A spoonful of honey – treating children’s coughs

honey and lemon2

‘Tis the season, coughs and snotty noses abound. A nasty cold or cough is uncomfortable for all, but for infants and very young children, unable to express themselves or understand what is happening, it can be particularly difficult. Before you go out and get an over-the-counter medication to soothe your child’s throat be aware of the warnings against using over the counter cough and cold medications.

In 2007 a number of children’s cough medications were withdrawn from the market. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advised parents and physicians not to give young children cough and cold syrups.

A growing body of evidence suggested that non-prescription medications for cough and cold actually did little to aid recovery. These medications also pose risks with regard to a rare adverse reaction due to unintentional overdosing. The Food and Drug Administration issued an advisory recommending that parents do not give these products to children under the age of 2 because of the risk of serious and potentially life-threatening side effects.

What to do when we want to ease our children’s discomfort.

(Information posted here does not constitute medical advice and should not be used to replace seeking a health care professional’s expert advice.)

It is important to understand that most coughs and colds are the result of contracting a virus and do not respond to antibiotics. Inappropriate use of antibiotics can result in an allergic reaction or antibiotic side effects, such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, rashes, and yeast infections. Antibiotics may also kill beneficial bacteria and encourage the development of dangerous antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The best way to treat cold and coughs is with prevention.  Teaching and modeling proper and frequent hand-washing is important. See this post on RSV for more prevention tips.

Here are several suggestions:

Honey and lemon

A favorite in our home, among those over one year old, is a cup of hot water with honey and lemon slices. There have been multiple studies that have shown that honey is effective in easing a cough(1).

 Honey is not to be given to children under one year of age as it carries a risk of infant botulism which can be life-threatening.

Fluids

You can also encourage your child to drink more fluids. Being hydrated whether by broths, water, or juices helps loosen the mucus making it easier for your child to cough or blow their nose. Another plus of keeping hydrated – liquids can sooth an irritated throat.

Positioning

Elevating your child’s head while they sleep can ease a cough.

Saline and suction

If your child is having trouble breathing or drinking because of nasal congestion, you can clear their nasal passages with a little saline solution drops or spray followed by proper use of a suction bulb. (2)

Moisture

Close the bathroom door, run the shower to get the bathroom steamy and then sit with your child in the bathroom. (Young children should not be left in any room with standing water that they can access.) The moist air can help clear upper respiratory passages.

Keep warm, safe and healthy this holiday season.

(1)Warren, M.D., Pont, S.J., Barkin, S.L., Callahan, S.T., Caples, T.L, Carroll, K.N., Plemmons, G.S., Swan, R.R., Cooper, W.O., The Effect of Honey on Nocturnal Cough and Sleep Quality for Children and Their Parents Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2007;161(12):1149-1153 FULL TEXT Accessed 12-7-2011

(2) Child and Colds, Healthy Children Blog, American Academy of Pediatrics FULL TEXT Accessed 12-7-2011

Reducing stress during the holidays

family and friends eating dinnerThe holidays can be full of friends, families and festivities.

They can also bring stress.

We talked previously about the importance of putting aside a desire for perfection.  But there’s another potential pitfall to avoid: saying yes to so many requests that you find yourself overextended.

…A friend invites you to an annual holiday brunch.

…The family wants to go to the annual holiday movie outing.

…Work has its standard office party. Colleagues are hoping to go out for nibbles and drinks separately as well.

…Your aunt is hoping you can join her for a holiday fundraiser for one of her favorite charities.

They all sound great.

And even if they don’t sound great, you often don’t want to disappoint others, so you end up saying yes.  The next thing you know, your calendar is way too full; your errand list is way too long and your bank account way too thin.

When it comes to scaling back, the first person you have to convince is yourself. It’s OK to slow things down. And if you won’t do it for yourself, think of it this way: Showing up a frazzled, less attentive, less-engaged version of yourself could shortchange others around you.

You can say “no” while still sounding open and friendly. Here are some suggestions:

  • I would love to get together, but my calendar is really full with the holidays approaching. Can we schedule a time when things slow down so we don’t have to rush and I can give you my undivided attention?”
  • “I’m looking forward to seeing you, but a formal dinner is really beyond my capacity right now. Any chance you have time to grab a cup of coffee in the coming week or so?”
  • “Thank you for the invitation to join you at the charity event. It sounds like a great cause, but I’ve already agreed to help meet several other needs this season. Thanks for sharing it with me, though. It’s nice to know about options for future years.”

You don’t have to give a reason, either. Try a simple: “Thank you for thinking of me, and I’m sure I’d enjoy it, but I have a prior commitment and I won’t be able to attend.”

While it’s important to maintain balance, it’s also important to recognize if you’re pulling back from social engagements because of depression or other behavioral health issues. Isolating at holiday time has the potential to increase symptoms like appetite, sleep and mood disturbance.

Holidays can also bring memories of times past that can make us sad if we have lost loved ones or have loved ones who are ill. It’s important to honor the authenticity of your feelings and seek help when you need it.

Try to hold close the spirit of the holidays. The winter holidays are all about peace and love. Allowing others to help can bring joy and purpose to them just as you felt joy to all the “Yesses” you were able to say this year.

Try to savor the positives in your life and create new holiday memories that keep you healthy and happy. Sit back, enjoy some egg nog with a good holiday movie and honor yourself for finding balance in an ever changing world. You deserve it. Happy Holidays to All!


Terri Waldman MSW was the director of the TMC Geropsychiatric Center at Handmaker and now is the administrator at Copper Canyon Alzheimer’s Special Care Center

Eat Well – 7 ways to increase your fruit and veg intake

Most health-conscious people agree that eating a lot of fruits and vegetables is a good habit. Plants provide a cornucopia of nutrients your body needs to function properly. Plus they are colorful, delicious and provide endless opportunities for cooking creativity. For a variety of reasons though, few of us get enough of them in our daily diets.

How many servings do you need each day? That number depends on the number of calories you need per day, along with other factors. An easier guideline to follow is this: whenever you have a meal or snack, make at least half of it vegetables, fruit or a combination. That likely means increasing the amount you currently eat, and you should do that at your own pace. Start by adding just one more fruit or vegetable per day or one more per week. Here are some tips to help you get going.

7 ways to increase your fruit and veg

1. “A goal without a plan is just a wish”*

Create a weekly menu, or at least a menu outline, that includes a fruit or vegetable at every meal and snack. Using this menu, make your grocery list and go shopping.

  • Choose a variety of fruit and veggies, across the whole spectrum of colors.
  • Please eat real fruit and veggies. Chips and other products containing vegetable powders or concentrates don’t count.
  • Frozen produce can be more convenient than fresh. It’s easy to keep some on hand all the time, so you can add a boost of nutrition to any meal or snack. Also, you can use as much as you need and leave the rest in the bag, creating less waste.
  • Canned foods tend to be a less nutritious choice than fresh or frozen, and most people are not fond of their soggy texture. With beans and tomato products, however, the canned version is far more convenient and still relatively healthy. If you do buy canned vegetables, choose low-sodium or no-salt-added options.

2. Be prepared

It’s a motto not just for scouts! On a day when you have extra time, do some preparation for the coming days.

  • Cut up fresh produce, so it is ready for snacking or for use in recipes later.
  • Cook a batch of something that can be refrigerated or frozen, then reheat and eat later.

3. Double, sneak and boost

Add vegetables to things you already regularly eat. For example:

  • Boost that breakfast by adding spinach, mushrooms, onions or tomato to your scrambled eggs.
  • Add sliced veggies or leafy greens to sandwiches or wraps.
  • Sneak some broccoli, cauliflower, peppers or squash into soup or chili or pasta dishes.
  • If you ever need to rely on a pre-packaged frozen meal, throw some chopped, frozen veggies into it before you put it in the microwave. This will significantly improve the meal’s nutritional content.

4. Add a little sweetness and texture

Add fruit to cereal or yogurt.

  • Instead of eating sugary, fruit-flavored yogurt, stir berries into Greek yogurt. If you do this with frozen berries and store it in the fridge overnight, the berries will thaw a little, giving you a nice sauce that flavors the whole concoction.

5. Make it a power pack snack!

  • …on raw veggies, such as carrot or celery sticks, dipped in hummus.
  • …on plain, fresh fruit. Or combine fruit slices with peanut or almond butter. For a less messy combo, mix unsweetened dried fruit with nuts.

6. Explore the stars, star fruit that is

Don’t hesitate to try a vegetable or fruit you’ve never had before. You might discover a new favorite.

  • Buy something that looks interesting, and then search online for preparation instructions.
  • If you shop at a farmers’ market, you can ask the farmers themselves for recommendations.

7. Try that beet again

Consider revisiting a vegetable you thought you didn’t like. Maybe your tastes have changed, or you can try a new way of preparing it, and you’ll find you now love it.

Have fun on your new adventures in the plant world!

Laurie Ledford

Laurie Ledford RDLaurie Ledford is our very own Georgia peach, a registered dietitian from Atlanta, Georgia, the land of grits, collard greens and super-sweet iced tea. She now works as a registered dietitian  in the Tucson Medical Center Wellness Department. She enjoys helping people improve their health through sustainable dietary changes while still relishing occasional indulgences. In her off hours, Laurie engages in foodie pursuits such as sampling unusual flavor combinations (olive oil and basil ice cream was a good one) as well as hiking and cycling.

 

 

 

 

*Quote from Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Back to school – Is your child’s school lunch box safe?

healthy school lunches- image by Flickr user @buzzymelibee

Flickr user @buzzymelibee CC: 2.0

How do you keep your child’s packed school lunch delicious, nutritious and safe? We asked Brittany Robertson, TMC pediatric dietitian for some suggestions to liven up your child’s back to school lunches:

1. Keep it cool

Use an insulated lunch box with ice packs to expand food options while still providing a safe lunch.

While those brown paper bags were standard for school lunches in yesteryear, increasingly most children take their packed school lunch in some sort of insulated lunch bag and with good reason. FoodSafety.gov shares this:

“Insulated lunch boxes help maintain food at a safe temperature until lunchtime. Perishable lunch foods, such as cold cut sandwiches and yogurt, can be left out at room temperature for only two hours before they may become unsafe to eat. But, with an insulated lunch box and a chilled freezer gel pack, perishable food can stay cold and safe to eat until lunch.

Why keep food cold? Harmful bacteria multiply rapidly in the “Danger Zone” — the temperatures between 40°F and 140°F. Perishable food transported without a cold source won’t stay safe long.

Suggestion: Pick up a few novelty ice packs. What little (or big) kid doesn’t like lunch to look appealing? You can also just freeze your child’s water bottle and use that as an ice pack. By lunchtime and out of the insulated lunch bag, the water should melt in time to drink. Frozen berries or mango can double as both dessert and ice pack.

2. Keep it clean

While preschool might have enforced the “wash your hands before eating” rule, is your child likely to voluntarily take off to the bathroom to wash her hands before eating?

Suggestion: Include some moist towels in her lunch box. Not a perfect solution, but a start. (Safe food handling practices in preparation of the food are also important.)

3. Include foods that don’t need to be refrigerated

FoodSafety.gov provides these examples of foods you can include that don’t need constant refrigeration: whole fruits and vegetables, hard cheese, canned meat and fish, breads, crackers, peanut butter* (given the increasing numbers of children with life-threatening reactions to peanuts, this might be best avoided, sunflower seed butter is often a good substitute), jelly, mustard, pickles, nuts* and seeds.

Suggestion: what to include in a healthy school lunch

Tucson News Now
http://www.tucsonnewsnow.com/story/38764676/back-to-school-how-to-pack-a-healthy-lunch-for-your-child

Eat Right is the public site of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and is a great resource for healthy ideas

Nutrition 411

WebMd’s healthy lunchbox tips

4. Don’t over pack

At the end of the day it is frustrating to have to chuck the perishable food into the compost, or into the trash. Gauge how much food is left over and adjust accordingly.

Suggestion: Like all of us, your child likes some control over his or her life. Involve her in preparing her packed lunch. Include him in making his lunch the night before and discuss what a balanced diet looks like. I often encourage parents to make a drawer in the fridge or a bin in the pantry with pre-portioned lunch elements (bags of baby carrots, jicama and cherry tomatoes, grapes, berries, whole grain crackers, trail mix, yogurts, cheese sticks, hard boiled eggs, etc.). That way the child can grab 1 item from each food group to make their lunch; The kid gets the power to choose and parents can rest assured that all of the options are healthy choices.

Keep in mind – if the choices are between chips and celery most children are likely to always choose the high fat, salt or sugar option.

Are you packing lunch for your child? What healthy foods do you include? How do you make it appealing? What tricks do you have to keep it healthy and safe?

Brittany Robertson, Registered dietitian
TMC Pediatric Dietitian

*Important Note
Before sending nut products in the lunch box, check with your school first about any restrictions on nut products. Also educate your child about the importance of not sharing food, especially with children who have food allergies. A little education goes a long way.

 

The heat is on- keep your exercise game on too

Runner in desert

Whether it is an over or a swamp — and lately, it’s been a little of both — it is hot out there! This is the time of year that most year-round Tucsonans try to hide from the heat by staying indoors as much as possible. This seems like a good practice, but it can hinder many of the activities that we enjoy the other nine months of the year. So what are we to do?!

We definitely don’t want you to have to give up what you enjoy doing, and we also want you to stay active, but we also want you to be smart and safe during your time outdoors. Planning and being prepared is key. Here are some things to consider as we enter into our hotter months.

Be the early bird

Whether you are normally a morning person or not, you pretty much need to be from June through August if you want to ever do anything outside! With the sun rising as early as 5:15, meaning that it is light outside by 5 (that is a.m.!) you have at least an hour before the thermometer moves over 85 degrees. So for those of you who don’t enjoy exercising indoors, try planning for some early morning activities. We are fortunate to have some of the most beautiful sunrises here in Tucson, you just need to get up and out to enjoy them!

Block sun not fun

Summer often means fun in the sun, but we all need to be careful that we aren’t getting too much of a good thing. The CDC recommends the following to protect ourselves from getting too many of those harmful rays.

Sunscreen:

  • Use sunscreen with sun protective factor (SPF) 15 or higher, and both UVA and UVB protection.
  • Reapply every 2 hours that you are out in the sun

Protective Clothing: 

  • Wear clothing to cover exposed skin
  • Loose fitting may be more comfortable; dark colors may offer better protection

Hats:

  • Wear a hat with a wide brim to shade the face, head, ears, and neck.
  • Loose fitting hats may be more comfortable in the heat
  • Sunglasses
  • Don’t forget that the sun can damage your eyes and can increase risk for cataracts
  • Sunglasses that wrap close to your face and block both UVA and UVB will provide the greatest protection

Where there is a will, there is a way

Just because it is hot outside (really hot!) is not a good enough reason to stop all activity. Too often we hear, “I’ll start exercising again once it cools down.”  What people are really saying is, “Now that it is hot outside, I have a great excuse not to be active!” WRONG! With a bit of planning, you can still be active.

If you aren’t a morning person, it might take going to bed earlier than you normally would so that you can get up early. You might also need to have a plan to meet a friend or a group that will help to motivate you to move in the morning. Once you get into a routine, you will realize that it isn’t quite as bad as you used to believe!

If you have access to a pool, this is another great option for a way to stay active during the hot summer months. Remembering that any activity is better than nothing, even walking laps in the shallow part of the pool with get you moving and the water acts as a type of resistance. Just remember, if you are opting to swim and the pool isn’t protected from the sun, be sure you are wearing appropriate sun screen or sun protective swimwear.

Don’t negate the need to hydrate

You have gotten up early, put on the appropriate sun protection, and you have gotten out there and done something active….Good for you! The finally thing to remember about being active during the summer is to hydrate!!

When it is hot out, it is easier to remember to drink water. But if you head out early or are swimming, sometimes we don’t remember that we need to replenish the fluids we have lost. The standard recommendation is eight to ten 8 ounce glasses of water each day. During the summer, especially in Arizona, and particularly adding in outdoor activity, the recommendation goes way up; some recommendations go as high as 30 cups per day. The best way to determine how much you need to drink is to take a look at your urine. Urine should be light in color, similar to lemonade; dark urine the color of apple juice is an indicator of dehydration.  Drinking smaller amounts more frequently maintains hydration better than drinking a large amount all at one time. Don’t wait until you are thirsty to start replacing fluids, rather drink throughout the day.

