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Dynamic Food Duos

Have you ever thought about how your foods work together? By pairing certain foods, you can get more bang for your buck as well as optimize your nutritional intake. From inexpensive spices to dry good pantry staples—try these favorite affordable food pairings along with a few recipes ideal for maximizing their benefits together.

Vitamin C + plant-based iron

Iron found in plant-based foods such as beans, lentils and spinach is best absorbed when paired with vitamin C. To reap the most benefit from this duo, it is best to eat them in the same meal, not just the same day. Examples include:

  • Bell peppers and black beans
  • Tomatoes and spinach
  • Sweet potatoes and lentils

Recipe: Try this Wheat Berry Salad with Tomato, Cucumber and Feta on a bed of spinach.

Turmeric + black pepper

Many people take a turmeric supplement for its anti-inflammatory properties. However, pairing turmeric with black pepper actually allows for better absorption. Specifically the piperine in black pepper can enhance the absorption of curcumin in turmeric by 2,000 percent! Enjoy these spices combined in a stir-fry or sip in golden milk.

Recipe: Add a bit of black pepper to this Super Seasoned and Savory Baked Cauliflower Floret Bites.

Vitamin D + calcium

Vitamin D and calcium are both vital for bone health. Similar to turmeric and black pepper, vitamin D affects how much calcium your body absorbs. This nutrient combo is unique because you can often find them naturally in the same foods such as:

  • Dairy
  • Fortified soy milk
  • Orange juice

Recipe: Replace a full meal with this quick and easy Watermelon Strawberry Chia Smoothie.

Rice + beans

Rice and beans is a classic budget-friendly meal offering multiple benefits. Plant-based sources of protein alone only have some of the essential amino acids, or protein building blocks, but when paired with different options, you build one complete protein. Rice and beans are a prime example. Beans also provide fiber, which help prevent blood sugar spikes from starchy foods like rice.

Recipe: This combination is so easy you don’t even need a recipe! Just combine cooked brown rice and rinsed canned beans of your choice in a bowl. Top with your favorite salsa, avocado and a dollop of plain Greek yogurt or shredded cheese.

Fat + fat-soluble vitamins

Some vitamins are absorbed using fat, namely:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamin K

Not only is a veggie-only salad a little boring, you’ll also miss out on sources of vitamin A and vitamin K from those leafy greens alone. Try adding a little extra crunch and nutrient boost by topping your salad with avocado, seeds or olive oil.

Recipe: Serve up Kathy’s Amazing Salad with Goat Cheese and Toasted Pecans topped with grilled chicken or pork tenderloin for extra protein.

To schedule a one-on-one nutrition consultation or learn more about Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services, visit cooperclinicnutrition.com or call 972.560.2655.

Article provided by Katie Goldberg, MCN, RDN, LD, and Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services.

Categories: Cooper Updates

90 Years of Exercise

March 8, 2021 4 comments

In celebration of his 90th birthday this month, Kenneth H. Cooper, MD, MPH, founder and chairman of Cooper Aerobics shares how exercise shaped his passions and life’s work in various ways over the years.

My early days and exercise inspiration
I have been asked why I like to exercise many times over the years. I mainly like to exercise because it makes me feel good. Here at Cooper we have been able to prove that people who exercise regularly are less depressed, less hypochondriac, have an improved self-image and more positive attitude toward life. A person who is physically fit is different. I have had people tell me, “I thought I felt pretty good until I started exercising. I only wish I could have known how much better I would feel 20 years ago.”

My biggest encourager and motivator was my mother; she never missed a track meet or basketball game. She would go out of her way to drive to Norman or Oklahoma City for my meets. My dad rebelled against my exercise, which he feared would give me an “athletic heart.” This idea was very popular back in the 1940s. It said if you exercise too much your heart would get too large and muscular and then when you quit exercising it would convert to fat and you would die early. My father was convinced I was going to die early yet I have outlived him by 16 years—he died at age 74.

During my elementary and middle school years, I had a lot of chores I had to do at home, like working in our garden and milking our cow. We always had farms and in the summertime I would go to the farm to work with my dad. I baled hay, plowed, put up fences and did lots of manual labor on the farm. I enjoyed going out and staying at the farm. I loved the time I spent with my dad during those early years. He was a practicing dentist, but his avocation was farming. He was raised on a farm so he always wanted me to keep active on the farm.

Dr. Kenneth H. Cooper running in University of Oklahoma track meet

I exercised on my own even when I was running track at Putnam City High School in Oklahoma City. They did not have a track so I ran on the streets. I also played basketball and ran cross country in the fall. I would have my friend across the street, Buster Jackson, take my clothes to school in a paper sack while I ran to school to get my miles in. I would get cleaned up and go on to class. Then I would run home from school. I ended up making all-state basketball and won the state championship in track for the one-mile event.

