Improve Your Health for the New Year in New Orleans

New year, new you – it’s a familiar saying, but it’s more than a cliché. January makes most of us think of new beginnings and ways to improve our health, our fitness and our appearance. Luckily, New Orleans has plenty of places you can count on to help get the new year off to a healthy start.

For example, any exercise that works for Drew Brees has got to be good, right? The Parks Health & Fitness (111 Robert E. Lee Blvd., 288-PARK (9275), TheParksFitness.com) offers TRX (Total Resistance Cross Training), a workout using suspended bands and ropes that Brees and lots of other athletes use. Owner R.J. Rice says the equipment, which takes advantage of your body’s weight, is popular with the center’s small-group exercise classes. If you prefer one-on-one training, The Parks offers that, too, Rice says. And its roster of group exercise classes is comprehensive, including yoga, Pilates, cardio, kickboxing, aerobic and spinning. What makes The Parks special, Rice says, is its friendly, well-trained staff. “Our staff separates us. We have a great team of people.” Rice’s family has been in the business for about 50 years, so they’re always ready to help you find the program that best suits your needs.

Wish you could trim your waist in just one hour? It sounds too good to be true, but Dr. Deirdre Hooper, a board-certified dermatologist at Audubon Dermatology (3525 Prytania St., No. 501, 895-3376, AudubonDermatology.com), says their new Liposonix machine uses a technique called high-intensity focus to heat a layer of fat cells and permanently destroy them. The technique is FDA-approved, takes only one hour and is done in the office. Eighty-five percent of people undergoing the treatment lose one inch of waist circumference, Dr. Hooper says. The discomfort is minimal and can be treated with pain medication. “It’s a good January procedure,” Dr. Hooper says, and it’s great for people who can’t afford a lot of down time. Other in-office procedures that work wonders are fillers and laser resurfacing treatments.

If your plans for 2013 call for travel, stop by Perfect Fit Shoes (5625 Magazine St., 456-5993, PerfectFitShoes.net) to make sure you – and your feet – tour in comfort. Physical therapist Gini Davis opened her store in 2007 in Metairie and moved Uptown in 2011. She specializes in difficult-to-find shoe brands that come in all widths and plenty of styles. Perfect Fit Shoes grew out of her patients’ need to find comfortable shoes that didn’t look clunky. She carries brands like Monroe, which are difficult to find in our area – as well as men’s shoes – and she can special order just about anything a customer wants. Pregnant women often visit the store to find shoes that will carry them comfortably during their pregnancy, Davis says. And the shoes are well made. “Our shoes last forever,” she says.

Thanks to the new healthcare laws, preventive health visits for many should be covered fully by your insurance, says Dr. Janifer Tropez-Martin of Tulane’s Center for Women’s Health (4720 Interstate 10 Service Road, No. 302, 988-8070, TulaneHealthCare.com). Take out your calendar now and schedule your annual gynecological visit, she says, and talk with your physician about how often you need mammograms and Pap smears. Your annual visit is also a good time to have an HPV screening and receive any immunization booster shots that are due. If 2013 is the year you’re planning to have a baby, Dr. Tropez-Martin recommends seeing your doctor before you get pregnant so you can find out about the prenatal vitamins and other supplements you might need. And those annual visits are good times to ask about other health worries you might have, such as depression, poor sleep habits or obesity. Those talks often turn out to be a vital part of the visit.

On a lighter note, maybe this is the year you’re really going to streamline your hair care regimen. Opening mid-January, Blo Blow Dry Bar (5330 Magazine St., BlowMeDry.com) hears you, and offers a “wash, blow and go” service that owner Emily Kupperman says is sure to catch on in humid New Orleans. “We don’t cut, we don’t color,” Kupperman says; each stylist is specially trained in all the popular blowout styles, and the fee is a flat $35, no matter how long your hair is. Service should take about 35 to 45 minutes, so you can be in and out on your lunch hour. And because all stylists are trained, you can book with whomever is available and still get the look you want. Blo will also offer hair products and extensions. A bonus: There’s plenty of parking.

A new year is a great time to kick-start your exercise routine. If you use a personal trainer, you can achieve results that would take you a year or more in eight to 12 weeks, says Eduardo Yibrin ((225) 588-0045, EduardoYibrin.com). Yibrin works with clients at Temple Gym on Magazine Street or in their own homes. (Clients don’t need to join the gym.) Using a personal trainer is advantageous because they know the correct way to use exercise equipment, Yibrin says, so workouts are more effective. Trainers also encourage their clients to work as hard as they can, every session. “You wouldn’t do that on your own,” he says. Yibrin works with clients of both sexes and all ages and can help people recovering from knee or hip replacement, as well as those who just want to look better and feel healthier.

It is true: Wearing the right clothes can make workouts more fun, and feeling comfortable in your clothes can make you more inclined to hit the gym. Marloe Goodman, owner of Priorities (5523 Magazine St., 899-2212, PrioritiesNola.com), has years of experience in helping customers find the appropriate outfits for tennis, Pilates, yoga, Zumba or any other exercise. Goodman prides herself on service; she knows her merchandise and can help customers find the most comfortable, flattering pants and tops. A plus is that many of these outfits are also great for travel or running errands. Her lines are all wash-and-wear; no ironing and no dry cleaning, and they don’t shrink or fade. They turn out to be clothes you can live in, not just work out in. Treat yourself to a new outfit and face your exercise routine with a new attitude.

What you eat, of course, is just as important as what you wear. Molly Kimball, fitness expert at Ochsner’s Elmwood Fitness Center (1200 S. Clearview Parkway, Suite 1200, and three other locations, 744-1600, ElmwoodFitness.com), reminds health-conscious people to expand their food horizons. Kale, spinach and blueberries are just a few of the “superfoods” getting all the press, but lots of other fruits and vegetables are equally as good for you. She also warns that some of the foods with good credentials, such as quinoa, hummus, nuts and olive oil, have lots of calories, so it’s best to watch your portions even when dining on so-called healthy food. If you’re setting health goals for the new year, Kimball recommends making them small enough to accomplish, and adding details. Getting more exercise, for example, is too vague; instead, pick a specific class you plan to attend and enroll. That boosts your chances of achieving your goal.

You will enjoy eating those healthy foods a lot more if you take care of your teeth. Dr. Jeffrey Richardson, owner of Metairie Dental Care (3401 W. Esplanade Ave., 301-3590, MetairieDentalCare.net), stresses prevention with his patients; taking care of the teeth you have, he says, is much better than replacing them. He reminds people to limit the number of fitness drinks, such as Gatorade, that they consume during workouts. The drinks promote an acidic environment in your mouth, which can lead to bacteria and then to cavities. For children, replace soft drinks and juice with water as often as possible. Fluoride treatments are usually routine for kids, Richardson says, but adults might want to ask the dentist about them because the fluoride can strengthen aging teeth. And don’t stress over dental X-rays, he says. They are the only way for dentists to see hard-to-reach places in your mouth, and the radiation is minimal.

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