Tailgate Food Takeover

Happy (almost) middle of October!

I’m hoping you had as fantastic of a weekend as I did and were able to get out and enjoy the weather. It’s a good thing I was able to enjoy the weather this previous weekend because if we have more Packer football games like we encountered yesterday, my poor heart won’t be able to take it.

As much as the cooler weather and earlier sunsets bother me this time of year, I get over-the-top excited about football and post-season baseball. There’s something so ridiculously fun about waiting for the game on Sunday and getting together with friends and decking yourself out in all your lucky game-garb. Of course with football get-togethers comes food, and usually lots of it. I know when my friends and I get together, the amount of food we have could feed a small country.

I try to be “THAT friend” that brings the healthy stuff to parties—veggies and dip, fruit, or usually by request, taco dip (low fat of course). As much as I like the unhealthy food, I don’t like feeling so stuffed because I overdo it or knowing I derailed from my diet plan, which is easy to do with a smorgasbord of the calorie and fat traps.

Certainly, I am not going to encourage BBQ tofu instead of wings or water instead of beer, however, I think healthier choices can be made when hosting/attending a sports party AND without getting weird looks based on the snacks that are brought. You certainly don’t have to be lacking in taste and variety when making healthier choices.

An easy one is chips and dip. Typical chips are loaded with fat and extra calories and dips are made with sour cream, mayo, and sometimes cheese. 1. Swap out your chips for baked and 2. Be conscious of what you are putting in your dips. Are you able to use light or fat free products? Substitute something to make it healthier? 

3. An easy substitution for traditional dips is salsa or pico de gallo, which is very easy to make and tastes better than the jar stuff any day! You can also get ‘fancy’ by adding fruit such as mangoes into your salsa for a fresh kick or black beans for a protein boost. Vegetables such as corn, peppers, onions, and tomatoes add flavor without many calories. I like dicing avocado and putting it into pico de gallo, but I don’t use much because the calories can add up quickly.

4. Instead of chips, you can go with vegetable sticks. Carrots, celery, peppers, broccoli, jicama, mushrooms, etc. can be laid out with a low-fat dill dip that is flavorful and easy to whip up.

For main dishes, an easy option is 5. Chili or a 6. Taco bar. With chili, you can use lower sodium tomato juice, lots of vegetables, beans, and lean ground beef or turkey for your meat fix. Tacos can have lots of vegetable, bean, and chicken/lean beef options that can be shared with everyone. A little lime and cilantro go a long way too!

Another option is a 7.Chicken or bean quesadilla. This is easily made on a stove top or George Foreman grill and can be used with whole wheat tortillas and reduced fat cheese. Throw in a little salsa or hot sauce and a side of low-fat sour cream and you’ll be good to go.

 Wings are pretty standard at many sports parties and are the epitome of “man food”. Substituting cauliflower or tofu with BBQ sauce would likely get as far with your party as the Cubs did in the playoffs this season, so I will not go there. I will throw out the idea of using 8. Boneless, skinless chicken breast cut into strips, marinated, and baked/grilled. Again, not expecting many people to deviate from the ‘real’ stuff!

Along with the meat theme, 9. Chicken or turkey is going to be a healthier option than hot dogs, brats, or other processed meat. If you absolutely have to have red meat, choose lower fat cuts and keep portions in mind.

No party is complete without some sort of dessert that is undoubtedly sinful. 10. I love fruit kabobs as something sweet at the end of a meal or even 11. Brownies that are made with applesauce or lower amounts of sugar, but still give the same warm and fuzzy feelings as the ‘real’ thing. Get creative and see what you can come up with that won’t disappoint in the sweets department.

Last, but not least, there usually is a form of alcohol at the majority of sports parties; after all, we do live in Wisconsin. I’d like to believe that strawberry margaritas and Redd’s Apple Ale are healthy because of the fruit content, however, should be consumed in moderation. ((I’m going to go here)) 12. Light beer is an option to keep extra calories at ba, and clear spirits are usually lower in calories as well.  I have found some fantastic concoctions on Pinterest that are healthier for alcoholic beverages and have fruit mixed in!

Getting together with friends for sports or any get-together is a part of life and should be celebrated. There’s no need to feel deprived, but you also want to keep your overall perspective and purpose for health in mind. I’m a true believer in everything in moderation, but sometimes it is kind of fun to break of out of the box and try something new. All little changes add up!

