December 2016 Issue

  • Struggling to lose weight?

    Personal trainer Darnell Brown sets out to show Lynchburg residents that losing may be the best way to win. Since creating his fitness group, The Winning Circle, he has helped numerous men and women shed pounds and adopt healthier lifestyles. Brown, who also is a boxing coach, has found a way to channel his love of the sport into tangible results for his clients. Recently Brown and I set down to discuss his view on getting healthy through personal training and boxing.

    Q: What originally inspired your interest in boxing?
    A: Well, I started taking karate when I was 6-years-old. I stopped when I was 10, but then I found a renewed interest about 10 years ago. I decided to pursue a career as a boxing coach and fitness trainer.

    Q: How many boxers are you currently training?
    A: I have four men and one woman right now.

    Q: That’s interesting. I didn’t know they had female boxing competitions in Lynchburg. Are their competitions as well-attended as the male matches?
    A: Unfortunately, no. But we are working to make it more popular. The women are just as talented, and it’s a shame they don’t receive the same recognition.

    Q: What noteworthy recognition have your male boxers received?
    A: Most recently Jessi Hackett won the Muay Thai Bout, Featherweight Division at the Virginia Cage Fighting Championships.

    Q: Do you think boxing is too dangerous for children?
    A: No, not if they are trained properly. I teach them proper form. It’s boxing, so they are going to get hit. But I teach them to position themselves so they can control how and where they get hit. Boxing is as much defensive as it offensive. Once they learn that, the chance of serious injury drops dramatically.

    Q: These days, families don’t spend much quality time together. Do you think the benefits of boxing are important enough to subtract from family time?
    A: Actually boxing can be family time. That way it benefits the family as a whole. It gives them something exciting to do together. When kids see their parents exercise, they are more likely to exercise.

    Q: Speaking of exercise, when you aren’t coaching you work as a personal trainer. Can you tell me about your fitness class?
    A: We are called The Winning Circle. We meet Monday through Friday from 10 a.m.–noon at The Jubilee Center in Lynchburg. The fee is affordable at only $20 a month.

    Q: What does that $20 cover?
    A: You get admittance to every class, where we work out as a group, but I am on-hand to provide individual support, instruction and encouragement as needed. We are more than a group. We are a family. My clients don’t succeed or fail alone. We work together, and that is how we win.

    Q: What do you think makes you a better option than a big-name chain gym?
    A: Humbly, I have to say I’m the benefit. I care about my clients. I’m going to push them harder because I know the potential is there.

    Q: If a client prefers to work one-on-one, is that possible?
    A: Yes. I have done sessions in clients’ homes or even in the park when the weather permits.

    Q: Is that service also $20 a month?
    A: For the one-on-one sessions, I charge $30 a month.

    Q: What advice would you have for someone who wants to get in shape but doesn’t have time?
    A: You must make time. We make time for things that are important to us. Even it’s while you’re watching your favorite television show. You can work out while you watch TV. It’s actually a decent way to push yourself. If it’s a 30-minute program and you watch it 5 times a week, then you’re getting your recommended 150 minutes of exercise. It may be difficult in the beginning, but the more you do it, the easier it will be.

    Q: We know exercise is vital to losing weight. Do you also stress the importance of proper nutrition in your classes?
    A: If you aren’t eating well, then your body doesn’t have the fuel it needs to exercise. Also, drinking enough water is key to a healthy lifestyle. And it can’t just be about losing weight. If you eat well and exercise, then you will lose weight. But that is never the goal. The goal is to be the healthiest version of you possible. We lay that foundation.

    Who better to offer perspective than two Winning Circle members? When asked about their experiences Tamara Hamlett and Tevin Jones were happy to share. “I saw a few familiar faces on the group page and decided I wanted to train with them,” says Hamlet. “Since I’ve been there I’ve gained a lot of self-control, a more positive and active lifestyle and of course boxing! Darnell is great. He's encouraging and definitely always inspiring us.”