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Eat Well – A Club Med Couscous Salad from TMC Executive Chef Jason Ricciardelli

On a really hot summer afternoon around dinner time, do you find yourself in the kitchen not in the mood for anything, or at least nothing heavy? Me either!

Here is a great summer salad recipe that can be easily turned into a quick, full meal. I’ve never been to a Club Med, but if I did, I’d be eating this! It’s perfect also as a side for your July 4th celebrations.

Chef Jason Ricciardelli

Club Med Couscous Salad

Serves  4 as main, 8 as side.

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup dry couscous

1 cup water

1 ½ cup diced cucumber (seeding optional)

1 ½ cup  tomato (seeded and diced)

1/3 cup minced red onion (optional)

1 cup garbanzo bean (drained and rinsed)

1 cup diced red or yellow pepper

¼  cup minced fresh Italian flat leaf parsley

1 tbsp minced fresh mint (optional)

3 tbsp good olive oil (or bad olive oil if that’s what you’ve got)

3 tbsp fresh lemon juice

1 ½  tsp salt

Instructions

Make couscous: In small sauce pan add water, 1 tbsp olive oil and ½ tsp salt and bring to a boil. Stir in couscous, cover, and remove from heat. Make sure it’s 1:1 ratio of water to couscous. Wait 8-10 minutes. Fluff with a fork and cool.

Place diced vegetables and beans in large mixing bowl.  Add mint and parsley and incorporate.

Add olive oil, lemon juice and salt and toss until well coated.

Fold in couscous.

You can serve at immediately or chilled. This is a vegan base recipe.

Feel free to add feta cheese or additional protein (chicken, salmon) for an even more complete meal.

 

Keep the Sparkle in Your Celebrations – Firework safety

Firework safety - tips from our Safe Kids CoordinatorIt’s time to hoist the flag and celebrate our independence from the British Empire. And what would Independence Day be without fireworks? But before you break out the sparklers and the Roman candles here are some important considerations to make sure you keep it safe for everyone in your family.

Fireworks are spectacular, but also very dangerous.

Last year 12,900 firework-related injuries were treated in hospital emergency rooms across our nation. The vast majority of those injuries, some 8,700, occurred around July 4th, according to a report from Consumer Products Safety Commission and National Electronic Injury Surveillance System.

Are fireworks legal in Tucson?

There was a time when you had to travel to legally purchase fireworks, but in 2014 Senate Bill 1158 required Pima and Maricopa cities and towns to allow the sale and use of ground fireworks around July 4th and New Year’s Day. So yes, fireworks can be legally bought and used in Tucson, but with significant limitations. Check this informational sheet to make sure you know which fireworks are legal here in Tucson. Did you know that while you might be able to buy bottle rockets, Roman candles and the like, anything that shoots into the air and detonates is not legal in Arizona? Check out the sheet linked above from the city of Tucson to find out what you can and can’t use within the city limits.

Firework Safety Tips

We asked Jessica Mitchell, coordinator for Safe Kids Pima County, for her firework safety tips this Independence Day.

“We know fireworks are fun and young kids look adorable holding those sparklers. Unfortunately, fireworks can cause serious injuries to children, including devastating burns and other injuries. The best way to keep your children safe is to not use any fireworks at home. Attend public fireworks displays and leave the lighting to the professionals. If you plan to use fireworks, make sure to follow the tips below to keep your kids as safe as possible.”

  1. Leave Fireworks to the Professionals

The best way to protect your family is to not use any fireworks at home. Instead, attend public fireworks displays and leave the lighting to the professionals.

  1. Be Extra Careful With Sparklers

Yes they’re legal, but little arms are too short to hold sparklers, which can heat up to 1,800 degrees! Instead, let your young children use glow sticks. They can be just as fun but they don’t burn at a temperature hot enough to melt glass.

(The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s stats from Fourth of July festivities in 2014 indicated sparklers were involved in a majority of fireworks-related injuries sustained by children under 5 years of age.)

  1. Take Necessary Precautions

  • Always have a bucket of water, hose and/or fire extinguisher nearby. Know how to operate the fire extinguisher properly.
  • Do not wear loose clothing while using fireworks and protect your eyes with safety googles.
  • Never light fireworks indoors or near dry grass.
  • Point fireworks away from homes, and keep away from brush, leaves and flammable substances (at this time of year and considering how dry it is, this should dissuade most of us.)
  1. Be Prepared for an Accident or Injury

  • Stand several feet away from lit fireworks. If a device does not go off, do not stand over it to investigate it. Put it out with water and dispose of it.
  • Always have a bucket of water and/or a fire extinguisher nearby. Know how to operate the fire extinguisher properly.
  • If a child is injured by fireworks, immediately go to a doctor or hospital. If an eye injury occurs, don’t allow your child to touch or rub it, as this may cause even more damage.

For more information on fire safety and more visit Safe Kids WorldWide. 

 

Eat Well this July 4th – Grilled Peaches

It’s one of our favorite seasons…peach season! Walk into any grocery store right now and you stand a good chance of being overwhelmed with that juicy sweet fragrance enticing you to buy, buy, buy!

Peaches are, of course, perfect to eat fresh while leaning over the sink or with a bib, but this Fourth of July we’re adding them to the grill for the perfect dessert for our celebrations. Those fuzzy fruits are a great source of fiber, potassium and vitamins A and C.

If you haven’t ventured into the grilled fruit territory, grilled peaches are a delectable introduction.

Even without adding herbs and spices, grilling turns fruit and vegetables into amazing little bites. Grilled fruit can be added to salads, served as a garnish for meat, and it makes a luscious dessert, especially when served over a modest serving of ice cream.

grilled peaches

Grilled Peaches

One peach per person (freestone)

Olive oil or grapeseed oil

Balsamic Glaze

Instructions

  1. Slice peaches in half. Once halved, pit the peach. Generally the peaches we find in the store are freestone peaches which allow the stone to be pitted easily.
  2. Lightly brush the cut surface of the peaches with oil. Just enough to prevent it sticking to the grill.
  3. Turn grill to medium heat.
  4. Grill peaches cut side down for 3-5 minutes, then flip and grill for an additional 4-5 minutes more. Your peaches should be soft to the touch.
  5. Serve with a drizzle of balsamic glaze or some vanilla ice cream.

If you are new to grilling fruits, here are some tips to get you started:

  1. Heat your grill to medium or medium-high. If the heat is too high, the food can burn on the outside while remaining raw inside. The delicate skins of most fruit are especially susceptible to damage from very high heat.
  2. Unless you plan to grill entire apples, carrots, peppers or other large vegetables, use a grill basket to keep items from falling through the grate.
  3. Brush or toss vegetables with olive oil to add flavor and keep them from sticking. With fruit you might want to use a neutral-flavored oil, such as safflower or grapeseed.
  4. Add more flavor with herbs, spices, lemon (juice or peel) or a marinade. Black pepper or ginger adds a little kick to the fuzzy delight of peaches you might want to try.
  5. Keep an eye on that grill! Some items cook in as little as four minutes, so you don’t want to walk away and let them turn into charred nuggets.
  6. To test for doneness, stab them with a skewer or fork. They’re done when you feel the texture you like.

Hope you have a pleasant grilling adventure.

Laurie Ledford

Laurie Ledford RDLaurie Ledford is our very own Georgia peach, a registered dietitian from Atlanta, Georgia, the land of grits, collard greens and super-sweet iced tea. She now works as a registered dietitian  in the Tucson Medical Center Wellness Department. She enjoys helping people improve their health through sustainable dietary changes while still relishing occasional indulgences. In her off hours, Laurie engages in foodie pursuits such as sampling unusual flavor combinations (olive oil and basil ice cream was a good one) as well as hiking and cycling.

 

TMC recruiter hits her stride at 200th Meet Me at Maynards achievement

Kim Loya reaches 200th Meet Me walkIt is often shared that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Kim Loya remembers those first few steps in what would become a weekly Monday tradition and help her find new goals, new friends and a new love for the city she lives in.

It was five years ago when Loya discovered Meet Me at Maynards, a free social walk and run that’s designed to build community through fitness.

“I have a vivid memory of that first experience,” recalled Loya, who is a human resources recruiter for TMC, the title sponsor of the event. “The walk took me to cute little neighborhoods around downtown that I had never seen before, and I just distinctly remember texting my friend the whole way about how much I love where I live.”

Loya will achieve her 200th milestone T-shirt the first Monday in July. She jokes that her dog, Paris, a white toy poodle, may be a bit prissy, but she’s been a faithful walking partner for almost every outing, even if she won’t have the standard-issue burgundy shirt to prove she reached the 200-walk threshhold.

Kim and Paris walk three miles each Monday.jpg“For me, it’s something I look forward to every Monday and it starts my week on a good note,” Loya said, adding that when her husband is able to join her, they turn it into a date night and sample the downtown eateries.

Like many Maynards aficionados, Loya is committed: They’re out there walking rain or shine, holidays, and even in heavy monsoon downpours, with streams of rain pouring off raincoats.

The three-mile route, combined with other weeknight walking commitments and her weekend cycling and hiking trips, helps her stay in an active space. “It really does help with my walking routine,” she said, adding she is now training for the Camino del Santiago, a 700-mile pilgrimage to northwestern Spain that is popular with hikers and cyclists. The Camino requires a walking commitment of at least 100 kilometers and she’s set her goal for fall 2019.

She’s also developed friendships as a result. One couple – rounding out on their 500-walk milestone – are now counted among her good friends and they just finished a wine-tasting trip together.

“It definitely helps build a sense of community,” she said. “It’s like a family because you see many of the same people each week and you start talking to the person next to you. And you see everything from runners to people out there with canes. It’s very family-friendly and a lot of fun.”

Tim Bentley, manager of The Core at La Encantada and who has been involved in the Maynards races on behalf of TMC, said he’s been impressed by Loya’s dedication. “She really personifies TMC’s commitment to healthy communities – and healthy in a broader sense than just physical health, but social health as well,” he said.

Loya said she’s proud of her achievement. “I’m a person who really likes to meet goals, so reaching 200 is really important to me,” she said, telling of a rain-slick bicycle race in Hawaii that she completed, despite four falls and bloody knees.

Fortunately, Maynards is not as grueling, with its 2-, 3- and 4-mile routes. To get the most out of the experience, Loya recommends:

  • Bring water
  • Go early to find parking (although the point, after all, is to walk, so….)
  • Despite the moniker, the walks typically start at The Cup Café at Hotel Congress
  • Sign up for the newsletters. You don’t want to be the one without the tutu.

For more information visit Meet Me at Maynards.

 

Green Eggs and ham, anyone? Are those eggs safe to eat?

Whether you celebrate Easter, Passover, another spring holiday, eggs are the hot ticket right now. And unless your name is Sam, you probably don’t want to be eating many green eggs!

When I was little, we would hunt for eggs in the yard…the real thing AND we would eat them afterwards! I also used to eat mud pies and share ice cream cones with my dog. Obviously, food safety wasn’t of much concern to me back then!

Today, because of the rise in food borne illnesses, we have to be much more cautious and concerned about how we handle our food. Here are a few tips to keep your holidays eggcellent:

Egg Safety Tips:

Is it safe to eat the hard-boiled eggs we decorated?

Yes if you:
-Store them in the refrigerator
-When hiding them only place them away from bacterial sources such as pets and dirt
-Toss eggs that are cracked, dirty or have been out of the fridge for more than two hours
-Use all leftover cooked eggs within one week

Or you could cook two sets of eggs! One set for an egg hunt or centerpiece display, and the other for eating. That way, the eggs you eat can stay properly refrigerated.

Consider using plastic eggs for hiding. You can use them year after year!

Can I use eggs after the “sell by” date?

Yes! Make sure you use the eggs within three weeks of the “sell-by” date and:
-Store eggs in the refrigerator at less than 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
-When you buy eggs, make sure they are sold in a refrigerator case and that none of the eggs are cracked
-When you get home put the eggs in the refrigerator and keep them in their original carton displaying the expiration date.

While many refrigerators have a specialized egg rack in the door, don’t use it. Place your eggs in the main portion of the refrigerator. The egg rack on the door is not the best place to store eggs because the temperature is warmer there than on the interior shelves.

How do I hard-boil an egg?

Hard-boiled eggs should be cooked until the white and yolk are completely set.
-Place eggs in a saucepan and cover with water.
-Bring water to a boil, cover the saucepan, then turn off the heat.
-Let eggs stand in water for 15 minutes.
-Remove eggs and place in a bowl of ice cold water to cool.

Do hard-boiled eggs spoil?

Fresh eggs direct from the chicken have a protective coating that makes it difficult for bacteria to permeate the shell and contaminate the egg. The eggs you purchase from the store are often subjected to a high pressure water stream to wash the dirt off. This washing also takes off the protective covering and finally when eggs are hard boiled any remaining protective coating is washed away. Make sure hard-boiled eggs are refrigerated within two hours of cooking and used within a week.

Eek! Why is the inside of my hard-boiled egg green?

Oops! You’ve overcooked your egg. The sulfur and iron compounds in the egg have reacted on the yolk’s surface, but don’t worry the green-colored yolk is safe to eat.

Have more questions? The Eat Right website which is a fabulous resource for all things nutrition including food safety questions.

Mary Atkinson is the Director of Wellness at TMC and a register dietitian.

Sit. Stay. Bad human! 9 tips for the office worker

9 tips for the desk workerAs an office worker you may be bound to a desk and a computer. For most of us this means that we may sit most of the day. You might think staying seated is one of the safest things you could do, but too much sitting can hurt your body in a number of ways:

How sitting too much can hurt your body:

  • Increases your risk of heart disease
  • Increases your risk of diabetes
  • Causes poor circulation in your legs, which could lead to varicose veins or blood clots
  • May lead to fatigue and food cravings
  • Less activity leads to weight gain
  • Weakens your abdominal and gluteal (butt) muscles
  • Contributes to other structural problems in the spine and hips

We checked in with Laurie Ledford RD, our very own Nutritionista, for her tips to help us escape the chains of our desks.

What is a desk-bound office worker to do? Here are a few tips to get you out of your chair.

  1. Don’t rely on an hour or less of exercise to make up for a whole day of sitting. You need to get up and move more often than that to offset the bad effects of sitting.
  2. If you have a sit-to-stand desk, alternate positions throughout the day.
  3. If you don’t have a special desk, stand up whenever you don’t need to be touching your keyboard or your desk – e.g., when answering the phone, while reading, while talking with a coworker.
  4. Sit on an exercise ball or a stool with no back, so that your core muscles will have to do some work. Always sit with your feet flat on the floor.
  5. Hold walking meetings.
  6. Drink lots of water (or other unsweetened beverage) throughout the day, so that you will have to get up to relieve yourself of this fluid frequently.
  7. Get away from your desk every 30-45 minutes to give your eyes a break and do something active – e.g., pushups against your desk, wall sitting (back against the wall with legs bent at 90 degrees), squats, calf raises, brisk walking, stretches or yoga poses.
  8. Keep a resistance band in your office. Use it to perform squats, lunges and upper body exercises during your breaks.
  9. Park far away, in a shady spot. This gives you a nice little walk to and from work, plus a cooler car in the afternoon.

For more information on how just a little more standing for office or around the home can make all the difference check out this post on how to burn more calories without adding a workout. 

Laurie Ledford RDLaurie Ledford  is a Registered Dietitian at Tucson Medical Center who uses her knowledge and experience every day to support patients making healthy nutrition choices and prevent or combat the major killers of our time. Have a question about something you’ve heard or seen about nutrition or diet? Send your question to the Nutritionista at communications at tmcaz.com.

TMC volunteer shares two best tools that helped her lose 48 pounds

DonnStairs.jpgDonn Corder has battled extra pounds for most of her life. So when she decided to fight back, she turned to two tools: Measuring cups and a food scale.

Corder, 59, who has volunteered in pastoral services at TMC for two years, was attending a lunch & learn session for volunteers when she learned about TMC’s weight management program. “I knew I needed to do something,” Corder explained. “My weight was creeping up and no matter what I seemed to do, it wasn’t going away. I also knew I didn’t want surgery and I also didn’t want a ‘system.’ I wanted to eat real food and not something out of a box.”

