While I’ve been focusing on setting goals and making plans for 2023, I’d be remiss if I didn’t take the time to reflect back on the past year. I recently celebrated my one-year anniversary at Pritikin ICR as an Account Manager. Going into my new role, I knew I was in for an exciting change but one year later, I can honestly say that I underestimated how much this position – and the organization - would positively impact so many areas in my life.

Applying the Pritikin Lifestyle

The orientation process went seamlessly. My background in managing Cardiac Rehab departments was helpful but I found myself spending much of my time early on learning about the Pritikin Eating Plan. What I learned was that oftentimes we might make up healthy rules for ourselves We might try and justify those food rules/choices thinking we are making healthy choices. even though they may not actually be the best options. The Pritikin Eating Plan (PEP) taught me to make realistic choices as well as how to make just about anything taste great without added sodium, sugar, and fats. As I started integrating the PEP into my own life, I found myself struggling with the same doubts and hesitations patients must feel going into this big life change. After giving it time and experimenting with many of our recipes, I am more confident in my ability to make heart-healthy decisions on a daily basis because I know how to adapt my cooking methods.

My favorite recipe is our simple homemade vegetable broth (see below). Though I could buy low-sodium broth at my local grocery store, I love this recipe as it serves as a flavorful base for many other recipes. I like to make a big batch and use it in our meals throughout the week. This recipe is perfect for home cooks willing to spend a little extra time on a simple recipe that can truly elevate their final dishes. I may not be a chef but I was able to master the recipe

Fulfilling Moments on the Job

The Pritikin ICR program has continued to rapidly expand across the country, so it wasn’t long until I was able to participate in my first implementation process. The training process for our new facilities has evolved over time to make implementations safer during the COVID-19 pandemic and to solve tricky scheduling issues. Our largely remote training model makes opening a new site much quicker and enables us to truly put our clients' needs first.

Once the bulk of virtual training was completed, I led my first Team Training event which is essentially a professional dress rehearsal before officially opening. During this last training session, we make sure that CR staff are ready to initiate all the necessary processes and procedures to ensure a successful first day with patients. There is something to be said about face-to-face interactions and shared in-person experiences that help establish and solidify strong working relationships, especially when the facility is just getting started.

After leading four additional Team Training events, I can honestly say that these on-site visits are one of my favorite parts of the job. Each program has a consistent format but all have unique needs. The Pritikin ICR program is flexible enough that we can adapt our program to fit most challenges. One way we address needs related to staffing is through PritikinLIVE. Four of these 8 locations are utilizing PritikinLIVEas an interim method of providing nutritional education and cooking classes to their ICR patients when an on-site team member isn’t available.

Collaborating with the Team at AACVPR

Another highlight from my first year at Pritikin was being able to collaborate with my co-workers and engage with others in our field. The best example of this was when, in September, I attended the AACVPR conference with a number of my co-workers in West Palm Beach, FL. I enjoyed attending workshops and networking with several of my peers in attendance. I was also able to see our Pritikin Chef, Chris Wyatt, do what he does best and create great-tasting, heart-healthy treats for everyone to sample.

Chef Chris Wyatt preparing small servings of oatmeal at the AACVPR conference.
Chef Chris Wyatt preparing samples of a Pritikin breakfast.

Throughout the past year, I have had the opportunity to meet so many great people, both leaders, and clinicians. One common theme I have seen is the dedication of cardiac rehab clinicians across the field to ensure they are doing all they can for their patients. It’s inspiring to see that across the board, cardiac rehab professionals are in the profession because they care! Though these are only a few of the highlights of my first year with the company, there are too many positive experiences to list. This role has provided me with the ability to make a positive impact on our clients and on myself, and I am not looking back.

Homemade Vegetable Broth

· 1 onion with skins intact, roughly chopped
· 2 unpeeled carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces
· 3 celery stalks with leaves, cut into 1-inch pieces
· 4 garlic cloves, cut in half or mashed with the face of a knife
· 1 or 2 bay leaves
· ½ teaspoon black peppercorns
· 6 to 8 parsley sprigs and/or other fresh herbs you may have on-hand
· 4 to 6 cups of water

1. Wash vegetables and place them in the bottom of a large stock pot.
2. Cover vegetables with water and bring them to a boil.
3. Reduce heat and allow to simmer for about 45 minutes.
4. Remove from heat and let cool.
5. Using a strainer or slotted spoon, remove vegetables from the broth and discard.
6. Refrigerate broth until ready to use, or divide it into smaller storage containers and freeze.