the help of her doctor, Diane Tolega has incorporated an
exercise and diet routine that is helping her lead a
healthier, happier life.
Diane Tolega may
not be able to change the date on her birth certificate, but during
the past few years she feels sheís shaved a few years off her
chronological age through a combination of lifestyle choices and
"I am a
meat, potatoes and bread sort of gal. I go out of my way not to eat
fruit and vegetables," says Tolega, a Milwaukee grandmother in
her late 50s, of her dietary preferences. "Due to family history,
Iím also at high-risk for developing breast cancer."
realized it was time for a change, she sought the help of Dr. Gojko
Stula, an internist with Metro Physicians-Wheaton Franciscan Medical
Group, and a practitioner of complimentary and traditional medicine.
Under his care, Tolega has incorporated a number of changes that have
made her healthier and happier.
used to being taken care of by their physicians; now itís about
showing patients how they can become active participants in
health," says Stula. "You can definitely extend your life,
not always by years, but definitely in quality."
vs. chronological age has been made popular by Dr. Mehmet Oz, who
first appeared on the Oprah Winfrey show. The concept is simple: Make
changes to your life and roll back the clock.
"A lot of
the things we contribute to Ďageí and the way that we age are
impacted by so many factors in our individual lives," says Dr.
Tiffany Mullen, a board certified family medicine physician at Aurora
Advanced Health Care. "As we age, some function is lost, but it
doesnít necessarily mean we canít continue living healthy,
there are a number of factors involved in the way we age, from our
diet and exercise patterns to the way we view the world.
that these changes can impact our health has gone more mainstream, for
a number of reasons," she says. "First of all, we can thank
Dr. Oz for making people more aware. But we also have a much better
understanding of how things like stress and chronic inflammation
affect our bodies."
Itís a lesson
Tolega has learned firsthand by working with Stula, who has used a
variety of integrative medicine techniques to improve her health, from
bioidentical hormones to nutritional supplements.
For her part,
Tolega has made a commitment to work out, usually incorporating four
to five cardio and strength training workouts each week, including
spin classes. Though sheís still not a fan of fruits or vegetables,
she now takes dietary supplements to help make up any nutritional
"I am not
sure if I have added years to my life, but I know if I hadnít made
these changes, my quality of life would be completely different,"
she says. "I know I would be quite obese, and based on the health
conditions I was developing, I could see an existence where literally
every bone in my body would hurt."
never too late to start," says Stula of the kind of journey
Tolega has taken. "It doesnít matter if you are very sick,
starting to show signs of diabetes or just have too much stress in
your life. You can start today."
saying itís often the small steps that can lead to better health.
about meeting people where they are," she says. "If youíre
a smoker, maybe itís more realistic to cut back rather than to stop
smoking, at least at first. If you are 400 pounds, as a doctor, the
goal is not to first guide you into becoming a triathlete. Itís
about starting to make better food choices. There are a variety of
ways to get control over the situation and your own health."