Neighborhood: Whitney Beach
Neighbor since: 2003
Certified health coach Dominique Kohlenberger leads by example — and with empathy.
The lithe counselor, often seen playing tennis at Cedars Tennis Resort, biking along Gulf of Mexico Drive or enjoying a sandy stroll near her Whitney Beach home, knows the path to optimal health doesn’t require extreme dieting or marathon training, just consistent, small efforts.
“Eat less, exercise more is logical, but it doesn’t work for most people,” Kohlenberger said. Rather, she urges clients to “identify their goals, then make a plan with realistic, incremental steps” to establish habits that stick so the client is not constantly stressing about weight loss.
That course of action paid off for Kohlenberger five years ago when she gained 10 pounds after taking an administrative position following an 18-year career as a physical therapist. A book titled “Take Shape for Life” inspired her to set specific, measurable and attainable goals, which she tracked daily with journaling. Five weeks later, she shed the weight and started sharing the experience with her colleagues; two years later, she decided to teach healthy living full-time.
“It’s so gratifying to help transform people’s lives and to work on the preventative side of medicine,” she said.
Kohlenberger runs 5K races locally and won first place for women in the Anna Maria Elementary Dolphin Dash in January, with a time of 22.4 minutes.
IN HER OWN WORDS: “The beach is the greatest gym. It looks a little different every day; it’s calming; and it’s well ventilated.”
Longboat Key health coach shares weight loss, management strategies
In the quest to lose weight, many people try extreme dieting and exercising. Those who succeed often only keep it off temporarily, because their efforts were unsustainable. Dominique Kohlenberger, a certified health coach, encourages clients to make tiny, incremental changes to establish healthy habits, so eventually, smart choices become instinctual.
Here are the six core habits she advocates adopting (with a convenient acronym —BE SLIM) and a three-tiered plan to do so:
• Eat breakfast daily, within 30 or 60 minutes of waking.
• Exercise at least 30 minutes a day, six days a week.
• Surround yourself with a support group of healthy people.
• Choose low glycemic and low fat foods for meals; eat every three hours.
• Follow an individual plan; your motivations may vary from your friends’.
• Monitor your success at least once a week.
To make these goals into habits, Kohlenberger coaches clients to do the following:
1. Visualize why they want to lose the weight. “For some people, it’s to play better tennis or reduce the medication they need,” Kohlenberger said. Some want to fit back into a favorite outfit; Kohlenberger suggests they hang the clothes up somewhere prominent. Another woman was having conception problems and thought weight loss might help. Kohlenberger had her make a vision board with images of babies and families.
2. Write small steps to reach your goals. These need to be specific, measurable, realistic and have a time limit, Kohlenberger said. Rather than striving “to lose 20 pounds,” try cutting out on soda or alcohol one week, walking an extra mile a day for a week, or adding vegetables to every meal. A proponent of journaling, Kohlenberger has clients write down theirs goals and then mark, daily, whether they did them or not; if not, they explore “why not?”
3. Celebrate the small victories. It may be months before people start paying you compliments, but that doesn’t mean you should wait to revel in your hard work. Shoot for non-food rewards, such as buying a new outfit or accessory or indulging in a night at the movies, Kohlenberger said.
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