Health & Wellness Chat Sponsored by Audax Health

Wednesday, June 13, 2012 View Comments Autism Speaks

On June 12, Audax Health and Autism Speaks co-hosted a live chat with Phillip Parham, a contestant on season six of NBC’s “The Biggest Loser: Families” and parent of a child with autism, and Eric Chessen, M.S., a fitness specialist and consultant dedicated to working with the autism population. The goal of this live chat was to bring the advocate community together to talk about the importance of healthcare for everyone – with an emphasis on those affected by the autism spectrum.

 

7:21
  Hey everyone! We are about to begin!
7:29
  Hi everyone its Phil Parham.
Phil is best known for his dramatic weight loss of 151 pounds as a couple on season six of NBC’s Biggest Loser. The 3rd highest percentage on the 2008 Families edition of NBCs the Biggest Loser. 
However, his journey doesn’t stop there. He continues to use what he learned to help other’s in the area of health and fitness. After the show the Parham’s Phil and Amy co- wrote two books “The 90 Day Fitness Challenge”, “and recently “The Amazing Fitness Adventure For Kids”. Phil has appeared on such television shows as “The Today Show”, “Good Day New York”, “The 700 Club”, “The Joy Behar Show”, and “The Mike Huckabee Show” as well as many local and national publications. Phil has written articles that have appeared in national magazines. A regular speaker to corporations and churches all over the country. Phil and Amy have just completed a 30 city tour speaking on behalf of Learning RX. The Family Fitness tour was an attempt to unite caregivers of Autistic children with the services they need in their community. Phil became a spokesperson for Compassion International in 2011. He sponsors two children, one in Guatemala and one in Kenya. 
The Parham’s have three wonderful children; Austin, Pearson, and Rhett. Their youngest son Rhett was diagnosed with autism at the age of 5. This compels Phil to help families that deal with this diagnosis to find hope through this process. Phil has a website, www.philandamyfitness.com 
The Parham’s have been married for 23 years and reside in Simpsonville, SC.

 
7:29
  Hi my name is Eric Chessen and I am the Founder of Autism Fitness. I have spent a decade developing and successfully integrating fitness programs for the ASD population. I also train and mentor parents, educators, and fitness professionals.
7:31
  Founded in 2010, Audax Health believes that consumers can and should be active participants in managing their own health. Through its product, Careverge, an end-to-end digital health platform, Audax Health enables consumers to track their health, record fitness goals, research conditions, access health tools, and even communicate directly with other members and medical professionals. Careverge inspires and engages consumers to be healthy with personalized guidance, tools and community that make health simple, personal and fun. For more information, please visit www.audaxhealth.com and www.careverge.com
7:32
  Hi, this is Jess and we have a few folks from Audax Health, creators of Careverge on tonight. Above is a bit of info on us - let us know if you have questions!
7:32
 
Comment From Chris ONeil

Hi Guys Thanks so much for this chat, we really appreciate your time

7:33
 
Comment From Guest

Hello Gentlemen

7:33
  Hey Chris, your sure welcome
7:33
  Happy to be here (not so much in a chair, but happy to be on the chat)
7:33
  -Eric
7:36
  We're going to get started, thank you all for being here. We really want this to be about you so please send us your questions and comments. We'll have Phil start off and talk a little bit about his experience on The Biggest Loser and his connection to autism and healthy living. Take it away Phil!
7:39
  One thing I learned on the Biggest Loser was how important it was to take care of yourself as a caregiver. I learned that you are valuable and if you are not there and in shape you cannot take care of your child. I also learned that everyone tries to make these major changes when in reality it is usually just small everyday changes that can be implemented that make the biggest impact. 
7:40
 
Comment From Guest

Is the Careverge platform tailored specifically to folks on the spectrum or is it beneficial for the generic consumer?

7:41
  Hi, this is Jess from Careverge. Careverge is not specifically for people on the spectrum but designed to tailor to all people who are interested in managing their health and well-being.
7:42
  We partnered with Autism Speaks because many people who are caring for those on the spectrum do not have enough time to focus on themselves.
7:43
 
Comment From Guest

Can multiple users be on the same account?

7:44
  Careverge is free for all users and each user account is individualized for for the privacy and security of personal profiles.
7:44
  Eric Chessen (AutismFitness.com): When I started working with teens on the autism spectrum ten years ago I realized that there was very, very little in the way of fitness programs for this population. With a background in both exercise science and behavior therapy, I started developing methods for integrating fitness programs into the lives of those with ASD.
7:45
 
Comment From Jen

My son is on all sorts of medicine and it is making him fat. What do I do? If I take him off he becomes aggressive

7:47
 
Comment From mitch

I see a great opportunity for my child and I to compete and compare our performances using the Careverge system. What sort of benefits or pitfalls would you anticipate I'll find?

