7 Tips to Avoid Scale Fright During The Holidays

Did you overindulge this weekend? What is on your schedule this next week?  The timeline between Thanksgiving and New Year’s weekend is the time of year during which most people will gain weight due to letting their guard down. The temptation of holiday treats and drinks make it easy to put on weight during the holiday season. 

Look ahead and see what kind of activities are on your schedule for the rest of the holiday season.  Factor in everything;  work parties, neighborhood pot-lucks, church gatherings, family gatherings and every event you are invited to.  What can you do to maintain your weight during this season?

7 tips to avoid scale fright during the holidays.  

  • Plan your meals

  • Pack your lunch

  • Stay hydrated.

  • Don’t arrive at a holiday function with an empty stomach.

  • Sample a treat without eating all of it.

  • Limit alcohol.

  • No snacking in between meals or after dinner.

As you see, you can enjoy gathering with family and friends but you need to plan your meals, drinks and activities.  You can sample holiday treats without eating the whole thing.  These ideas are only addressing the things you will eat and drink but coupled with monitoring your activity level,  you should be able to at least maintain your weight.

How to Use a Brainstorming Worksheet in Your Health Journey

Monday Motivation

A brainstorming worksheet is a tool to use when focusing on your health journey goals.  It allows you to look at different categories where you can achieve success. The website PositivePsychology.com has many free templates to help you begin the process.  While you can schedule 1-on-1 sessions with a coach or practitioner, you can also work through the exercise on your own.

A difficult part of your personal health journey is identifying the health goals you want to work on. The Brainstorming Worksheet is a simple tool to help you get started.  The struggle for most who want to begin this journey is simply starting.  Reflecting and completing a self assessment will help you focus on what your priority goals will be.

This Brainstorming Worksheet will assist you in identifying the goals that are important to you. Download this document or print it out. Name your goals in 5 domains; things you want to stop doing, things you want to do less of, things you want to keep doing, things you want to do more of and things you want to start doing. Fill in as many squares as you can without factoring in the cost or any other barrier at this time.  Think big.  Think small.

This worksheet allows you to see your thoughts on one grid and helps you begin the process of prioritizing what is important to you.  If the process seems overwhelming, pick one item from one column to begin with.

  • Name ONE goal category that you would like to focus on.
  • Pick ONE goal in that category.
  • Study it.
  • Research it. Reach out to a mentor if you need help on the topic.
  • Determine how much it will cost.
  • Outline a plan by writing it out.
  • Set a start date!

goal setting worksheet picture

Young woman with breast cancer

When Should You Begin Breast Cancer Screening?

It is that time of the year where we focus on your breasts! I was thinking about the topic on my walk this morning when I noticed these two pairs of acorns that literally just looked like breasts to me. It was a sign!

 

Are you over the age of 40 or have a first degree relative (mom, dad, sisters/brothers) that has a history of breast cancer? There is no clear consensus for when women with average risk should begin screening for breast cancer but most will say that you should begin between the ages of 40-49.  See the Breast Cancer Screening Guidelines under our Resources Tab.  There are several risk factors that may move the start age up.  This is a conversation you should be having with your primary care clinician or ob/gyn so that you two can review your family history and other risk factors.  

Breast cancer accounts for 30% of the new cancer diagnosis each year but due to improved technology and treatment, we now have a 90% 5-year survival rate.

  • 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime.
  • It is second most common type in women behind skin cancer
  • Black women are more likely to die from breast cancer.
  • The two biggest risk factors are being a woman and advanced age.
  • Less than 1% of all diagnosis will be in men.

Screening mammograms are done when there is no current problem. Diagnostic mammograms are done when there is a question about something they see on the screening mammogram and they are doing a more detailed look at the problem area.

As an ObGyn, I follow ACOG’s recommendations but you may be seeing a family medicine clinician who is following the USPTF (first column) guidelines. Once you discuss your risk factors, you can decide at what age you need to begin getting them, how often or when to stop them. You can decide if you want to get genetic testing done.

Educate yourself and ask family members if they have had breast disease.  Review the Breast Cancer Screening Guidelines.  Make an appointment with your clinician so that you can review your options if you think you are at high risk.  Speak up for yourself if you do not agree with your clinician’s advice. My feisty mom was told that she didn’t need one since she was over 70. She told them she didn’t care and would pay for it out of pocket. You guessed it. It showed a small change which was diagnosed as a Stage I breast cancer.