Thanks friends! See you soon!

Mental Health Break!


October! Woohoo!

I’m not sure if this happens to you, but there are some days I come home from work and just sit in silence, thinking about how much of a whirlwind my life is and trying to recap everything I did during my day. Usually, the recap is a fail and I end up continuing my evening with Food Network re-runs before bed to start all over again the next day.

Yesterday, while perusing Facebook during a commercial break of the show “Chopped”, I came across a Fort HealthCare post about this week being “National Mental Health Week”. After a good laugh about the irony with my life, I started to think about the significance of the week and how most people could likely use a ‘break’ from life or at least incorporate some stress management or ‘YOU’ time into the daily routine.

If you’re like me, you find that the majority of your day is dedicated to those around you—whether it’s work, boss, or clients, children, a significant other, a team you coach, sports or extra- curricular schedules, laundry (resounding theme, huh?!), or your parents. All of that is great, but without your own health and mind in tip-top shape, you aren’t going to be as much help to those around you. Where does the ‘you’ time fit in? Where is your downtime to relax and take a mental break?

Those who know me know I don’t sit well and I am constantly ‘go-go-go’. I have had to learn to pencil-in time that is dedicated to me and to make sure I stick with it. Stress is one of those things that if left uncontrolled can take a detrimental toll on your body and cause health issues that can haunt you. I take that thought seriously and make a conscious effort to make time daily for myself even though my days are scheduled to the max.

One of the newest changes I have made is adding a 15-minute lunchtime walk to my daily routine. I have it penciled into my calendar and I keep shoes in my office so there is no excuse not to go. Just being able to step away from my desk for 15 minutes is enough to clear my mind and ultimately bump up my productivity in the afternoon when it’s easy to sllllllllooooooooow down.

I always have a few-minute window between my hospital job and swim team in the afternoon that I utilize to call my best friend Laura.  It’s our way to catch up, but also to vent if I have anything that I need to get off my chest. I almost instantly feel better after getting off the phone with her and look forward to this daily.

The other ‘habit’ I have is always stretching in the morning. There are some mornings that I go for a run and the stretching happens after naturally, but the days I don’t run, I like to take a few minutes to sit in the quiet and do light stretching. Yes, this is sometimes my opportunity to play catch-up on Facebook and Twitter to see how my cool friends spent their evenings while I was in bed, but I still consider it ‘me’ time.

All of the little ‘stress management’ things start to add up. They help me feel like I am in control of at least some part of my day and that I am doing something for me.

Now, my suggestions may not be for everyone, but you have to be proactive in thinking about what YOU can do during your day to give yourself a bit of stress management and keep you the healthiest and happiest you can be.

Since this is a PG-rated blog, I won’t be suggesting engaging in building Bloody Marys in the morning or anything too crazy in the name of stress management, but I think it’s important to note that there are healthier ways to de-stress and make time for you.

Here’s a quick suggestion list of what you can do for a bit of ‘YOU’ time:

  1. Exercise. One of my favorite things in the entire world! Take a few minutes daily to walk or run or join a group fitness class. Bonus: Weight management, stronger cardiovascular system, increased muscular strength and bone structure.  BONUS BONUS: Social boost. Get some friends together for a walk or fitness class—laughing and fun ((almost)) guaranteed!
  2. Take 5 minutes. Take 5 minutes to breathe and move away from the computer or stressful situation. Most of the time, the reason your stressed is the way you’re perceiving the person or thing that’s stressing you out. Think more positively and stress could be kept under better control. Makes sense. Dr. Mike on YouTube gives this take on stress HERE.
  3. Stretch. You can stretch just about anywhere. Stretching helps to relieve tension in muscles and can restore blood flow in an area that hasn’t been moved in awhile. Plus, it just feels good!
  4. Bubble bath/Shower. Take time to pamper yourself with a long bath or shower. Bonus points for lighting a soothing candle!
  5. Laugh.  There’s a long-standing joke with one of my friends about certain YouTube videos we watch when we are stressed, but we know they are guaranteed to make us feel better. Watch parts of your favorite funny movie or talk to a friend/coworker that can make you laugh.
  6. Schedule ‘no appointment’ time. Specifically set aside time that you can do an activity or relax and do ‘nothing’. Honor that time as your own and don’t break it!
  7. Stay in touch with friends. Call a friend or family member or send an email to catch up with them.
  8. Read. I LOVE reading and try to do it every evening. Pick up a good book, newspaper, or blog (hey, hey!) and take time daily to read and give yourself that free time.
  9. Schedule friend/family time. Once a month, my friends and I try and schedule a “girl’s night” that we all bring a dish to pass and hang out together. It is one of my most favorite events of the month and I look forward to the relaxation and just hanging out.
  10. Go to a movie, the mall, coffee shop, etc. Take time to go to your favorite hangout and enjoy being away for a bit. I’m a bit of a weirdo and enjoy going to the movies by myself, but it’s one of my favorite ‘me’ time activities….and no one steals my popcorn!