7:47
  Eric Chessen (AutismFitness.com): Jen, I have dealt with this a lot. The anti-aggression meds have a history of weight gain as a side effect. This is mostly due to the fact that they increase estrogen levels with is a whole new problem entirely. By introducing good nutrition and a regular exercise program, it can drastically help mitigate the weight gain.
7:48
 
Comment From Priscilla

I never ever ever can find time for myself. I used to be really into fitness pre-child. Now I am worn out. It is so hard

7:49
  Eric Chessen: Priscilla, I advocate family centered fitness, in which fitness is made part of the daily routine.
7:50
  Eric Chessen: It can be difficult to start, but 5 minute segments of fitness activities throughout the day/evening can really build up both physical and behavioral capabilities.
7:50
 
Comment From Chris ONeil

I have a question i guess more directed to Eric, We have a set of year and a half old boy/girl twins. Our daughter Starla was diagnosed a few weeks ago with Austism Spectrum disorder. She has no fear of anything and runs full speed through the house till a piece of furniture stops her,lol. She appears to be double jointed as well. I'm always concerned that with her lack of fear, that we limit her because she is so wild lol but we also let her get away with more than her twin brother because ASD I'm always worried i may hold her back somehow. I previously have worked in the Autism community but never with a child at such a young age. I guess my question is, are there activities that we should encourage or avoid in her daily activities?

7:50
  Hey Priscilla, you are valuable and I tell you will be amazed what just little 15 minute times for yourself will do. There is an amazing book called Spark you should check out as well. Brain fitness and personal fitness. Get started and you will figure it out. We believe in YOU! Phil
7:53
  Eric Chessen: Chris, I tend to categorize activities as chaos or structured. Right now she has plenty of chaos (non-structured) activities and skills, which is good. The key is to start developing some structure AROUND her abilities so she can do them safely. For example, create an in-house "obstacle course" and have specific rules about what can and cannot be done.
7:53
  Eric Chessen: Chris, I also realize that this is a very general answer, but if you email me (Eric@autismfitness.com) we can get into specifics
7:54
  Mitch: Careverge is an ideal platform to compete with friends and family around physical activity and healthy living goals. The benefits here are that you can track and compare your progress using a fitness device or self reporting the information, and it makes it more fun and engaging. In the future, there will be many more devices you can use and we'll be adding new Goals shortly.
7:55
 
Comment From Chris ONeil

awesome Eric i really appreciate that We will email you soon :)

7:55
 
Comment From Peter

What is the best excercise for a person with autism?

7:57
  Eric Chessen: Peter, there is no single best exercise for ASD, the same as there is no single best exercise for anyone else. In Autism Fitness programming, my athletes do variations of the 5 Big Movement patterns: Push, Pull, Bend, Rotate, and Locomotion (point A to point B). Depending on their skill level, exercises can be very simple (a basic squat to a Dynamax ball) or some advanced movements (frog hops or Olympic-style lifting)
7:58
  Eric Chessen: What we want is for the body to be strong, stable, flexible, and have coordination through a wide array of situations
7:58
  I think Peter what I have learned is these kids can learn. Each child is so unique and individual, I have found with my child to find what he enjoys and create a fun movement game around that. Things as small as chasing each other and just having fun together. My goal is to get my child to have fun moving and doing things. Never put too many rules down. Fun is the goal, with movement. 
Phil
8:00
 
Comment From Fitness Freak

I feel like i put my children off because of my love of fitness. none of them ever want to join me

8:01
  Eric Chessen: Mr. Freak, the approach is the most important part of success. My first rule of fitness is "You can't force fun." It can be a slow process getting a child to want to move.
8:03
  Eric Chessen: In fact, the majority of my athletes did not want to move in new ways when we first started. It took a careful approach that built on the skills they had while developing new abilities. For example, we may do only 3 hurdle step-overs to begin a session before they get a break for 5 minutes. After a while, we move to 5 steps, then 10, gradually increasing the challenge.
8:03
  Time management is a huge key to being in shape. I think once you make your mind up that something is a priority you can find the time for it. Exercise in your day is one of those things that has so many side benefits. I have heard it said that if you dedicate that one hour to yourself and to getting fit, the other 23 can be so much more useful. You feel better, you sleep better and you function better. It ultimately comes down to a decision. The rest will follow. 
My book the 90 day fitness challenge could be a good guide for you to get started. The future is yours! 
Go for it!
Phil
8:04
  Mindset is so important too! I love that Eric calls his students athletes. I rebelled when i was called that till one day I embraced it. It made all the difference. 
Mindset is huge! 
Phil
8:05
  Eric Chessen: If you move on a regular basis and get better at it over time, you are an athlete. End of story. Or the beginning of the story.
8:05
 
Comment From Randy

What is the best activity that I can do together with my low functioning daughter to keep us both healthy?

