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Happy no-resolution New Year: plan for success

plansuccess

Many folks view the New Year as a chance to start new habits. Interestingly, many resolutions revolve around issues of wellness—losing weight tops the list of the 10 most popular resolutions. Getting more exercise or staying fit, quitting smoking, spending less, getting more organized and spending more time with family are other popular resolutions.

However, even though about 45 percent of Americans make New Year’s resolutions, less than 10 percent actually succeed in achieving their goal. Unfortunately, resolutions tend to be abandoned quickly. So if resolutions fail, why make them?

Resolutions fail for various reasons: they are too vague, they did not include a detailed plan to actually accomplish the goal, folks did not have a support network to assist in the journey of reaching their goals, they did not have a deadline, etc. So this year, skip resolutions, and instead focus on creating a plan.

The difference? A plan outlines the steps you have to take. Take for instance the desire to eat healthier this year. A resolution would end there, and attempts to achieve this would probably fail a few weeks into the New Year. However, by focusing on planning to make this happen, you can emphasize the specific steps that need to be in place to be successful. What would these steps be? Perhaps the following: Continue Reading »

Grocery store tours at Festival Foods

grocerystore

We all have different feelings about grocery shopping. Do you find delight in going up and down the aisles, mesmerized at the variety of foods that are available for purchase? Or do you dread it, and feel like going to the grocery store is torture? Are you an avid coupon clipper who looks at grocery shopping as the ultimate challenge?

Whatever your feelings about grocery shopping are, it’s a necessity. As we become busier with our work, our community involvement, school and our families, our time spent at the store is more valuable than ever. Grocery stores have changed to cater to busy lifestyles and have become bigger to fit a wider variety of items. How can you maximize your grocery shopping time while still making healthy food choices?

Research shows that as food variety increases so does the amount of food we eat. That is, the fewer food choices or variety we have, the less we eat. Keeping this in mind can serve as a strategy to cut down on our intake, but can be hard to do when there are so many different foods to buy! The key to healthy grocery store shopping is to not get overwhelmed by the multitude of choices.

One good strategy is to shop with a prepared list to help curb impulse buys. To avoid getting distracted from your whole-food options, keep your shopping to the perimeter of the grocery store, where the fresh produce is placed. If you need to venture into the aisles, you might have questions. How do you know what is the healthiest version of a particular food? Which is the best choice for cereal? Which nut butter is best? What about condiments and salad dressings? Is a low fat salad dressing the best choice? Is organic better? Continue Reading »

Wellness that fits into your weekend – HealtheVisits

healthevisits

Recently I was experiencing some nagging symptoms that had been present for a couple of weeks but weren’t bothersome enough to motivate me to make an appointment with my usual nurse practitioner (NP). Then one Friday morning, as I was getting ready to visit Chicago for three days, I started considering what would happen if my symptoms got worse while I was out of town. Finding an urgent care in Chicago on a weekend was not an exciting prospect, but I was also not too enthusiastic about delaying my departure to get an appointment with my NP or visit Affinity’s Urgent Care. So, I decided to try HealtheVisits.

Using HealtheVisits turned out to be a great decision. Once I launched the application, it took about five minutes to register and fill out the questionnaire about my symptoms. About 15 minutes later, I checked my email even though I didn’t really expect anything for at least an hour. However, I already had a response from Dr. Larson with a diagnosis and treatment plan!

All I had to do next was forward the electronic prescription to the pharmacy of my choice. The application showed a list of local pharmacies with their addresses, and provided a search feature as well. I selected a pharmacy that was on my way out of town, hit send, loaded the car and by the time I got to the pharmacy my prescription was ready.

My favorite things about HealtheVisits were the easy process and the cost—it was all very intuitive and for $35, it’s a cost-effective way to find care. By skipping the usual time it would take to fit an appointment into my schedule—and the time it takes for a full office visit—I was able to go about my business without delay. What a stress saver!

Author: Karla Repta - Director of Clinic System Patient Care Services at Affinity Health System

5 ways winter affects your health

5ways_blog

Winter—especially in areas like the Midwest—can seem like the longest season of all. Aside from the stress of hearing snowbunnies and sun lovers debate the merits and setbacks of the snow and icy season, there are a few winter health issues to be wary of as well.

1. The winter blues
Do you suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD)? SAD is a type of depressive disorder that is brought on by winter’s shorter days—with early sunsets and late sunrises, the lack of natural sunlight causes some to experience increased sleepiness, increased appetite, a heavy sensation in the limbs, loss of interest, a sense of hopelessness and social withdrawal. The endorphins gained from exercise can be helpful with SAD symptoms, as can light therapy, which uses a special lamp to make up for missing natural sunlight. Make sure to speak with your provider if you experience these symptoms.

2. Winter dry eye
Between the cold, dry air and the dryness from indoor heating (especially space heaters), winter can often be a time of burning, itching eyes. These symptoms, along with a feeling of grittiness, indicate that your eyes are not producing enough tears to keep them comfortably moist. Dry eyes can be relieved with artificial tears, using a cool-mist humidifier and eating foods with omega-3 fatty acids, such fish and flax seed. In severe cases, a procedure that closes the ducts that drain tears from the surface of the eyes may be needed.

3. Dry skin
In addition to dry eyes, winter’s cold air and low humidity can also cause severely dry and cracked skin. A cool-mist humidifier is also helpful in this situation, as is taking shorter showers and skipping baths, which tend to exacerbate dry skin. A good moisturizer is key during cold months, and don’t skimp on places like elbows and feet, which are especially prone to dryness and painful, cracked skin. Use a moisturizer with SPF—even if the sun isn’t out long during winter months, its rays can still cause damage. Continue Reading »

What’s sweet about sweet potatoes?

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Sweet potato: the tan skinned, orange-fleshed vegetable that is a vitamin powerhouse. It is nature’s treasure of beta-carotene, and consuming sweet potatoes more than meets our vitamin A needs. In addition to the aforementioned orange, some sweet potatoes are purple-fleshed. This variety is also rich in vitamins and antioxidants.

Aside from vitamin A, sweet potatoes are rich in vitamin C. They also contain fiber, which helps our digestive system.

Sweet potatoes are a sweet-tasting, starchy root vegetable. It is North Carolina’s state vegetable but originates from South America. Fun fact: the majority of sweet potatoes we consume come from China, where sweet potatoes are used for livestock feed. Continue Reading »

Disclaimer: The information found on Affinity's blog is a general educational aid. Do not rely on this information or treat it as a substitute for personal medical or health care advice, or for diagnosis or treatment. Always consult your physician or other qualified health care provider as soon as possible about any medical or health-related question and do not wait for a response from our experts before such consultation. If you have a medical emergency, seek medical attention immediately.

The Affinity Health System blog contains opinions and views created by community members. Affinity does endorse the contributions of community members. You should not assume the information posted by community members is accurate and you should never disregard or delay seeking professional medical advice because of something you have read on this site.