Your insurance company may have guidelines on what they will pay for but you can always agree to pay for one out of pocket if you want to.  If you do not have insurance, call the American Cancer Society at 1-800-227-2345 and they can direct you to the nearest place that can assist you.

 

Top View of Sneakers on the grass with the text: It Starts With You

Take Responsibility For Your Health

Vaccine or no vaccine? Masks or no masks? Become a hermit or figure out how to live with it?  Did you know that YOU, and only YOU, are responsible for your health?  Act like the adult that you are and take responsibility for your health.

We just had a holiday weekend and there were so many decisions to make, weren’t there?  Cake or no cake? Exercise or sit on your butt again? Smoking/vaping or kicking the habit? Alcohol–to use or abstain from? Fried chicken or grilled chicken? Pecan pie or fresh fruit? Meat or no meat? Hot dogs or lean meats? Grilled veggies or fried battered veggies? I mean, who doesn’t like fried pickles?

I could go on and on and on but I am ready to throw down the gauntlet.  

It is truly your body, your decision. Not just about the vaccine or the mask.  You are literally responsible for your own health so begin acting like it.   I don’t care what the topic of the day is but if you are serious about avoiding hospitalization for any reason, you need to begin taking better care of yourself.

There are some people who are doing an amazing job on all fronts when it comes to their health journey. I tip my hat off to you as you have made your health a priority and I know that this takes a dedicated focus on a daily basis.

The majority of us are somewhere on the continuum of this work. I know that many of you have made so much progress and I will continue to be a pest in case you need a nudge.   There are some who don’t want to proactive but then want everything done when they finally go in for care.  What are you waiting for?

According to the CDC, the medical conditions that are most likely going to put you at risk of severe illness from COVID are the following:

  • High blood pressure (especially if it is poorly controlled)
  • Obesity (BMI > 30)
  • Diabetes (especially if it is poorly controlled)
  • Smoking/vaping or a history of using tobacco products
  • Cancer
  • Pregnancy or recent pregnancy
  • Lung problems
  • Chronic kidney problems

Are any of these on your list of medical conditions? The more conditions that you have, the more at risk you will be for hospitalization, with or without COVID.  Don’t wait until it is too late to take responsibility for your health.  Reach out to your primary care provider and make an appointment.

We are 19 months into this pandemic so if you haven’t’ begun working on improving your numbers, losing weight or kicking the tobacco/vaping habit, you need to make an action plan.

TODAY.

3 Myths to Dispel About Skin Cancer

Who was basking in the sun this weekend? ??‍♀️

Who has basked in the sun over the last 5 or 6 decades? ??‍♀️

Who has covered themselves with baby oil and then fallen asleep poolside, in your lounge chair in your backyard or on the beach? ??‍♀️

Most of us probably still have our hands raised so I have 3 myths to dispel about skin cancer while I have your attention.

Myth #1: I have ‘brown’ skin so I won’t get skin cancer.

    • False. All skin types are at risk for getting skin cancer.  Having less pigment in your skin does increase the risk of damage from ultraviolet (UV) rays but all skin that is constantly exposed to these rays is at risk.  There are skin cancers that occur from other causes as well so continue to inspect your skin and have others peek at your back.

Myth #2: Only people with blue or light colored eyes get skin cancer.

    • False. Individuals of all eye colors can get skin cancer. Those with lighter eyes are more likely to get the ones from UV ray damage but again, there are other types that you need to be aware of.

Myth #3: Only older individuals will get skin cancer.

    • False. Individuals of all ages can get skin cancer.  Your risk is based on your personal and family history, total sun exposure and the number of sunburns or tanning bed sessions.  It is never too late to begin become proactive with this preventative measure.

There are many types of skin cancers so it is important to read about the different types so that you can act on any changes that you may notice on your skin.  The Mayo Clinic has a great summary of what to look for and the different types of skin cancers.  It has great pictures of the different types of skin cancer.  

Read through this resource and then look at your skin from all angles and make note of any concerns that you may have.   Take pictures for your personal files.  Schedule a follow up appointment with your clinician to discuss your concerns or bring this up at your next preventative visit.

 

 

 

12 Monthly Health Goals

Monthly health goals

Here we are at the beginning of a new month and week. How did you do with your goals last month? I have attached the link to our Health Goal planner from our website that allows you to reflect and pencil in what small steps you can work on this month.