Corder met with registered dietitian Laurie Ledford, who went over her blood work to determine any risk factors. Corder was borderline on cholesterol and she comes from a long line of family members with diabetes.

Corder was surprised when she left the visit without a food plan to follow. Instead, she left with a food log, instructed to write down everything she ate for a week.

They discovered her servings were too large. The average serving for cereal is one cup. She had been just filling her bowl, and the result was twice that.

“I eat fast, so I didn’t realize how much I was eating. I started measuring and weighing everything,” she said. And she started to be more conscious of what she was eating.

Take cheese – a food Corder is particularly fond of. Ledford asked if she could really taste it in her salad, for example. And the answer was: Not especially. So the two of them agreed: Corder should eat her cheese, but she should have a chunk of it as a snack and really savor it.

Same with ice cream. Come on: Who eats half a cup of ice cream? But now, if Corder has a craving, she buys those individual servings at the grocery store to help her manage the portion size.

She made other little changes. Two percent milk dropped to one percent. She makes her own salad dressing. She makes snack bags of trail mix she’s made herself with just mixed nuts and raisins, since the ones at the store often have additional candy in them. She even put two weeks of snack bags in her carry on luggage when she took a two week trip.

With the help of the program’s physical activity counseling, she also added in more activity, whether it’s walking the hallways at TMC, jumping on the elliptical machine in the living room or walking up stairs instead of taking the elevator.

“It’s worked for me because I don’t feel deprived because I still have my favorite things.”

The only downside? A shopper she is not, and she now needs new clothes.

“You’re not going to be perfect every day, but it’s a question of whether you can make progress overall. It’s made a huge difference for me because I feel better, I sleep better and I have more energy.”

To find out more about TMC’s weight management program please contact TMC Wellness, (520) 324-4163 or Wellness@tmcaz.com

 

Did you nix New Year’s resolutions this year?

What's your thing - nix the new year resolutionsA message from Laurie Ledford to all those folks looking to set a health challenge for themselves, but not taking the New Year resolutions path. 

Many people see the New Year as a chance for a fresh start, a time to make big changes in their lives. Some people will make resolutions, vowing to become better versions of themselves. Knowing that most New Year’s resolutions fail, and realizing lifestyle makeovers are difficult, other people won’t bother setting a goal for the year.

If you are the type of person who enjoys a challenge, and you can set a goal that is enjoyably difficult but not impossible, then go for it! Just be sure to make a plan – your roadmap – so you don’t get lost along the way. You can use the advice below to help you stick to your plan.

For you non-resolvers out there, let’s find an alternative way to improve yourself without all that stress. Instead of a resolution, just create “Your Thing.” (If you prefer, you can call it your mission, objective, intention, ideal or purpose.) Make it fairly specific, so that it gives you direction for making the right choices. Here are some examples.

  • You want to get eight hours of sleep every night. When the television tries to keep you watching past your ideal bedtime, you say, “Sorry TV, that’s not my thing.”
  • You want to reduce your sugar intake, and someone offers you a soda. You could tell them, “Thanks, but soda’s not my thing.”
  • You want to eat more vegetables. When a waiter asks, “Would you like fries with that?” You reply, “Actually, veggies are more my thing. I’ll have a side salad instead.”

“Your Thing” needs to be about something you want to change. It may not be what your doctor, your family, your friends or strangers online think you should change. The desire to change must resonate inside of you, and you must have a clear idea of why you want to change. That reason will help provide motivation to, for example, choose the after-dinner walk instead of the after-dinner ice cream.

“Your Thing” is not one big transformation; it is instead a continuous process and an ongoing learning opportunity. It isn’t a single decision; it is lots of choices, made moment by moment. In this approach, you break down the overall improvement into small steps, and you take one step at a time.If you have a slip-up along the way, you forgive yourself and move on. However, you can learn from each little slip-up. Ask yourself what you could do to help yourself make a different (better) decision next time.

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Often making the right decision comes down to choosing one behavior over another. For “Your Thing,” it means choosing to do what’s right, not what’s easy. It’s easy to fall into old habits. Therefore, you need to become aware of what you are doing day to day. Notice which behaviors or habits support “Your Thing” and which ones do not. Then get curious about what drives those behaviors. Here are some common triggers.

  • your location or surroundings
  • the time of day
  • other people
  • your emotional state
  • some other associated behavior

Now make a plan. Decide what you are going to do differently when the trigger activates your behavior. Ideally, it will be something that provides the same good feeling while still supporting “Your Thing.” Your plan may not be an instant success. You may have to try several different tactics to stick with “Your Thing” And you may find that what you thought was a trigger actually wasn’t. This is why changing habits is an ongoing process of learning. It takes time to figure out your behavior.

No matter how vigilant you are, there will be times when it is simply too much work to make the right choice. Sometimes you are so exhausted or stressed that you feel unable to resist the old habit, and so you give in. Guess what? It’s OK. Nobody’s perfect, so forgive yourself, move on, and vow to do better next time.

Laurie Ledford RDLaurie Ledford is a registered dietitian from Atlanta, Georgia, the land of grits, collard greens and super-sweet iced tea. She now works as a registered dietitian  in the Tucson Medical Center Wellness Department. She enjoys helping people improve their health through sustainable dietary changes while still relishing occasional indulgences. In her off hours, Laurie engages in foodie pursuits such as sampling unusual flavor combinations (olive oil and basil ice cream was a good one) as well as hiking and cycling.

Safety practices for exercising in the dark

Safety tips for exercising in the darkWhether you’re taking the dog out for a walk or just getting out for a run yourself it can be hard this time of year to get outside when it’s light out. If you don’t have time during daylight hours to get out, stretch your limbs and fill your lungs, make sure you follow these safety practices when exercising in the dark:

  • Plan your route and tell someone where you are going and when you should be back. Avoid poorly lit and overgrown streets and trails.
  • When planning your route make sure to note where there are open businesses that you can stop at in case of emergency.
  • Don’t be predictable. Make sure you change up your route!
  • Bust out the neon! Wear bright and reflective clothing so drivers can see you.
  • Leave the tunes at home. Be aware of your surroundings don’t wear earbuds or headphones.
  • Bring a cell phone and identification. Or at a minimum, have ID and emergency medical information on a tag or on a card.
  • Rely on inner sparkle–don’t wear jewelry or carry money.
  • Use a headlamp, flashlight or clip-on bike light so drivers can see you.
  • Take pepper spray and a whistle in case you do encounter someone or something threatening.
  • Don’t run alone. Taking the dogs out for a run means we’re all getting exercise. If you don’t have a canine friend to accompany you, see if a friend is up for being an exercise buddy.

If you must, make friends with a treadmill for a couple of months. I know, it’s not the same as getting outside, but if it keeps your exercise routine on track, it’s helping your physical and mental health. I struggle with this, as it can seem boring sometimes, but if I don’t have a run buddy on a particular day, a gym treadmill is the next best thing. Skipping a workout never feels good.

In health,

Amy

Amy Ramsey is manager of TMC Employee Wellness Engagement, a mom, a Boston marathon runner, hiker and all around fitness guru.

 

Keep the Yummy, Healthy this Holiday Season

healthy holiday recipe modificationsWelcome to the season of festive gatherings and indulgent eating. Nutritionally speaking, this is a tough time of year. We don’t want to give up delicious holiday dishes; however, we would rather not wreck our health through weeks of unhealthy eating. Fortunately, with a few modifications and a little moderation, we don’t have to do either.

There are three magic ingredients most cooks rely on to make their dishes taste better: salt, fat and sugar. Unfortunately, these ingredients can damage our health when used too heavily and consumed too often. Here’s the good news: you can still get that delicious taste by using salt, fat and sugar in moderation. Let’s look at ways we can reduce them.

Cutting the salt

  • Before adding salt to a recipe, think about why – or even if – it is necessary. Maybe you don’t really need it, or perhaps you could use half the amount called for.
  • Instead of salt, try herbs and spices to enhance the flavor of your food. Other seasonings to try: pepper, citrus juice or zest, onion or garlic, vinegar, salt-free seasoning blends, nutritional yeast. Beware of spice mixes that may contain salt.
  • If using canned tomatoes, beans or broth in a recipe, choose a no-salt-added or low-sodium version of the product.
  • When baking, be careful about how much salt you remove from the recipe, as that can change the texture of the final product.

Lightening up with less saturated (bad) fat

  • In cooking, replace butter and coconut oil with olive oil or canola oil. This won’t work in baking, however, because you would get a completely different texture.
  • Pie crusts are full of butter or other highly saturated fat. Try a crust-less version of your dessert instead.
  • Buy lean cuts of meat: chicken and turkey breasts, beef “loin” or “round,” pork tenderloin. Consider serving fish in place of meat.
  • Try replacing some full-fat dairy products with low-fat or fat-free versions. For example, do you need both butter and cream in mashed potatoes, or could you do with butter and low-fat milk?
  • Roast, grill, broil or stew food instead of frying.

Scaling back on sugar

  • Bring out the natural sweetness in food by adding spices such as nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, mace, vanilla or almond extract.
  • When baking, try reducing the amount of sugar in the recipe by a quarter, or 25 percent. (For example, use 3/4 cup instead of 1 cup of sugar.) You may be able to reduce it further, but this may affect the browning and texture of your baked goods.

A few more things to remember

  • Choose good quality ingredients, so that their natural flavors make the dish delish!
  • To boost the nutritional value of your meals, add more fruits and vegetables. Try adding dried fruits or extra vegetables to traditional recipes such as stuffing, quick breads and salads. An simple, tasty addition to any meal is to cut up a variety of your favorite veggies into similar-sized pieces (about 1 ½-inch), coat them in olive oil and sprinkle with your favorite herbs. Spread them on a sheet pan and roast at 400 degrees until golden on the outside and slightly tender on the inside.
  • Indulge mindfully. If you have a generally healthy diet most of the time, you can allow yourself room for some holiday indulgences. The key is to enjoy them, with all your senses and without a shred of regret.

We wish you happy, healthy and tasty holidays!

Laurie Ledford is a registered dietitian from Atlanta, Georgia, the land of grits, collard greens and super-sweet iced tea. She now works as a registered dietitian  in the Tucson Medical Center Wellness Department. She enjoys helping people improve their health through sustainable dietary changes while still relishing occasional indulgences. In her off hours, Laurie engages in foodie pursuits such as sampling unusual flavor combinations (olive oil and basil ice cream was a good one) as well as hiking and cycling.

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Enjoying the Season While Avoiding Stress – Tips from Mary Atkinson, Director of Wellness

Tips for keeping the stress at bay this holiday season
Do you have a love-hate relationship with this time of year? You love the vision of family and friends brought together to celebrate and the fantasy shown on Pinterest or in magazines, but you hate the pressure you feel to create some idyllic experience? Our director of Wellness, Mary Atkinson, has these suggestions to reduce the stress and up your enjoyment of the season:
  1. Review your calendar
    It’s easy to fill up your calendar with events and gatherings and feel rushed at every one. Sit down with your family and discuss which events are actually truly loved and which have just become routine. Perhaps the annual potato latke cook-off is a must do for the whole family, but the bike ride around Winterhaven lights is no longer top of everyone’s list. Remember those quiet moments with loved ones where you’re not doing anything but lighting candles together and savoring the moment can be the most precious.
  2. Celebrate the season
    Don’t focus on one day. We can get hung up on creating the ‘perfect day’ pinning too many hopes on one day. Refocus on the little moments of beauty, kindness and community that you experience throughout the month.
  3. Ask for help and delegate
    Whether it’s sharing the responsibilities of a fancy meal for a horde of family and friends, sending cards to the family or wrapping gifts for all ask for help. Perhaps make the feast more potluck and the cards can be written and addressed by other members of the household? Working together can be memory-building in itself.
  4. Indulge with balance
    Tis the season of festive gatherings and indulgent eating. Nutritionally speaking, this is a tough time of year. We don’t want to give up delicious holiday dishes; however, we would rather not wreck our health through weeks of unhealthy eating. Fortunately, with a few modifications and a little moderation, we don’t have to do either. Check out registered dietitian Laurie Ledford’s suggestions here. Remember to take time to breathe and to take a walk after dinner or a hike with the family.
  5. Recognize and remember
    During holidays loss and estrangement can feel particularly hard. Terri Waldman, former director of the TMC Geropsychiatric Center, shared these wise words, “Your heart has no obligation to be jolly. Take the time to celebrate cherished memories but be open to new rituals. If you find you are having a hard time coping and can’t shake the sadness, though, don’t try to tough it out. It may be time to see a primary care physician.”
  6. Learn to say no
    Saying yes when you should say no can leave you resentful and overwhelmed. Friends and colleagues will understand if you can’t participate in every project or activity.
 
No matter whether your house will be full to the gills or quiet this holiday season, we hope the season is healthy and full of hope.
From our family to yours best wishes,
Mary Atkinson
Mary Atkinson is a registered dietitian and TMC’s Director of Wellness. You can find out more about the programs that the Wellness Department offers the Tucson Community here.

A snack to hike with – Brenda’s Power Bites

Brenda's power bitesNeed a portable source of fuel for a long hike or bike ride? Want a trail snack that isn’t simply candy in disguise? Brenda’s Power Bites are your solution! Recipe courtesy of Brenda Andreasen, instructor for TMC Wellness.

Ingredients

3 c oats (regular or quick cooking)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 c unsweetened flaked or shredded coconut (optional)
1/4 c roasted, salted sunflower seeds
2/3 c dried dates, finely chopped
2/3 c dried apricots, finely chopped
2/3 c dried cherries
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 c almond butter (or any nut butter)
1/2 c agave nectar (or honey)

Note:  Feel free to use any combination of dried fruit and nuts or seeds of your preference.

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, combine oats and cinnamon.
  2. Use a food processor to chop the sunflower seeds and coconut. Add to the dry ingredients.
  3. Combine dried fruits and vanilla extract in the bowl of the food processor. Coarsely chop the fruit. (The extract will aid the blades in the chopping process.) Add fruit to dry ingredients.
  4. Add nut butter and agave nectar to the rest of the mixture. Combine well until mixture begins to stick together.
  5. Form mixture into 1 inch balls.
  6. Place balls in an air-tight container, separating layers with wax paper.
  7. Refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight to allow oats to absorb moisture.

Makes about 60  ½-ounce balls

Nutrition Information (per 2-bite serving)

Calories:  130
Total Fat:  6g
Saturated Fat:  1g
Protein:  3g
Potassium:  175mg
Sodium:  85mg
Carbohydrate:  16g
Fiber:  2.5g

Looking to maintain not gain this holiday season? Tips from one of our wellness experts

 

Thanksgiving wellness tipsAmy Ramsey, manager of TMC Employee Wellness & Engagement, mom, marathon runner, hiker and all around fitness guru shared these tips for all those looking to enjoy this holiday season while maintaining and not gaining.

Avoid large plates

Serve reasonably sized servings on smaller, appetizer plates instead of a massive dinner plate. If you’re hosting, do everyone a favor and keep your larger plates hidden away.

We eat with our eyes before we even take the first bite of food. I don’t know about you, but two tablespoons of hummus loos a lot less depressing if served on a smaller plate filled with veggies and seedy crackers than alone on a large plate.

We are all tempted to fill the plate when serving our selves, so think smaller plates for portion control.

Slow down

Clearing your plate is not a race, so there’s no need to preload your fork for each bite. Taking breaks will extend the time it takes to eat your meal and possibly reduce the amount of food you eat.

Did you know that it takes between 15 to 20 minutes for your brain to get the signal that your stomach is full? Give your stomach a chance to catch up with your brain!

Turn off the distractions

Televisions, phones and laptops should not be near your dining table. When electronics and other distractions have our attention, the amount of food that we’re putting into our mouths does not–it’s the perfect environment for mindless eating.

Thanksgiving can be a great day to have some football on in the background, so you may let this one slide for the special day, but losing the distractions is a good, all-around general tip for everyday meal times.

Freshen your mouth

When you’re done eating, keep your mouth busy with a piece of gum, or head to the bathroom to brush. Keeping a clean mouth may be motivating enough to keep us from mindlessly grazing on food.

I couple this tactic with shutting off the kitchen lights after dinner is done, and I’m definitely less likely to go looking around after the kitchen is “closed.”