    Jones agrees. “I stumbled upon The Winning Circle through social media. So, I reached out and asked if I could come check out his class and with open arms he invited me,” says Jones. “Nine months later here we are. I have always been an athletic person. I train six days a week, strength and conditioning, and three days out of a week I’m in the lab doing pad work and working on technical boxing skills with Darnell. I’m always looking for a challenge in life and looking for a way to better myself. With The Winning Circle I’m getting both.” Jones added: “Darnell is always pushing me, encouraging me, and helping guide me onto the right path to success in the boxing world. But not only does this help me physically but mentally because training with Darnell never gets easier, you just get better. I think that alone says something about what Darnell has to offer to people through The Winning Circle.”

    To find out more about the Winning Circle, contact Brown at Facebook/The Winning Circle Fitness.


  • Community health workers meet to discuss expanding role in the community

    Dr. Michael Royster, Vice President of the Institute for Public Health Innovation in Richmond, was excited to see high interest in utilizing community health workers in the Roanoke Valley during the Community Health Promoter Summit sponsored by Carilion Clinic in October. “I’m impressed by community representatives here today and I’ve enjoyed listening to the speakers talk about what is involved in engaging people to learn about everything community health workers may entail,” he told the group during the meeting held at High Street Baptist Church. Further, he added, community health workers do “amazing work in their communities. … They need to step away from volunteering and begin to get paid for their work the same way community health workers are being paid.”

    Denise Wise, who was among several presenters, agreed. “I would like for Virginia to become more aware of the benefits of having community health workers,” she said. “I also would like to see Medicaid extended in order to transition community health workers from being volunteers into being paid workers.” The summit was a wonderful vehicle to begin the process, she said. Community health workers (CHWs) are frontline public health workers who have a close understanding of the community they serve. This trusting relationship enables them to serve as a liaison between health/social services and the community to facilitate access to services and to improve the quality and cultural competence of service delivery.

    After participating in the conference, Ivy Bell said she hopes as folks learn more about the role of CHWs, attitudes in the Roanoke Valley will shift and spur a move to fund jobs for community health volunteers. That attitude was shared by Kelly Evans. “I gained a substantial amount of quality information from the summit,” she said, and added she hopes to see more people become educated on community health workers, because “the more educated people are, the more empowered people will be and that will lead people to have a better understanding of the need for community health workers.”

    Stephanie Carrington and Aaron Harris-Boush said they plan to rally for additional summits in order to make more people aware of how CHWs benefit their communities, as well as share information and stories that will continuously improve their neighborhoods. Harris-Boush hopes to catch the attention of the right people in order to expand the initiative. Neighborhood approaches need to be taken in order to help this valley grow, he said.

    Priscilla Casey, an educator for Blue Ridge Literacy who teaches minority and illiterate communities, said she attended the conference to become more educated on the topic. Now her focus is to use the knowledge she gained to educate people who have a minimal amount of education. Casey firmly believes in starting from the bottom and rising up. She said she wants to be that connection between the health care community and illiterate and minority communities that she works with on a daily basis.

  • Don’t let diabetes knock you off your feet

    Diabetes, in addition to affecting blood sugar levels, increases the risk of developing other serious and life-threatening complications, including blindness, kidney disease and amputations. Proper foot care is critically important for diabetics because it can help prevent injuries that are difficult to heal and the subsequent infections and amputations that may result.

    Diabetics face an increased risk of foot and leg wounds and infections because diabetes can cause peripheral artery disease (PAD), resulting in decreased blood flow to extremities, thereby increasing the risk of infections in wounds that won’t heal properly, according to the American Diabetes Association (ADA). Diabetes also can cause nerve damage that reduces an individual’s ability to feel a foot injury occurring, such as an abrasion or burn. The National Institutes of Health estimates that 60–70 percent of diabetics have some form of neuropathy (nerve disease or dysfunction) and loss of sensation.

    Diabetes’ negative health implications—beyond just the disease’s initial impact on blood sugar level—aren’t inevitable if the disease is diagnosed and treated, and managed through a combination of education, diet and exercise.