In January, we talked about the daunting process of making healthy choices more manageable by breaking them down into small steps. By focusing your target on one thing at a time and by building on what you did over the last months, you will have built in 12 extra healthy habits by the end of the year.

What if you haven’t started? Who cares! You can start this journey at any time so no more excuses. One of our team members is working on how to eat healthier by making better eating and drinking choices. She is approaching this from the ‘Food is Fuel’ perspective. It is definitely about changing her past experience of ’emotional eating’ to eating because ‘food is fuel’. Here is her plan of what this does over the course of a year.

12 Monthly Health Goals

  • January–no artificial sweeteners
  • February–no added sugars
  • March–drink only water, unsweetened teas
  • April–no desserts except one cupcake for special occasions
  • May–try one new fruit and vegetable each week
  • June–no processed snacks
  • July–no snacks in-between meals
  • August–eat all of her meals during an 8 hour window (basic intermittent fasting)
  • September–include meat in her meal planning only once a day
  • October–include meat in her meal planning 4 days a week
  • November–limit alcohol to Friday and Saturdays
  • December–look at recipes to see how to make her traditional holiday menu a healthier one.

By breaking down her healthier eating goals into small parts, she can manage this and doesn’t feel overwhelmed. She is actually ahead of schedule as she found that she could eliminate artificial sweeteners and added sugars at the same time.

You may be able to move through your list more quickly but for someone who was trying to change 50 years of ‘bad habits’ and still cooking for several family members, she felt she needed to move at this pace. She now has several family members who have joined her so this makes it easier.

Write it down, map it out and accept that you may have a few hiccups. NO ONE is perfect.

Have You Paid Off Your 2020 Holiday Bills?

Money Monday

Have you paid off your 2020 Holiday bills?

We are almost a third of the way through 2021 so I want to circle back on how you are going to pay for fixed social expenses moving forward. For those of you new to our group, one of the core topics that we cover is financial literacy. We encourage you to learn all that you can about your personal finances. We want you to develop a budget and ‘social expenses’ is one category that I recommend that you work on.  We want you to begin using a budget so that you can always cover the core categories that you need to survive.

Social expenses?  What does that mean?

This is my title for those celebrations that are repeated every year; birthdays, Christmas or other religious holidays, anniversaries, graduations, etc. These dates are fixed and you know you are likely going to be paying for something related to these events. A religious holiday is the event that usually involves the most people on one day so focus on that first.

I know that not everyone has the means at this time to do this but start thinking about the process and try to work in small expenses so that you can really focus on this when you are in a better financial state.

Let’s use Christmas for our example. We have 8 months left before we need to have our gifts ready. I have attached a worklist that you can use to pencil in who you need to save money for. Go ahead and pencil in a gift idea as well so that if you see a fantastic sale you can save some money. Think hard and include everyone that you usually share a present with. Family members, friends, work or church events, etc. If the length of the list is scaring you, start removing people from it! It is OK to do this so that you can focus on those that are truly in your gift giving circle.

Let’s say that you have determined that you need to save $400 between now and December. $400/8 months means that you need to setting aside $50/month in a savings account or in a money envelope so that when you see a great sale, you can start buying things on your list. You cannot take money out of this stash unless it is truly for someone on your gift list. This is NOT your emergency fund.

So focus on paying off any remaining amount of 2020’s holiday bills so that you can begin planning for 2021. Start with your holiday celebration but then start working on birthdays and other fixed events. Once you get started, you will see that you will have less stress because you have planned for these events.

Click on the Resources tab and use Holiday Budget Worksheet.

Happy savings!

DeStress During Holy Week

This is the beginning of Holy Week for many of you so I want you to take a few minutes this evening or tomorrow to map out what you need to get done. By taking a hard look at your traditional Holy Week and Easter activities, you can decide what is most important for you to do this week.  By analyzing what is most important to you is necessary to destress during Holy Week. 

We want to continue to work on protecting our ‘me time’, practicing self care while ensuring that last minute spending doesn’t wreck our budget for the week.

One of the financial goals for many of you this year is to preplan your activities and trips so that you can anticipate what it will cost you. This allows you to save your money for these items that occur every year so that you don’t end up in debt creating the perfect celebration so Easter week is a great time to practice this new habit.

