About Maria

“My experience makes me passionate about helping people learn what they can do to maximize their health and well- being and reduce health risks. I do this by cuing into the unique needs of individuals to assist them in setting realistic goals and selecting the best methods for staying on track. There is a myriad of information out there; counseling services focus on finding what’s pertinent to forging your own guided path to success and staying accountable”. My motto: “Learn more; gain access and support; do what works!”

Please take a few minutes to read about the experience I bring to this endeavor…

Personal Journey:

My beautiful pictureI grew up a chubby kid and then a depressed and isolated obese teenager and young adult. I remember the insecurity which came with low self esteem like it was yesterday. It was a good thing I was a fairly smart and hard-working, achiever-of-good-grades type, or I’d have felt a total loser. I remember wanting to learn to play tennis or to ski like others around me but I imagined I could never look or feel okay in the athletic-wear, or that I’d be any good at the sport. Dating and boyfriends were “limited”, and I have vivid memories of feeling like a giant white tent in my new starched nurse’s uniforms at college and in my first job. Here I was… a young and single, newly graduated professional, living and working on the Upper East Side of NYC, with a promising career and lifestyle ahead of me, yet I was unhappy with myself.

To this day I am grateful to have met Sandy, a nurse on my unit who was incredibly fit and an avid runner. She inspired me to take care of myself and even referred me to her doctor who she thought might help me with the hormonal problems I was apparently experiencing. I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), a metabolic disorder which Dr. Schwartz said would make controlling my weight a life-long battle. Here’s something I’ve learned and a recent summary regarding PCOS:

 Feb. 17, 2010 — Fat tissue in women with polycystic ovary syndrome produces an inadequate amount of the hormone that regulates how fats and glucose are processed, promoting increased insulin resistance and inflammation, glucose intolerance, and greater risk of diabetes and heart disease, according to a study conducted at the Center for Androgen-Related Research and Discovery at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

“OMG”; Everyone in my family has heart disease! In addition, we now know that the metabolic symptoms of PCOS contribute to greater fat storage and to the reasons losing weight can be so difficult. After a multitude of tests, my doctor prescribed “exercising like crazy” as the very best and most important intervention. This was the turning point for me, or the trigger, to do something about how my obesity was affecting my physical and emotional health and the risks and detriments I was facing.  I really wanted to exercise but felt much too fat to do it. So, I sought weight loss counseling and started dropping enough pounds to inspire me to exercise and then, in turn, the exercise felt so good that it inspired me to find ways to always expend more calories than I consumed and eat more healthfully at the same time – the one basic law of weight loss!

Today I am 65 pounds lighter than I was when I met Sandy and Dr. Schwartz in 1986.

IMG_0034Remarkably, I have continued to pay attention to the cues of my body, mind, behavior and surroundings to take care of my health and stay fit for the last 27 years. Of course there were the usual challenges of 10-15 pound weight gains which came with pregnancies and lifestyle changes and adjustments that got in my way. But my need to stay active because it made me happy, kept my food consumption in-check. Having twins inspired a life of a young mom who would always be seen pushing a double jogging stroller, and repeated home re-locations made me have to really seek out the best next methods for staying fit. I learned I needed to be resourceful and particular in finding convenient access to places I’d enjoy running. To me this need to be happily active made all the difference: from Central Park, to the hills of Budapest, to the field paths in Zurich, and back to hills again in the parks of Pittsburgh. I am so grateful to have settled now into the lifestyle I have in Portland, Maine. I love to run everyday in the scenic natural beauty here and enjoy my work-outs downtown in the lovely environment of Bay Club Health and Fitness where I currently provide this service to inspire, educate and support others to adopt a healthful lifestyle. In the meantime, I am kind of proud to say that I have recently achieved my lowest weight, lowest body fat percentage, and fastest 5K running time at age 51!

Professional Journey:

I founded GladHealth in March, 2013 when my practice opened at Bay Club Health and Fitness in Portland, Maine. I feel fortunate to have been able to help many individuals and groups of people to achieve nutrition, health and weight loss goals and feel honored to have been recognized for my work by the producer of the film Orchard Revolution (click here to see trailer), a study of how so many Americans became obese and diabetic and what can be done to change this. I have since enjoyed the privilege of expanding my practice through part-time positions as Nurse Practitioner at The Center for Weight Management, Anew 10 Medical Weight Loss and Wellness, and Women to Women Health Care Center; all located in here Southern Maine.

Prior professional experience includes a 17 year career as a Registered Nurse and then Family Nurse Practitioner, caring for both adults and children. Most of my experience took place at Mount Sinai Hospital in NYC, in oncology (13 years) and then in surgery and pediatric surgery, with clinical experience also in primary care and college health. I had the great privilege of working in multiple settings and with physicians and care teams encouraging of my autonomy to design plans of care and treatment for people, as per their individual needs. I developed a forte in finding and enabling the best combinations of approaches to care for people with illness. I also found it rewarding to design educational programs to instruct and support clients and families as well as medical and nursing staff. This combined administration of healthcare and education became a lasting passion.

My education experience is as follows:
Columbia University: Master of Science in Nursing; Nurse Practitioner in Family Health
Hunter College: Bachelor of Science in Nursing
Queensborough Community College: Associates Degree in Applied Science of Nursing

Licensure:
Registered Professional Nurse: New York: Maine
Family Nurse Practitioner: New York; Maine (independent practice pending)

Certification: Nurse Practitioner in Family Health; American Nurses’ Credentialing Center

Diploma: Professional Nutrition, Diet and Health; Ashworth College

Member: American Nurses Association; American Academy of Nurse Practitioners; Obesity Medicine Association; American College of Sports Medicine

Parental Journey:

Perhaps the most gratifying role in my lifetime has been as home-school parent to my three daughters for eleven years. What a privilege to have been able to tap into their individuality and their unique styles and needs to guide them through childhood academic and societal worlds into adulthood. Again, my passion has been to provide an environment of education and guidance to encourage self-discovery and empowerment to learn and grow as they take control of their own future. A recent worthwhile endeavor has been to to teach them the same Diploma Course I had been taking myself on Nutrition, Diet and Health. The effects have been astounding… I now have children who care about how food is cultivated, produced, distributed and prepared, and who understand determining nutritional value and how the body uses nutrients. Their expanded view on the role of government regulation is a plus for the future of their generation. In addition, they love to enjoy new foods, grocery shop, read labels, and cook, and they appreciate the value of exercise. At the end of the course they pooled their birthday money together to purchase a Wii-Fit :-)

Education and passionate guidance really, truly do make a difference!