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Mario Sella, Wellness Manager at Ti Sana, Italy, grew up with a passion for science and physical activity that has led him to his role today. His childhood interest developed into an academic qualification, gaining a degree in food science and technology. A qualified personal trainer, Mario also studied and now teaches ancient oriental disciplines such as Qi Cong and Wushu-Kung Fu. Using his knowledge of nutrition and fitness, Mario oversees diagnostic tests, physical activity and, of course, nutritional plans to help guests at Ti Sana achieve their health and wellness goals.
How did you become inspired to gain your nutrition and fitness qualifications?
My scientific education led me to research the scientific evidence, the reproducibility of results, the understanding of a phenomenon. At Ti Sana we try to measure the highest amount of parameters that we can and we offer guests Evidence-Based Medicine.
Chinese martial arts were my first step toward physical activity. I have practiced Wushu-Kung fu for 20 years and Taijiquan for 6 years. They are still my passion but the environment and the concept of Ti Sana pushed me to learn and qualify in those physical activities to achieve a goal: weight loss, increased muscle mass, postural pain reduction and improvement of well-being.
My passion for nutrition was born in my final year at university (Food Science and Technology) studying for the human nutrition exam and for the final work (thesis) into an international center for the analysis of body composition and nutritional status (ICANS).
The desire to help others was born with the meeting of people suffering from eating disorders (anorexia, bulimia). Today the problems (sometimes severe) of Ti Sana’s guests continue to stimulate me to improve myself to be able to help the others.
These four passions stimulated me to be who I am and what I will be.
You oversee and administer diagnostics tests such as Bio Impedance Analysis – what do these tests involve and how do they help your clients?
The goal of diagnostic testing is to identify the problems of the guest on which to act to improve their health status. Every time something changes in our lives (nutrition, physical activity and level of stress / inflammation) we will have changes in our body composition (measured by the BIA, Bioelectric Impedance Analyzer) and/or the state of stress system (measured with TOMEEX, Tomography Exctracellular Electrolites, and PPG photoplethysmography).
For example, a person who is stressed but obsessed by her/his fitness will tend to have a good body composition (or lack of mass musculoskeletal especially women), a general adaptation syndrome (chronic fatigue and use of tonics), systemic inflammation, a strong overstimulation of one of the two hemispheres of the brain and shallow breaths.
A person that compensates for stress with food and alcohol will have an excess of fat, good energy levels, localized inflammation, poor quality of the cardiovascular system (high heart rate at rest, low heart rate variability, reduced blood vessel elasticity). The first person will have to eat more, eat better and do less physical activity which is more focused and short. The second person must eat less, eat better and do physical activities such as high and medium intensity cardio.
The diagnostic tests are extremely important for the follow up assessment of the improvements achieved after a positive change in their nutrition, exercise and lifestyle. It’s crucial getting the awareness that for any action there is a consequence. For better or worse. For example: drastic reduction of the carbs in the evening causes fat loss, better sleep and better energy in the morning. Alcohol and/or carbs in the evening cause fat accumulation, poor sleep, morning tiredness.
Supplements and injective treatments feature on many of the Ti Sana programmes. How do these supplements enhance your programmes?
The supplementation and the injective treatments aim to accelerate the results that a guest can achieve during the Ti Sana’s detox retreat. The poorer the condition of the guest, the higher the need for supplements. For those guests with a high acidity the nutrition could be not enough (for the duration of their detox), as well as a presence of low muscle mass and high stress. Some guests also come to Ti Sana obese and with limitations in their movements, or with intestinal problems or with a liver that is damaged (by alcohol and/or medicines) or full of fat. Therefore, in these cases, alkalizing, protein, metabolic stimulant, liver detox/recovery supplementations could be helpful respectively.
What is a ‘Healtheatarian’ philosophy?
Being healtheatarian means choosing the food, the exercise, the habits, the people that can make us both feel and be in better health. According to the WHO (World Health Organization) definition, health is a complete state of physical, mental, social wellbeing and not merely the absence of a disease.
The healtheatarian doesn’t follow a religion, nor a trend, but follows what our body needs for a durable status of health. A low carbs diet makes no sense when the body works with glucose (carb) and there’s no centenarian low carb diet follower.