Mr. Leo Mayfield was my inspiration for exercising in competition—he was the principal of the junior high school and later superintendent. He noticed that I liked to run and asked, “Why don’t you try track?” So as a ninth grader, I entered a half-mile track meet. I did well and came in second, even though I did not train for it. He recognized I had some natural ability. Even though I did not have a track coach in high school, Mr. Mayfield continued to be my coach. I won seven consecutive events and set records in most of the places I ran—all because of Leo Mayfield working with me.

Harold Keith, who was the Sports Publicity Director at the University of Oklahoma, saw the newspaper articles about me and started giving me recommendations on how to improve my performance which enabled me to win the state championship. I was undefeated in the mile run when I was a senior in high school.

The turning point
After graduating salutatorian from my high school, I received a scholarship for track to the University of Oklahoma. However, when I entered medical school I did not have time to stay active. I ended up gaining 40 pounds from lack of sleep, the stress of my internship, trying to get through medical school and eating to just stay awake. Then I got married and did not do any physical activity for about six years. I was so lethargic and I remember telling my wife I felt like I was dying of mental apathy. I just did not feel good.

By this time I was 29 years old. After six years of not exercising, I went water-skiing on Lake Texoma and had a cardiac arrhythmia that day. By the time I got to the hospital my heart rate had returned to normal and they couldn’t find anything wrong with me. The doctor told me I was simply out of shape. When I began to lose weight, my pre-diabetic condition and hypertension disappeared and I felt so much better. That’s when I realized the prevention of disease was a field of medicine that has been sadly ignored. That epiphany is what changed my attitude and ultimately my life. It redirected my interest away from orthopedic medicine which I had first planned to go into when I finished my military career.

Dr. Kenneth H. Cooper U.S. Air Force headshot

My exercise transitions through the years
I used to love water-skiing, basketball and running. However, I broke my leg snow-skiing back in 2004 so after 38,000 miles and 40 years of running I had to stop. But you never stop exercising—you transition. That’s when I transitioned into walking. They told me I would need a total knee replacement within six years but that has been 17 years ago now! I have walked faithfully since then along with outdoor and stationary cycling.

I always say the hardest part of exercise is putting on your shoes and getting started; the best part is the shower when you finish. Exercise creates an endorphin response in your body. It is why you become addicted to exercise and have withdrawal symptoms. I had to walk on crutches for a while when I broke my leg and I would see people running outside and get emotional and would shed a tear, thinking about how much I missed exercising.

I still work 10-12 hour days seeing patients and like to exercise after work five days a week. Exercising at the end of the day helps me to control the stress in my life. I have used exercise over the years as not only a cure to a stressful day headache, but to help me sleep better. I typically prefer to exercise alone. I like to watch TV while I’m on the stationary bicycle or the treadmill and enjoy meditating while I walk the dog around our neighborhood in the evenings. That is quiet time for me. I will ride the stationary bicycle for about 30 minutes before I complete a weight training circuit concentrating on upper body, arms and shoulders. When I go home, I walk our two dogs for about 15 to 30 minutes.

My exercise recommendations
Over the years, I used to think that aerobic training was all you needed to do but I realized as I grew older you need to bring in some muscular strengthening as well. After 50 years of age, you start losing muscle mass. My specific aerobic-strength training ratios that I recommend in all my books are:

  • 40 years old or younger: 80% aerobic exercise; 20% strength training
  • 41 to 50 years old: 70% aerobic exercise; 30% strength training
  • 51 to 60 years old: 60% aerobic exercise; 40% strength training
  • 60+ years old: 55% aerobic exercise; 45% strength training

My encouragement to you
I encourage you to set an example for your family—as we did at an early age in our family. My son, Tyler, runs regularly and all of our grandchildren are active. My oldest grandson was just accepted to Oklahoma State University; he is our baseball player and a great athlete! My wife, Millie, is still active at 85 years of age and works out five mornings a week going on walks with a close friend of hers. A family that exercises together stays together. It is so important for parents to set the example for their children and grandkids. 

Dr. and Mrs. Cooper running with daughter Berkley

No matter your age, whether you’re 19 or 90 years old, it is never too late to start exercising. As I always like to say, fitness is a journey not a destination. It is what you do now that counts, not what you did or didn’t do six months ago.

Categories: Cooper Updates

Prep Your Skin for Spring with Dermaplaning

February 7, 2021 Leave a comment

Give your drab winter skin a jump-start on spring with a new facial resurfacing treatment from Cooper Spa. Lisa Boyle, Cooper Spa Manager, explains how dermaplaning safely removes dead skin cells on the surface of your face, resulting in beautiful skin well into spring.