Taking time for yourself is vital for your health and keeps stress at bay. Start small and try something for YOU today!


Finding Purpose

Hey friends-Hard to believe we’ve reached the end of September, and in true Wisconsin fashion, a 30° temperature difference than yesterday.

I had the privilege to go to a Worksite Wellness seminar last week Thursday in Milwaukee (yes, my boss let me out). In addition to learning about techniques to engage employees with wellness programs, there was also a vendor fair, exercise demos, and dark chocolate at lunch! My favorite part of the day, however, was a presentation given by keynote speaker Victor Strecher. Victor began his speech talking about his career and some of his biggest accomplishments within the health and wellness field. He spoke eloquently of his wife and kids and of some of their best memories.

The tone of the presentation changed when he brought up his youngest daughter dying at age 19. His daughter Julia had contracted the chicken pox virus as a baby when the family was overseas and the virus attacked her heart and gave a grave diagnosis. She was placed on the transplant list and was fortunate to receive a heart transplant that saved her life. Victor and his wife decided to make sure she lived every day to the fullest as they didn’t know what her future held. They traveled together, went on vacations, met people, and made each day an adventure. She passed away, 19 years old, in the middle of the night from a heart attack, while on a beach vacation. The night before, she said “I’m so happy right now I could die” and Victor wanted it to resonate with us that not everyone in that room could say the same thing at that moment. Victor went on to describe the unbearable loss of not only his daughter, but a life centered around a purpose-to make his daughter’s life the best it could be. This was his focus, his drive, his life. Now that his focus had been taken away, he felt a loss of purpose.

The finale of the presentation was about Victor having to find a purpose for his life again and being able to find himself through this process. He was able to take a new view on life, his own personal growth, and pass along the message of purpose and self-discovery.

I thought about this message the rest of the day and into the weekend. If asked, what would my purpose in this life be? Would it be the cliché “I want to help people” or “to live life to the fullest” or something different?

I promise I won’t make this blog into a big, philosophical write-up about changing your life, but I am going to challenge you to find a purpose-for your health.

I consider myself to be a healthy individual. I follow a low-fat and appropriate-calorie diet for my age and activity level; I exercise the recommended 30-60 minutes daily with a blend of cardio and strength training; I drink enough water; I watch my alcohol intake and cheer for the Packers. But, what is my PURPOSE with health?

Dictionary.com says purpose is:

  1. The reason for which something exists or is done, made, used
  2. An intended or desired result, end, aim, goal
  3. Determination, resoluteness
  4. Practical result, effect, advantage

Looking at that list, I would tell you my purpose for health is the desire to feel good about myself, aim to be medication-free, be an inspiration to others, and stay away from the path my parents and family members have taken with their health.

Now it’s your turn to think about what your purpose for health is and develop one. Without a clear purpose or drive, you have no roadmap to where you want to end up. You go through the motions and those become stagnant and meaningless leaving you without change. Think of your values and all who will benefit from you becoming happier and healthier.

An easy way to get started is goal setting. Think: “What do I want to get out of the changes I make for myself?” Do I want to lose weight? Do I want to start an exercise program? Do I want to have more energy? Can I get to a point that I am off medications? Your goals do not have to be extravagant, but rather something that is meaningful to you and is attainable. These can be daily, weekly, monthly or a long-term goal for the end of the year.

Once you have a goal in mind, it’s time to make a plan to work towards it. This is when you may need to pull out a calendar and pencil-in exercise, healthy cooking, meditation perhaps, and recognize these are immovable appointments. It is easy to find another ‘priority’ that can easily take over the time you have set aside for your “health appointments” (laundry CAN wait), but make these times precious to you. I have found it to be beneficial to set up a ‘date’ with a friend or significant other to work out and put it in my calendar, knowing they will hold me accountable. Tell your friends and family your goals so they can be supportive and help keep you on track.

