Health Practices of the Pros


Do as I say, not as I do? Well, sometimes; nobody’s perfect. But these seven local health care practitioners do a pretty good job of walking the walk when it comes to staying healthy. Welcome to their worlds.

Danton Kono, M.D., 37 (pictured above)
Pediatrician, Mercy San Juan, Carmichael

Sticks to a routine—“Routine is key. Exercise should be a scheduled thing. I usually exercise at lunch, four to five days a week, for about 45 minutes. We have a cardiac rehab room/gym here at the hospital, so usually Tuesdays and Thursdays I do weights—Nautilus, the bench, all the different machines—and on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays I run four to five miles. I’m very disciplined.”

Gets some fresh air—“I do lots of outdoor stuff: snow skiing, wakeboarding, water-skiing. My kids are on ski teams, so we’re in the mountains all winter long.”

Apples vs. apple pie—“One of the little rules we use for our kids is that we have fruit for dessert Monday through Friday, and on weekends we can have ice cream or cookies or something fun. Of course, I have to follow the same rule, which can be hard.”
Sherrie McElvy, M.D., 45
Maternal and fetal medicine specialist, Perinatal Associates of Sacramento, Director of Sweet Success (gestational diabetes program), Sutter Memorial Hospital

Keeps carbs in check—“I monitor the number of carbs I eat and try to stay away from most fattening junk foods. My diet is mostly proteins and vegetables; I love greens and salads. I stay away from potatoes, pasta and rice, and I’m not a big bread eater. In my specialty, I’m also the diabetes person, so as I tell my patients, ‘If it’s white, it’s probably high carb, and you should stay away from it.’”

But she’s not perfect—“I’m one of those inconsistent exercisers. I also have a food weakness: Regular Coke. But only in the morning. . . . It’s my cold coffee. I have to live a little.”

Presses to de-stress—“For me, stress relief is just going to a quiet place and doing something productive, but sort of brainless—like ironing. I know it may seem weird, but ironing is my outlet.”

Finds comfort in faith—“I am a Christian, active with my church, and reading a religious book or the Bible is another way for me to relieve stress and maintain balance.”
Carmelo Bantique, D.C., 31
Owner/licensed chiropractor, Bantique Chiropractic, Sacramento

Walks the course—“I have a passion for golf. I’m not very good at it, but I love the sport and it’s one way I stay healthy. Typically, I walk the course instead of riding in the cart, and I sometimes do a brisk walk. I also do a tremendous amount of stretching before and after. It’s a flexibility game. It’s not about how strong you are but how flexible you are.”

Gets adjusted—“I have a [chiropractic] adjustment once a week. I don’t do it because I have chronic lower back pain, like most of my patients; the benefit of chiropractic is more of a wellness thing.”

Rattles the pots and pans—“Believe it or not, cooking is a stress reliever for me. When I have a hard day at work, that’s what I start doing. I’m Filipino, so I like to cook a lot of my native recipes. It’s not as good as Mom’s, but it’s pretty close.”
Gail Derin, 55
Doctor of Asian Medicine and licensed acupuncturist (L.Ac.), Sacramento

Keeps moving—“One of the things that is really important to me is that I keep moving. I always start in the morning with some kind of meditation because if you are feeling a lot of worry or stress, you’re depressing or straining the chi—you’re impeding the free flow. So I start out every morning with tai chi so my chi is flowing well. I also regularly practice yoga, which is important for structural alignment.”

Eats mostly plants—“I try to eat my foods as alkaline as possible, because candida, bacterias, molds, fungus can’t live in an alkaline environment. I eat a lot of plant-based foods—the darker the green, the better. I don’t eat a lot of cold, raw food, because it’s harmful to the spleen. I eat pretty seasonally, and I’m not much of a meat eater. I do eat a little bit of fish.”

Gets her zzzzz’s—“When you see the symbol of yin/yang, that’s a balance of activity and rest. Rest is a time of repair of the body. We literally lose years of our life if we don’t go to bed before 10 p.m. The biggest repair happens between 10 p.m. and midnight. So I try really hard to get to bed by 10, and I try to get seven to eight hours of sleep a night.”
Robert Kincade, M.D., 41
Cardiovascular surgeon, Sutter Heart & Vascular Institute, Sacramento

Breaks a sweat—“I try to break a sweat at least once a day, whether it’s on the weekends or evenings. I do low-impact workouts—a lot of walking with my family, light running, Stairmaster. I also do weight training three to four times a week, if I can.”

Curbs his carnivorous tendencies—“I love a steak; I love In-N-Out burgers; I love red meat. But I try not to eat it much. I might save that for one day on the weekend, kind of to reward myself for eating healthy the rest of the week. My family eats a lot of organic foods, too. We try not to eat much that is processed or premade, or refined carbohydrates.”

Recharges outdoors—“I’m an outdoors person; I like to fish, ride my motorcycle, go on walks. Just being outside, away from responsibilities and the hustle and bustle, is a great way to recharge.”

Keeps an open mind—“When I was playing football (he was an Academic All-American at UC Davis) and had a lot of trauma to my body, I did see a chiropractor on occasion and found it helpful. There’s so much about what we call ‘alternative’ medicine that other cultures have been successfully practicing for thousands of years.”

Joanne Baker, R.N., 53
Mercy General Hospital, Sacramento

Fights gravity—“I always tell people that at our age, we’ve got to work out, because age and gravity are gonna get ya’. Three or four days a week, I do the elliptical for about 40 minutes. At least two times a week, I walk for an hour or two. I lift weights, and I try to meditate two days a week. You have to make your body a priority; it’s your vehicle to get through life.”

Eats her veggies—“I don’t eat red meat. It’s like poison to me—causes a lot of gastrointestinal issues. I try to eat a lot of fruit and vegetables. I could eat veggies for breakfast, lunch and dinner and be totally satisfied.”

A smoothie a day—“I do a smoothie with flaxseed every day: rice milk, protein powder, wild organic blueberries, walnuts, a little cinnamon, strawberries, sometimes honey. I grind the flaxseed kernels in the blender.”

Strikes a pose—“I used to wake up every morning with my knees hurting. Yoga has really helped with flexibility and joint movement. And yoga is a form of meditation for me because I’m focusing on the poses, it’s quiet, the music is relaxing, so I’m not thinking about bills, kids or anything else.”
Lia Keller, M.D., 48
Dermatologist, Kaiser Permanente, Sacramento

Cancer sparked a change—“I had breast cancer when my daughter was 1—I was 40 years old—and at the time, I thought, ‘Who knows what contributes to that?’ I decided I didn’t want trans fats in my diet or to expose myself to carcinogens in cooked meat. I was vegan for a while, but it’s hard to be vegan. Now I am [mostly] vegetarian, though I do eat fish. I don’t feel that I’m really missing out.”

Variety is the spice—“The key for me is finding activities I enjoy so it doesn’t feel like exercise. Lately, I’m doing power vinyasa yoga. It’s more than physical exercise; it’s good for my mental and spiritual health. I love salsa dancing and being active outdoors: biking, skiing, windsurfing. My daughter loves rock climbing, so I’ve been doing that with her.”

Walks the walk—“I see skin cancer every day. So I try to stay out of the sun, put on a sunhat, and I look for a broad-spectrum sunscreen, SPF 25 or higher. Sun avoidance is the No. 1 thing.”

Stays present—“In yoga class they will either do a reading or give you something to think about, and it always seems pertinent. It reminds me to stay present—not think about the past or future, what I should have done, and to be grateful for what we have.”