    To better understand how to prevent the range of health problems diabetes causes, it’s important to first understand the disease.

    According to the American Diabetes Association, type two diabetes is a condition in which blood glucose (sugar) levels are higher than they should be because the body is not using insulin properly. Insulin, produced by the pancreas, converts the sugar found in food into energy or helps the body store it for use later. In patients with diabetes, the pancreas will initially manufacture additional insulin in an attempt to maintain the proper blood glucose level, but over time it won’t be able to provide enough insulin. While genetics undoubtedly play a role in causing the disease, so does being overweight, a poor diet and being physically inactive.

    Type one diabetes—often referred to as juvenile diabetes—differs in that the pancreas doesn’t produce any insulin, and because the disease is caused by genetics rather than being influenced by lifestyle choices.

    Nearly 10 percent of the U.S. population, or about 29 million people, suffer from diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control, with type two diabetes accounting for 95 percent of cases. African-Americans are disproportionately affected by diabetes as they’re nearly two times more likely to have the disease as compared to non-Hispanic whites, resulting in 13.2 percent of all African-Americans over the age of 20 nationwide having the disease.

    In many of those patients, foot injuries due to vascular disease and nerve damage, are common conditions, and worries, necessitating additional attention and care being directed to the feet.

    “Because of the increased risk for foot injury and infection in diabetics, we recommend diabetic patients check their feet daily,” says J. Douglas Call, C.P., president of Roanoke-based Virginia Prosthetics & Orthotics, Inc. “They should examine each foot’s top and bottom, the toes, in between the toes, and the toenails, looking for warning signs that an injury is occurring.”

    • Call says that some of the warning signs patients should be on the lookout for include:
    • Bumps, blisters, lumps or bruises
    • Cuts or sore or cracked skin, as even the smallest crack, can lead to an infection
    • Patches of thin or shiny skin or areas of redness
    • Temperature differences in the foot indicating decreased blood flow
    • Pain, tingling or numbness, signaling nerve damage
    • The loss of hair on the foot or leg

    An ideal time to conduct a foot check is immediately after bathing, Call says. Examine the dry feet in a well-lit area, using a mirror if needed to examine each foot’s bottom.

    “The proper footwear also is very important in preventing foot injuries in diabetics,” Call adds. “For patients with a prescription from a physician, we carefully evaluate and fit them with therapeutic shoes—some people refer to them as ‘diabetic shoes’—that are specially designed to prevent foot injuries and skin breakdown.”

    Call said it’s also important for patients to ensure that shoes fit properly so the toes don’t feel too close together and the heel doesn’t move up and down in the shoe when walking. Patients should also have several pairs of shoes, wear a different pair daily and change their socks daily.

    “I also caution patients on walking barefoot because of the increased risk of injury, caution them against using very hot water or heating pads on their feet because of the burn risk and recommend they use sunscreen on their feet to prevent sunburn.”

    Despite the importance of proactive foot care in diabetics, sobering statistics from the Institute for Preventive Foot Health’s (IPFH) National Foot Health Assessment report show that fewer than half of all diabetics have regular foot screenings with their physicians. For some diabetics, an amputation is the best course of action recommended by their physician. For these patients, concerns over their expected loss of ambulation or their ability to continue working are often the first things that a new amputee considers, Call says, but with the current level of comfort and technology available in prosthetics today, the only limits that most amputees face now are ones they impose on themselves.

    “Today’s amputees can live their lives to the fullest, and with the help of a certified prosthetist, can resume whatever activities they enjoyed before their amputation,” Call explains. “With proper fitting and rehabilitation, not only can they regain the lives they had prior to their amputation, but many are driven to attain higher goals. We have patients who enjoy new and exciting activities, from dancing to mountain climbing. There is a world of opportunities available to amputees today.”