Happy Thanksgiving. I hope you can find time to relax and enjoy whatever it is that makes YOU happy!

For more tips, recipes and wellness events sign up for our monthly Live Well newsletter.

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Are you new to hiking? Here are tips and trails to get you started.

tips for new hikersFall has finally found its way to Tucson. As we welcome the cooler weather, Laurie Ledford, part of the TMC Wellness Department suggests that it is time to toss out the old “It’s too hot to exercise” excuse, lace up our shoes and get outside.

If running isn’t your style, or if you find walking too boring, you are in luck – Tucson is home to some of the most beautiful hiking trails imaginable. Here are Laurie’s suggestions for new hikers:

Before the hike

  • Dress properly. Layered clothing on the upper body is the way to go. This allows you to peel off outer layers as you warm up. If you want to wear shorts, be aware that you risk scrapes from cacti and rocks, so be careful! If you opt for long pants, choose something that allows you to move easily – in other words, not jeans.
  • Wear comfortable hiking boots or trail shoes with good tread. You want footwear that will keep your feet on the trail while keeping out little rocks and blisters.
  • Protect yourself from the sun. Cover any exposed skin with sunscreen, preferably a broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. Cover your head with a wide-brimmed hat to protect your face, ears and neck. Shield your eyes with UVA- and UVB-blocking sunglasses.
  • Bring water and a snack. The weather might have cooled down, but exercise can still be dehydrating. A high-carbohydrate snack will prevent hypoglycemia. Even if you think you won’t be gone long enough to get hungry, you never know when you could get lost or delayed.
The view from Blacketts Ridge, Arizona

The view from Blacketts Ridge, Arizona

During the hike

  • Stay on the trail. This is safer for you and the environment in which you are hiking; you are less likely to run into a cactus or twist an ankle, and you won’t contribute to erosion.
  • Yield the right of way to anyone bearing a burden. If you meet another hiker on a narrow trail, who has the right of way? If the other hiker is heading uphill (and needs to maintain momentum) appears to be struggling or is carrying a heavy pack, be courteous and step aside.
  • Be aware of any faster hikers behind you. Please pull over and let them pass.
  • Respect your own limitations. Be mindful of the distance or time you have hiked and how much is still ahead of you. You don’t want to reach complete exhaustion before the end of the hike.
  • Before you head up a hill, think about how you’ll make it back down (or vice versa). If your legs get too tired, you could fall. If your knees are not in great shape, they are going to scream at you all the way down the mountain. Hikers with bad joints may want to stick to flat trails or use trekking poles for additional stability and support.
  • Leave no trace. If you bring something in, take it out with you. But don’t take out more than you brought – i.e., leave bird nests, flowers and saguaro ribs where you find them

After the hike

  • It is better to enjoy happy memories of your hike the next day than to suffer aching muscles. If you are new to hiking, you will likely feel sore afterwards, no matter what. Remember to go easy on yourself during and after a hike, and your fitness level will improve over time.
  • Re-hydrate, rest and refuel as you plan your next hiking adventure.
Tucson Medical Center employees enjoy a winter hike on Douglas Spring Trail

Tucson Medical Center employees enjoy a winter hike on Douglas Spring Trail

Hikes for the new-to-town

You may hear seasoned hikers talking about some of their favorite trails: Blackett’s Ridge, Finger Rock and Agua Caliente Hill among them. However, for those who are new to hiking, it is a good idea to start with something a bit easier.

  • Nature Trail at Catalina State Park is a one-mile, relatively flat, loop trail. Once you’ve tackled that, you can take on some of the park’s more difficult trails, such as Canyon Loop Trail (2.2 miles) and Romero Canyon Trail (5.9 miles round-trip, if you go all the way to the pools).
  • Garwood Trail, on the east side of town, takes you 3.4 miles, out and back. There is a fun and interesting network of trails to explore here, including Wildhorse Trail (3.2 miles) and Douglas Spring Trail (17.2 miles, if you do the whole thing). Bring a compass, map and a good sense of direction with you, it can be easy to turn down the wrong trail.
  • Sabino Canyon Recreation Area is home to many trails of varying levels of difficulty. By walking the tram road, you can enjoy canyon views without ever leaving a paved road. As you start feeling more adventurous, branch off to try sections of Esperero Trail, Phoneline Trail, or take Bear Canyon Trail to Seven Falls (8.2 miles).

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Laurie Ledford is a registered dietitian from Atlanta, Georgia, the land of grits, collard greens and super-sweet iced tea. She now works as a registered dietitian  in the Tucson Medical Center Wellness Department. She enjoys helping people improve their health through sustainable dietary changes while still relishing occasional indulgences. In her off hours, Laurie engages in foodie pursuits such as sampling unusual flavor combinations (olive oil and basil ice cream was a good one) as well as hiking and cycling.

Bust that sugar habit in four easy steps

Tucson Medical Center is part of the Mayo Clinic Care Network.

Is hidden sugar adding inches to your waistline? Laurie Ledford, Registered Dietitian, follows this video from the Mayo Clinic with four easy steps for reducing the sugar in your diet:

Step 1 – Know Where the Sugar Is

Major Sources:

  • sugar-sweetened soda, energy drinks, sports drinks, sweet iced tea
  • fruit drinks
  • grain-based desserts (e.g., cakes, cookies, doughnuts, pies and granola bars)
  • dairy desserts (e.g., ice cream custard)
  • candy
  • ready-to-eat cereals
  • breads

Sugar can also be found lurking in salsas and sauces, such as ketchup. You have to read the ingredients label to find it. You may see sugar called by many different names on food labels. Some of its aliases are dextrose, confectioner’s powdered sugar, corn syrup solids, fructose, glucose, high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), invert sugar, lactose, malt syrup, maltose, molasses, nectars (e.g., peach nectar, pear nectar), syrups (corn, maple) or sucrose. If you add brown sugar, raw sugar, honey or agave syrup to your food or drink, you are still adding sugar.

But what about the sugar in fruit?

Yes, there are naturally occurring sugars in fruit (also in other minimally processed foods, such as milk), but these are accompanied by essential nutrients. Processed foods with added sugars are usually nutrient-poor. Said another way, they are just empty calories… until you see them sitting on the back of your thighs.

Step 2 – Know Your Limit

The American Heart Association recommends limiting the calories you consume from added sugars. For most women, the limit is 100 calories or 25 grams per day. For most men, the limit is 150 calories or 37 grams. You know your limit, now how to figure out how much you’re eating.

Step 3 – Know How Much You Are Eating

Read the Nutrition Facts panels on packaged foods, and remember to pay attention to the number of servings you are actually eating. If you have a smartphone try an online nutrition app like MyFitnessPal for tracking.

If you are adding sweeteners yourself be familiar with what the caloric intake is

  • 1 tsp sugar = 16 calories
  • 1 tsp maple syrup = 17 calories
  • 1 tsp molasses = 19 calories
  • 1 tsp honey = 21 calories
  • 1 tsp agave syrup = 21 calories

And if you add more than 1 teaspoon multiply the calories accordingly.

Step 4 – Cut Back Where You Can

Here are some suggestions from the Center for Science in the Public Interest, publisher of the Nutrition Action Health letter:

  • Cut back on soft drinks (which they call “liquid candy”) and sweet tea. Instead, try club soda, seltzer, unsweetened tea, low-fat or non-fat milk. Better yet, drink water.
  • Avoid fruit drinks, -ades and cocktails. These are essentially non-carbonated soda pop. Sunny Delight, Fruitopia, and others are only 5-10 percent juice. If you want juice, choose 100 percent juice and watch your portion size.
  • Limit candy, cookies, cakes, pies, doughnuts, granola bars, pastries and other sweet baked goods. Eat fruit, veggies or nuts instead.
  • Fat-free cakes, cookies and ice cream may have as much added sugar as their fatty counterparts, and they’re often high in calories. “Fat-free” on the package doesn’t mean fat-free on your waist or thighs.
  • Look for breakfast cereals that have no more than 8 grams of sugar per serving.

We all have some special sweets we don’t want to give up forever. You don’t have to. Instead, treat them as indulgences and eat them less often or in smaller portions. You can also prepare them yourself, so that you can control the amount of added sugar that goes into them. As a challenge, try gradually reducing the amount of sugar in your recipes to see how little you can get away with.

Another option you might want to try is using artificially sweetened beverages and desserts. Not everyone likes artificial sweeteners, but they can help some people satisfy their sweet tooth without the extra calories or rise in blood sugar.

Start today! Break your sugar addiction.

Challenge yourself to try one or more of these easy strategies for cutting back on wasted calories:

  • I will replace one sugar-sweetened beverage with an equivalent amount of water on at least three days during the next week.
  • I will try a breakfast cereal that contains less than 8 grams (2 teaspoons) of sugar per serving.
  • The next time I eat yogurt, I will replace half of the sweetened yogurt with plain yogurt. (Then I can save the other half of that sweetened yogurt for the next day.)
  • The next time I bake, I will reduce the amount of sugar in the recipe by 25 percent. (For example, use 3/4 cup instead of 1 cup of sugar.)
  • The next time I order dessert in a restaurant, I will share half (or more) of it with someone else.

Need support in making healthy changes to your diet?

Tucson Medical Center offers personalized nutritional assessments by registered dietitians to help you reach your goals.

Laurie Ledford MS RD aka The Nutritionista
Laurie is a Registered Dietitian from Atlanta, Georgia, the land of grits, collard greens and super-sweet iced tea. She works as a Registered Dietitian at Tucson Medical Center. She enjoys helping people improve their health through sustainable dietary changes while still relishing occasional indulgences. In her off hours, Laurie engages in foodie pursuits such as sampling unusual flavor combinations (olive oil and basil ice cream was a good one) and discovering delicious food and beverage pairings. She is still trying to find the perfect wine to serve with Brussel sprouts.

 

 

Bean spread – Packing a protein punch in an inexpensive and quick way

not hummus, cheap, quick bean dips for a protein punchHummus is available in almost any grocery store, and you can find it in a variety of flavors. However, not everyone is a fan of garbanzo beans or tahini or some of the other common hummus ingredients. Making your own bean spread allows you to customize it to your preferences, and it saves a little money.
You can spread it on pita triangles as a snack; use it in a sandwich for additional protein and flavor; or use it as a dip with raw veggies or tortilla chips.
If you don’t have a food processor, you can do this in a blender by adding more water to the recipe. The result will be a little runnier, which makes for a better dip than a spread.

Basic Ingredients

1 can of beans (such as pinto, kidney, cannellini, black or garbanzo)

1 Tbsp lemon juice

2 Tbsp good quality olive oil water, as needed

Variations

Choose one or more of the following ingredients to personalize your bean spread:

  • garlic
  • fresh basil, parsley or cilantro
  • spices, such as cumin, paprika or cayenne pepper
  • baby spinach
  • artichoke hearts
  • sundried tomatoes, soaked in warm water for about 20 minutes and drained
  • roasted red peppers
  • jalapeño  or other hot pepper

Directions

1. Rinse and drain beans thoroughly.

2. If using fresh garlic, peel it and process in the food processor until finely chopped.

3. Add beans and lemon juice to the food processor. Drizzle olive oil over the beans.

4. Process until beans are coarsely chopped; then add your special ingredients.

5. Continue processing until the mixture reaches your preferred consistency. You may need to add a few tablespoons of water to make it smoother.

6. Serve or chill immediately.

For more healthy recipes, wellness tips and events sign up for our monthly Live Well newsletter.

Halloween Safety Tips from Jessica Mitchell, Safe Kids Pima County

I love celebrating Halloween with my family, but I must admit I feel like I’m holding my breath all evening. Like many Tucson neighborhoods, ours has few street lights and on Oct. 31, kids are EVERYWHERE, often in dark costumes, often zigzagging across the roads to trick or treat. It’s a safety nightmare! Did you know that children are more than twice as likely to be hit by a car and killed on Halloween than on any other day of the year?

We try to watch where we are going, watch where our little ones are and watch for cars all at the same time. It can be really tough. I give my kids glow sticks to help them be seen by others, including drivers of cars. An added bonus, they think glow sticks are the coolest things ever!

What can you do to make Halloween safer this year for your children?

  1. When selecting a costume make sure it is the right size to prevent trips and falls.
  2. Decorate costumes and bags with reflective tape or stickers and, if possible, choose light colors.
  3. Since masks can sometimes obstruct a child’s vision, try nontoxic face paint and makeup whenever possible.
  4. Have kids use glow sticks or flashlights to help them see and be seen by drivers.
  5. Children under the age of 12 should not be alone at night without adult supervision. If kids are mature enough to be out without supervision, remind them to stick to familiar areas that are well lit and trick-or-treat in groups.
  6. Popular trick-or-treating hours are 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. so be especially alert for kids during those hours.

Plan ahead and keep your little ghouls and goblins safe and sound this Halloween,

Jessica

Jessica Mitchell is the Safe Kids Pima County program coordinator. Safe Kids Pima County is a network of organizations whose mission is to prevent accidental childhood injury, a leading killer of children aged 19 and under. Spearheaded by Tucson Medical Center, the local coalition is part of Safe Kids Worldwide, a global network of more than 600 coalitions in 23 countries bringing together health and safety experts, educators, corporations, foundations, governments and volunteers to educate and protect families.

These halloween revelers need a few glow sticks and then theyll really be shining.

Optimize your fruit and vegetable choices with tips from our wellness experts

eating well doesn't have to break the bankIt should come as no surprise that eating plenty of fruits and vegetables is part of a healthy diet. The more vegetables and fruit you eat, the less likely you are to develop cardiovascular disease, age-related eye diseases, osteoporosis and some types of cancer. What does seem to be surprising to many is how easy it is to incorporate vegetables and fruit into our diets. We often hear one of these comments as the reason someone is not eating enough vegetables and fruit:

     “Fresh produce is so expensive.”

     “Fresh produce goes bad before I use it.”

     “I don’t know what I should buy, and I don’t know what to do with the stuff I do buy.”

These are legitimate questions and concerns. Here are some things to consider that will hopefully help to address how to incorporate produce more easily into your diet.

Add More Variety

We eat with our eyes. Lots of color and variety is key. We eat with our eyes – color and variety make a plate of food look more enticing. Keep this in mind when you are trying to persuade yourself or your family to eat more vegetables and fruit. Not only does variety prevent boredom, it also ensures that your body gets a full spectrum of nutrients. Different types and colors of foods provide different vitamins, minerals and other plant compounds that enable your body to perform its everyday functions and prevent disease. Add produce that is in season or locally grown is likely to be fresher and more flavorful, and generally it is more cost effective.

TIP: Purchase produce in season, cut it up into smaller pieces and freeze for use throughout the year.

Fresh vs. Frozen vs. Canned

While fresh is always best, it may not always be possible to have fresh produce. Frozen fruits and vegetables are convenient, nutritious, and often less expensive, so they are your next best option. Avoid items with added sugar, butter or sauces, as this adds extra calories and fat. In the case of beans and tomato products, canned versions are far more convenient and can still be relatively healthy. When buying canned vegetables, choose low-sodium or no-salt-added options; otherwise, drain and rinse thoroughly to reduce the sodium.

TIP: Keep some frozen vegetables on hand for a quick and easy addition to soups, pastas or rice dishes.

Think About Organic

Should you buy organic produce? That’s something you have to decide for yourself.

If you would like to eat organic foods to reduce the amount of synthetic chemicals you ingest, but you can’t buy organic every time, here are a few suggestions for prioritizing your purchases:

  • If you frequently eat a lot of certain types of fruits or vegetables, buy organic versions of them to reduce your intake of the particular pesticides commonly used on those crops.
  • Check out “The Dirty Dozen.” It is a list of conventional produce that, according the Environmental Working Group, carries a high pesticide load. Buying organic versions of these foods can reduce your consumption of toxic chemicals.
  • Most pesticide residue exists on the outer surface of produce, so you may want to buy organic if you are planning to eat the skin.

Organic foods are not necessarily more nutritious, and there is no good evidence to show that eating organic produce reduces your risk of cancer. The important thing is that you eat more fruits and veggies, however you manage to do it.

For more tips on making the most of your produce see this TMC for Women post.

Design your personalized nutrition plan or tour the grocery store with help from our registered dietitians

Take a hike Tucson – 5 of our favorite trails

Hiking in Tucson with TMC's employee FEAT groupAmy Ramsey, TMC’s employee wellness and engagement manager shares some favorite Tucson hikes.

