Health, Wellness and Prevention

Labor Day is behind us, the kids have gone back to school, and with the end of summer and change of seasons comes fall cleanup at home and some schedule changes. As a “new school year” begins, let’s also talk about some “life cleanup” and get committed or recommitted to our own health and wellness.

Recommitting to Wellness

As a sports medicine physician and orthopedic knee specialist, I am happy to have been asked to be a leader for Springfield Clinic health, wellness and prevention. My goal has always been to guide my patients, colleagues and community to a culture of living life better and enjoying the “sport of life!” Health care should not just be about taking care of the sick or injured, but should be dedicated to total health and wellness and chronic disease prevention through our own lifestyle choices, so that we can effectively counsel and mentor our patients and others around us.

My monthly health and wellness features will incorporate a variety of topics related to nutrition, exercise, stress reduction and chronic disease prevention. For this inaugural issue, let’s start with a couple of basic rules:

  • Get off the simple carbs
  • Get off the couch!

Why it Works

Specifically, it is not just calories in and calories burned that determine our destiny. Simple sugars and processed foods are not only inflammatory, but give a high glycemic load. These foods lead to insulin surges and ultimately contribute to insulin resistance, which is at the root of our obesity and type 2 diabetes tsunamis.

In addition to eating right, exercise must be consistent, have variety and provide a degree of intensity in order to reap the benefits not only to our cardiovascular system but to our nervous system through brain-derived neurotropic factors. (Meaning, we actually improve cognitive function via neurogenesis when we exercise!)

My Challenge to You

This month’s challenge:

  • Consume absolutely no added sugars, no highly processed simple carbs and especially nothing with high fructose corn syrup.
  • Eat nothing white (bread, potatoes, rice).
  • Exercise at least five days a week for 20 minutes each day, while incorporating 3-7 minutes into this routine with some added high intensity intervals.

Follow these steps, and you will see measurable improvement! In future health and wellness articles, we will delve into nutrition, physiology, measurement and exercise specifics. Let’s not wait with the rest of the world for a “New Year’s resolution”—Let’s do it NOW!

 

Recap #2: Try a “Non-resolution”

It’s been quite a while since I’ve written about how my 2018 non-resolution is going. As they say, “life happened,” which prevented me from writing but didn’t stop me from following through with my goals!

So here’s what has happened since my last recap in February. As you remember, I gave you four steps to follow:

  1. Come up with the defining word or phrase for your year.
  2. Translate your word or phrase into action.
  3. Evaluate your goal each month.
  4. Start at a time that’s right for you.

My word for 2018 is PEACE. Some of the areas I am focusing on to have more peace are

  • Meal planning
  • Reducing stress
  • Rest
  • Exercise

Meal Planning

I kicked off the new year with meal planning. I set a SMART goal to plan more meals per week. I’m still chugging along with that and am using that “Knock Knock What to Eat” pad I found on Amazon.

Rest

In February, I set a second SMART goal about rest. I set a 10:30 p.m. bedtime for myself and, believe it or not, I’m still following it!

Exercise

I set a third SMART goal for myself in March, wanting to exercise more consistently. Oh, that dreaded, dreaded word! With the weather turning nicer, I thought the time was right to start reducing stress and finding peace through consistent exercise. I set a small SMART goal, operating under the policy of “something is better than nothing.” And I encourage this with all of my patients—since daily physical activity is so important, swim, bike, walk, run or go to gym. Whatever gets you moving!

My goal was to exercise four days a week, specifically on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. On Mondays and Fridays, I work out in the morning after I drop my oldest off for school. This type of exercise is YouTube video, workout DVD, a walk with girlfriends or a class at our local rec center, and I allow for 30 minutes. On Tuesdays, I do a YouTube video, workout DVD or a walk with the kids, and on Thursday evenings I do a class at our local rec center.

And a note on YouTube videos: There are so many free workout videos on YouTube that are completely free! One of my favorite low-impact workouts is with Leslie Sansone, but you’ll be able to find just anything, so find something that works for you!

A second note on rec centers: If you don’t want to commit to a full membership, you can often pay a small free per class. Check out a facility that’s near you to see your options.

Reducing Stress

In April, I set a specific SMART goal for reducing stress. To accomplish this, I started exploring essential oils, and found they’re beneficial, not only for me, but for my family as well. I diffuse when I’m at work, and I diffuse at home in our common areas and bedrooms. It’s important with essential oils not to overdo it, but I find that my plan is working for me.

My Time

I set my final SMART goal in May, and I focused on increasing my “me time,” specifically, reading time. I set a goal to read for 10 minutes at least three times a week, preferably Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. I decided that reading before bed would be the best option, and that required me to be in bed before by 10:30 actual bedtime. I actually set an alarm on my phone to help remind me to go to bed at the correct time so I could get my reading time in!

So now you’re all caught up—these are my action plans for the first part of my year to help bring PEACE into my life. I promise I will update you at least twice more before the end of the year to bring you up to speed on how my SMART goals are going.

How are your “non-resolutions” going? (Or maybe your resolutions?) Comment below!

Does my child need glasses? An Optometrist’s Tips

The month of August is National Children’s Eye Health month, and Springfield Clinic’s Eye Institute recommends evaluating your children’s eyes right before going back to school. What are some ways to tell if your child needs glasses, though? Optometrist Braden Anderson, OD, Springfield Clinic’s Eye Institute, shares the following tips.

