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Your Choice for a healthy life

By Alecia Brooks
North Liberty Leader
CORALVILLE– ABC Network has ratings watchers talking because the broadcaster has continuously captured the eyes of millions on Monday nights for 16 consecutive weeks, a success that the network hasn’t had since 1997.
Show topics focus on issues that viewers can identify with and express sympathy toward: love, crime, hospitals and weight loss – specifically Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition. It’s the second of two shows that helped attract over 10 million viewers on June 27, according to Nielsen Ratings.
Perhaps the allure of Extreme Makeover is the encompassing environment of counselors, trainers and others that help produce lighter bodies, but one coach wants locals to explore what she calls the “back-end approach” to good health.
Wellness coach Megan Yilek opened Your Choice Wellness to help locals achieve physical and mental makeovers that may or may not be extreme on the surface, but are designed to help them maintain healthy lifestyles.
Yilek was a nursing student at the University of Iowa when she decided she wanted to help people before they entered hospitals or became extremely unhealthy. She received a health science degree and launched the rising Coralville business in April.
“It’s so much easier to eat right and exercise versus saying ‘OK, I think I’ll take a blood pressure medication,’” Yilek said.
Another key to prevention is education.
“If you don’t learn how to incorporate physical activity and a healthy eating regimen into your diet, you’ll never be where you want to be,” she said.
Many people lack this knowledge, so they engage in fluctuating or “yo-yo” dieting. Research has found this practice destructive because dieters continuously gain more weight than they lose.
Because of these factors, the business provides health and fitness, or wellness coaching, to clients who want to achieve specific goals. Wellness coaching should not be confused with boot camp-style training which is often strenuous and punitive.
Instead, a wellness coach can be compared to a basketball coach.
“You give them [players] the tools they need, you watch them play, and then you correct them,” Yilek said.
Massage Therapist Melissa Eftle was the first of two employees at Bakeris Family Chiropractic – where Your Choice Wellness is located – to consult with Yilek. Eftle used wellness coaching to prepare for a half marathon.
“She was hands-on and educational,” Eftle said. “She gave me daily reminders about calorie intake, and she would ask ‘Are you getting enough water and sleep?’”
Eftle completed her marathon on June 4.
Yilek’s primary goal is providing information that will help prevent avoidable diseases like diabetes, hypertension and heart disease, so a health screening, completed in just 30 minutes, is usually administered before clients begin their first session. Screenings are available without purchasing sessions.
Weight, height, blood pressure and body mass index are recorded, and the screening is completed with a finger prick. The prick yields several drops of blood that are used to check cholesterol, blood sugar and other levels. This important step allows Yilek to communicate a client’s risk of developing preventable diseases. Screenings are not intended to treat, diagnose or cure, and patrons with especially abnormal numbers are referred to a doctor.
Celine Rubin is the second of two employees at Bakeris Family Chiropractic to use Yilek’s services. She completed the screening to simply become aware of her health status.
“I was glad that I received the screening because I found out I had high cholesterol, which runs in my family,” Rubin said.
The final component of Yilek’s business is corporate wellness, something that yields a rather large profit.
“The results span over time, but research has shown that once employees make healthy lifestyle changes, they typically visit doctors less,” she said. “And employers are allowed to lower insurance premiums.”
Contrarily, small businesses that didn’t provide insurance used coaching as a substitute. The entrepreneur said she prefers companies that have fewer than fifty employees because coaching is more personalized.
In addition to coaching, screenings and corporate wellness is The Healthy Habit Challenge, an interactive eight-week program that will begin July 18. Yilek will educate participants on a range of health topics that include stress relief and correctly reading food labels. Individuals will receive homework, while groups will complete presentations.
Regardless of the endeavor, Yilek hopes to accomplish one goal: wellness education.
“There’s a lot of mixed messages out there – take this diet pill or drink this shake,” she said. “I can answer all those questions and give recommendations on what will work for you because someone on TV cannot give you an individualized plan.”