Tucson is known for its outdoor activities, and hiking is one of the top things to do in and around our breathtaking city. Below is a list of our Top 5 places to hike in Tucson.

Sanctuary Cove: If you’re in search of some solitude, it’s worth finding! Our employee group used this location on Tucson’s west side to host outdoor yoga and labyrinth walking after our hike.

Santa Catalina Mountains: Visiting the sky island to the north is a must on your list of to-dos in Tucson. TMC has hosted a number of hikes beginning at Marshal Gulch, a beautifully wooded picnic area near Summerhaven and Mount Lemmon.

Pima Canyon: Gorgeous city and canyon views on this trail, with an easy-to-reach trailhead.

Sabino Canyon: Take the tram road up and choose which way you’ll go back. For a real challenge, try Blackette’s Ridge-one of the best views from the top!

Romero Pools: Located in Oro Valley’s Catalina State Park, it’s just one of the awesome trails available, and a favorite for TMC’s hiking group.

*Bonus! Tumamoc Hill: We just couldn’t leave this one off the list. A challenging yet doable paved hike on the west side of town, Tumamoc is one of our employees’ favorites. It offers great views of downtown at the top. While you’re there, make your way over to “A” Mountain, which is just next door!

Please visit hiking in Tucson for more detailed info on all the hiking adventures that your new city has to offer.

Walk this way – Walk to School

Safe Kids Pima County and FedEx volunteers will join students from Whitmore Elementary and around the county to celebrate International Walk to School Day on October 4. International Walk to School Day raises community awareness about walking safety and promoting healthy behavior.

Did you know unintentional pedestrian injuries are the fifth leading cause of injury-related death in the United States for children ages 5 to 19? Teenagers are now at greatest risk with a death rate twice that of younger children and account for half of all child pedestrian deaths.

Whether or not your child’s school is participating, Jessica Mitchell, Safe Kids Pima County program coordinator, provides these suggestions for parents:

Teaching kids how to walk safely:

  1. Teach kids at an early age to look left, right and left again before crossing the street. Then remind them to continue looking until safely across. Teach them to never run or dart out into the street or cross between parked cars.
  2. Teach kids to put phones, headphones and devices down when crossing the street. It is particularly important to reinforce this message with teenagers. Parents, let your actions speak as loudly as your words.
  3. Encourage your children to be aware of others who may be distracted and speak up when they see someone who is in danger.
  4. It’s always best to walk on sidewalks or paths and cross at street corners, using traffic signals and crosswalks. If there are no sidewalks, walk facing traffic as far to the left as possible.
  5. Children under 10 need to cross the street with an adult. Every child is different, but developmentally, most kids are unable to judge the speed and distance of oncoming cars until age 10.
  6. Remind kids to make eye contact with drivers before crossing in front of them and to watch out for cars that are turning or backing up.
  7. It’s always best to walk on sidewalks or paths. If there are no sidewalks, walk facing traffic as far to the left as possible.
  8. Cross streets at corners, using traffic signals and crosswalks. Most injuries happen mid-block or someplace other than intersections.

As kids get older, they’re anxious for a little more freedom when walking to school or playing outside. But this is also a time when parents need to stress the importance of the little things big kids should do to stay safe.

Remember you are your child’s first role model. Lead by example:

  1. Be a good role model. Set a good example by putting your phone, headphones and devices down when walking around cars.
  2. When driving, put cell phones and other distractions in the back seat or out of sight until your final destination.
  3. Be especially alert and slow down when driving in residential neighborhoods and school zones. Be on the lookout for bikers, walkers or runners who may be distracted or may step into the street unexpectedly.
  4. Give pedestrians the right of way and look both ways when making a turn to spot any bikers, walkers or runners who may not be immediately visible.

For more resources to help keep your family safe
visit our website.

 

Eat Well- We’re going to the dogs with dog treats

Treat your cuddly canine companion to some homemade dog treats - recipes in blogDid you know that according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, owning a pet is linked to a decrease in blood pressure, total cholesterol and triglycerides? What better way to thank your dog for all the companionship and health benefits they bring with some homemade snacks?

Puppy Pops

Perfect for beating the heat!

Ingredients:
Set 1:
1 cup plain yogurt
1 1/2 tbsp. honey
1 apple
Mini dog biscuits

Set 2:
2 cups watermelon
blueberries
mini dog biscuits

Set 3:
1 1/2 cup unsalted chicken broth
1/2 cup diced sweet potatoes
1/3 cup chopped carrots

Directions:
Blend/mix ingredients together
Pour in ice cube tray
Add mini dog biscuit to each cube for a handle
Freeze
Give to your pup to enjoy! Woof!

Chunky Peanut Butter Molasses Dog Biscuits

dog-biscuits.jpg

Ingredients
4 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups oatmeal
½ – ¾ cup chunky peanut butter
2 ½ cups hot water
2 Tbsp. molasses

Directions
Mix all together adding more water if too stiff, but not too sticky. Knead well. Roll out to  ¾ inch thickness and cut into shapes. Bake on greased cookie sheet for 40 min at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Turn off heat and leave in oven overnight. (you can place them close together on cookie sheet as they do not raise.) Makes about 6 dozen
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Lucky critters – how pets improve our health

Did you know there is a week dedicated to honoring our canine companions? National Dog Week is the last full week in September and we’re taking time out, in advance, to observe National Dog Week and look at the health benefits of pets.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, owning a pet is linked to a decrease in blood pressure, total cholesterol and triglycerides. Great, so all we need to do is adopt a pet to be healthy? While we do want to encourage everyone to consider helping our local Pima Animal Care Center by adopting or fostering one of the thousands of animals taken in each year, there is more to the connection between pets and improved health.

Important aspects of being healthy include staying active, managing stress, having a strong sense of purpose and having a good social support network. Owning, fostering or even volunteering to work with animals can help us more easily achieve these healthy behaviors.

1. Purpose and connection

Having a pet or participating in a program that cares for animals gives us purpose and helps connect us with others who have similar values and passions. Pets can serve as a social icebreaker for people who tend to be shy and more introverted, easing the creation of social bonds. Through these connections, we can develop a support network that goes beyond the commonality of pet ownership. 2. Improve mood and decrease tension or stress

2. Improve mood and decrease tension or stress

Hopefully, everyone has had the opportunity to experience the unconditional love that a pet greets you with when you return home or go to visit them. This greeting alone can improve mood and decrease tension or stress. Animals can keep us in the present moment, which helps to distract us from our worries and problems that we might tend to ruminate about.

3. Reduce heart rate and blood pressure

Many studies have demonstrated that petting an animal can reduce heart rate, blood pressure and perceived level of stress. Plus, how can you not feel joyful when animals look at you with such adoration as you pet them?

4. Maintain a routine and stay active

Pets, and dogs most specifically, help us to maintain a routine and stay active. While we may be willing to skip our own exercise, we are not likely to say no to our loving pets! Even if it is just a quick walk around the neighborhood, remember, any activity is better than nothing. If you are interested in a more rigorous workout, please take a look at our post on running with our four-legged friends.

Regardless of what type of activity you choose to do with your pet, getting into a routine can also have an impact on the other health choices we make throughout our day. Once you are consistently doing one thing to benefit your health, you are more likely to follow up with others, such as making healthy food choices or getting better quality sleep.

 

We want everyone to be ‘lucky dogs’ and enhance their lives and health. Gina Darling of Mrs Green’s World will be hosting a session on Environmental Responsible Pet Care at The Core at La Encantada on Sunday, September 24th.  And for more information on exercising safely with your pet, join us Wednesday, September 27th at 5:30pm with Gina Hansenn of PACC. Click here to learn more about the events.

Improving 1 percent every day: TMC employees find their momentum

Michele S Human Resources.jpgTucson Medical Center made a commitment to its employees’ health four years ago: With the opening of new surgical suites in the tower, the previous operating room space was converted into an employee gym.

TMC employees embrace healthy lifestyles in many ways, but nearly 900 employees and their family members are part of the gym, which is open 24/7 and offers weight training, group fitness and personal training.

To mark the fourth birthday of the Optimal Results Fitness and Wellness Center, TMC asked nine employees to help us celebrate the personal health achievement of employees. Their photos will be shared over the coming weeks on social media and will be displayed in the gym.

“Perfection isn’t the goal,” said Amy Ramsey, manager of employee wellness. “It’s about being realistic and being consistent. The key is taking small steps to get incrementally better every day.”

Employees were asked to be part of the campaign based on their visibility in Jeffrey H Food Services.jpgwellness activities, their ability to inspire others and their ability to serve as role models across TMC, Ramsey said.

Michele Stewart, who works in Human Resources, said exercise gives her balance. “Also, diabetes runs in my family, so I’m literally fighting for my life, every day. As long as I’m here, I want my quality of life to be the best possible.”

Jeffrey Hirschfield, from Food and Nutrition Services, remembers far too well the impacts of poor nutritional choices and a lack of exercise. “I felt sickly all the time, I had zero energy to do anything and I hated the way I looked.”

“I train now to look good, feel good and make sure I can continue to do fun and active things even when I reach old age.”

 

5 Reasons why you need a primary care provider

5 reasons why you need a primary care physiciaWhy do you need a primary care provider?

You feel fine. No major illnesses, the occasional sniffle, and that niggling headache of course, and your mom just got diagnosed with high cholesterol, but you? You feel fine. You haven’t seen a doctor since you had to rush into urgent care that weekend two years ago.

The time to go to your PCP is when you’re sick right? You don’t have time right now.

WRONG!

Establishing a relationship with your primary care provider has all kind of benefits:

  1. Try getting in to see a provider quickly if you don’t have a primary care provider.
    They’ll want you to have had a new patient appointment to get a history and baseline information first. Those long appointments are usually at set times and not as flexible as regular appointments. Having a PCP established means the office is more able to squeeze you in for a quick appointment or call you back to discuss an issue and get you back on your feet and maybe back to work quickly.
  2. Back on the road to recovery
    A primary care provider can follow up and make sure you’re on the way to recovery following a visit to urgent care or an emergency room.
  3. Keep you up to date
    Whether it’s a new flu strain or new wellness screening guidelines, your primary care provider can help you stay current on vaccinations and preventive screenings maintaining your good health.
  4. A medical professional who looks at the whole you
    Your cardiologist is worrying about your heart rate, your neurologist your seizures, but who is looking at the big picture? Your primary care provider can oversee management of your overall health – your PCP  is able to see results from all specialists and able to get the big picture. And because your PCP has a relationship with you, he or she can help come up with a plan if you have complex medical needs. Which leads us to:
  5. Someone you can talk frankly with about your health concerns
    With a relationship that develops over time, a primary care provider can better understand what matters to you with respect to your lifestyle choices, health goals, etc. Building trust and a connection is an important piece of the relationship between a patient and a primary care provider. If you have a good relationship, it is easier to share those pertinent factors that you might be shy about otherwise.

Don’t have a primary care provider? Let us help you find one today! Call (520) 324-4900

find a doctor in Tucson

TMC celebrates pets in three September events

Pets can be part of a healthy lifestyle, from lowering blood pressure to reducing stress and encouraging owners to move more.

With the last week of September National Dog Week, TMC is going to the dogs (and cats) in three separate pet-friendly events at The Core at La Encantada.

  • Think your pup has what it takes to be a therapy dog to help cheer up patients, visitors and staff in the hospital? Come find out how to join TMC’s Pet Therapy team and – with the help of Pet Partners of Southern Arizona – learn the ins and outs of getting certified on Saturday, Sept. 2 at 10 a.m. Click here to register.
  • If you have a pet, you’ve probably at some point contemplated whether pet food, pet toys and cleaning products are OK for the environment. Come learn about environmentally friendly pet care with Mrs. Green’s World on Sunday, Sept. 24 at 2 p.m. Click here to register.
  • Pima Animal Care Center has thousands of pets each year (like PACC alumni Chester shown here) looking for a new home – and new exercise buddies. Join Care Center staff in learning more about how to exercise safely with your pet on Wednesday, Sept. 27 at 5:30 p.m. Click here to register.

Pets are welcome at these three events. Find out more by visiting The Core at La Encantada.

Make summer snacks fun, tasty and healthy

Summer snack 3Summertime brings vacations, warm weather and great food. The TMC and TMCOne Clinical Dietician Kallie Siderewicz offers some tips to make summer food fun, tasty and healthy.

Healthy doesn’t mean boring

Try a peanut butter and low-fat Greek yogurt dip for fruit. Ranch seasoning also gives Greek yogurt the yum factor for dipping veggies.

Other fun dishes include fruit kabobs, apples slices topped with peanut butter, coconut, and chocolate chips. A summertime favorite is fruit coated with frozen yogurt.

Cool off by infusing water or tea with lemon, lime, berries, oranges, mint, or rosemary.

Summer snackFor an adult beverage, try light beer, a glass of red wine or liquor mixed with water or diet soda.

High-calorie pitfalls

Before hot summer days have you reaching for a frozen coffee drink – remember that a small serving can have over 500 calories. Sodas and most sports drinks offer hard-to-burn calories with no nutrition.

For adults, mixed drinks usually combine alcohol and sugar, piling calories on top of calories.

Fruit salads made with fruit canned in heavy syrup can have as many calories as pie and cake, especially if you add marshmallows and whipped cream.

Don’t forget water

Water is the absolute best thing you can give your body. It hydrates, helps cleanse and cool. Another good reason to drink water – it can aid in weight loss.

Kallie Siderewicz.jpg

 

 

Kallie Siderewicz is a clinical dietician at the TMCOne Rincon location. She also provides nutrition services at Tucson Medical Center.

Staying active in the Arizona heat

“At least it is a dry heat.”

Whether it is a dry heat or not, it is still getting hot out there! This is the time of year that most year-round Tucsonans try to hide from the heat by staying indoors as much as possible. This seems like a good practice, but it can hinder many of the activities we enjoy the other 9 months of the year. So what are we to do?!

We definitely don’t want you to have to give up what you enjoy doing, and we want you to stay active, but we also want you to be smart and safe during your time outdoors. Planning and preparation are the keys to safety. Here are some tips from the TMC Wellness Team to consider as we enter the hotter months.

active in arizona heat

Rise Early

Whether you are normally a morning person or not, you pretty much need to be one from June through August if you ever want to do anything outside! With the sun rising as early as 5:15, meaning that it is light outside by 5:00 (that is a.m.!), you have at least an hour before the thermometer moves over 85 degrees. So for those of you who don’t enjoy exercising indoors, try planning for some early morning activities. We are fortunate to have some beautiful sunrises here in Tucson. You just need to get up and out to enjoy them!

If you aren’t accustomed to waking up early, try going to bed earlier than you normally would, so you will feel well rested. You might also plan to meet a friend or a group that will help motivate you to move in the morning. Once you get into a routine, you will realize it isn’t quite as bad as you used to believe.

Cover Up

Summer often means fun in the sun, but we all need to be careful that we aren’t getting too much of a good thing. The CDC recommends the following to protect ourselves from harmful rays.

Sunscreen:

  • Use sunscreen with sun protection factor (SPF) 15 or higher, and with both UVA and UVB protection.
  • Be sure to use enough. Apply a thick layer to all exposed skin.
  • Reapply every 2 hours that you are out in the sun or any time you sweat, rinse or wipe it off.

Protective Clothing

  • Wear clothing to cover exposed skin.
  • Loose fitting clothing may be more comfortable. Dark colors and tightly woven fabrics may offer better protection, because they absorb or block more UV rays.

Hats

  • Wear a hat with a wide brim to shade the face, head, ears, and neck.
  • Loose fitting hats may be more comfortable in the heat.

Sunglasses

  • Don’t forget that the sun can damage your eyes and can increase your risk of cataracts.
  • Sunglasses that wrap close to your face and block both UVA and UVB will provide the greatest protection.

Hydrate

swimming in the summer to keep coolYou have gotten up early, put on the appropriate sun protection, and you are now ready to get out and do something active….Good for you! The final thing to remember about being active during the summer is to hydrate.