It’s ok to think outside the box and ask for advice/suggestions on different ways to incorporate new tricks into your health routine to make the process fun and not seem as much like work. Try a new fitness class, walk instead of drive to a lunch date, branch out, and cook a new recipe or take an extra lap around the grocery store…just don’t linger in the ice cream section-sprint through that!

Now is the fun part-putting those changes into action and working towards your health purpose/goal. Expect some days to be easier than others, but never give up. Always keep that purpose in the forefront of your mind and know the work you are putting in is benefitting you in one way or another. If you fall off your plan for a meal or a workout, start back later that day or the next day. Change is an ongoing process and health is a lifestyle; they don’t necessarily have deadlines. Allow yourself rewards with successes and learn from days that are more challenging than others. Adjust goals to better suite you but always, always, always keep moving forward.

Making sure you have your goals and your plan will help you to feel better, overcome life’s everyday challenges, be in control of the changes you are bringing into your life, and be more in control of your life in general.

With a purpose, changes will seem more important and necessary and more of a priority.

See ya next time!


Avoid the plague!


Hey Hey Hey everyone!

It became very apparent last weekend and a little into this week that fall is coming quickly, and if you’re not ready—too bad! I ran a 5k this previous weekend, and the temperature at the start of the race was 41 degrees! Holy moly! I had to pull the gloves AND running tights out!

With fall comes a lot of positives—pumpkin-flavored EVERYTHING, football games, changing leaf colors, and, my personal favorite, caramel apples. In midst of all of the negatives, it seems that illness runs rampant through schools, corporations, and wherever else you decide to venture out to.

I started to feel the effects of a cold coming on this week and immediately went into “oh crap” mode—I took my Zicam, washed my hands obnoxiously, drank a bunch of orange juice, and doubled my fruit and vegetable intake. Thankfully, I got by pretty easily with my cold this week, but I know others are not as fortunate with the crud that is going around.

It’s always better to be proactive with cold/flu prevention than to deal with a nasty bug and try to fight through it with everything else that goes with life. Here are a few tips to avoid catching the “plague”:

  1. Wash your hands. Wash them often. Think about how many surfaces you touch in a day (door knobs, counters, pens, keyboards, etc) and how many germs are festering on everything you touch. I motivate myself to wash my hands with really good-smelling soap from Bath and Body Works, and carry over-the-top-smelling hand sanitizer everywhere I go.
  2. Take vitamins. I take a gummy multi-vitamin twice a day (no, I am not 5). Vitamins help to boost your immune system and help supplement any shortfalls you have with nutrients in your diet that your body needs to function daily. Vitamin C may be beneficial if you feel a cold coming on to pump up your immune system.
  3. Avoid contact. Avoid those individuals in your office, department, or workplace that have a cold and wash your hands if you are in close contact with them. Also, try to avoid touching your nose, eyes, and mouth, which can be a gateway for germs to enter your body and make you ill.
  4. Water. Drinking lots of water will help to flush all of the junk out of your body and keep you from getting dehydrated, which would be a double-whammy.
  5. Healthy diet. Many fruits, vegetables, and whole grains provide vital antioxidants, nutrients, and vitamins that can help ward off illness and help you overcome them if you start to feel under the weather. Branch out and try to kick-up your fruit and veggie intake!
  6. Rest. Ok, I do feel like a hypocrite on this one, but rest, sleep, and taking time for yourself will help to keep your immune system functioning properly and keep you in tip-top shape.

Sometimes, no matter what you do, illness is unavoidable. However, make sure you take every step possible to prevent the misery and “annoyingness” that comes with being ill. You value your health when you are sick, right? Take care now so you can continue to feel better later.

Until next week!

Jumping Outside The Box


September has made it!

I know people say that Labor Day marks the ‘end of summer’, but I don’t see it that way. After all, it seems like summer just began!

One of my favorite parts of summer is exercising outdoors. I love that the sun is up early in the morning when I run and is out later in the evening.  It is refreshing being able to get out of my office and apartment to spend time in the fresh air and getting a tan. The downside? The smell of fresh doughnuts at local grocery stores in the morning and grills fired up in the evening. Pick your poison.

One of the newest ‘adventures’ I embraced this summer was teaching an outdoor boot camp class in Jefferson. I never really viewed myself as the epitome of a classic boot camp instructor (yelling at participants to correct their push-up form after seemingly doing hundreds of them), but I thought “hey, I’ll give it a try. What’s another fitness class? Should be easy enough!”