How it works

Dermaplaning is a safe cosmetic procedure that removes the top layers of the skin and provides immediate results for a smoother, youthful and more radiant complexion. Because this procedure doesn’t require any downtime post-treatment, it makes for a convenient and effective way to minimize wrinkles, acne scarring and dull skin without a lengthy recovery period. Our Cooper Spa trained estheticians provide specific steps to best care for your skin after your dermaplane service in order to prevent any possible irritation.

What to expect

Using a small lightweight blade and facial oil, your esthetician gently scrapes the top layer of dead skin cells from your face to reveal healthy skin just below the surface. This 50-minute treatment is not painful; you may feel a slight tingling sensation during your treatment, which is completely normal. Following your dermaplane service, your esthetician may use a light lactic acid peel to remove the remaining debris from your skin. 

Possible side effects

Dermaplaning is a low risk procedure but just like any facial resurfacing treatment, you may experience slight redness in your complexion. You may also feel a sensation of tightness which can be relieved by applying aloe or moisturizer. You will also need to avoid sun exposure for 7-10 days after your treatment and daily apply sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 as your skin will be more susceptible to the sun’s harmful rays that cause typical sunburns and age spots.

Radiant results

Your dermaplane experience is customizable by skin type. Pair it with any of our signature facial services at Cooper Spa. Dermaplaning provides immediate results with the full effects visible within two to three days after your treatment. Though the results are not permanent, they can be maintained for up to three to four weeks along with an esthetician-recommended, at-home skin care regimen.

To schedule an appointment or purchase a Cooper Spa gift card, visit cooperspa.com or call 972.392.7729.

Categories: Cooper Updates

How to Pack Your Gym Bag Like a Pro

Aiming to get back in the gym? Did you know by including a few key items you are more likely to achieve your fitness goals? Mary Edwards, MS, Cooper Fitness Center Director of Fitness shares how you can pack your bag like a pro and boost your confidence in the gym.

My gym bag provides me easy access to my belongings. I don’t want to dig around in my gym bag, fighting pesky straps or inconvenient pockets. Look for a bag with waterproof or mesh-lined pockets for storing sweaty clothes and smelly shoes and smaller pockets for storing other necessities.

The “Go-Getter Beginner”

If you’re newer to working out at the gym, have no fear—come prepared with the right gear! Some items ideal for beginner gym-goers to invest in are:

  • Supportive shoes—When it comes to shoes you are going to work out in, aim for function over fashion. Many shoe brands provide an array of styles and colors designed for different types of training. The important thing to remember is they should be comfortable and supportive in all the right places. Tip: many running shoe stores provide a complimentary gait analysis to help you find the best type of shoe for you and your activity level. Make sure to ask about this complimentary perk when you’re out shoe shopping!
  • Dri-fit clothing—While clothes made of dri-fit material are by no means essential, they can prove to be the most comfortable for working out. This type of fabric is lightweight, breathable and sweat wicking to help you crush your workout in comfort.
  • Water bottle—It’s vital to stay hydrated in order to get the most out of your workout. Try to drink 8 ounces of water every 15 minutes of your workout and another 8 ounces within 30 minutes of completing your workout.

The “More Comfortable Member”

For those of you who are a bit more familiar with making your way around the gym, these items are helpful for taking your workout up a notch:

  • Heart rate tracking device—By regularly tracking your heart rate you can identify your true exercise intensity and therefore achieve specific fitness goals or performance results. Monitoring your heart rate during exercise also helps minimize the risk for overtraining, which can cause injury and decrease performance.
  • Headphones—Listen to your favorite upbeat tunes to keep you energized, focused and motivated while exercising.

The “Gym Junkie”

For more seasoned gym-goers, the following recommendations can help with recovery after your hardest workouts:

  • Percussion therapy massage gun—Massage guns have recently gained popularity and attention in the fitness world. This handheld massage tool puts the power of muscle recovery into your own hands by directly activating muscles with vibrations. These massage guns have also been shown to increase range of motion, improve blood flow and decrease soreness and promote weight loss. I highly recommend working with a professional fitness trainer who is trained in using the equipment and purchasing a personal device for muscle recovery in between training sessions.
  • Towel—Keep a small towel handy for wiping sweat during your cardio sessions or in between circuits in your HIIT routines. Certain towels are designed to have a cooling effect when wet and can cool your body temperature down by 30° in seconds.
  • Post-workout protein powder— Protein is key in promoting muscle recovery and growth. Refuel your body properly with a simple protein shake that can be mixed with water within 30 minutes after completing your workout.
  • Shaker cup—Shaker cups can double as water bottles during your workout and be used for shaking out clumpy protein powder for a post-workout snack.

