About iBeamforLife and its contributors
You’re barraged daily by someone else’s definition of “health,” “beauty,” and “perfection” — all the while being promised the quick-fix for a new you. You get it from the media, the weight-loss programs, the fashion catalogs, even your local gym. It’s hard to tune out the noise and focus on you — what you need, what you want, how you want to feel, and how you want to look.
What is the new you? And how can you create and maintain the life you want?
Wherever you are on the health and wellness spectrum — in mind, body, and spirit — iBeamforLife℠ provides a fresh approach to making and maintaining positive life changes, starting with what and how you eat. We will help you understand how to make the right food choices in combination with your exercise regime and redefine your game plan. Our goal is to empower you to discover and achieve your personal best. The iBeamforLife Program℠ — a Boston-area company — provides the tools, techniques, and support to let you hit your mark.
At iBeamforLife℠, we are committed to providing a caring and supportive program that helps you develop real-world strategies for healthy eating, cooking, and fitness. We provide step-by-step guidance to help you make and maintain positive lifestyle changes.
Contributors to the iBeamforLife Blog
Joseph Wheeler — Founder of iBeamforLife℠ and parent company Balance and Beam℠ LLC. I wasn’t a foodie. I didn’t cook. I didn’t know it was possible to prepare and enjoy delicious food that restored your vitality, good health, and overall balance.
I had my first wake-up call while getting my BA in Communications at Rowan University, at a fast food chain where low-quality food (read: loaded with salt, sugar, and fat) was prepared to feed the masses and in no way supported good choices about fueling one’s self. After a stint in graduate school in D.C. where a string of family tragedies left me physically, mentally, and emotionally drained, I became a disciple of Chefs Christina and Robert Pirello.
Under their tutelage, I immersed myself in experimenting with, and exploring, food and its energy potential. With renewed life from completing intensive course work in macrobiotic and vegan cooking at Drexel University, I, like many, didn’t apply this learning to work. I studied to become a Certified Financial Planner instead.
But my desire to help others discover what I had learned about the power of food was inescapable. While studying at Merrimack College, I helped a friend reorganize his kitchen, introduced him to new food and cooking styles, and changed his life given his severe problems with eating dairy. A business was taking shape before my very eyes. After bending a professor’s ear, I was introduced to now business partner, Melanie Beach.
I simply approach everything with a sense of openness and adventure. My personal journey means keeping a practice that is fresh, fun, and interesting—and applying it to everything—including exercise, stress reduction, shopping, cooking, and eating. And of course, business. My adventure continues with Balance and Beam. Taking what I have learned and lived, I now help others to gain new understanding about food and to be successful in achieving their health goals, with a practical, caring and supportive approach to changing how to eat well, for life.
Melanie A. Beach, MS, RD, LDN — VP, Director of Program Development, iBeamforLife. I am keenly aware that many people push good nutrition to the back burner simply because of all the stressors in their lives — being over-scheduled, overworked, and overburdened by being responsible for the care of family members or friends. Focusing on one’s own health and well-being is often forgotten. But how can we be our best when tending to ourselves last? So I, along with my business partner Joseph Wheeler, decided it was time to help people put themselves first. We created a program that empowers you to make changes and eat well for the rest of your life.
I’m a passionate advocate of teaching and understanding how food affects our physical and emotional well-being. My training and counseling focus on improving my clients’ lives. I have worked with young students to help them better study for exams, with teens to improve their performance at sports, and with adults to decrease their blood pressure or cholesterol by helping them to make a few, yet consistent, changes to the what, when, and how they eat.
I oversee both the art and the science of iBeamforLife’s approach to healthful eating. As a Registered Dietician, I am responsible for managing and training the personal Food Coach staff and ensuring the iBeamforLife Program℠ reflects the most current thinking and scientific advances in nutrition.
I have been working in the fields of nutrition, health and wellness in a variety of settings for nearly seven years. I received my Bachelors of Science degree in Nutritional Science from the University of New Hampshire and my Masters of Science degree in Nutrition from Boston University. I am also registered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration, and have been a member of the American Dietetic Association since 1997.
Tracy Ilene Miller — Writer, editor, professor, parent. As a kid, I was a tomboy. The goalie of the soccer team, I ended fall seasons covered head to toe in mud. I played basketball and tennis competitively into my teens, when I turned toward long-distance bicycle touring — six-week-long bicycle trips, in the days of five gears (tops! Anyone remember three speeds?) and steel behemoth bicycle frames. Later, there were the 100-mile-per-day rides.