The healtheatarian follows Evidence Based Medicine and considers every part of the human body as interconnected with the whole. The brain influences the muscle and viceversa; the fat accumulation affects the immune system and viceversa; the brain influences the breathing that influences the heart and viceversa. All these interconnections allow us to work with the body composition to improve the emotional and psychological status.
What are the benefits of following a ‘Healtheatarian’ lifestyle?
The healtheatarian lifestyle improves the body composition (decreasing the fat and/or increasing the muscle-bone mass), increases the level of energy, the functionality of the body, drastically reduces the vague, non-specific symptoms (frequently stress related) that are not initially a disease but they decrease the quality of our life.
Some of these vague symptoms are: persistent tiredness, mood disorders, poor quality of the sleep, gastro intestinal problems, anxiety, apathy, cold hand and feet, chronic migraine, etc… The final goal is to be happy and in health.
You are a qualified fitness instructor in many Oriental disciplines. Which is your favourite and why?
Even if my first love (in term of Chinese discipline) was the wushu kung fu, actually my favorite Chinese discipline is the TaiJi Quan (Yang style) because it efficiently trains breathing (slow breathing), the posture, the stability, the coordination, the lower part of the body. It’s elegant, stress relieving, varied in its movements and suitable for every age (from 9 to 99 years old).
Can you describe a typical day at Ti Sana?
The day starts with a rebounding session at 8:30 to wake up the metabolism (and the body), burn some calories and increase the cardio capacity. At 9:15 there’s the breakfast: a delicious fruity juice, a gorgeous slice of healthy fruity cake, or chia seeds pudding or granola with dried fruit and almond milk. At 10 we leave from Ti Sana for a lovely walk along the river Adda, to explore the Adda North Park beauties and keep on doing exercise. At 11:15 we have to go back to Ti Sana for the snack (protein supplement and mixed fruit) and the educational. The educationals are fundamental to be aware of our errors and understand what we have to do practically every day to improve our body composition and status of health. At the end of the educational the guests sit in front a reserved table to eat a tasty lunch, containing for example a dish of healthy vegetables, a delicious lentil soup, flax seeds crackers and an avocado based dressing. In the afternoon the relaxation reigns supreme: spa appointments (massages, treatments) in a luxury spa and a quick snack (vegetables and proteins) to maintain high the calories expenditure. At 17:30 there’s the last physical activity of the day to relax, oxygenate and stretch the body with yoga or Qi Gong. At the end of the day at 19:30 the guests have their dinner: a super healthy vegetable soup, egg white with vegetables omelet, scrambled tofu.
How should your guests prepare for their visit?
To avoid the side effect of the detox retreat (life style changes), the guests should start following a nutritional plan similar to the healtheatarian one: drink 2 liters of water a day, reduce the alcohol and coffee, increase the amount or introduce fruit (for breakfast and for snacks) and vegetables (for lunch and dinner), take probiotics for a week to improve the intestinal micro flora that digest the fiber in the intestine (important to reduce the gas, improve the intestinal barriers..), reduce the salt and start doing some exercise.
For guests looking to lose weight on holiday, what results can they expect to see?
According to the duration of their stay, their level of fat mass, their age, their adhesion to the nutritional plan and their participation to the physical activities, we can have from 1 to 4 kg of weight loss. But for us the quality of the weight loss and not the quantity is much more important. We prefer helping the guests to lose 2kg of fat, preserving lean mass, than lose 4 kg of body weight of which only 1 kg is fat and the remaining 3 kg are lean mass (water, mineral, proteins). In the second case we decrease the metabolism too much with consequent risk of gaining back the weight lost.
What are your 3 top tips for people looking to live a healthier lifestyle?
• Stress your body in the morning and relax your body in the evening: big breakfast and intense workout (high intense interval training or weight lifting) in the first part of the day, light dinner and relaxing activities (yoga, meditation, watching a movie…) in the evening. In this way we regain the right values and circadianity of the cortisol (stress hormone) and in general of the all hormones.
• Fruit and carbohydrates in the morning (in a good amount) and proteins, plus vegetables in the evening. In this way we protect the muscle mass and we decrease the fat.
• Be happy following your dreams and passions and being surrounded by positive people, whilst dedicating a part of yourself to others.
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