I remember my first night of teaching, shaking throughout the entire hour-long class. Here, I had taught 8-10 classes per week for 3 years and now I was standing in front of a group of 12 and couldn’t formulate a sentence. The hour dragged, it was hot outside, the exercises were hard, and I couldn’t wait for it to be done. I remember getting in my car, humbled, and feeling completely deflated and like a failure. I woke up the next day with a few new aches and pains and wasn’t sure if this was for me.

The next week came around and I was bound and determined to make a better impression and to have fun. You know what? That’s exactly what I did and I was more at ease. The class was better and I smiled the entire time. I woke up with less pain the day after and realized I could do it and that I would be ok.

Flash forward 3 months and I’m teaching boot camp 3x a week and now am a bit hooked. I love the challenge and have become stronger mentally and physically because of it. The class was completely out of my comfort zone, but I am so glad I attempted something different and found a new love.

I think many people share a similar experience when they try a new exercise class or embrace a new exercise program. They may not come in as cocky as I did, however, they may have different expectations or wake up the day after and go “Holy *&#%, I didn’t know I had muscles there!”, which could be a deterrent for the next class or week ahead.

Like any lifestyle change, it will take a few weeks and some potential setbacks before it becomes a habit. Setting goals and making a plan is a way to envision where you see your life going and the steps it will take to make the changes necessary. It may be a good idea to include family, friends, or a significant other in your plan to keep you accountable or to have them join in your efforts. I know class for me is MUCH more fun when my friends are there and I have someone ‘waiting’ on me. It all may be challenging and may not feel comfortable, but keep at it!

I think it’s of utmost importance to prioritize the steps you need to take in order to make your goals a reality. This could include meal prep, exercise time or joining a class, grocery shopping, and even time to unwind and recover. Make time in your calendar and schedule to ensure nothing will get in the way.  For some individuals, this may be more of a challenge with kids, spouses, sports schedules, and laundry, but it is possible when you make it a priority and set your mind to it. The results will not be handed to you; YOU have to be the one to earn every pound lost and make the commitment to yourself.

Stepping out of our comfort zone with exercise is one way to challenge the body and push it to a level that will give it a jump start and eventually produce results. This doesn’t necessarily mean you need to buy new running shoes and go for a 10 mile run or jump into an advanced boot camp class, but you need to be able to expect to work to see the results you want. I can promise it will be worth it and you may even find a new passion.

Until next time!

To sleep or not to sleep? I wish it was up to me.

Hey friends!

Wednesday already?!  End of August?! Summer is FLYING by!

If you’re like me, your weekdays and weekends are crammed full of every activity under the sun.  My weekdays are filled with swim team, work, classes, and the occasional eating and sleeping; even less on the sleeping because I love to eat!

Although eating, exercise, and staying busy are great things, so is sleep. I have had a personal struggle with insomnia for many years, and it does concern me with the scary side effects of only getting a few hours per night.  Anyone who has had a late night with friends, a newborn baby, a sick child, or an excess of stress that keeps them awake at night knows that awful, groggy feeling the next day, like a ‘fog’ that clouds the brain.  Without an appropriate amount of sleep, there are serious health-related concerns that can develop.

I won’t write a novel about the scary side effects of sleep deprivation because, let’s be real, that is my life in a nutshell. I am, however, motivated to change when it comes to my health, realizing what could be coming to me if I do not make changes now.

Some of the side effects that I have experienced and that are listed in many articles regarding sleep deprivation include: forgetfulness, impaired attention and concentration, impaired judgment, and getting sick more frequently. On a more serious note, after an extended period of time, a lack of sleep can increase a person’s risk of heart disease, irregular heartbeats, high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, obesity, and premature death. Yikes. Seeing a list such as this should be enough to shock you, and make you want to change.

After seeing my doctor for the first time for my insomnia, we made a game plan for a pre-bed routine. I have made changes in the last few years, but I always stick with my routine night after night, and I can say it has helped tremendously.  For me, I always shower, brush my teeth, and read before bed.  I make sure to turn the sound off my phone and put it face down so I don’t see any blinking lights. I also wake up within the same 30-minute window every morning, even on the weekends, which is usually beyond my control because of my ‘internal clock’ (hey, I get my best grocery shopping done at 5a on the weekends! J).