8:06
 
Comment From grandma

I believe my 4 yr old grandson has many of the Autism chararistics my son and daughter in law thinks he's just shy, they haven't put him in a nursery school yet . He'has a 7 yr old brother ( very intellegent out going child)and a 17 month old sister. I think that they are just blind to the possibily. My question is How can I bring it up to have him tested, just think it won't go over to well??

8:06
 
Comment From grandma

Is there a right way to bring this to someone's attention?

8:06
  Eric Chessen: Randy, there are dozens. My go-to's always include med ball throws (with a Dynamax ball because they are big and soft), and animal-based movements such as bear walks, frog hops, and jumps. I have videos of these on my site,www.AutismFitness.com and my blog.
8:07
  Hi grandma - you are in the right! Your grandchildren are lucky to have such a caring grandmother! That being said, you are in a very difficult position. Early diagnosis is key! Here are some links that may help you bring up the subject...http://www.autismspeaks.org/what-autism/diagnosis
8:08
  Learning the Signs of autism is also critical:http://www.autismspeaks.org/what-autism/learn-signs
8:08
  For more information, please contact the Autism Response Team! Call us at 888-288-4762 or en Español 888-772-9050, or email familyservices@autismspeaks.org.
8:10
 
Comment From grandma

Thank you so much I will check these out ... I will do my best to help him to get help Thanks again

8:11
  I would just like to comment that every child is so unique. It is important to get the mindset that fitness is important, because so many times all the other things can weigh you down. Your mind is so connected to your food and fitness. I believe that making it more of a priority will open your mind to new possibilities. The journey of a thousand begins with a single step! 
Phil
8:11
 
Comment From Phil Wannabe

How much weight did you use Phil?

8:12
  Around 350. Started the show at 331. Lost down to 180 in 7 months.
Phil
8:15
 
Comment From JEn

Who was your favorite trainer?

8:16
  Eric Chessen: Chuck Norris. Oh, wait, you meant for Phil.
8:16
  Richard SImmons, lol
Phil
8:16
 
Comment From Marc

Eric how did you get connected with autism?

8:17
  Jillian Michaels was my favorite, even though I love Bob. I appreciate both.
Phil
8:18
  Eric Chessen: Marc, Randomly. I had a classmate in grad school who knew I was a fitness trainer and asked if I would start working with teenagers on the spectrum in a program in NYC.
8:18
  I loved it, and realized there was no one else focusing on this population.
8:19
 
Comment From john

Phil could you maintain?

8:19
 
Comment From Peter

Eric what is most rewarding for you with working with our people?

8:20
  EC: Peter, when one of my athletes picks up a ball, or barbell, or rope, and just starts playing. This shows that they have begun to enjoy some aspect of fitness and is the gateway to play skills, which helps to sustain fitness for life.
8:20
 
Comment From Guest

Eric, do you work with children with SPD?

8:20
  EC: Guest, SPD?
8:20
  I have not done a perfect job, but no where near where I was. It has taken time for my mind to catch up with my body. I was fat for so long. I am healthy now which is the biggest thing. I may have found a few pounds but still look and feel wonderful
Phil
8:22
 
Comment From Guest

Sensory Processing Disorder. Many kids on the spectrum have SPD.

8:22
  EC: Guest, absolutely. I've also worked with clients who have a diagnosis of MR and CP
8:26
 
Comment From Mary

Eric you are hot. Were you ever unhealthy?

8:27
  EC: Gee, Mary, thanks. I actually was an overweight kid in a very socially competitive middle and high school. I lost about 40lbs. between junior and senior year
8:28
  EC: When I started eating well and getting involved in strength training it created some drastic changes for me.
8:28
 
Comment From Jeff

I'm fat. How do I get skinny. i have autism and i get bullied

8:28
  Hey Jeff, I would love to help you. Go get my book, I think it may help you. It really is a process. You can do it. Get people around you who are supportive and can help you. The 90 day fitness challenge is a day to day process to get the weight off and change your habits. 
Phil
8:34
  Hey, this is Jess from Careverge - we encourage you to sign up at www.careverge.com/healthyadvocates and tour the site. If you have any questions or feedback, let us know. You can contact me at jessica@audaxhealth.com with any concerns.
8:36
 
Comment From Jeff

I don't want to spend money

8:36
 
Comment From Stuart

What should I be eating for dinner and for breakfast. I always have a sandwich at lunch

8:36
  Jeff, signing up for Careverge is free for all users.
8:37
  Hey its been great chatting with you all! God Bless see you soon!
Phil BL 6