When it is hot out, it is easier to remember to drink water. But if you head out early or are swimming, you could forget to replenish the fluids you lose. The standard recommendation is eight to ten 8-ounce glasses of water each day. During the summer, especially in Arizona, and particularly when adding in outdoor activity, the recommendation goes way up; some recommendations go as high as 30 cups per day. The best way to determine how much you need to drink is to take a look at your urine. Urine should be light in color, similar to lemonade; dark urine the color of apple juice is an indicator of dehydration. Drinking smaller amounts more frequently maintains hydration better than drinking a large amount all at one time. Don’t wait until you are thirsty to start replacing fluids; rather, drink throughout the day.

Move

Just because it is hot outside (really hot!) is not a good enough reason to stop all activity. Too often we hear, “I’ll start exercising again once it cools down.”  What people are really saying is, “Now that it is hot outside, I have a great excuse not to be active.” WRONG! With a bit of planning, you can still be active.

Enjoy your summer activities!

For more information about our Wellness programs or to sign up for our monthly wellness newsletter Live Well visit our website.

Temps are rising and the pool is beckoning – do you know your water safety?

Pool Safety 3Is it hot enough yet? With Tucson temperatures exceeding 115 degrees for three straight days, many families will be heading for the pool this weekend.

It’s no surprise why swimming is a summer favorite. Parents get a chance to cool-off, kids max out on fun and families make memories.

With the summertime exuberance of visiting, splashing and playing, it can be easy for all to forget important safety rules. This is serious because Arizona has the second highest number of child drownings in the United States.

Child drowning is tragic but preventable. Safe Kids Pima County Coordinator Jessica Mitchell works with community partners to provide helpful tips and education to prevent childhood drowning. She provided us important water safety standards every
parent should know.

It’s as easy as ABC

A = Adult supervision B = Barriers around pools, spas and hot tubs C = Coast Guard approved life vest and life-saving CPR classes

My kids love playing in the pool – what are the things to watch out for?

  • Active supervision is a must. Provide active supervision without any distractions – even if other adults are present and many kids are in the pool. They call drowning the “silent killer” because a drowning child can’t call for help.
  • Infants and toddlers should stay within an arm’s reach of an adult.
  • Don’t rely on swimming aids such as water wings and pool noodles. They are fun, but may not prevent drowning.
  • When finished, remove all toys from the pool. This can tempt children to go for the toys later, increasing the risk of them falling in and drowning.
  • Barriers should be in place to keep children from entering the pool on their own. Alarms on doors and pool fences with self-closing gates also helps to keep kids safe.
  • Always keep a phone nearby so that you can call 911 in the case of an emergency.
  • Empty kiddie pools and turn them upside down when finished. Tragedies have happened in just a few inches of water.

Pool Safety 2
What swimming rules should I set for my children?

  • Only swim if an adult is a present.
  • Do not dive in shallow areas of the pool (or the entire pool if it is not deep enough for diving).
  • Don’t push or jump on others.
  • Don’t go swimming during thunder/lightning storms.

My kids have already taken swimming lessons, so I probably don’t need to watch them as much, right?

While we encourage swimming lessons, children should not be swimming alone even if they are good swimmers. It takes multiple lessons before a child learns how to swim effectively and even then, there should still be active supervision by an adult.

How do I rescue a child I think might be drowning?

  • Take the child out of the water
  • If you are alone, call 911 and begin CPR. Starting CPR immediately is the most important thing you can do to prevent a child from dying.
  • If you are not alone, begin CPR and ask someone to call 911.
  • Check for breathing and responsiveness. Place your ear near the child’s mouth and nose to see if you feel air on your cheek? Determine if the child’s chest is moving and call the child’s name to see if he or she responds.

Should I be CPR certified?

Anyone who routinely supervises children around water should get CPR certified. The certification courses are provided by many community organizations, including the American Red Cross.

It sounds like there is a lot to prepare for – can the water still be safe and fun for my family?

Absolutely! Swimming can be great family fun. Make sure you take the necessary precautions, always supervise swimming children and that someone in the family has taken CPR classes.

Visit our website for more safety tips and information.

 

 

Safe Kids Pima County – keeping kids safe through education and advocacy

Safe Kids Pima County LogoPlenty of us have practice patching up the skinned knees and elbows of active children in our lives.

Unfortunately, though, accidents are too often far more serious than bumps and scrapes. In fact, accidents are the leading cause of death for ages 0 to 19 – according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The good news about this chilling statistic is that we have the power to change it. “Childhood accidents can (often? always? Almost always) be prevented – a few easy steps for children and adults can help keep kids safe,” said Jessica Mitchell, Safe Kids Pima County coordinator.

Safe Kids Pima County is a network of organizations focused on preventing accidental, childhood injury by educating adults and children, creating safe environments, conducting research, and advocating for effective laws.

Mitchell is a part of TMC’s participation in the Safe Kids initiative, working with community partners to actively engage adults in taking action for stronger child safety. From providing free bike helmets and pool safety to education workshops and school presentations, Mitchell coordinates a full schedule of activities to facilitate child safety awareness.

Jessica MitchellRecently, Mitchell spent a week at Frances Owen Holaway Elementary School, educating each PE class on the merits of bike safety.

“We explain to the kids ‘the brain can’t fix itself’ and make sure every student has a helmet and how to put it on correctly,” Mitchell explained. “The kids also learn the proper hand signals, where it’s safe to ride and how to avoid taking dangerous risks.”

Many child accidents involve bike riding. Over the past three years, Safe Kids Pima County has provided more than 8,000 free bike helmets to children in our community.

Safe Kids Pima County provides information and resources to help keep kids safe. Going forward, look for Mitchell’s monthly blog posts on helping keep kids safe, happy and healthy.

For further information about Safe Kids Pima County, please email safekidspimacounty@tmcaz.com or call (520) 324-2783. If you are holding a community event and would like Safe Kids Pima County to attend or participate, click here.

Osteoporosis: “The most important factor is prevention”

May is Women’s Health Month, a great time to celebrate and promote stronger health and a perfect time to discuss the latest information about preventing and treating health challenges like osteoporosis.

More than 44 million American women experience the debilitating effects of the bone disease, and many women fear aching joints and brittle bones are an inevitable part of aging. It is important to know the risks, and engage opportunities to maintain optimum bone-health.

Dr. Lawrence R. Housman is an orthopaedic surgeon who specializes in musculoskeletal disease at Tucson Orthopaedic Institute. He sat down with us to discuss the best ways to prevent and treat osteoporosis.

OsteoporosisWhy are women at greater risk for osteoporosis?  

Women start with a lower bone density than men. They also lose bone mass more quickly as they age. Between ages 20-80, women will lose about 1/3 of her bone density compared to men who lose only 1/4 of their bone density in that time frame. Estrogen levels also affect bone density, and women lose bone mass more quickly in the years immediately following menopause than at any other time of their lives.

What can accentuate this risk?

Alcohol in moderation is not a risk factor, however more than four drinks per day results in a twice the risk of hip fracture. Steroids can also increase this risk. Long term use of steroids will double the risk of fracture in women.

It should be noted that proton pump inhibitors (e.g. Nexium/Protonix used for stomach disorders such as acid reflux) decrease the absorption of calcium from the stomach.

While increasing fiber, phylates (beans, wheat bran), oxalates (spinach, beet greens, rhubarb) and phosphorus (colas) can provide other health benefits they can also interfere with calcium metabolism.

What are the most effective means of preventing osteoporosis?

Regular exercise is one of the most effective means of preventing osteoporosis. Thirty minutes per day – walking is excellent, and Tai Chi reportedly decreases falls by 47 percent and hip fracture by 25 percent.

Nutrition is another import part of maintaining healthy bones. Fruits and vegetables are important. Women ages 19-50 should take in 1000 mg of calcium daily and women older than 50 should get 1200 mg per day.

Vitamin D is another vital nutrient the body needs to prevent osteoporosis. An individual can get their vitamin D through measured exposure to sunlight or through supplements. A diet with dairy, protein or calcium fortified foods (e.g. orange juice), fish (salmon/sardines) and yogurt (6 ounces has 300 mg of calcium) will go a long way in getting vitamin d to the bones.

What are the warning signs of the disease – and when is it time to see a doctor?

There are usually no warning signs before a fracture occurs; therefore, the most important factor is prevention.

A primary care provider (PCP) is the best person to monitor bone health. Most physicians recommend a DEXA (bone density test) after the age of 50.

The DEXA scan is the bone density test done most frequently and is predictive of fracture risk. The scan will also show whether you have normal bone density, osteopenia (bone is becoming weaker) or osteoporosis (bone is at high risk for fracture).

If a fracture occurs, then an orthopaedist would enter the picture to advise on treatment concerning the spine or extremity fracture.

If diagnosed with osteopenia or osteoporosis – what’s next?

With treatment patients can live normal, active and happy lives.

There are many types of medications that are now available – which work to reverse and then rebuild the bone loss. With treatment, the risk of a vertebral fracture drops from between 30-70 percent and the risk of a hip fracture drops by up to 40 percent.

Housman OsteoporosisDr. Housman is an orthopaedic surgeon who practices at the Tucson Orthopaedic Institute. He earned a medical degree from the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada and completed an orthopaedic surgery residency at the Montreal General Hospital and McGill University. Dr. Housman is fellowship trained in several orthopaedic pursuits and is a past chief of staff at Tucson Medical Center. He has also served as president of the Western Orthopaedic Association and Arizona Orthopaedic Society.

 

 

Cognitive benefits from running and other physical activities

DavidRaichlenMaking our community a healthier place is a goal shared by the Tucson Medical Center and the Southern Arizona Roadrunners. TMC is excited to partner with SAR to bring you regular features and wellness tips designed to make your running the best it can be.

In this feature, researcher David Raichlen shares how exercise benefits your brain.

Runners often strive for that “running zone,” when movements are rhythmic, effortless and almost unconscious.

But rest assured: Even when you’re in a zone, your brain is working hard to navigate what is really an incredibly complicated set of actions. And ultimately, that may be helping to protect your brain over time.

David Raichlen, an associate professor of anthropology at the University of Arizona and a runner himself, has been focused on the study of the evolution of physical activity – notably, why should you have to expend energy to ensure optimal functioning of the physiological system?

Think about it. Exercise builds bone density. It builds muscle. It helps protect elasticity in arteries. The reverse is also true: Lack of physical activity atrophies muscles and thins bones. And it looks like it may also change your brain in detrimental ways. “It turns out that our bones, our muscles, our cardiovascular systems – and even our brains – have evolved in a way that responds to stress,” he said.

Exercise in mature adults seems to be associated with larger amounts of gray matter, the cell bodies that make up the brain. That’s important in areas like the hippocampus, which serve as the nervous system and the command center for emotion and memory. People who engage in exercise also have more white matter – the connections within your brain that help with attention, planning and decision making.

Together with Gene Alexander, a professor of psychology at the University of Arizona, Raichlen has explored the effects of exercise on the brains of individuals across the lifespan.

Their results are somewhat surprising. “Let’s say you go for a run in Sabino Canyon. What are you doing? You have to navigate, remember where you’re going, plan footfalls on uneven terrain, pay attention to surroundings,” explained Raichlen, who joined Southern Arizona Roadrunners a year ago. “Running actually involves some fairly complex processing, and it’s possible that is the stress that creates these connectivity differences and perhaps that’s the stress that improves brain function across ages.”

The good news is that it’s not too late to switch to a more active lifestyle. Most of the studies that have shown protective changes have involved sedentary adults who began walking at moderate intensity for 150 hours a week.

Raichlen’s research also studies hunter-gatherer cultures in Africa to get a better model on what physical activity was like more universally in the past.  “They’re very physically active, but they also rest a lot. When they’re moving, they’re really moving. And when they’re not, they’re resting: There’s not a lot of time when they’re moving with low intensity,” he said.

The take home message?  Runners may typically be the types who like to get out there and exercise, but for other mortals, it can be hard to prod them into greater activity. “But could you get people to walk a little faster when they park their car at the grocery store or get them to walk a little faster at the mall?  It’s not always the 30 minute run: The other thing people can do is accumulate moderate physical intensity throughout the day by just trying to aerobically challenge themselves more often.”

 

Healthy feet means happier running: Tips from a podiatrist

Making our community a healthier place is a goal shared by the Tucson Medical Center and the Southern Arizona Roadrunners. TMC is excited to partner with SAR to bring you regular features and wellness tips designed to make your running the best it can be.

TVP_160623_7085Sometimes feet just don’t get the respect they deserve. But they’re surprisingly complex workhorses that make a huge difference in our quality of life, as well as our ability to lead active lifestyles.

Here are a few tips from Dr. Natalie Hua to keep those 26 bones and their associated muscles, tendons and ligaments in optimal condition:

It starts with the shoes. There are a lot of options in running shoes, from the thin layer of sole in minimalist options that make your foot muscles work extra hard, to options that provide the maximum support. Whichever version you like, the key is to invest in a good pair of running shoes. Quality running stores will have you run on a treadmill to look at your foot patterns and recommend some options for you. Go toward the end of the day when your feet are most swollen to get the right measurement. Make sure your shoes are wide enough and that there is a two-finger width from the longest toe to the toe box. Here’s an important tip: If you find some you love, stock up, because companies change styles and models with great frequency.

You’ll want to change your shoes about every 300 miles, because fatigue and pain are associated with insufficient cushion and support.

And if you need orthotics, Tucson Orthopaedic Institute has staff that will help you find the right ones, based on your arch. If they don’t work, an exchange or full refund is available. Custom orthotics are also offered at TOI.

Get the right socks.  Blisters are often triggered because of friction on wet skin, which can happen when your socks get too wet. Cotton socks are big culprits, so consider microfiber socks that better wick out moisture. Studies have shown compression socks do not appear to increase performance while you run, but have been shown to speed up the recovery process if you put them on afterward.

Blisters. Aside from getting the right socks, if you are prone to blisters, consider wearing antiperspirant on your feet before a run – and use Vaseline on problem spots you know are prone to blistering. And as for that age-old question – to pop or not to pop – the important thing is to leave the skin intact as a natural protective barrier. Clean a sewing needle with alcohol and just poke a small hole to allow the fluid to escape.

Black nails: These are common in runners because of micro-trauma as your foot jams into the toe box. There are two things to know:

1) It may look like fungus, but there is no way to tell from the naked eye so your physician will have to send a sample to the lab to know for sure.

2) Don’t rip it off if it lifts. Try to secure it down with tape, and as the new nail grows, it will push it out.

Pain: I am a surgeon, but I talk my patients out of surgery unless we have tried all non-operative treatments first. If your toes are spreading out and causing pain in the ball of the foot, tape your toe in place to take the stretch off the ligament until it can heal.

Heel pain is the most common complaint I hear and a lot of it has to do with degenerative changes of the plantar fascia, which are bands that run from heel to toe. The trick is to work on stretching both the calf muscle and the plantar fascia. Do a modified runner stretch to help. It also helps to get a golf ball and roll your foot over  it. It can be painful but it’s the best remedy I’ve found.

For Achilles pain, you can learn stretches that will help. But here’s an important caveat: If you have acute pain around your Achilles, and it’s inflamed and red, do not stretch because you can rupture it. We can put you in a boot and heel lifts to calm it down. Anytime you have an injury after a run, you’ll want to rest, put ice on it for 20 minutes at a time and elevate it above your heart. If you can’t put weight on it within a day, go see a doctor for a treatment plan to get you back on the road safely.

Natalie Hua, DPM, earned her medical degree from the California School of Podiatric Medicine in Oakland, California, graduating cum laude. She then completed her residency in podiatric medicine & surgery, and reconstructive rearfoot/ankle surgery at Tucson Medical Center.

 

Running with four-legged friends good for pets, owners

Making our community a healthier place is a goal shared by the Tucson Medical Center and the Southern Arizona Roadrunners. TMC is excited to partner with SAR to bring you regular features and wellness tips designed to make your running the best it can be.

In this feature, Amy Ramsey, TMC’s employee wellness and engagement manager, shares some tips about running with dogs as TMC gears up for its first-ever Paws on the Run 5k fun run to benefit Pima Animal Care Center and Girls on the Run on April 8 at Christopher Columbus Park. Kids can also come out and run a FREE one mile fun run presented by Southern Arizona Roadrunner’s FitKidz.

Shelter adoptions are free that day for participants and families.