Some other tips I have read include avoiding caffeine entirely, or after a certain point in the day; using soft music or guided imagery/meditation; adding exercise into your routine (but being mindful of the time so it doesn’t keep you racing all night); and using ‘natural’ remedies such a warm milk or valerian root. A cool, dark bedroom will allow the body to ease into sleep easier than a warm atmosphere.

It may take a few days or a week to find something that works for you, but making an effort in the right direction is better than nothing.  Your M.D. can provide you with information regarding medications that may help you get shut-eye and other suggestions to help you overcome this ailment also!

Biggest thing? Try something new or ask for help. Make the effort to change and find a solution that works for you. It took time for me to find a routine that worked for me, and I’m glad I tried. Some nights are better than others, regardless, there are now more good nights that make for even better days.

Until next time peeps!

Giving Circle Grants Announcement

The Giving Circle of Fort Memorial Hospital Foundation is pleased to announce the grants that were awarded from funds raised during its 2013 program year. The grants totaling $14,550 were awarded to three health and wellness initiatives at Fort HealthCare.

A grant for $6,500 was awarded to support the services of Dr. David Rutledge at the Rock River Free Clinic. Fort HealthCare’s commitment to Dr. Rutledge’s service on a full-time basis has allowed the clinic to nearly triple the number of children and families being served in the past year. The Rock River Free Clinic provides preventative care and treatment for at risk and vulnerable children and families who live in Jefferson County.

A grant for $6,500 was awarded to the Community Health & Wellness initiatives of Fort HealthCare in collaboration with the Healthiest Community Coalitions in Jefferson and Walworth Counties. These coalitions improve the health of their local communities through activities and education that fit local interests and needs. Coalitions in Cambridge, Fort Atkinson, Jefferson, Johnson Creek, Lake Mills, and Whitewater are planning activities for the coming year.

A grant for $1,550 was awarded to the Pediatric Wellness Team at Fort HealthCare to combat childhood obesity. Funds will be used to expand opportunities for children and families seeking to incorporate healthier eating and fitness habits into their everyday lifestyle. Programs such as Movin’ & Losin’, Railyard Obstacle Course, and Camp 911 continue to grow due to increased interest from local families.

The Giving Circle invites women who are interested in improving the health and well-being of our community to become members in 2014. A series of four lunches is held each year to educate members about healthcare issues important to the Fort HealthCare service area. Members are asked to contribute a minimum of $100 to participate. At the end of the program year, the membership awards grants to Fort HealthCare to support the healthcare needs of children and families in our community.

If you are interested to learn more about the Giving Circle, you are welcome to contact the Foundation office at (920) 568-5404 or email at foundation@forthc.com.

Cold: Friend or Foe?

grandparents talking to granddaughterMost of us are ready to say goodbye to the ice, snow, and cold.  Icy conditions can contribute to a slip hazard.  When that happens to you, it’s easy to want to stay inside until the Spring thaw.  But inactivity can be equally harmful.  If you or someone you know would like to overcome a fear of falling, the Wisconsin Institute of Healthy Aging offers a variety of instruction to increase your strength and balance.  “Stepping On” is a 7-week course that meets once per week; class members learn from each other as well as from an array of guest experts related to balance, home environment, footwear, vision, and more.  This year I will be teaching “Stepping On” during the summer so that participants will be able to approach the cooler weather with confidence; if you are interested in taking the class locally you will find it at FortHealthCare.com/Classes and in the monthly Health365eNewsletter published by Fort Health Care.  I encourage you to browse the Wisconsin Institute of Healthy Aging webpage to explore the variety of classes available in the counties throughout the state:   http://wihealthyaging.org/.  From the homepage you can click on the “Find a Program” tab to learn more about criteria for each course, or “Find a Workshop” to see the scheduled classes.   You owe it to yourself to stay as active as possible during all four seasons.