The “Virtual Gym-goer” If you don’t feel comfortable heading to the gym for COVID-19 related reasons, you can still pack your gym bag with some of these items for an at-home workout:

  • Resistance bands—Resistance bands are convenient and provide a strength workout virtually anywhere! You select the amount of resistance to add variety to your strength training routine.
  • Yoga mat—Roll up your favorite mat and take your workouts outdoors or in any room in your home to provide cushion for your hands, knees and back while performing floor work in order to protect your joints from the hard surface.

What’s in my gym bag

I always stow away a good pair of running shoes, workout clothes, my Myzone® heart rate tracker, shower items and a change of clothes for whatever lies beyond my gym session that day!

Whatever your activity level, simply being prepared by packing a gym bag with key essentials can help boost your confidence no matter your location. Pack your gym bag for success as you set out to achieve your fitness goals.

For more information about Cooper Fitness Center or to schedule a session with a Professional Fitness Trainer, visit cooperfitnesscenter.com or call 972.233.4832.

Article provided by Cooper Fitness Center Director of Fitness Mary Edwards, MS.

Categories: Cooper Updates

Hydrate Winter Skin at Cooper Spa

December 5, 2020 Leave a comment

With the wonders of winter also come the complexities of battling dry winter skin. Cooper Spa Manager Lisa Boyle shares the top most hydrating treatments and services at Cooper Spa to soothe winter skin! 

If you are experiencing itchy, red, flaky skin or seeing more wrinkles than usual, your skin may be telling you it needs hydration. Our Antioxidant Hydrating Facial targets these unwanted reactions caused by cool, dry winter air. At Cooper Spa, we use a variety of products with powerful antioxidants, moisture-binding elements and essential lipids your skin can soak up, leaving it energized and looking radiant.

Not only do our faces fall prey to dry winter skin, our knees, ankles, knuckles and elbows also are susceptible. A replenishing body treatment can help with head-to-toe dryness. Enjoy a luxurious and nourishing Ultimate Hydration Ritual at Cooper Spa with our use of high quality Moroccanoil® products. This service brushes dead skin cells away with an orange peel scrub and hot stone massage application of the Moroccanoil® Botanical Intense Hydrating Treatment, revealing healthy glowing skin.

Maintain your soft, hydrated glow with the ideal at-home care specifically for you. Your Cooper Spa service professional can help you select the products from your service to make you stay radiant longer. We offer a variety of emollient, moisturizing products for all skin types. Some of our customer favorites this time of year include:

  • SkinCeuticals® Triple Lipid Restore
  • Dermalogica® Super Rich Repair
  • Eminence® Organic Skin Care Rosehip & Lemongrass Soothing Hydrator for Face and Body

Don’t let  winter weigh you down —discover your inner glow with our variety of products and services available at Cooper Spa Dallas designed especially for your skin’s needs.

To schedule an appointment or purchase a gift card, visit cooperspa.com or call 972.392.7729.

Categories: Cooper Updates

Alzheimer’s and Vaccines

November 9, 2020 Leave a comment

You may have heard the interesting reports about infections and Alzheimer’s disease mentioned at the July 2020 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC). It appears that illnesses, such as the flu and pneumonia, may trigger inflammation in the brain that predispose the body to developing Alzheimer’s. The logical next question is: does preventing the flu and pneumonia lower a person’s risk for also developing Alzheimer’s disease? Some initial data presented at the AAIC conference addressed this question.

According to datasets from large populations (including The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston), people who received even one flu shot in prior years were less likely to develop Alzheimer’s. People who received flu shots every year had an even further reduction in risk of developing Alzheimer’s. In another study from Duke University, individuals who received pneumonia vaccines in combination with the flu vaccines were less likely to develop Alzheimer’s. The more vaccines that were received over time resulted in even lower risk in developing the disease in this specific study as well.

It is important to note that these studies are correlational, meaning it is unclear if the vaccines themselves provide protection or if the individuals who are vaccinated also engage in other healthy behaviors that make them less likely to develop Alzheimer’s. To be clear, it has not yet been proven that vaccines can lower risk of Alzheimer’s. This early data simply suggests it is a possibility that should be investigated. Maria Carrillo of the Alzheimer’s Association recently stated, “This research, while early, calls for further studies in large, diverse clinical trials to inform whether vaccinations as a public health strategy decrease our risk for developing dementia as we age.”