Even as I was athletic, I wasn’t always healthy. True confessions: I frequently topped off a five-mile mountain climb with a cigarette (of course, stopping in the middle to light up).
It was easy to throw away my health in my twenties, not only because of my perceived invincibility but because of my inexperience. I rarely made deliberate choices. Back then, I had no solid basis for making choices about food and self-care other than my mother’s house rules or whims. It took two more decades of maturing, researching, and writing about food, health, and lifestyle — and then becoming a mother — to make a complete turn toward an awareness of the micromovements in daily life that add up to overall better health, both emotionally and physically — and for my daughter’s health as well. Because she makes notes and, uncannily (or not?) reacts at times, as if parroting, my decision-making framework. I think being a mother layers an added responsibility to understanding health and wellness, and the journey toward being my best self.
Certainly, having been a writing instructor, a writer, and an editor for nearly 20 years on a range of topics has expanded and nurtured my perspective. I’ve taught journalism at the University of Oregon for the last 13 years, and for the same number of years have been a contributing writer on gardening, food, recreation, health, and other lifestyle topics for numerous off- and online publications and The (Eugene) Register-Guard.
Of course, all this awareness, and being in my best health ever, doesn’t mean I don’t make detours in my journey at times. The challenge I give myself, though, is to take note just as much as my daughter does of my actions, even in my hectic, daily life, and use that awareness to help support the overall rhythm I wish to achieve — for my health, my daughter’s health and for both of our journeys toward making the best decisions we can for achieving overall success. That journey is the one I share more specifically as a contributor to iBeamforLife.
Alexandra Pitkin — Food Coach, iBeamforLife. My passion for fitness and nutrition began in high school, where I discovered the powerful effects a balanced diet and exercise had on my physical and psychological well-being. This early interest led me to share nutrition advice with friends and offer them alternative ways to feel better. It was a natural next step to pursue a Bachelor’s degree at Boston University in Nutritional Science, with a minor in Public Health. I then completed a dietetic internship at the University of Connecticut and Hartford Hospital, became an AFAA-certified group exercise instructor and a nutrition coach at iBeamforLife.
Once I learned about iBeamforLife’s whole body approach, I became very excited about joining the team. I believe that good health is a combination of feeding the mind, body, and soul — and that all factors must be addressed. Of course there is a strong physical component to good health, however, nurturing the mind and encouraging the soul are also necessary to the process. By believing in yourself and visualizing your goals, you will be more likely to succeed in making lifelong positive change.
The iBeamforLife program talks about the importance of setting up goals which are measurable and realistic, as well as finding the motivation and drive within yourself to achieve those goals. It starts with recognizing where you are now and charting a direction and pace that’s right for you. That is the difference iBeamforLife has over other nutrition programs –there are no quick fixes. I believe in slowly changing one’s mindset and habits to create a more healthful lifestyle that lasts a lifetime. Opening up people’s eyes and building their awareness allows me to effectively guide clients to realize their health and wellness dreams.
Caitlin Quinn, BS, MS, LDN — Assistant VP, Program Development, Nutrition Coach, iBeamforLife. Grade school was the first time I deeply understood the connection between food and chemistry and its influence on good health. My bent for science led me to a series of personal experiments where I tested the hypothesis that certain foods I ate, mostly highly processed ones, gave me headaches and made me feel sick.
Without my parents knowledge, I began to cut out certain foods and monitor my reactions to see if my symptoms disappeared. Eureka! It worked. From there, I was able to convince my parents to lose those “bad” foods, and, instead, discover a whole array of fruits and vegetables I had never tried before.
This first great experiment and experience in understanding how food affected my body became my focus and passion over the long term. At Boston University, I pursued first an undergraduate degree and then a Masters in Nutritional Science.
Eager to help others gain a richer understanding about their relationship with food and how it impacts the mind and body, I pursue opportunities where I can help clients to improve their lives. I am a registered dietician at Quincy Medical Center, have worked as a nutrition educator in two school settings and have lead numerous community-based discussions on nutrition and meal planning.
I joined iBeamforLife as a nutrition coach because the program and philosophy reflect my deeply held beliefs about nutrition, behavior modification and healthful living. I help shape best practices for compassionate and effective one-on-one nutrition coaching, and assist in developing the company’s overall program. I believe people can be healthy without deprivation, especially when given the right kind of support and smart resources to help make gradual changes that last. I am passionate about working with clients individually, encouraging them into a new sense of discovery and better self-care, and helping them to meet their life goals for improved health and nutrition.