Preplanning allows you to decide how much you truly want to do this week. Your schedule for the week allows you to write down your menus, church schedules, and Easter activities.  Once you decide on your activities, develop your budget. Shopping lists are a must so that you can minimize your trips to the store in order to decrease your impulse purchases.

Now that you have mapped out your activities, are you over scheduling yourself? Are you building in ‘me time’?  Are you going to be able to truly enjoy yourself? Are you spending the weekend with other adults?  If so, this is a great time to map out the chore list so that everyone is helping with each activity.  Working with others ensures that everyone can spend time reflecting on what is truly important.

It is better to back off on commitments now rather than trying to decompress afterwards.  

6 Tips to Combat Mindless Eating

Mindless Monday….

I had to take a picture of the situation I found myself in last night. I was all excited about getting Dr. Fung’s book The Obesity Code and was settling in to begin reading it. I wanted a sweet snack and was about 3 bites in when I realized that I was my own worst enemy!

Ughhhhh! I looked into what was left in the container, freezer burn and all and thought, you cannot eat bad ice cream while reading about why you are struggling with your weight! Especially when it is a flavor that you are not crazy about.

OK, you shouldn’t eat good ice cream either while reading this book but this was such a perfect example of mindless eating.  I have worked to eliminate added sugars in my diet and this just creeped in.  I told myself not to do it and then talked myself into 5 spoonfuls.  It is such a mind game.

I put the ice cream container away and reminded myself about how I eliminated added sugars to begin with.  Food is the fuel my body needs and I work to ensure that I am eating healthy and nutritious foods the majority of the time.  

Here are 6 tips to combat mindless eating:

  • Don’t buy it to begin with.
  • Buy ice cream flavors that I don’t like so that my husband and kids don’t get mad at me.
  • Hide it.
  • Throw it out when it gets freezer burn.
  • Read nutritional labels to look for hidden sugars.
  • Be intentional and serve an exact serving or portion of a serving so that I don’t eat the whole thing in one sitting.

Being intentional with our foods and remembering that they are a fuel should help keep us on course.  

Is a Tax Refund or Stimulus Check Coming Your Way?

 

 

 

 

Is there a tax refund or stimulus check coming your way?  If so, what plans do you have for this money?

 

 

 

 

 

This past year has impacted so many parts of our lives. Many of you lost your jobs, had your hours reduced, you found another job or you found yourself working overtime due to the work that you do. Some of us had to ‘pivot’ and create new jobs to support ourselves.

 

Many started working from home which brought on many different challenges. Parents and children became common fixtures all day, every day. Technology challenges to be able to work or complete schooling from home created new expenses.

 

What lessons have you learned about your finances over the last year? If you lost your job, did you have enough money set aside to pay your bills until you started working a side gig, found an online, remote job or began drawing unemployment?

 

If you kept your job, what savings were you able to see due to reduced family activities, remote work or were your expenses increased due to new expenses?

 

Regardless of which category you fall into, I hope that you have been able to increase your financial knowledge.  Is a tax refund or stimulus check coming your way? If so, consider these four ways for how you can use it to build up a reserve to cover your future expenses.what will you do with your stimulus money or tax refund?

 

I use Dave Ramsey’s recommendations when I am working one on one with individuals who are working through what to do next. He recommends that you prioritize your expenses with the following four categories.

 

  • Groceries–who depends on you for their source of food? Do you have enough money put aside to feed you and those dependent on you for the next 3 months?

  • Roof over your head–are you current with your rent or mortgage? You need to have a safe place to rest your head.

  • Electricity, water, gas, internet--you have to keep warm or cool depending on the season. Internet is included here especially if your income depends on being able to work remotely.

  • Transportation expenses–you have to be able to go to work or school. What does that cost you?  Do you need new tires or have you delayed any maintenance work?  This is a great time to have work done so that you can extend the life of your vehicle.

 

As you are anticipating this next round of stimulus money or an upcoming tax refund, consider how you can use it to build up a reserve to cover the four categories listed above. If you don’t need it for these categories, start a savings account so that you have something to fall back on if an emergency comes up. ($500-1000) After that start working down any other expenses that you have not been able to tackle this past year. 2020 was a crazy year and I hope that 2021 brings more stability.  

 

There are many ways to move forward.  Visit Dave Ramey’s website for more information on this topic and to read about his approach to reducing debt so that you can create wealth.