To register: http://bit.ly/PawsontheRun5k

running-partners-amy-and-gertie-enjoy-shared-activity-timeWhat kinds of dogs are appropriate for running?

I have two dogs at home, a Chihuahua and a large Shepherd mix we rescued from a local shelter seven years ago.

Don’t let little legs fool you: Our Chihuahua is a great running partner for our children, as he doesn’t have as much stamina as our larger breed. The kids enjoy running him around the block a few times, and he stops when he’s had enough.

Gertie, our larger breed, enjoys running longer distances to which we’ve built up over time. We’ve determined 2-3 miles is an optimal distance for her based on her energy level  during and after the run.

Each breed is different in regards to how far and long activity should be so checking with your vet and doing a little research on your specific dog breed will tell you a lot about their activity needs and tolerance.

 How can you get started in running with your dog?

Just like humans, dogs can be trained to increase activity based on consistent efforts. But remember, just as you listen to your body to be sensible and avoid injury by increasing slowly, you’ll need to watch for signs from your pup that could show exhaustion or discomfort as well.

running-with-shelter-pets-at-pima-animal-care-center.jpgWhat are the benefits you’ve experienced?

Asking the kids to run the dog is a great excuse to get them out of the house – and they all come back happier.

I am an early morning runner, and if I’m not meeting up with running partners, Gertie is the perfect companion to help keep me feeling safe. Yes, I still carry my pepper spray, but I’m a little more relaxed with her by my side.

She’s also just a better behaved dog when she gets regular exercise. Dogs are a lot like humans in this way. How many times have you missed a workout and find yourself feeling grumpy or irritable because of it? Dogs are the same.

Like humans, dogs can act out in other ways, such as destructive behavior, if they aren’t getting enough activity. They can crave routine and look forward to “burning off the crazy” just as much as we do.

Can you share a list of critical tips?

  • Keep the leash short. This is for your dog’s safety, as well as others who may be biking, running, driving by you. This also helps keep the dog closer to you, allowing for more training/learning moments for your pup.
  • Pick a side. Establish which side of you the dog will be running on and keep this consistent. Your dog likes to know what to expect. Rules and boundaries are healthy for them. This comes in particularly handy when training them NOT to lunge for that lizard that just darted across the path.
  • Praise liberally. Bringing treats in your pocket can help keep his focus on you, while reinforcing his good decisions, like not pulling towards the bicycle that just passed, or not barking at the spastic dog on the other side of the fence.
  • Remember hydration. Bring water if you’ll be out more than 30 minutes or if it is especially warm. If your dog isn’t great at drinking from a water bottle, small collapsible bowls are very portable. Some larger breeds actually ENJOY wearing a backpack that could be filled with treats, water, and a bowl. It gives them a sense of purpose.

How about a “please don’t” list?

DON’T:

  • Forget to bring bags for waste. It’s called being a responsible pet owner and a good neighbor.
  • Use a retractable leash. Exceptions can sometimes be made for smaller breeds, but if you happen to be using a multiuse path such as The Loop, DON’T do it. It’s just plain dangerous.
  • Take your dog out for a run if it’s too hot. Dogs are very susceptible to heat exhaustion, some breeds more than others. Also-the pavement heats up quickly and those paw pads are sensitive. Some dogs allow for booties, but a quick YouTube search for “Dogs With Shoes” shows you quickly that most won’t tolerate it. This has been a favorite search for my kids, with a lot of laughter. I recommend morning or evening outings here in the Southwest.
  • Take the same route every day. Your dog lives by his nose, so give him new areas to sniff and give yourself new things to see. It’s good for both of your brains!

ruff-runners-provides-opportunities-for-fitness-as-well-as-community-service.jpgAre there opportunities to have this experience, even if you don’t own a dog?

The dogs at Pima Animal Care Center not only need that daily exercise, but those walks or runs are of high importance to keep their spirits high, making them more desirable and adoptable for prospective pet owners.

There are many volunteer opportunities at PACC to help with this activity, but one that I specifically love is the Ruff Runners group. On Tuesday evenings and Friday mornings, people are encouraged to come out and help exercise these wonderful dogs.

When signing in, I was asked if I preferred a younger, higher energy dog to run, or if I’d like to help an older or possibly injured dog get some fresh air by walking them slowly, on a shorter route. It is really very rewarding to see all of those wonderful shelter dogs paired with their volunteers and enjoying the exercise and companionship – which goes both ways.

Mediterranean diet has much to offer

 

We know that healthy diets can definitely be beneficial in lowering LDL, the “bad” cholesterol, which is a major risk factor in causing heart attacks and strokes. In general, the main principle is to avoid saturated fats.

Cholesterol itself is only found in animal fats, so you would think that avoiding animal products would be sufficient to prevent elevated cholesterol. Certainly, it is important to avoid high-fat meats and cheeses. Lunch meats, bacon and similar products should be totally avoided. At the same time, avoiding animal products is insufficient because vegetable products with saturated fats will stimulate the liver to produce cholesterol. So, the amount of cholesterol that is eaten is only one factor in determining blood levels of cholesterol.

A Mediterranean diet appears to reduce the risk of cardiovascular events. These diets are typically high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds, and include olive oil as an important source of fat. There are typically low to moderate amounts of fish, poultry, dairy products, and red meat is limited to no more than a few times a month. Herbs and spices are used instead of salt to flavor foods.

 

There is often red wine in addition to the diet*. Resveratrol is an anti-oxidant especially found in the skin of red grapes. It has not been proven to lower LDL cholesterol but does help prevent cardiovascular disease, probably by other mechanisms (the same is true for dark chocolate). However, even without the wine the Mediterranean diet, particularly including virgin olive oil, seems to be very effective in decreasing heart attacks and strokes.

William Abraham, M.D.

abraham

Dr. William Abraham is board-certified in internal medicine and has more than 30 years of experience. He is a TMC One provider who specializes in same-day/next-day appointments at the Wilmot location.

TMC One Med Group your health your team OL

*Please consult your doctor before changing your diet. Red wine should be enjoyed in moderation.

Exercise – more benefits than you think…

exercise1

Exercise has numerous known health benefits, and as time passes more are being discovered.

One of the major things that can help cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes is regular, moderate to vigorous exercise. Studies have proven that exercise especially raises HDL (good cholesterol ) and can decrease LDL (bad cholesterol),  although less so.  In addition, one of the other benefits to exercise, namely weight loss, by itself will raise HDL.

How much exercise can be beneficial?  The more the better, and the more vigorous the better. Unfortunately, mild-intensity exercise has not been shown to affect cholesterol levels.

The most benefit can be achieved by eliminating sedentary habits and a poor diet.  Even without changing one’s diet, LDL can be decreased by 10 to 15 percent and HDL increased by 20 percent with moderate to vigorous exercise. Diabetes and high blood pressure can also be improved or even prevented with regular exercise.

Weight-bearing exercise, which includes walking, helps maintain bone density and therefore prevent osteoporosis which can lead to fractures, especially of the hips and spine.

Exercise is believed to help boost the immune system and prevent infections. Researchers also believe that it can lower the risk of developing cancers.

The latest studies also suggest that people who exercise regularly have a significantly decreased incidence of dementia, such as Alzheimer’s Disease.

If you are not already exercising, you need to start at a low level and slowly and progressively increase.  Check first with your primary care provider to evaluate your cardiovascular health.

An exercise regimen is a meaningful way of improving your health and preventing chronic diseases. Make the changes that will change your life.

William Abraham, M.D.

abraham

Dr. William Abraham is board-certified in internal medicine and has more than 30 years of experience. He is a TMC One provider who specializes in same-day/next-day appointments at the Wilmot location.

TMC One Med Group your health your team OL

What happens when your inner artist meets your inner philanthropist? The May 24 Creative You Art Party!

Creative ArtHelp lift the spirits of patients while enjoying a free evening of creativity, wine and fun.

As a hospital participating in the Bens’ Bells Kind Colleagues program, staff members at Tucson Medical Center know the power of random acts of kindness.

And as a hospital with a Healing Art Program, we also know the potential of art to encourage and cheer patients.

Join TMC Women & Children’s Services staff Tuesday,  May 24, from 5 to 7 p.m. in making a piece of art that will be donated to a patient in one of our programs, whether that’s a pregnant mom in one of our support groups, a new mother learning about breastfeeding or a mother who donates life-saving cord blood to save another child’s life.

Along with light snacks and wine, The Core will provide all of the items you’ll need to complete an art project that will make a difference in the lives of the patients we serve.

“This is one of those opportunities where everyone will feel better at the end: Not only will our guests have a great time, but they’ll have an opportunity to make someone’s day who might need a little cheering up,” said Tim Bentley, retail outreach manager at The Core at La Encantada.

Space is limited, so please register for this class at www.thecoretmc.com or visit for a full calendar of fitness classes, health lectures and wellness events.

Developing rituals can help build balance

Terri Waldman on developing rituals to balance lifeTerri Waldman, the Director of TMC’s Geropsychiatric Center, was one of the experts interviewed for the Arizona Daily Star’s series on dementia, Hope and Help. Among the stories was one on finding hope. Here is her monthly column on the importance of building ritual.

Every morning, I go for a walk with my dog.

If I miss that walk for some reason, my day just feels a little off.

It’s one of my rituals, along with meditation, that gives shape to my day.

Ritual, which is increasingly recognized as important to our health and wellbeing, is more than merely everyday habit. But to be clear, it also does not have to be reserved for just the sacred and complicated.

Whether we are talking about rituals of religion, families or individuals, those intentional steps we take on a regular basis help remind us about what’s important and help us build a sense of stability in our lives.

When I was a child, bedtime meant my parents would tell each other and their children that they were loved. For me, regardless of family squabbles or anything else that happened during the day, it gave me that sense of continuity. No matter what else I faced, love was not a negotiation.

When you hear “ritual,” there are all kinds of ideas in our head about what that looks like, often involving ceremonial trappings and historical foundations. But it can be as simple as having dinner as a family – a ritual that is growing in importance all the time as we lose some of that precious time to busy lives and technology.

It can be having a cup of coffee on your patio to start your morning. It could be a cup of tea in the evening. It could be a prayer before bed.  It’s any time you carve out that feels good and centering and maybe even healing to you.

In the work I do, I’ve noticed that some people’s lives become imbalanced because they lack structure. Rituals have a way of grounding you. Even if you’re traveling, you can still have that morning coffee or that bedtime tea and feel a sense of structure. Ritual does not have to be rigid. And it doesn’t have to be something handed down through generations – it can be something you create.

If ritual is something you want to more fully develop in your life, you might look at your life to see what you have in it already.  You probably have more of it in your life than you think. If it isn’t obvious to you, you might ask a friend: What do you see in my life that brings me comfort?

You might just start with something simple: Finding 5 minutes of quiet time with your thoughts. It’s easy to click on the TV or the radio for a distraction, but learning to be present with oneself can be a gift. And it might just start with one, simple ritual.

Terri Waldman has more than 20 years of experience in providing services, advocacy and leadership in the field of aging in Pima County. Currently the Director of the TMC Geropsychiatric Center at Handmaker, Waldman received her Masters in Social Work at Arizona State University. She follows her father’s philosophy that five minutes of laughter every day leads to quality in life.

Don’t let the triple digit heat send your brain on vacation

imagesCATD1WDHA predictable pattern emerges when the mercury climbs: We stay inside and scrap some of the normal activities we would otherwise do. Instead of going for our daily walk or chatting with neighbors over the fence or heading to lunch with a friend, we end up staying inside, watching too much television and eating too much for our increasingly sedentary activity level.

So what’s the problem with taking a little break?

Think about what happens when you stop going to the gym. The next time you get back on that treadmill or lift weights, it’s a little harder. You’ve lost some ground.

A bicep muscle and a brain are similar in that way: It’s really important as we age to maintain a certain regimen or structure in our life.

Particularly for those who already have cognitive, mental health or physical challenges, letting routines and networks lapse tends to lead to faster decline.

We know that brain health is directly tied to cognitive stimulation. If those brain connections aren’t engaging, people tend to develop new problems, including depression, which is particularly common among older people who live alone and may be facing sadness, isolation and loneliness.

Here are a few suggestions on how to maintain brain health despite the heat:

  • Tap a passion. What is it that  stimulates you cognitively? Do you gravitate to crossword puzzles, chess, checkers or bridge? Do you like to write? Then continue to do that in the summer, even if it means changing your schedule to take advantage of the cooler mornings or evenings.
  • Get wet. Take advantage of a friend’s pool or a community pool, or try a water aerobics class at a local gym. Get a noodle and get kicking.
  • Stay social. Instead of meeting a friend for lunch, go for breakfast. Take an early morning walk and chat with your neighbors. If you have Skype or FaceTime, use them! Eye contact is vital in relationship-building. If you like online games, they’re a good option when taking refuge from the midday heat, but just remember they’re no replacement for human connections.
  • Connect with your community. Neighborhood cleanup crews or park docents may not be the right fit for this particular season, but there are lots of air-conditioned opportunities to volunteer for a church or a nonprofit. Consider visiting the library or joining a book club or a conversation circle.

This is not to say you shouldn’t take time for high quality downtime. Science is showing the benefits of taking time away from constant mental challenges to allow the mind to daydream and wander. Power naps can also be restorative.

But summer vacation typically isn’t synonymous with vast amounts of downtime anyway.  Think about previous breaks from your everyday routine. You might have taken a book with you, visited a museum, tackled a new project or had new cultural experiences. That’s the recipe for healthy brain function, no matter the season.

Terri Waldman

Managing elder health risks in summer temperatures

Terri Waldman

Terri Waldman

The summer heat has arrived. For older adults, warmth might mean more joint comfort, but it can also place them at increased health risk.

Terri Waldman, the director of Tucson Medical Center’s Geropsychiatric Center at Handmaker, said there are a variety of reasons – including diminished blood circulation, age-related illness and lifestyle factors – that make older adults more susceptible to heat-related complications.

  • Dehydration: Older adults who don’t consume enough liquids are more readily overheated and can become easily confused and disoriented. Inadequate hydration can also lead to urinary tract infections, which can cause marked changes in mental status and behavior. “Urinary infections are more than a nuisance – they can have serious consequences,” Waldman said. “Consuming plenty of fluids is an important safeguard.”
  • Medication: Many drugs may lose potency in extreme heat, Waldman said. It’s best not to let medications sit too long in the mailbox during the heat of the day, or to keep them in a locked car. Store medications at room temperature, protected from heat and light to the degree possible. If an older adult is overheated, medications also tend to work less effectively.
  • Nutrition: When the temperatures climb, appetites diminish. Seniors need to make sure they continue to eat sufficient amounts of healthy food. Also, because people with heat exhaustion lose fluids and salts, those on salt-restricted or fluid-restricted diets have to be especially careful to guard against becoming overheated.

Everyone should know the signs of heat exhaustion, Waldman said. Those signs may include dizziness, confusion, fatigue, muscle cramps, muscle spasms, lack of coordination, nausea, headache and clammy skin. Seek medical assistance right away for these symptoms or for an elevated body temperature.

“During hot weather, it’s best to use caution in scheduling physical activities outdoors and you should continue drinking fluids throughout the day, before you feel thirsty,” Waldman said. “And for older adults, it’s always good to have a buddy system established anyway, so someone can check in, particularly if outdoor activities are planned throughout the day.”

If you or an elder loved one is showing signs of agitation, confusion, hallucinations, extreme depression or an inability to cope with stressful situations, please check with your health provider.

TMC employees lace up for Saturday’s ‘Meet Me Downtown’ Run/Walk

This Saturday, May 30, marks the 9th anniversary of the TMC Meet Me Downtown 5K Night Run/Walk, with community participants running along wide downtown boulevards as the sun prepares to set.

Tucson Medical Center’s proud sponsorship of the event includes a chance to open up registration to its employees at free or discounted rates. Part of the TMC Wellness Department’s mission is to get its employees out and active within the community that it serves, and this year’s event is looking stronger than ever for the TMC staff. Amy Mattox, TMC Employee Wellness Specialist, is excited about the growing participation.

“With 60+ employees registered for this race, it speaks volumes to the community that we truly see the value in getting out and staying active together, and we’re creating a stronger, healthier, happier staff because of it. Some of these people are avid runners and that’s really great. We also have many first timers registered, and some have even convinced their family members to join in, too! That’s what it’s all about!”