Infection remains a leading cause of death in people with Alzheimer’s with patients being twice as likely to die from serious infections as those without Alzheimer’s. So even if vaccines don’t reduce one’s risk for developing Alzheimer’s, they may be proven to help extend Alzheimer’s patients lives. It is yet to be determined why people with Alzheimer’s are more likely to die from flu or pneumonia than their cognitively healthy peers.

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, influenza and pneumonia vaccinations are of even more importance than usual. The health of the public would benefit tremendously if we discover vaccines also protect against Alzheimer’s. At the very least, these vaccines could potentially reduce disease severity and help save more lives of both healthy and vulnerable patients.

Article provided by Michele A. Kettles, MD, MSPH, Chief Medical Officer and preventive medicine physician at Cooper Clinic.

For more information on Alzheimer’s prevention, check out Dr. Cooper’s Recommendations for Alzheimer’s Disease Prevention.

Categories: Cooper Updates

History of Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services: Part II

Our first nutrition director, Georgia Kostas, was a dedicated professional who paved the way, built the foundation and set the standard for the Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services. Her innovation helped ensure our patients received the gold standard of care by developing cutting-edge programs. At the same time, our professional associations at both state and national levels recognized her achievements.

The majority of the work in nutrition in the early days focused on in-person outreach as well as writing and publishing numerous books on nutrition. This solid foundation paved the way for an increased focus on diabetes, sports nutrition, children/family nutrition, corporate wellness based on community needs. With this condition-specific nutrition knowledge, we expanded our reach through media relations, technology and social media.  

Broadening Expertise and Services

Kathryn (Kathy) Miller and I served as coleaders of the nutrition department for 10 years. During that time, our staff expanded as we hired registered dietitians with a variety of specialties and expertise. These specialties were not only available to Cooper Clinic patients but also to the public. Physicians recognized Kathy citywide as a Gastrointestinal Specialist. She was our go-to dietitian to refer patients with celiac disease, food sensitivities and other GI issues. Kathy served as Dr. Kenneth Cooper’s nutrition consultant for PepsiCo when he helped eliminate trans fats from its Frito-Lay food snack line.

Our culinary program flourished with hands-on demonstrations, home pantry makeovers, grocery store tours, dining out experiences and lectures at Cooper and in the community. Led by Kathy Duran-Thal with her practical, down to earth approach brought to life technical information in easy to understand terms.

To better serve our community, we hosted an annual Nutrition Expo led by Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Meridan Zerner. The Expo attracted numerous outside vendors and was held for 10 years, reaching nearly 1,000 attendees each year. With a broadcast journalism background as well as being certified in Sports Dietetics, Meridan appears on news segments addressing the importance of nutrition for total health and wellness. In addition, she teaches group exercises classes at Cooper Fitness Center, which has helped expand our reach to area athletes no matter what age.   

Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services Team of Registered Dietitian Nutritionists – 2020

Next, we added to our services with recipe calculation and consulting with local restaurants for menu analysis. We’ve worked with restaurants such as Start, Rise #1, Luby’s Cafeteria, TGI Fridays and Cedars Woodfire Grill at Cooper Fitness Center. Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Cynthanne Duryea has advised on many of these projects and worked with individuals on product development with detailed recipe calculation included.

In response to the increase in obesity rates—among adults and children—we added more emphasis on child and family nutrition as well as diabetes. We launched Cooper Healthy Habits for Kids, which remains active today. This program is geared toward families with children and offers personalized sessions to build a positive food environment, including a positive relationship with food, healthy meal ideas and portion management.  

We hired two Certified Diabetes Educators, Colleen Loveland and Elana Paddock, to our staff. We also added resting metabolic rate (RMR) testing to see how many calories a person burns at rest, which is a key tool we use today.

Providing Nutrition to the Corporate World

Working with Merit Energy was one of the highlights of my career. Merit Energy sent its oil field supervisors to Cooper Clinic for a preventive exam and nutrition evaluation. Cynthanne Duryea and I then worked with the supervisors by phone for eight months providing weight loss counseling and performed follow-up physical evaluations to see how this intervention affected their health. The next year I traveled to different parts of the country giving presentations to Merit Energy employees who worked in the oil fields, providing them with practical nutrition tips they could live with.

These are just a small sample of our department’s work over the last two decades. Additional projects included providing our services to Bain & Company, Perot Systems, Dallas Cowboys, Sonic, Southwest Veterinary state meeting, All Saints Catholic Church, Lovers Lane Methodist Church, Alcuin School and Dallas Baptist University. From nutrition counseling to health fairs  and lectures to lunch and learns, our staff is always ready to rise to the occasion and deliver excellence.

Without hesitation, Kathy and I agree we had one of the best teams any department could ever wish for. These talented women had knowledge, caring hearts and enthusiastic attitudes to deliver the message of better health through nutrition.