    In addition to proper foot care, a healthy lifestyle that includes exercise, proper diet, maintaining a healthy weight level and ending tobacco use, are also important choices that can help prevent type two diabetes from occurring, or help patients better manage their diabetes and reduce the complications that often accompany the disease. The American Diabetes Association has diabetes advice and tips online at

  • Lessen the stress when traveling this holiday season

    As we inch closer to the holidays, thoughts turn to travel. Whether your vacation involves a road trip, a cruise or a long-distance flight, follow these tips to stay healthy while away from home.

    Plan Ahead

    • Pack healthy snacks such as fruits, dried fruits and nuts so you’ll be less tempted to fill up on sweets and chips. Choose whole grains and lean proteins whenever they’re on the menu.
    • Carry a reusable water bottle so you’ll quench your thirst with water instead of sugary, high-calorie sodas.
    • If you are traveling internationally, Carilion Clinic’s infectious disease specialists recommend scheduling a pre-trip appointment a month or two before your planned departure for region-related recommendations and immunizations or medications.

    Keep Moving
    The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers a long-distance trip anything more than four hours. Whether you are traveling by air, car, bus or train, if you are traveling for that amount of time or longer, you could be at risk for bloods clots.

    The potential to develop clots, or deep-vein thrombosis (DVT), is higher for those with certain risk factors, such as a personal or family history of blood clots, being of older age, obesity, some health conditions and certain medications.
    Even travelers without pre-existing conditions and risk factors should take preventive measures. Many DVT and varicose vein patients work long hours sitting at a desk or standing in one place. I advise them to wear compression stockings for the same reasons. I recommend stockings for all adults traveling long distances regardless of their fitness level.

    It also is wise to increase the amount of water you drink so that you remain hydrated on the road. Alcohol and caffeine have a diuretic effect, and dehydration can contribute to clots.

    Generally, all the things we try to do when we aim to stay healthy are things that we should try to maintain while traveling.

    The following tips can help you heed this advice while you’re traveling:

    • Plan frequent rest breaks to stretch and walk around while you’re on the road.
    • Take turns driving so no single driver gets too fatigued.
    • Engage in physical movement whenever you find yourself waiting.
    • Take advantage of the many activities offered on cruises and at all-inclusive resorts. Show restraint from all the generous second and third helpings offered at mealtime.

    Sometimes the planning, packing, weather-watching and work-worry that go along with vacation can add stress to your plans. In addition to planning fun and active things to do schedule some down time as well.

    Also, be sure to give yourself plenty of time to get where you are going. Plan for the unexpected (traffic, flight delays, long TSA lines) so you will have a buffer and will not have to drive too fast or miss your flight.


  • Stedman Speaks

    Stedman Payne is an experienced financial professional who serves as Member One’s Market Executive in the Lynchburg area. His financial educational series offers tips for making smart decisions when it comes to managing your finances. During the holidays you’re busy, stressed and a bit more distracted than usual. Identity thieves thrive on vulnerability and will search for opportunities to steal your personal information. You don’t have to become a victim. Follow these tips to keep your personal information protected this holiday season. 

    Q: How can I keep my personal information safe while out shopping or traveling during the holidays?
    SP: Limit what you carry. If you’re shopping around town, all you really need is identification, a credit and/or debit card, a backup card, and a small amount of cash. You also should always carry your auto insurance card (which can be kept in your car) and health insurance card. Never carry your Social Security card, birth certificate, passwords or any other personal information that could help a thief steal your identity.

    Q: Am I less likely to become a victim of identity theft if I do all my shopping online?
    SP: Not necessarily. You still have to be careful about shopping online, especially if you’re using shared and/or an unsecured internet connection. As a best practice, don’t access sensitive personal information such as your bank account or any online account that stores your personal information on public, unsecured wireless connections (such as at your local coffee shop). It’s best to save your online shopping or account check-ins through your secured connection at home.

    Q: What are some other ways to prevent identity theft?
    SP: Don’t give out personal or financial information over the phone, through the mail or online unless you’ve initiated contact or know who you’re dealing with. Change your passwords and personal identification numbers regularly, especially if you suspect your information may have been com- promised. Additionally, most financial institutions offer purchase alerts that notify you if your credit card has been used based on certain parameters such as a dollar amount.

