Meet the Teacher: Wellness coach says small changes lead to big results

Gina Lang tiptoed into her wellness coaching career.

The New Jersey native studied journalism and had a career in advertising before discovering her passion for wellness.

Her husband, Larry Ertel, is also a physician in town.

She said through their discussions and with her work with initiatives such as the Wellness Challenge and Traveling Trail, she realized she needed to do more to help people.

Now, at age 50, Lang is a Mayo Clinic Wellness Coach and a Silver Sneakers instructor. She has been a wellness coach for eight years but recently added Silver Sneakers instructor to her resume.

“I just started teaching,” Lang said. “It is such a good workout. I was injured and used to do Silver Sneakers as part of my rehab. And the older people would say, why are you working out with us? It was over the last 10 years, and I say because it’s a good workout. It is a great, low impact workout.”

Lang is also the owner of Day One Wellness Clinic. Day One focuses on the behavior of being well and making small changes to improve the way people live. Lang said she helps her clients make SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound) goals.

Lang said some of her clients are busy moms trying to fit in more balance or some have a specific weight loss focus, or there is the retiree caregiving for a spouse seeking a plan to live the best they can for as long as they can.

One of her recent clients lost more than 70 pounds in a year and now has the mobility to do things she couldn’t previously.

Whatever the reason to seek better health, Lang said, Day One Wellness can help get people on their way.

Day One offers metabolism testing, meal replacement programs and regular coaching appointments. Packages vary in price, but an initial consultation is free.

Lang said she hopes, at the least, people learn what wellness and self-care means. Wellness includes spiritual, educational, social, environmental and physical well-being.

“You cannot adopt a healthy eating plan when things are out of whack in your other dimensions,” she said. “So, we kind of look at the person as a whole.”

Lang is also teaching a few classes during the 2019 Wellness Challenge. She has been a part of the challenge since its inception.

“Deborah Jackson here and Jennifer Gulley at the health department are amazing leaders,” Lang said.

At 5:30 p.m. March 21, Lang will teach “How to Use Journaling to Boost Your Wellness Success.”

Studies show journaling behavior provides lasting results.

“We know that journaling is among one of the most successful tools you can add as a way to change behavior,” Lang said.

Lang will offer tips and tricks to start your journal.

“A lot of times, people are like, ‘What are the rules?’” Lang said. “There are no rules. It’s your journal.”

Lang said her journal features to-do lists, pro lists or quick notes about her day.

“I use mine as a little bit of a catchall,” she said.

Each class participant will receive a simple starter journal to jump-start success.

At 5:30 p.m. March 28, Lang will teach Understanding Your Metabolism. In this class, Lang explains the basics of metabolism and ways to increase it.

Lang said metabolism is individual and there can be up to a 900 calorie difference between the calories each person needs to function.

“Learning that helped my journey,” Lang said.

If anyone has struggled with most weight loss programs, metabolism may be the culprit. Lang will also serve herbal tea at this class.

Directly following the metabolism class, Lang will teach Benefits to Eating more Plant Based Foods. She will review the benefits of eating more plants in a diet not only for health but also for the environment.

Lang recently finished a plant‐based nutrition course taught by T. Colin Campbell at Cornell University and found his research compelling, so, she said, she had to share.

Lang said the 90-day certification course opened her eyes to the benefits of plant-based diets. She learned about research that shows a diet primarily consisting of animal protein and animal fats can lead to obesity, cancer, diabetes and other diseases.

“I teach my clients to ask themselves, ‘What plant-based thing can I eat?’ as their first question,” Lang said.

Each class is at the College Park Gym, and interested participants can call 859‐771‐6033 or email to register for the course. Registration is required.

Many people may not want to eat plant-based foods, Lang said, but if clients can start with one thing they will eat, they can make small steps forward. It’s also better for people to build a connection to their food, she said.

“A lot of times by the time you peel an orange or eat some pistachios when you have to work a little bit at your food, there is satisfaction in your brain,” Lang said. “We don’t work very hard when we’re going through the drive-thru … If you can work a little bit and eat plant-based, it’s very satisfying.”

There’s a broad spectrum of plant-based foods from which to choose, Lang said. In the class, she plans to hand out a survey asking participants what they like out of the list and asking them to check what they don’t. She also asks them to list the year they decided they didn’t like that food.

“People will say I don’t like peas or whatever it is, and I’m like when’s the last time you had peas?” Lang said. “People will say, ‘well, I avoid them at all costs, so probably haven’t had peas since I was 8-years-old.’ Well, that’s an issue because a lot of times our tastes change as we get older.”

Lang said she doesn’t expect people to adopt a whole-food, plant-based or vegan diet, but she hopes people begin to think of bettering their diets by adding more plant-based options.

“That’s what I’m passionate about,” Lang said. “Small, tiny changes.”

Nothing happens overnight. No one became sedentary overnight; a person didn’t gain 20 pounds overnight. And that person won’t lose it overnight. Behavior change is slow and steady, Lang said.

Even if people have been to Lang’s classes or have tried those tactics before, they may still learn something new.

“I would just encourage people to set one tiny goal: move your body more, eat more plants and not make sudden huge goals or changes,” Lang said. “ … If you must, tiptoe.”