Kathy retired in 2014, and I decided to “retire” from my leadership role in the department and return to my first nutrition love, consulting patients. This year I celebrated 33 years at Cooper Clinic. We hired a Gastrointestinal Specialist, Gillian White, who continues to work with people who have celiac disease, food sensitivities and other GI issues. She also speaks to universities and trade associations on behalf of Cooper.

Going Virtual

Today, under the leadership of Nutrition Director Ginny Ives, we offer many of our services virtually including our Cooper Weight Loss program led by Lizzy McCrary. Our recipes and tips are shared through social media as well as in The Cooperized e-newsletter produced by Cooper Aerobics. You will often see Meridan in the media, specifically on the Dallas-Fort Worth FOX and ABC affiliates. Our team writes blogs and a monthly online article, Nutrition Bites, which is free by subscribing to The Cooperized.

A great deal has changed in 50 years of Cooper Aerobics, but our philosophy remains the same: Nutrition for Life – a healthy eating program custom fit to your daily routine. Working with our registered dietitian nutritionists, you will learn to make choices right for you, developing habits to keep you eating sensibly and enjoyable for a lifetime.

Article provided by Patty Kirk, RDN, LD.

Read Part I of the blog here.

Categories: Cooper Updates

History of Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services: Part I

September 4, 2020 1 comment

The opportunity to establish the Cooper Clinic Nutrition Program and serve as its Director for 25 years has been one of the greatest joys and blessings of my life. To share a kindred spirit and esprit de corps with dedicated, talented colleagues committed to the mission of helping others prevent or reverse heart disease with diet, exercise and lifestyle was a dream come true. Inspired by Dr. Kenneth H. Cooper’s first book, Aerobics, I knew I wanted to work with Dr. Cooper and his clinic even before completing graduate school and my clinical residency. I sent Dr. Cooper my ideas. We met. His exciting response still rings in my ear: “Welcome aboard.”

In the Beginning
The Nutrition Program began in 1979 as the “new” Cooper Clinic building opened its doors. Our concept was novel at that time: 1) prevention-focused, 2) individualized nutrition guidance and 3) nutrition feedback for each Cooper Clinic patient as an integral part of a comprehensive physical exam. Each patient met with a registered dietitian nutritionist and received a nutritional assessment, personalized guidance and individualized eating plan. We developed our own in-house computer software to analyze each patient’s diet. Our services soon extended to Cooper Fitness Center members and the Dallas community. People were hungry for safe, science-based, effective, tailored nutrition guidance where lifelong success could be achieved through knowledge, habits, accountability and coaching.

My first assignment at the Clinic was to develop the first Cooper Clinic Nutrition Guidelines. These preceded the first official United States Dietary Guidelines (USDG), released later that year. Decades before American Heart Association and USDG provided specific quantitative recommendations to the public for sugar, sodium, fiber, caffeine, alcohol and water intake, we translated the research into patient guidance. Today, guidance from these two national committees matches ours.

First in Dallas to offer group weight loss classes that included nutrition education, individualized eating and fitness plans and behavioral modification, our weight management programs soon became a major consumer-driven service. Within the next three to five years, five registered dietitian nutritionists expanded our staff, including Kim Glascow Goldstrohm, Pam Neff, Cindy Kleckner, Patty Kirk and Cindy Wachtler. Kathy Miller and Lara Hassan joined our team a few years later. Today, Patty Kirk holds the record for serving Cooper Clinic patients longer than any other dietitian nutritionist, having worked at the Clinic for 40 years. Her nutrition expertise, innovative patient programs, exceptional skills in counseling, teaching, cooking, recipe development and creating patient teaching tools are only exceeded by her compassionate style of working with her patients and colleagues, earning her accolades, accomplishment and appreciation by patients and staff alike.

In the early ’80s and ’90s, in response to patient requests, our team authored four books: The Balancing Act Nutrition and Weight Guide (by Georgia Kostas and Kim Goldstrohm), The Cooper Clinic Solution to the Diet Revolution (Georgia Kostas), What’s Cooking at the Cooper Clinic (staff) and The Guilt-free Comfort Food Cookbook (Georgia Kostas).The health and weight guidebook became required reading for recruits of the U.S. Coast Guard and part of wellness programs of the U.S. Army and Navy and numerous hospital systems nationwide. Many happy cookbook readers reported losing weight and lowering cholesterol simply by cooking recipes from our books!

July 1984 – Cooper Clinic nutritionists (l-r top row) Virginia Laiming, Jean Storlie and Pam Neff; and (bottom row) Georgia Kostas, Sarah Van Amburgh and Kim Glasgow.