Watch how they watch television

Sitting too close to the TV is a good indicator that your child may be experiencing vision problems. In some cases, having a short attention span for their age may also be caused by the inability to see well.

Read into how they read

If your child holds books too close to their face, often loses their place while reading, has difficulty remembering what they read or avoids the activity altogether, they might need an eye health evaluation to see if glasses could help them enjoy this activity better.

Notice any abnormal behavior

Children who have problems seeing will often also have frequent headaches, squint, blink or rub their eyes a lot.

Ask them how they feel

If your child complains a lot about seeing double or has problems with bright light, they might be having trouble with their eyes and could use an evaluation.

Keep an eye on them during activities

Some children with vision problems may demonstrate difficulty with eye-hand-body coordination when playing ball or riding a bike. They might also avoid detailed activities, such as coloring or puzzles.

If your child is exhibiting any of these behaviors, make an appointment to see an eye specialist at Springfield Clinic’s Optical Centre. Whether you need glasses and contacts, routine eye exams with an optometrist or a referral to one of our ophthalmologists, you can do it all in one convenient location at Springfield Clinic!

Thai Cucumber Salad

Refresh and spice up your summer with this Thai cucumber salad! This salad is the perfect way to use up cucumbers if you currently have an overabundance of them from your garden; it makes a great pot luck or dinner party dish, too. Watch out though—it gets spicier the longer it sits in the fridge!

Thai Cucumber Salad
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Ingredients
  1. Dressing
  2. 1/3 cup rice vinegar
  3. 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  4. 1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  5. 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  6. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  7. Salad
  8. 2 large cucumbers
  9. 3 green onions
  10. 1/4 cup chopped peanuts
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl, combine the rice vinegar, sugar, sesame oil, red pepper flakes and salt. Set the dressing aside to give it time to blend.
  2. Peel and slice the cucumber. Place the sliced cucumbers in a large bowl.
  3. Chop the peanuts into smaller pieces, if desired. Slice the green onions.
  4. Add the dressing, peanuts and green onions to the sliced cucumbers and toss.
Something to Chew http://somethingtochew.com/

Just Do It

When working with people who are struggling to meet goals, I often hear the statement, “I just don’t have any motivation.” I always provide the same response: that action precedes motivation, not the other way around. Waiting until we are in the mood to do something will often result in our never doing it.

I like to exercise, but I don’t always feel motivated to do it. However, within minutes of getting back on the treadmill (after a month or so of excuses), I will find myself thinking, “I really do enjoy how this makes me feel. What was I waiting for?” That is part of the problem. You would assume that insight translates into action (“I enjoy how exercising feels, therefore I should do it.”), but that is not usually the case.  

So, whether you are just trying to get out of bed, start that diet, complete a project or follow through on a bucket list item, remember to avoid the procrastination that comes from waiting for motivation.

A few key points to remember when feeling stuck:

  • Remember that it is okay (and necessary) to acknowledge and then accept whatever emotions seem to be zapping you of your energy, but do not allow these to stop you from taking actions.
  • Don’t wait for inspiration before taking action. Taking action first will help to create the inspiration needed to keep moving toward your goal.
  • There is no need to overwhelm (or sabotage) yourself by insisting on immediate or perfect results. Small steps build motivation more effectively.
  • Schedule time for activities that you are aware would be beneficial to you without giving into the thought, “but I don’t want to right now.” Remember that you do not have to want to do something to be willing to do it.

Not motivated?  Take action. Depressed?  Take action. Un-inspired? Take action. 

The Great Food Debate

When it comes to food, making the best choices for your body can sometimes be a frustrating process, especially if you have seen how quickly food can flip from the good list to the naughty list. Here are some of the most commonly asked questions I get when it comes to the great food debate.

White Rice or Brown Rice?

Answer: White Rice

I know this blows everyone out of the water, but I’m thinking about digestion. White rice is easier on the tummy, so if you have any problems with irritable bowels or inflammation, white rice should always be your choice.

Yes, white rice has a higher glycemic index, but most of the time when you eat rice, you should be eating it with protein and vegetables. This helps lower the glycemic load of the entire meal. It’s virtually identical to brown rice when it comes to calories, fats, carbs and protein. Brown rice may claim that it is higher in nutrients, but in all honesty, those differences are so miniscule it doesn’t really matter.

Regular Soda or Diet Soda?

Answer: Neither

This is an answer that no one wants to hear but let’s be real for a second: Soda is soda. It’s made of chemicals, food colorings and carbonation. It should never replace water as a source of hydration. Regular soda contains an absurd amount of sugar or, even worse, high fructose corn syrup. Both of these contribute to insulin resistance and elevated blood sugars. Diet sodas are loaded with artificial sweeteners. These fake sugars are now known to contribute to digestive issues, disrupt the gut lining and also cause your body to crave more sugar in the long run.

Butter or Margarine?

Answer: Butter

I’m a stickler when it comes to more natural food items. Butter is one single ingredient. It is the fat that is rendered off of milk or cream. Previously, we thought that the saturated fat found in butter was the cause of poor health and heart disease. Today, we know that saturated fats, when derived from natural sources, can actually be part of a very healthy diet! Margarine, on the other hand, is a concoction of chemicals and processed oils. These processed oils, such as vegetable or canola oils, are highly inflammatory in the body.

Have other food questions you need answered? Send us a message and we’d be happy to answer ‘which is better’!