Traci Natoli Looks and Feels Better in Less Than a Year

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Written by Jorrie Johnson Photography by Mike Hardwick Photography

Wouldn’t it be great if losing weight was as easy as spending money or doing things we enjoy? Unfortunately, it’s not that easy. Getting motivated to lose weight is the first step toward a happier, and healthier you.

Medifast to the Rescue

“I did not like to see myself in photos, and I had very little energy,” explains Traci Natoli. Feeling dissatisfied with how she looked and felt prompted Traci to do something about her weight. “My biggest motivation was my family. I want to be here for my husband, children and grandchild and to be able to have the energy to enjoy life.”

After struggling with her weight for many years and trying a couple of weight-loss programs on her own without success, Traci turned to Medifast. She decided to try Medifast because of the great things she had heard and seen about the program. In October 2015, Traci finally found the courage to visit the Medifast location in northwest Rochester and inquire
the program. 



Improving Health and Wellness: Alternative Healing Modalities Grow in Popularity

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Written by Cindy Mennenga Photography by Dawn Sanborn Photography

There are numerous alternative healing modalities to help heal, reduce stress and anxiety, recharge mind and body and find balance in life. Most people who explore alternative healing have a specific issue they want to address in a natural and holistic manner, while others are seekers, always eager to experience new ways to learn more about themselves and grow.

Being able to pull yourself into a state of mindfulness or meditation brings you to that oh-so-quiet and sacred space to commune with your higher self and allow true healing to happen. Many different options are available in Rochester.

Bodysound Chair 

LuAnn Buechler, transformational trainer and life coach, offers the BodySound chair to her clients to help them achieve a profound state of relaxation and stress reduction. The BodySound chair pipes in layered music with synchronized sounds. There are also vibrations and electromagnetic fields which elicit physical, emotional and
spiritual responses. 



Let's Talk About Sex: Open Communication Builds Trust

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Written by Caitlin Anderson

"Human sexuality, unlike calculus, is something you actually need to know about for the rest of your life," said political satirist and comedian John Oliver on his HBO television show, “Last Week Tonight.”

That’s just one perspective into the current standard of sex education in America. Society has changed a lot over the past several decades. We've seen our culture grow and adapt to technology, and we've evolved into a society that's becoming more accepting of individual differences. Women are more empowered to embrace themselves and their sexuality, and men are quickly following suit. We are living in a new age of acceptance and tolerance. 

Controversy surrounding sex and sexuality has come forefront time and time again. It's a popular subject in politics, religion and activism, leading to disputes about what is right and wrong. Changing the way we view sex and sexuality opens the door for us to learn and become educated, thus having more positive experiences. Leading the way for sex education is Planned Parenthood, a nonprofit that's recently been in the line of fire in the media. They believe that educating everyone about sexuality, instead of looking at it just as an act of sex, helps us to have conversations that we aren't typically comfortable having. 



Healing Waters: Finding Calm Amidst Chaos

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Written by Jennifer Gangloff Photography by Mike Hardwick Photography

Michelle Brandenburger is one of those people who had managed to avoid the hospital most of her life. She got regular checkups and mammograms and admits to having a low pain tolerance. "My sister calls me a wimp," Brandenburger jokes.

So it was an especially harsh blow last October when Brandenburger, now 49, was diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma, the most common type of breast cancer, and hospitals and pain became her new normal. She underwent a bilateral mastectomy and several months of chemotherapy. "The surgery was bad, but the chemo was even worse," she says. "The fatigue, the nausea, the neuropathy—it's been pretty bad."



Silences Women Keep: Urinary Incontinence

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Written by Laurie Simon

Picture this: Happy hour with your closest group of girlfriends. The drinks are delivered, and the mood is cheery. A number of topics occupy the conversation as you catch up on the recent events of each other’s lives, from promotions to parenting, romance, exercise routines, vacations and…urinary incontinence? Hold the margaritas. Who’s talking about bladder problems? Don’t these issues only affect women of a certain age? 

In a word, no. Urinary incontinence (UI) is a common problem that affects women of all ages, from collegiate athletes to new moms to women transitioning into menopause. According to the National Association for Continence, one in four women over age 18 experience episodes of leaking urine involuntarily—altogether, a total of approximately 18 million in the United States. Do the math, and it’s very likely the face of UI is sitting across the table enjoying a half-priced drink and contemplating an order of bruschetta. 

Identifying the Causes of UI 

UI isn’t a disease; it’s a symptom. According to experts at Mayo Clinic, there are several types, and identifying each correctly is important in order to address the potential causes.


Living with a terminal illness can be an isolating experience especially when you have young children. According to the Highmark Caring Foundation, one in every 20 children age 15 or younger will suffer the loss of one or both parents. Children of ailing parents may feel isolated or have trouble expressing their emotions, while parents may fear their legacy will be lost.

Inheritance of Hope is a 501(c)3 nonprofit charity helping young families cope with the loss of a parent. This organization was established by the Milligan family. Kristen Milligan and her husband, Deric, had three young children when Kristen was diagnosed with terminal liver cancer. Kristen’s goal was to leave a legacy for her children while helping other families in the same situation.