With Dr. Cooper’s prolific book writing throughout his career, staff dietitians soon became busy providing his nutrition sections. Patty Kirk, Kathy Miller, Cindy Kleckner, Cynthanne Duryea, Cindy Wachtler and I contributed to: The Aerobics Program for Total Well-Being, Controlling Cholesterol, Overcoming Hypertension, Preventing Osteoporosis, Kid Fitness, The Antioxidant Revolution and Advanced Nutritional Therapies.

Throughout the years, many full-time and part-time dietitians expanded the Clinic’s Nutrition Services, each contributing specific talents and expertise, including sports nutrition, diabetes, gastrointestinal/digestion issues, eating disorders, cancer and children’s nutrition. We added Recipe Analysis services for restaurants and The Dallas Morning News’ weekly Food section (led by Cynthanne Duryea and Patty Kirk), consulted with restaurants, provided public speaking, campus lectures, media communications, TV appearances, blog writing, The Cooper Institute research contributions and cooking classes (led by Kathy Duran-Thal and Cindy Kleckner). Of particular joy to me was the opportunity to spread the news of preventive nutrition to dietitians and health professionals at their annual state and national meetings in 47 states.

Nutrition Expansion across Cooper Aerobics Center
As the Clinic expanded its nutrition outreach, so did each division of Cooper Aerobics Center. 

The Cooper Institute
In the early ’80s, The Cooper Institute added Registered Dietitian Nutritionists Leni Reid, Sarah Van Amburgh, Jean Storlie, Virginia Laiming and Ruth Ann Carpenter. They taught nutrition prevention and health promotion programs worldwide, while also contributing to The Cooper Institute’s nutrition research.

They trained teachers and students at public schools as part of the FitnessGram® program, first in Dallas and Richardson before its nationwide launch; employees and trainers at corporate wellness programs, fitness and wellness directors in the military and health professionals at The Institute’s regular workshops.

Cooper Wellness Program
In 1986, Kathy Duran-Thal was named the first Nutrition Director of our Cooper Wellness Program, the new live-in residential program geared to helping people make lifestyle changes through experiential living and learning. Her cooking classes’ fresh approach to teaching nutrition became a hit and soon her first cookbook, Cookery Classics, was published. Kathy provided supermarket tours and learning experiences at restaurants, giving her clientele a real taste of healthier living. Kathy also contributed to Nutri-Points, a book by Dr. Roy Vartabedian, nutritionist and Cooper Wellness Program director. Thirty-five years later, Kathy remains passionate about educating Clinic patients on their nutritional needs and helping them live healthier.

Cooper Clinic
In 2004, after serving as Nutrition Director for 25 years, it was time for me to pass the nutrition torch to our well-qualified long-term staffers Patty Kirk and Kathy Miller. As Co-Directors, they led the Nutrition Department to a new level, along with their expert staff. As the years have progressed, it has been a true joy to watch the programs advance with the moving times and meet the extraordinary dietitians behind the progress.

For many years, new Clinic teammates received a write-up created by Mrs. Lawrence L. Nichols Sr., prior owner of the Cooper property, describing the history of the Cooper Aerobics Center grounds and original home, which housed Cooper Clinic initially. Today, four decades later, I, too, am enjoying the opportunity to blog about campus history, and amazingly, as Mrs. Lawrence Nichols Jr.!  I married her son! For all these treasured memories and blessings, I want to thank Dr. Cooper, dietitians, all staff and patients and friends on campus for making Cooper Clinic and Cooper Aerobics Center a phenomenal and “happy place,” filled with extraordinary people, providing extraordinary programs and continuing to move the Cooper mission forward, into the next 50 years.

Article provided by Georgia Kostas, first Nutrition Director at Cooper Clinic.

Categories: Cooper Updates

Empowering Women from Coast to Coast

When Cooper Fitness Center Professional Fitness Trainer Colette Cole, MS, created the Female Focus program 14 years ago, she never imagined having to navigate the ups and downs of leading the class virtually during a statewide shelter-in-place. Nevertheless, she and her team of trainers successfully went virtual with Female Focus being one of the first programs at Cooper Fitness Center to do so. Not even a pandemic can deter the program from its purpose of empowering women to improve their health through fitness and education.

Once the shelter-in-place order went into effect, Cole and her team got to work exploring the best options to keep Female Focus up and running. Female Focus never missed a beat. Exactly one week after Cooper Fitness Center closed due to local and then state mandates to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Female Focus welcomed 20 participants on its first ever class via Zoom. Cole led the women using only an iPad in her living room. “The ladies were so remarkably adaptive! I just had to trust in the Lord, listen to Him and let Him get us through it,” said Cole. Little did she know the program would thrive with more consistency than ever before. “The women recognized the need for physical activity— mentally, spiritually, physically and emotionally” said Cole.