When an injury does occur from a fall or other activity, you may consider cold helpful.  Ice is a common component of conservative care, RICE: rest, ice, compression, and elevation.   Whereas sore or tight muscles can benefit from heat, ice can help provide pain relief and minimize swelling from physical strain.  This is especially beneficial in the first 24-48 hours after injury.  You may benefit from using ice longer than that, especially if you have had a more severe injury or surgery; your healthcare provider will let you know after making sure that it is “just a strain.”  When an injury occurs to the fingers, wrists, or hands, a bag of frozen peas can work well to mold around the injured area.  Alternatively, at The Center for Hand Care, we recommend an ice pack recipe you can keep ready in your freezer.  In a secure Ziploc bag, combine 1 part rubbing alcohol with 2 parts water.  Place this mixture inside of another Ziploc bag to prevent leaks.  This will become a gel consistency within a day.  Use a protective cloth between your skin and the ice pack, and keep it on up to 10 minutes (or as soon as area feels numb).   If you are using the ice pack on a larger body area, it may take up to 20 minutes before the area feels numb.  Use ice with caution if you have poor circulation, a previous cold injury, or arthritis.  See, cold can be useful!

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My New Year’s “Health” Resolution

“I will take better care of my diabetes.” Diabetes is a scary diagnosis because it is about more than just blood sugars. It is a disease that affects your blood vessels, and it can lead to a stroke or heart attack. Other than heart disease, diabetes is a disease that affects the eyes, kidneys, nerves and other small blood vessels. The “complications” of diabetes are really complications of uncontrolled blood sugars.

Once a person has diabetes, he or she has to watch lipids (cholesterol numbers) and blood pressure, as well as blood sugars. Medications, lifestyle and diet all affect diabetes, and managing these are the core of diabetes care. One of the tests that help us see how well diabetes is controlled is the A1C test. It is also called hemoglobin A1c ( HbA1c), or glycated hemoglobin test. The HbA1c test shows the average blood sugar levels for the past two to three months. It measures how much of the hemoglobin (red blood cells) is glycated (coated in sugar).

“Statistically, we know people who attend diabetes self-management training (DSMT) and go to yearly DSMT follow-up education manage their diabetes better,” reports Rhonda Perdelwitz, RN, BSN and Certified Diabetes Educator at Fort Atkinson Hospital. “The American Diabetes Association suggests having an A1c of 7% or less is optimal blood sugar control and you can improve, reduce or eliminate complications of diabetes.”

If your A1c test has not been done for 4 to 6 months, ask your doctor to have this test done. This blood test does not have to be done fasting. If the results are 7.0 or higher, ask your doctor to refer you for diabetes education to the nurse and dietitian.

Diabetes education is covered by some insurance plans. Because each insurance plan is different it is recommended that you call your insurance company and inquire on if diabetes self-management training is a paid benefit. If you have Medicare, diabetes education is a preventative program Medicare covers. Medicare pays for 10 hours of diabetes class education the first year of a new diabetes diagnosis and for 2 hours every year after initial diagnosis. To meet the Medicare requirements for DSMT education the patient must have a referral from the doctor. Go to www.medicare.gov to see what kind of coverage the plan you are on has.

So when you think “I am going to take better care of my Diabetes” it may simply mean asking your doctor for a referral to diabetes education.

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What Causes Kidney Stones?

This is maybe the most common question I get. The answer is far from straight forward and usually a combination of patient-specific factors.

Kidney stones form when, if the urine chemistry is just right, substances combine, crystallize, and then those crystals bind together to form stones.

There are many different types of stones: Calcium Oxalate, Uric Acid, Calcium Phosphate, Magnesium Ammonium Phosphate, and Cystiene stones make up the majority of stone types. About 80-85% of stones are calcium based but it is a common misconception that these calcium-based stones are caused by too much dietary calcium (milk, cheese, yogurt, etc.). Usually it is a problem with the way your body handles the calcium. Abstaining from dietary calcium in these circumstances can do more harm than good.

When looking at ways to prevent stones, I focus on common dietary factors that can increase risk. High sodium intake is probably the biggest contribution to stone risk. Excessive sodium from canned foods, processed meats, restaurants, prepared boxed or frozen meals…all contributes to increased stone risk. I try to get my patients to A) recognize where the sodium in their diet is coming from (rarely just the salt-shaker) and B)keep their sodium intake to <2500mg/day.

Sodium is a big culprit, but chronic dehydration is probably the other most common problem. Stone formers should drink no less than 64oz/day of water, ideally with up to 4oz of lemon juice. Lemon juice is high in citrate which is a potent stone inhibitor. Excessive protein consumption can also lead to a more acidic urine, predisposing to certain types of stones.

If a patient has had more than one stone, or if they are young with a strong family history, I usually recommend blood and 24 hour urine testing for a custom stone prevention workup.

If you or a friend/loved one have lived with recurrent stones and haven’t been evaluated for prevention, give us a call.

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