Leaving a Legacy

Inheritance of Hope believes in making memories. Betsy Ogren, Legacy Retreat coordinator says, “We host retreats for families with life-threatening illnesses and children under the age of 18. These all-expenses paid retreats are held throughout the year in popular destinations like Orlando and New York City."


With Mother’s Day upon us, mothers—myself included—find ourselves reflecting on the sacrifices we make for our families, and we want to pamper ourselves. Self-care is essential to our well-being, and it’s important for moms to take time to take care of ourselves.

Visiting a spa is a great way to take some well-deserved time for a luxurious massage, refreshing steam bath, relaxing sauna, manicure, pedicure or even a rejuvenating facial. While at the spa, some women may want to have some alterations or corrections, like Botox® or a chemical peel. Where does that fit in to the realm of self-care? What is the difference between a spa and a medi-spa? 


“Well, she’ll never be a sprinter.” My father’s insight when I was 3 years old was spot on. I never did become a sprinter. I think I surprised him, though, when I decided to become a runner at age 32.

Oh, I had dabbled a little bit. The summer after my sophomore year of college, my younger sister and I took up running in the evenings. I don’t think we ever ran more than two miles at a time, and it was always an easy walk-run pace.

Then it slipped from my routine, and I didn’t think to take up any sort of sport for a long time. My lazy ways caught up to me, and exercise was something I just didn’t care about.


Something clicked in 2011. I can’t pinpoint a specific moment, but I was frustrated with how clothes didn’t fit well and how certain chairs were not comfortable. I started looking for something I could do to feel better wearing a button-down shirt. At the same time, my former-running-buddy sister had mentioned something about a program called Couch to 5K. In theory, you could get off the couch with no exercise experience and run a 5K (or 3 miles) in nine weeks. I figured I could try it out, and if anything, I could quit.

I’m not going to say the program was easy, because it wasn’t. It was difficult and hard and more than once I wanted to stop. My knees wigged out and my hip cramped up and my breathing took a long time to normalize. What they said would take nine weeks actually took me about 12.

The first time I ran 3 miles without stopping for a walk or break was beyond exhilarating. I’m not talking about the so-called runner’s high; this was a personal pride high. Running is a mind game you only play with yourself, and the only competition and person to let down is you.

After I reached my goal, it was another long few months until I actually enjoyed a run. Even after five years of doing this, I’ll admit that most of the time I’m on a treadmill or out running through the streets, I am not enjoying myself 100 percent.


The times I am enjoying myself, however, I realize why people do this. It isn’t the sore muscles or the labored breathing, the money spent on shoes and the blisters. It’s the thought of lacing up shoes, opening your front door and taking a break from the world for half an hour. It’s listening to the queued podcast or inspiring music or just the sounds of the world around you.

It’s running along a residential street and wondering what people are doing inside their houses. It’s waving to the neighbors and getting a small wave and nod of acknowledgement from every other runner or walker on the road.

It’s the smell of springtime growth and fresh air after a long winter of making do on a treadmill (or worse—running in sub-zero temps!). It’s plugging away in summertime humidity and catching a whiff of just-cut grass. It’s kicking through piles of orangey-red maple leaves that have migrated to the edges of the road and inhaling the scent of autumn.

It’s the final half mile when you can see your destination in the distance and push yourself a little bit more to get home a little quicker. You power through because maybe this will be a good final running time or you’re tired and want to collapse on the grass or you know there’s a giant bowl of ice cream waiting for you. But really, the only real reason you power through it is because you can.

Kate Wallace lives in St. Charles with her husband and three cats and is training for the Rockin' Robin Run half marathon in May. 


We live in Minnesota, which means cold weather is inevitable. To survive in the frozen tundra we call home, we still need to get out and be active. However, the dryness of winter often leaves us with cracked, bumpy, uncomfortable skin. 

We already put our skin through enough during the summer months with exposure to heat and sun, so why do we wait until our skin becomes dehydrated before we really take action? Your skin is the first line of defense for your body, but if you don't take care of it, it becomes weakened and brittle. Skincare experts Jennifer Sanneman, owner of Essence Skin Clinic. Kory Tuominen, M.D., owner of Ansara Medical Spa, gave us the inside scoop on how to take care of your skin.



Faces of Heart Disease: Four Inspiring Rochester Women "Go Red"

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Written by Laurie Simon Photography By Mike Hardwick Photography

In combination with stroke, heart disease is Still the number-one killer of women in the U.S. Its victims are our mothers, sisters, neighbors and friends. But heart disease is no match for the power of women's voices and the mission of the American Heart Association. When Lori Arndorfer, Susan Ydstie, Elizabeth McGeeney and Diane Mitchell take the stage at Rochester’s annual Go Red For Women® luncheon on February 11, 2016, a community of women will hear four inspiring stories of survivorship and resiliency. 

Lori Arndorfer

Lori’s busy lifestyle was unexpectedly halted last summer when nagging back pain landed her in the ER. Tests revealed that the 47-year-old teacher, wife and mother of teenage boys had two coronary blockages—one at 90 percent and the other at 75 percent. She immediately underwent a stent procedure and since recovery has undertaken a new regime of healthy eating and exercise. “I’ve got a second chance to get it right,” says Lori, “and I won’t take life for granted.” 


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