthy lifestyle changes such as a low sodium diet high in whole grains, fruits and vegetables, along with moderate physical activity, can lower and prevent the development of these conditions. Here we will compare two of the most proven dietary approaches for preventing hypertension and improving ones dietary health, the DASH and Mediterranean diets.

DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension)

The DASH Diet was developed as a dietary approach to lower blood pressure without the use of medication and has been proven useful for weight loss. It reduces sodium consumption, and promoting an increased intake of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fish, poultry and nuts. These foods provide an abundant source of nutrients such as potassium, calcium, and magnesium, which have lowering effects on blood pressure.

The Dash Diet plan was developed with everyone in mind, and it is a therapeutic meal plan that can be easily adapted for a lifetime of healthy eating. The overall goal of this dietary approach is to encourage lifestyle changes which promote healthy dietary behaviors. You can choose from two plans based on individual need. Version one allows for 2300 milligrams of sodium per day. The second is for 1500 mg of sodium per day and is promoted by the American Heart Association. It’s the recommended diet for adults 51 years of age or older, African Americans, or for those with hypertension, diabetes or chronic kidney disease.

Mediterranean Diet

In the 1970s, it was concluded in the landmark Seven Country Study that a so called “peasant diet” consumed throughout the Mediterranean had a beneficial effect on heart health and other co-morbidities. It was determined that dietary fats, such as saturated fat, contributed to the development of heart disease. The traditional Mediterranean diet was introduced in 1993 by the Harvard School of Public Health and the World Health Organizations as a lifestyle change to be used as a prevention strategy for heart disease, in addition to hypertension, obesity, diabetes and other chronic diseases.

Like the Dash Diet, although its distinction includes the title of diet, the Mediterranean diet is a lifestyle change, which encompasses healthy eating patterns. It encourages eating more whole foods packed with nutrients and less of heavily processed and refined foods. Due to variations among countries throughout the Mediterranean, recommendations include multiple versions from the traditional plan to the new Mediterranean pyramid.

Side-by-Side Comparison

When looking at a side-by-side comparison of the Mediterranean diet compared to the DASH diet plans they vary slightly in whole grains, fruit and vegetable servings per day. However, the Mediterranean diet differs greatly in the amount of fish, lean meat, and sweets consumed. Red and processed meats come with the lowest serving recommendations per week of two or less, or in some cases, these meats are only recommended at one to two servings per month. In addition, two or more servings of fish, the use of olive oil in food preparation at each meal, and a daily serving of nuts are encouraged on a Mediterranean diet plan.

Benefits of Adherence to Either Diet

  • Reduces hypertension as much as seven to 12 points, over time.
  • Improves weight loss outcomes
  • Reduces hypertension by four points with every 10 pounds of weight loss.
  • Reduces primary and secondary cardiovascular risk
  • Reduces the inflammation response in the body
  • Helps lower risk for osteoporosis, cancer, heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

Take Home Message

Both the DASH and Mediterranean Diets promote healthy lifestyles, which includes both physical and nutritional health. If you have hypertension, talk with your doctor or a dietitian to explore your current diet and lifestyle.

Do your homework! There are many books and online resources for you to learn more about these diets and recipes.

Remember, when making a change to your diet, start with one behavior that you would be willing to change. Change should come gradually to allow for the behavioral modification to take place. For instance, you may have considered switching from white bread to whole grain breads. Give yourself a start date and an end point to reassess your ability to make this change. Ask yourself what barriers kept you from meeting your goal or expectation. More importantly, forgive yourself if and when set-backs occur, but analyze why the setback occurred and then continue where you left off.

For more information or if you are having trouble making dietary changes, make an appointment to talk to a registered dietitian. A dietitian can provide counseling and tips to help guide you on diet strategies and maintaining a healthy diet long-term.

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‘Got To Be NC’ Competition Dining Series (Triangle) Champions

Competition Dining Champs

Congratulations to Chef Ryan Conklin and teammates Chefs Steve Pexton and Collin Jennings for winning the ‘Got To Be NC’ Competition Dining Series (Triangle) competition!

They battled their way through four tough rounds against the talented chefs at Top of the Hill, Midtown Grille, Faire and Curt’s Cucina.

Now they move on to the ‘Battle of Champions’ to cook against the winners of the Competition Dining ‘City’ and ‘Triad’ competitions. Stay tuned for more info on the ‘Battle of Champions’ which will take place later this year.

If you weren’t able to attend the battles, be sure to check out these articles from ABC 11 and WRAL Out and About for a full recap of the action.

Want to try their winning recipes at home? Here’s your chance to try their Bourbon Barrel Smoked Salt & Pepper-Horseradish Rubbed Certified Angus Beef® Brand Strip Loin and Uno Alla Volta Hay-Smoked Mozzarella Logan Turnpike Grits.

Bourbon Barrel Smoked Salt & Pepper-Horseradish Rubbed Certified Angus Beef® Brand Strip Loin


  • 1 ea. Certified Angus Beef® Brand Strip Loin
  • 1 c prepared horse radish
  • Bourbon Barrel Smoked Salt & Pepper to taste


  • Trim all fat and silver skin off the strip loin
  • Cut the strip in half-length wise
  • Season with the smoked salt and pepper
  • Sear the meat on all 4 sides, then run the horseradish thinly over the strip loin.
  • Roast in a 325 degree oven until an internal temperature of 125 degree is reached
  • Let the meat rest for 15 min then slice in to 3oz medallions

Uno Alla Volta Hay-Smoked Mozzarella Logan Turnpike Grits


  • 2 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup coarse Logan turnpike grits
  • 2 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 8 oz UAV hay smoked mozzarella shredded
  •  2 tablespoons diced shallots
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic


  • Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a heavy sauce pan, add shallots and garlic. Cook 2 minutes or until fragrant.
  • Add chicken stock, 1 1/2 c milk, salt and bring to a boil.
  • Add grits gradually, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon.
  • Reduce heat and cook at a bare simmer, covered, stirring frequently, until water is absorbed and grits are thickened, about 15 minutes.
  • Stir in 1/2 cup milk and simmer, partially covered for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to keep grits from sticking to bottom of pan.
  • Stir in remaining 1/2 cup milk and simmer, partially covered, stirring occasionally, until liquid is absorbed and grits are thick and tender, about 35 minutes more.
  • Add shredded mozzarella and stir in. (Grits will have a soft, mashed-potato-like consistency.)
  • Stir in pepper and remaining 2 tablespoon butter
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