Class Details Bittersweet Effects of Sugar to Your Health


Katie Nowikow knows personally how addicting junk food can be. She grew up as a self-described junk-food junkie. It wasn’t until college that she began to make better choices.

“We’re a social eating culture,” she said. “It’s pizza, burgers, fries and sweets. Those foods are very addicting to our bodies because they are loaded with the things we crave most which is salt, fat, and sugar. When that addiction gets a hold of you it can be hard to break away from. There’s cues that are around us all the time pushing us to look for that fast food.”

Nowikow is a certified health coach who teaches several courses for St. Charles Adult and Community Education, including “Bittersweet: How Sugar Makes us Fat.” The next bittersweet class will be Oct. 29 from 6-9 p.m. Sign up for the class here. 


The biggest issue people face is the availability of processed, addicting junk food at drive thru restaurants, vending machines, the office break room.

“Food is a socially acceptable coping mechanism for stress,” she said. “We all have either celebrated with junk food or coped using junky items. Unlike alcohol, drugs or cigarettes it’s OK…. There’s a disconnect with how bad the food can really hurt us.

Often people know they should be eating healthier but aren’t sure where to begin, Nowikow said.

“There’s a lot of information out there, which can be great but can be really damaging. Some people say you should have meat, some say too much fruit is bad, others say eat all the fruit you want.”


Nowikow said she works to help people break down what is needed in their bodies. She said sugar addiction can be very challenging to work on. Natural sweeteners, like honey and maple syrup, can help people transition away from table sugar.

“It takes time to reduce those cravings,” she said. “You need to have something. Most people can’t quit cold turkey.”

Other artificial sweeteners, like Splenda, Nutri-Sweet, and Equal, can have negative effects on the system, Nowikow said. “They are chemically made and may be calorie free, but they are probably nutritionally empty.”

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Nowikow said people interested in kicking the sugar habit have to focus on more than just eating, but also their lifestyle, common causes of stress and how to manage other things in conjunction with food.

“It’s not a one-trick deal to change what you are eating and everything else falls into place,” she said. “There’s a lot going on.”

Check out Katie’s blog for recipes for bread made with nut butter and 10 actionable steps you can take for a safe and happy fall.


St. Charles EMT Program Now Enrolling for Spring 2015 Classes


Enroll now in the 16-week EMT training program with St. Charles EMT. Classes are held in the the mornings and evenings and will prepare students to take state and national EMT licensure exams, the first step toward a career in the healthcare industry.

With small class sizes and hands-on instruction, you’ll be ready for an exciting, fulfilling job as an EMT, or be ready to continue your education and train as a firefighter, paramedic or more. Students must pass an entrance exam, be at least 18 and have a high school diploma or a GED to enroll in the program. Learn more about the St. Charles EMT Program here. 

Costs: Entrance exam $10, registration $250 (applied to tuition), tuition $1,099 (includes BLS certification, background check and tshirt), textbook $140.

Spring 2015 classes start Jan. 20 and meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. or 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sign up to learn more at an upcoming orientation by calling (636) 443-4043. Orientations will be held at 2400 Zumbehl Road, St. Charles, Mo. 63301.

Orientation Dates:

5 p.m. Thursday Nov. 6

9 a.m. Tuesday Nov. 18

5 p.m. Tues. Dec. 16


From Aerialist to Yoga Instructor, Meet Maddie Webb


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Maddie Webb is a new instructor to St. Charles Adult and Community Education this fall and is teaching two yoga courses.

Trained as an aerialist, Maddie studied Ashtanga yoga to complement her training and began teaching yoga in 2007. She teaches many different styles of yoga, including yin yoga, which is a slower-paced class. Learn more about the yoga classes offered this fall through St. Charles Adult and Community Education here.

What is yin yoga? How is it different from a beginner hatha yoga class? 

MW: Yin yoga is very different from a Hatha yoga class which is based on movement. Yin is a more quiet, passive form of yoga, in which seated and reclined hip and spine stretches are held for 1-6 minutes at a time. These stretches are done with “cold” muscles, meaning not warmed up. When the muscles are warmed up, they hog the stretch. When the muscles are not warmed up, they immediately lengthen, transferring the stress of the stretch into the connective ligaments, tendons, and fascia. This is a deeper, more intense practice in physical relaxation aimed at improving flexibility and the suppleness of the spine. Mentally, we learn to apply these teachings of seeking stillness and softening when we feel “stretched”, which we often feel in life.

What can students expect when they come to class? 
MW: Expect not to sweat or move through poses, but instead to have a deep, restful, silent, almost hallucinogenic sustained opening. Expect to turn off your phone and rest completely in the present moment. Expect to deepen your meditation practice.
What do you hope students leave with after a yin yoga class?
MW:   A deep connection to their inner selves, a complete release of tension, a feeling of balance restored to the alignment of the body, a repaired and strengthened mind and mood.
You’re also teaching a prenatal yoga class. What kind of benefits could a pregnant woman get from practicing yoga?
MW: There is not one bodily system that does not benefit from yoga. Yoga is incredibly stabilizing and balancing for everyone, but for pregnant women, yoga helps keep the body balanced as it grows and changes, and as hormone production increases, yoga can balance energy and emotions. Yoga also soothes the nervous system for everyone, which flips the brain from “stress mode” to “Rest mode”, resetting the brain and providing optimal body rejuvenation.
For pregnant women, yoga strengthens the hips, back, arms and shoulders and provides more energy and strength to carry Baby. Yoga also stretches the hips, which tighten, and relieves the low back, which becomes strained as Baby grows, pulling the lumbar spine into a deep curve. Yoga increases circulation of blood in the body, decreasing swelling and enhancing immunity. Learn breathwork to relax you for the moment of baby’s arrival, and strengthen the pelvic floor for an easier birth. 
How did you get started teaching yoga?
MW: I was told to get a part time job in college, so I went after the only job I could see myself doing. That’s when I took my first yoga teacher training so that I could teach at University of Missouri’s Rec Center. 
What do you enjoy most about it?
MW: Watching it click in students that this is a body we can make both softer where we are overworking, and stronger where we are weak; that this physical body is the vehicle of our soul and to cleanse this body is to connect to our inner voice, our spirit. Along the way students also learn that the mind can strengthen, too.