    Q: How will I know if my identity has been stolen?
    SP: There are a few clues that signal your identity has been stolen. If you see withdrawals that you can’t explain or unfamiliar charges on your account, investigate them right away. If you start receiving phone calls from debt collectors or medical bills for a service you didn’t use, your identity may have been stolen. Someone whose identity has been stolen might receive communication from the IRS that more than one tax return was filed in their name or they received income from an employer they didn’t work for. Also, check your credit report every year and look for
    any discrepancies.

    Q: So what should I do if my wallet or purse is lost or stolen and I think my personal identity might be at risk?
    SP: You should cancel your debit card by contacting your financial institution and cancel your credit cards by calling the credit card companies. Reach out to local law enforcement to file a police report so there is a record of your loss. Inform the Department of Motor Vehicles and obtain a new driver’s license. Try to remember every piece of identifying information that was in your wallet or purse like an insurance card or library card and contact the appropriate businesses. If you’re one of the millions already affected, you can also visit to learn what your next steps should be.

    Watch out for Stedman Payne’s column in the next edition of ColorsVA for more useful financial tips. Until then, best wishes for a happy holiday season and a prosperous New Year.

  • Healthy eating and exercise will get you fit in 2017

    Although you are unable to tell by viewing my floating head profile at the end of my articles, I am a pretty fit individual. This is no accident because I actually work hard at it: running, strength training and the occasional yoga class. No, I’m not some crazed fitness fanatic. I do it because I love to eat, and it’s the only way I can counter the calories! In small part I exercise for my health and well-being. The way I see it, if I exercise regularly and eat healthy, then I won’t be judged when I indulge in rich, delicious, fatty foods.

    What are we doing to our bodies anyway when we aren’t concerned about what we put in our mouths? What about when we eat healthy but don’t add in exercise to aid in taking care of our bodies? And where does dieting come into play? What’s the best diet out there? Is there a best one out there? I have a tough time answering these questions, so I turned to the experts.

    Beth Richey, registered dietitian with Carilion, was gracious enough to share nutrition information that can be useful when making the decision to lead a healthy lifestyle. Her position required rigorous exams to become registered and the minimum of a bachelor’s degree. However, she informs me that most in her field hold advanced degrees.

    What should people take into consideration before starting a diet?
    Richey: It is important to understand why the overeating is occurring and you must be honest with yourself. Are there emotional effects behind their eating habits? Also, the sustainability of the diet factors into the choice. Is it healthy in the long term? Is it cost effective?

    Have you noticed an increase in trendy diet systems such as Weight Watchers and Advocare?
    Richey: Definitely. Weight Watchers has been around a long time and it does seem to teach long-term healthy eating. Advocare appears to promote a balanced diet, but there are supplements that come along with it. You want to be careful when it comes to those things. Some patients who take supplements with herbal blends need to realize there can be drug interactions. This is because the FDA doesn’t regulate them as strictly. They also can be expensive, and chances are the body doesn’t need them. …the body will get rid of whatever it doesn’t need.

    What long term advice can you offer individuals for getting and staying healthy?
    Richey: Be mindful and understand the cause of overeating. Be honest about how you are eating. Cut out the junk and processed foods. Cook when you can, and cook fresh foods. Definitely exercise, move your body. Do something as long as you get out and move. Before you start any regimen make sure it is OK with your doctor.

    Part two of taking care of ourselves – exercise. I turned to my son, Donte’ Collins for this segment. He was an athlete throughout his adolescent years, and is currently a senior at James Madison University, majoring in Kinesiology (the study of body movement). I felt a student was a good choice so we could see what’s being taught folks who will eventually end up teaching us.

    Why did you choose this field of study?
    I chose it mainly because it interests me. Learning how the body works during exercise and how your body reacts to different environmental changes while it moves is intriguing. Most of what I study is about how the body works under different stresses and conditions of exercise in the present and in the future.