Guest Bloggers at iBeamforLife
Karen M. Kaplan, LMHC, NCC, ATR, RYT-500. As an Integrative Therapist, I have connected mental well-being with physical activity throughout my 18 years of private practice: The Healing Art of Yoga and Integrative Therapies. As a licensed therapist, I work with individuals and groups who have life challenges, physical injuries and disabilities. I also teach classes in health-based and forward-thinking corporate settings in and around the Boston area.
I didn’t start out on this path, however. My father was a physician, a true pioneer in holistic medicine and one of my greatest mentors. But it wasn’t until I gave up my career in the pharmaceutical industry that I began to employ the treatment opportunities I witnessed in his practice. At the time I was selling asthma and allergy medication, and I grew frustrated with traditional medicine, which treated symptoms and ignored the availability of less invasive and preventative treatment opportunities. In the 1990s, I changed my career direction and moved to Boston to study Counseling and Expressive Therapies at Lesley University.
Though I was first introduced to yoga as an expressive form of therapy in my graduate program, it was a cycling accident and the severe illnesses and loss of three very close, immediate family members that led me to yoga for myself. The transformation and healing powers of yoga made me a dedicated practitioner, and I knew I wanted to share this experience with others. In 2009, I completed my 200- and 500-hour certification as a yoga teacher and myofacial yoga therapist.
Yoga is profound in its ability to transform the body and the spirit. Yoga means “to unite” — mind, body and spirit, connecting breath with movement and meditation, joining ourselves with community and beyond it, to the world around us. The practice of yoga brings a deeper knowledge of the self and recognition of how we deal with others and the world. Yoga is for everyone.
Christina Pirello, MFN, CCN — Emmy-award winning host of the television series “Christina Cooks.” At age 26, I was diagnosed with terminal leukemia, and I was told I had only months to live. At that point, I adapted a lifestyle and diet to whole, unprocessed food. In 14 months, my cancer was gone. That experience convinced me of the relationship between diet and health.
Since 1988, I’ve been host of the Emmy Award-winning television series “Christina Cooks,” and I teach vegan whole foods cooking classes and lecturing internationally. I have written five cookbooks, including the bestselling “Cooking the Whole Foods Way,” named healthiest cookbook of the decade by Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.
Three years ago, I founded The Christina Pirello Health Education Initiative, an organization dedicated to changing America’s relationship with food, through community outreach, media programs and several in-school programs designed to teach our kids to make healthier choices before it’s too late. I am also faculty at The Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College, and I earned a Masters Degree in Nutrition in 2003.
It has been my life’s work to help others discover the importance of the relationship between diet, nutrition and health — and then how to make it a part of their lives.
Lynn Polmanteer — Food Coach, iBeamforLife. I participated in many sports during my early childhood. From water skiing, playing soccer, running track, and dancing, I enjoyed all types of activity. I was a freshman in high school when I injured my knee playing basketball. I spent the year recovering from two knee surgeries; physical therapy became my second home. My trainer suggested I join the swim team as it doesn’t have as much impact on the knees compared to running. A friend of mine taught me how to swim competitively before my sophomore year. I joined the team and quickly discovered that my swim coach was very interested in nutrition. He told the team we couldn’t drink soda as it has empty calories. Instead of throwing a fit, I asked: “What’s an empty calorie?” That simple question, between avoiding sugary drinks and carbohydrate loading at pasta parties before big swim meets, fascinated me. I was amazed at how food can fuel or harm your body. I ended up getting a bachelor’s and master’s degree in nutrition.
I am now a nutritionist who specializes in diabetes at the Gerald J. Friedman Diabetes Institute at Beth Israel Hospital in NYC. In my free time I enjoy running, swimming, biking and urban exploring. From running half marathons, to a 30 mile Tour-De-Cure bike ride, and a sprint triathlon, physical activity is my passion. I also like cooking, especially when trying new recipes for my dinner club. I practice what I preach to my patients. I focus on the fact that eating and exercising can make you feel better, and that a little bit of chocolate is okay in moderation.
Kelly Rider, EdM, ATC, LAT, CSCS. I had a defining moment, an a-ha moment, when my perspective, my truth, became clear and articulated to me. The single moment started in undergraduate school, picked up speed while earning my Masters in Education (specializing in Coaching) at Boston University, and now plays out every single day as the Athletic Trainer for the Dexter and Southfield Schools in Brookline, Mass. And it is this: There is a deep, significant and perpetual connection between fitness and good nutrition.
My work, education and coaching with a range of clients in a variety of settings has crystallized my understanding that in order to truly live happily and healthfully, nutrition is as essential a component as fitness.