Also for the first time, women from across the country were able to participate in Female Focus. The virtual classes included not only Dallas residents but also welcomed participants from New Jersey and even Canada! Former Dallas resident of nearly 20 years and Female Focus participant of 10 years, Laurie Scott, currently lives in New Jersey and was ecstatic for the opportunity to participate in Female Focus once again! “Colette does an amazing job. In addition to being an excellent trainer, I really appreciate how she knows everyone’s physical limitations and how to modify each exercise. I love the structure and the comradery.” said Scott. “During quarantine, it has reminded me that no matter how difficult life is, there are still really good things in our lives to be thankful for. I would not be the same without Female Focus.”

“I’ve learned that I’m stronger than I think that I am. We all are!”
-Leslie Goth
Dallas, TX

Fellow Female Focus participant Christi Hays, who has been active in the program since April 2019, echoes Scott’s praise. “I love that now I am doing something positive for my body. For this shift in my 40s, it’s not about the number on the scale or what size my clothes are—it’s about being physically active and healthy long term.”

Over the course of our shelter-in-place, in addition to the expanded class size, the support system among the women grew in leaps and bounds as they dedicated themselves to not only caring for their physical well-being but also caring for each other. Both the participants and instructors shared and prayed for each other’s struggles and difficulties. “Everything the program is about—deep relationships, community, support and accountability—was experienced one hundredfold during the shelter-in-place,” says Cole.

Cole explains how she consistently asks God to bring to Female Focus the people He wants her to help. “Through all of this I have learned that God brought every one of these ladies to help ME, too! They’re just as equally my support system and source of encouragement,” says Cole.

Another first for Female Focus came when Cooper Fitness Center reopened once the shelter-in-place was lifted. Women participated in-person and virtually all in one class. Whether someone was local or across the country, each and every woman was welcomed with open arms. University Park local and 18-year Cooper Fitness Center member Meg Carlsen says, “I love the program and I love Colette. She and the staff who help her are knowledgeable and professional—it is exactly what you would expect from Cooper! It is truly tailor-made for you but includes such comradery. It’s all the benefits of working with a personal trainer and group dynamic rolled into one.”

Cole and her team continue to simultaneously lead Female Focus participants in-person and on Zoom. They plan to offer virtual classes as long as the women need them and are participating. The 55-minute classes meet Tuesday and Thursday afternoons.


To join the Female Focus program at Cooper Fitness Center or for more information , please call 972.233.4832 or visit cooperfitfemale.com.

Categories: Cooper Updates

Live Longer, Walk Daily

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, outdoor exercise is once again on the rise. If we have grown as a society in any measure, it would be our awareness of the importance of exercise to not only our overall physical health but our mental health as well. With gyms and fitness facilities having been temporarily closed for the public’s safety, many have opted to take walks outside to provide a break in their daily routine.

It’s now been 52 years since the publication of Aerobics in 1968. Founder and chairman of Cooper Aerobics, Kenneth H. Cooper, MD, MPH, states that he has been amazed by the number of people he sees walking, jogging and cycling in the streets of Dallas during this crisis. “It is comparable to what we had in the exercise boom following 1968! And that is extremely important because we know that one way to power up your immunity against acute and chronic diseases is to exercise aerobically,” says Dr. Cooper.

Dr. Cooper recommends getting at least 30 minute of collective or sustained aerobic activity most days per week. Below are two progressive walking programs to help you safely achieve a goal of 30 minutes of exercise per day and reap the benefits of aerobic exercise.

Dr. Kenneth H. Cooper’s Progressive Walking Programs

The ultimate goal is to exercise 150 minutes total per week. In this first phase, there is no distance requirement but you should be able to talk while walking. Establish a course out and back or make it a circular route. Your total time can be divided into short segments (collective) or continuous (sustained) activity. As always consult with your physician before beginning this program.

Basic Progressive Walking Program: PHASE I

In the second phase, the goal is still to exercise 150 minutes per week, but the difference is your walking speed will increase, allowing you to cover farther distances. You should still be able to talk without being unusually short of breath. The sooner you begin a walking program to increase your endurance, the easier walking at this speed will be in your later years. And remember, “Fitness is a journey, not a destination.”

Basic Progressive Walking Program: PHASE II

Regardless of age or gender, anyone can reap the benefits of aerobic exercise, especially walking. While COVID-19 still remains a global dilemma in the present reality, you can boost your immunity and improve your overall health by joining the global fitness revolution that has reignited once again.

To learn more about Dr. Cooper’s 8 Healthy Steps to Get Cooperized™click here.

Categories: Cooper Updates