    What is the most common cause of injuries in the gym?
    Poor knowledge of equipment and poor form are the most common.  A lot of people don’t realize that incorrect form can seriously injure your muscles and joints.

    HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) is a major trend right now in exercise. Is this right for everyone?
    It has been shown to give great results in many studies. As with most exercise, it should be done with precaution; high intensity should be relative to the individual. Definitely consult a physician before doing it.

    What is an exercise that anyone can do?
    Collins: Walking. Whether walking the dog, hiking trails or greenways, anything that gets the heart rate up will help in the long run.

    What do you feel is an exercise that people should do, but don’t?
    Collins: In terms of the general population, most people don’t do strength training because so many people focus on cardio. If you don’t do exercises that relate to the stresses that your body is under, then it is easy to get injured.

    What advice could you give to someone who has never exercised before but wants to start?
    Collins: Have an open mind and an idea of the types of exercises you would enjoy. For many people it’s a hard behavior change in the beginning, so it really should be something you think you would like to make a habit. Exercise and healthy eating are the first step people should consider instead of turning to companies for pills to try to lose weight and prevent diseases. There is no quick fix.

    So eat right and exercise and remember studies show that it takes about 66 days to develop a habit. Therefore, hang in there when it comes to healthy eating and exercise. It truly is a lifestyle change that will benefit you in the long run.

  • Editor's Note

    This month’s Colorsva focuses on health and fitness, including an article on diabetes. I’m sharing my family’s experience with the blood sugar disorder.

    Twenty years ago mama died from complications with diabetes. She was just 66. Death came quickly after being diagnosed in her early 50s.

    Mama had no clue diabetes had invaded her body. All she knew is that after a day of shopping she didn’t feel well. My three sisters and I took mom to the emergency room. The diagnosis was swift – type two diabetes, a chronic condition that affects the way the body processes blood sugar (glucose). Her blood sugar level was dangerously high. Mama immediately was admitted to the hospital where she spent nearly two weeks as health professionals worked to get her blood sugar under control. Back then hospital stays were longer. While there she was given a brief lesson on controlling diabetes, but ultimately was told insulin would regulate the problem. That was nearly 40 years ago.

    Many years later we still reflect on that diagnosis, and the fact we lost our mother to the disease at such a young age. We now see how we loved mama to death, literally. We actually believed mom’s diabetes would be managed by insulin as long as she took it. Our only issue was getting comfortable injecting the insulin. When her sugar count rose, the insulin increased. Everything seemed to be working just as the doctor said it would. Since mama had a difficult time changing her eating habits, we found ourselves sympathizing. She would lament: “I’ve been eating like this for a long time. It’s hard to change.” We didn’t push her. Instead, we conceded. We even supplied her favorites: Black Label bacon, hog jowl, ham, sausage, orange juice, pie, cake, peanut butter fudge, and so on – all the foods that should have been off her list, but she enjoyed.

    And when one of us suggested exercise, well, let’s just say, her hearing wasn’t good. It was a subject that had to be stressed over and over again. She would give it a try – for a few days. Then she would say exercise was just too much work and it took her breath away. “I want to finish life as I have been living it.”

    Diabetes makes its way to other parts of the body in some fashion. In the years that followed, mom became hypertensive. Her eyes began to dim. She developed heart problems that ultimately led to congestive heart failure. Eventually mama’s kidneys stopped functioning. While the doctor said she could’ve lived years longer, mom decided dialysis was not for her. She was released from the hospital on November 16, 1996. She took the weekend to say her goodbyes, and even asked for a final trip through the Roanoke City market area. On her first trip to dialysis outside the hospital, two days later, mom died from a massive heart attack as soon as she was hooked up to the machine.

    Reflecting on mama’s diabetes still, we realize just how uninformed, some would even say ignorant, we were about this disease – one of the major killers among African Americans. My, oh my, if we knew then what we know now...

    Don’t let this happen to your family.

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