FEATTMC staff can participate in a number of activities on and off campus as part of the new FEAT (Fit Employee Ambassador Team) group, including weekly group runs on campus, monthly hiking gatherings, group rides, and community races like Meet Me Downtown.

Mary Atkinson, director of the TMC Wellness Department, says “It’s encouraging to see the awareness of overall wellness growing among our staff. It’s happening, and we’re proud to be a part of it.”

Look for the teal TMC team shirts out on the warm, evening course this weekend!

 

 

Live Well series opens up healthy new opportunities

Here’s your next chance to Live Well Tucson! …starting Tuesday, March 3, 5:45-7:45 p.m.

Combining health information sessions with various movement options, Live Well Tucson is a seven-week program presented by Tucson Medical Center to bring a better appreciation of wellness into the community.

The upcoming session begins March 3 at The Core, TMC’s wellness storefront at La Encantada retail center, Skyline and Campbell Ave. Early registration by Thursday, Feb. 26, qualifies the participant for half-off the normal (already economical) $80 fee for the series. Payment can be made at The Core front desk, or make arrangements with The Core at (520) 324-2673.core

Check for more information at The Core’s Online Registration page.

Live Well Tucson participants also have the option of joining individual information sessions for a $15 fee for each class. The courses are designed to help develop strategies for living a healthful life and creating sustainable good habits.  Upcoming topics in the March 3 series include:

  • Preventive Care – your PCP as your partner in health
  • Physical Activity – being active for the rest of your life
  • Nutrition – intelligent eating habits
  • Stress Reduction –helping you better recognize and respond to stress
  • Sleep – recommendations for developing a sound sleep routine
  • Happiness & Social Connectivity – living and sharing a joy-filled life
  • Maintaining Good Habits – how to carry on with what you have learned

 

The Core offers a variety of programs and services, as outlined on the web page www.thecoretmc.com.

 

 

Former TMC patient battles brain cancer; racks up running goals

BDP32360_1500xOdd things started happening to Alfred Bracamonte in the middle of 2013.

He had barely finished the San Diego Rock ‘N Roll Marathon in June and struggled through some of his regular 8-mile training runs. He had episodes of slurring. His balance was a little off. And he started getting what he thought were little seizures, with the taste of metal in his mouth and what felt like jolts of electricity zinging up and down his spine.

Then one July morning, the 43-year-old construction worker became violently ill. His wife of 20 years, Laura, initially chalked his ailments up to working in the summer heat or the fact he wasn’t taking his blood pressure medication. But she couldn’t shake a strong feeling that he needed to get to the doctor immediately.

He got in to see the nurse practitioner, who told him he was exhibiting pre-stroke symptoms. Either he going to the hospital that minute, she said, or she was calling an ambulance to take him.

That was July 9.

And nothing has been the same since.

Alfred was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor, known as an anaplastic astrocytoma, affecting his left temporal lobe. His radiation oncologist was frank: Survival rates were slim with this type of aggressive cancer, with life expectancy spanning about three years.

But the couple has deep faith and felt reassured by their unshakeable confidence in neurosurgeon, Dr. Abhay Sanan, who removed as much of the tumor as he could at Tucson Medical Center a week after his diagnosis.

Since the tumor had woven itself into the brain in ways that made it difficult to remove surgically, Alfred was assigned a regimen of radiation, followed up by a year of oral chemotherapy.

That wasn’t going to stop him from completing his running goals. As a former Marine, Alfred thought he’d had his fill of running, but in 2011, his doctor got after him about getting in shape and losing weight. He started lacing up his running shoes again and participating in races.

In fact, before he was diagnosed, he had already signed up for a half marathon in Las Vegas. “I said, ‘Let’s make this our goal. Let’s keep it in our thoughts that we are going to complete this,’” Laura recounted.BDP32369_1500x

Alfred agreed. “I just want to help other cancer patients, to show them that they can get through it.” It’s not about competing with other racers, he said, but about setting a goal and finishing it. “I’m running for me. For life,” he said.

And, for Alfred, whose ever-present smile was even on display in the recovery room after surgery, and who loves races in large part because of the friendly chats with other racers, it’s also about friendship.

On Labor Day, despite the effects of chemotherapy and radiation, he ran a 5K, following up with another 5K in October. In November, he completed his goal of going to Las Vegas to earn a triple crown in the Rock n’ Roll Marathon Series.

In December, the couple received the best gift they could imagine. The tumor had responded so well to the treatment, that the MRI came back clear, with no evidence of an enhancing tumor. He’s tested every eight weeks to make sure it doesn’t reappear.

The anticipation of waiting for results is difficult. And Alfred is still working through some challenges. He sometimes substitutes words for the ones he is looking for. His memory can be a little fuzzy and his balance is still unsteady. “We keep each other going because we’re in this together,” Laura said. “Never once has he asked why this happened to him. Never once has he had a bad attitude. Even on his bad days, he still smiles.”

Through it all, Alfred’s kept right on making his running goals.Albert

Earlier this month, he earned his first medal for finishing the three races in the Gabe Zimmerman Triple Crown, after completing the May 31 TMC Meet Me Downtown 5k and the TMC Saguaro National Park Labor Day 5k in September – the same one he did last year in the middle of treatment. The final leg of that trilogy was Sunday, Oct. 19, at the TMC Get Moving Tucson event. He crossed the finish line at just under 40 minutes for his 5K bid.

The two are convinced that Alfred’s running, and his work with a nutritionist, helped strengthen his body for the arduous work of healing. And aside from feeling like God has carried them, they’ve had support of friends, family and even strangers. Said Laura: “We feel that we’ve been blessed through this.”

The Arizona Daily Star followed Alfred’s race journey this weekend. Read it here: http://tucson.com/news/local/tucson-man-checks-off-milestones-after-devastating-diagnosis/article_0f67161d-5c53-5b72-8842-4c9496807d68.html

Girls on the Run alumni now cross country team captains

by Paula Nasiatka, GOTR coach, Tanque Verde Elementary

     Captain Carsen, Coach Ventola, and Captain Meg

Captain Carsen, Coach Ventola, and Captain Meg

Meg Healy and Carsen Mastrangelo participated in the first team of Girls on the Run (GOTR) at Tanque Verde Elementary School two years ago. Tanque Verde Elementary had just started the program in the fall of 2012 and this was the first opportunity for girls to sign up with volunteer coaches Paula Nasiatka, Sara Thomas and Elizabeth Medina. GOTR is a national non-profit school based program that encourages 3rd-5th grade girls to develop self-respect and healthy lifestyles through running.

Meg and Carsen had heard about GOTR and were excited to join the 10 week program. They were natural leaders to the younger girls in the program and mentored other girls during the workouts leading up to their final 5K (3.1 mile) run at the end of the season.

After Meg and Carsen completed 6th grade at Tanque Verde Elementary, they went on to Emily Gray Junior High. In 7th grade they joined the Emily Gray Junior High Bobcats cross country team. This year, in 8th grade, they were elected co-captains by their teammates.

Meg noted that “Girls on the Run was some of the best running training I got before I tried out for the team.”

Carsen reflected on her experience, “Girls on the Run helped to build my confidence. I went from ‘I wonder if I could be a runner’ to ‘I AM a runner!'” I don’t think I would have considered cross country if it hadn’t been for the experience of Girls on the Run.”

In addition to Meg and Carsen, 7th grader Ellie Nasiatka is also a GOTR alumni who is on the Emily Gray Junior High cross country team. Ellie developed a love for running when she participated in GOTR for three years at both Agua Caliente and Tanque Verde Elementary Schools. Ellie also mentored the younger girls when she was a 6th grader last year.

Carsen in full stride during a meet

Carsen in full stride during a meet

Emily Gray Junior High cross-country coach Lindsay Ventola is very familiar with Girls on the Run and feels it’s a wonderful program. She recently moved to Tucson from New Hampshire where she was a running buddy for two girls in a GOTR program in Portsmouth, NH.

Coach Ventola reflects, “Running is more than a sport; it is a lifelong practice, and an important hobby/routine to get kids involved with. GOTR creates an opportunity not only to “hook” girls onto running, but it also provides a place for veteran female runners to teach our young ladies the essential aspects for future success. Physically, running demands a great deal of us. Perhaps more challenging, and more importantly, running requires motivation, determination, self-reflection, and confidence – skills I think every young girl should gain and experience in her life. In college, I worked as a nanny after school. I felt so fortunate to be a running buddy with the two elementary school girls I babysat. On a daily basis, I was inspired by these girls. Throughout the program they challenged themselves, improved their time and stamina, built their confidence, made new friends, and walked away with a love of running. Every kid, especially our young girls, should have the opportunity to feel this sense of accomplishment.

This GOTR ¨effect” has clearly come through in both Meg and Carsen, my two 8th grade captains on the Emily Gray cross country team. From the day I met them, both Meg and Carsen stood out to me as the natural leaders. The program teaches these girls what it means to be a leader, it teaches them to be driven in reaching their goals, it teaches them to be kind and supportive of the younger runners, it teaches them to be the best athlete they can be, and a confident person overall. Whether running in snow and ice, or sand and rocks, the Girls on the Run are gaining a solid foundation for a healthy, successful, and most importantly, happy lifestyle.”

Meg approaching the finish line

Meg approaching the finish line

Girls on the Run was established in 1996 in Charlotte, North Carolina. The GOTR curricula, the heart of the program, provides pre-adolescent girls with the necessary tools to embrace their individual strengths and successfully navigate life experiences.   The earliest version of the 24­ lesson curriculum was piloted in 1996 with the help of thirteen brave girls.  Twenty-six girls came the next season, then seventy-five.  In 2000, Girls on the Run International, a 501c3 organization was born.

With the help of over 120,000 volunteers, the Girls on the Run program is now serving over 150,000 girls in 200+ cities across North America each year.  In 2013, Girls on the Run hosted 258 end-of-season 5k events across the United States and Canada. Tucson has a very active GOTR program with Tucson Medical Center as the sponsor. For more information: http://gotrtucson.org/

 

Indoor sports facility a tremendous boon for youth sports

130717 Sporting Chance Center-p1Kathunk. Kathunk. Thwop thwop thwop. Bonk.

Whoot!

It’s mid-day through a typical weekday and the Sporting Chance Center is filled with the sound of basketballs bouncing off rims, sneakers pounding across wood floors, volleyballs ricocheting off outstretched forearms, teammates cheering each other on.

No one cared about the triple digits outside.

Sporting Chance, with 40,000 square feet of air-conditioned space for basketball, volleyball and some other team sports, opened a year ago in July as a result of a private-public partnership between Tucson Medical Center, Southern Arizona Community Sports and Pima County, as well as the Tucson Conquistadores.

The Center, a hub for tournaments, leagues, camps and clinics, is one of the few places where youngsters can engage in informal play to escape the heat and get some exercise. During the summer, the Center provides an average of 25 hours a week of open play basketball for youngsters ages 12 and older, as well as young adults.

Depending on how the courts are configured, the facility can accommodate five basketball courts or 8 volleyball courts simultaneously.

“In the first 12 months, we’ve more than surpassed our expectations in terms of how much the community is using the facility,” said Operations Manager Tom Carle, noting the facility is currently attracting an average of 20,000 visitors a month, including athletes and spectators. The vast majority of the users are young athletes from club teams, middle schools, high schools and Pima Community College.

With the nonprofit partners sharing in the cost of building the $6 million facility, Pima County donated the land and importantly, subsidizes utilities and handles the major maintenance of the facility. That ongoing assistance allows the facility to keep open play costs to a low $1 for minors and $2 for adults, and to keep court rentals to $25 to $60 an hour, Carle said.

“This was a great example of community partners working together to address a need, but what makes this building a success is the ongoing partnership with Pima County,” Carle said.

The facility is full September through April, and at about 70 percent occupancy in the summer months, Carle said. The site had 1,500 unique individuals participate in open play in less than a year.

“Seeing how much the community is using the facility just shows that there was a real need for this kind of facility for competitive indoor sports,” Carle said.

Pima County Supervisor Sharon Bronson said the usage the facility is seeing is impressive, particularly since a significant number of patrons are coming from underserved areas with fewer amenities. “Too many people in our community are struggling with chronic diseases, but with the right focus, it is a winnable battle to reverse some of these longstanding challenges.”

Julia Strange, the vice president of Community Benefit for Tucson Medical Center, said the facility fits with the hospital’s mission of enhancing the overall health of the community, particularly since the most recent Community Health Needs Assessment found rates of access to recreational facilities are far below national benchmarks.

“An active lifestyle is an important part of community health, but access can be difficult, particularly in the summer heat,” Strange said. “We were thrilled to be able to help provide an opportunity for young people and adults to get out there and play in a safe environment.”

For more information, please visit sportingchancecenter.org

Photo courtesy of Pima County.

Working to Live Well: TMC Community Outreach Specialist Finds Comfort in Exercise

IMG_3233“I don’t have time to work out today” or “I’ll do it later” are common responses for those trying to fit exercise into busy schedules. After making up excuses not to exercise for five years, Community Outreach specialist Jessica Mitchell realized it was time to put an end to her unhealthy lifestyle.

“About five years ago, I was a regular gym go-er. I came home from work every day, changed and went to LA fitness for an hour,” she says. “Then, I don’t know what happened.” Life is what happened—a marriage, a family, a job. So often, exercising takes the back seat.

Mitchell has been at TMC for six years now—originally as the assistant manager of the TMC Gift Shop and recently hired as the Community Outreach specialist, where she goes into the community to raise awareness about injury prevention among youth.

As she settled into her new position this past March, she also became inspired to start working out again. The mother of two young children had plenty of motivation for her newfound commitment: “I had no energy. I wanted to be able to play with my lively 2-year-old in a way she deserves. It was time to start feeling better about myself again.”

Mitchell now attends TMC’s Optimal Results Fitness and Wellness Center—the O.R.—daily. And, if she is unable to get there, she finds a way to exercise at home with her family.

She offers advice for those who are struggling to achieve an active lifestyle. “Actually getting to the gym is the challenge. I think the biggest thing is to say you want it and just do it. When you see results, it really is totally worth it,” she says.

Mitchell has her sights set on not necessarily losing weight—although a benefit—but to tone up and to simply feel healthy again. “As of now, I don’t really have any long-term goals, but once I establish a rhythm, I think I will,” she says.

Whether it is walking a mile, completing an hour-long spin class or crossing the finish line of a triathlon, the importance of daily exercise cannot be ignored. Not only is exercising a fun way to engage with friends and peers, daily exercise is proven to increase the quality of life—it controls your weight, it manages chronic health conditions, it improves your emotional health and it boosts your energy level.

TMC Wellness Director Mary Atkinson says, “People who exercise routinely have higher self- efficacy. They value their bodies, wellbeing, and their engagement in their own health.” She encourages everyone to view exercise as fun and enjoyable. She says, “Are you an inside person or outside? Would you rather work out alone or are you motivated by a group? Do you want to engage in something that is high energy or low energy? Whatever that is, the best exercise is the one that you will do.”

Atkinson notes that the O.R. gym has its perks. “The gym offers a variety of exercise options—strength training, cardio machines, group classes. And if you aren’t a gym-lover, TMC provides employee wellness programs outside the gym, such as the stair climb challenge and the health trip series.”

The O.R. gym makes Mitchell’s plan to lead a healthier lifestyle more feasible. Located where TMC’s operating rooms were formally positioned before moving into the new tower, the gym will be celebrating its one year anniversary since its opening this fall. “The gym is awesome and accessible,” Mitchell says. “The classes push me and the equipment is great,” perfect for both beginners and advanced fitness training.

Through the gym, its Wellness department and a myriad of programs, TMC demonstrates that wellness of its employees is a priority. “I wouldn’t be able to do this without the support of the people I work with,” Mitchell says, “and for that I am thankful.”

Related News:

A Promise made to TMC employees leads to an on-site investment in their health

http://tmcaznews.com/2013/11/04/a-promise-made-to-tmc-employees-leads-to-a-true-investment-in-their-health/

Heart Association Names TMC a Top Level Fit Friendly Worksite

http://tmcaznews.com/2014/03/11/heart-association-names-tmc-a-top-level-fit-friendly-worksite/


Tucson Medical Center | 5301 E. Grant Road | Tucson, Arizona 85712 | (520) 327-5461