Caring for Families of the CSRA Since 1993
Health Resolutions You Can Keep
. . . for a Lifetime
As you and your friends prepared to usher in the new year last December, you probably had a mental list of what you were going to do to be healthier in 2004 lose the 30 pounds youd put on since you married, start training for that 10K road race youve always wanted to run, and give up after-dinner desserts . . . forever. How did that work out for you? If youre like most people, not so well. After two weeks, instead of dropping weight, youd added a pound. Three weeks into your training program, you still couldnt run around the block without gasping for air. You learned first hand that one month without sweets feels like forever so it might as well be. By February, you were asking yourself, Whats the use?
People who set overly ambitious or unrealistic goals become easily discouraged and are almost certain to quit or fail. Likewise, people who set vague or broad goals without having a plan for how to accomplish them also find themselves no better off at the end of the year.
Short-term strategies focused on outcomes are sometimes successful, but if the strategies are temporary, its likely the results will be as well. If you severely restrict your diet for 4 weeks to lose 10 pounds before your sons wedding but revert to your old eating habits once the weight is off, youll be right back where you started in no time.
Making permanent changes in your lifestyle is the easiest and most reliable way to achieve and maintain the health results you want. This approach involves clearly defining what you want to accomplish and then developing a practical step-by-step plan of how to do it. Your plan should include small behavioral changes that will move you closer to your goal over time. Choose things you can begin doing right away and continue on a regular basis until they become part of your lifestyle. If your goal is to become more physically fit, theres no need to take up a demanding sport right away or commit yourself to the gym 7 days a week. It would be difficult for most people to maintain that pace long enough to accomplish much. A better first step toward burning calories, increasing strength and muscle tone, and improving cardiovascular health would be to walk the dog around the neighborhood three times a week. Then, as youre able, you can increase the frequency or intensity of your regimen or add more challenging activities.
Losing weight and keeping it off doesnt require skipping meals or giving up all your favorite foods. Youll get better results with less drastic measures – eat smaller portions at each meal, skip the second serving, stock your kitchen with healthy snacks, like fresh fruit, yogurt, and pretzels, and eat meals at the table rather than in front of the television. Because these small steps are easy to do, youll be more likely to stick with your plan over the long term, and thats the secret to achieving and maintaining good health.
Remember the following simple rules to make this year your first step toward a better you:
Plan ahead. You wouldnt start a trip without good directions, so why chase after a goal with no idea how to reach it? Think about simple things you can do on a regular basis to continually move you closer to your goal.
Be realistic. In developing your game plan, think about what is possible and practical for you. If its not realistic, its not going to happen, so be careful not to bite off more than you can chew. One positive change you can stick with for the long haul is better than 10 ambitious goals youll eventually give up.
Be patient. Meaningful change in behavior getting rid of bad habits and developing new healthier ones – takes at least a month. Focus on steady progress, rather than quick results.
Be forgiving. If you sometimes cant resist that bowl of ice cream after dinner or you skip your usual evening walk for a favorite TV show, so what? An occasional slip up doesnt mean all is lost. Pick up where you left off the next day and keep moving in the right direction.
Source: A New Approach to New Years Resolutions, Fast Feng Shui, 2002 (website); New Years Resolutions You Can Live With, Touching Lives, a publication of Florida Hospital, Deland, Winter 2004-2005.
Physician Profile: Joseph Hooper, MD, of CPC-Central
Joe Hooper didnt take what you would call the most direct route to his career in medicine, but his time was well spent nonetheless. The unexpected curves and detours along the way not only fueled Joes resolve but also offered life lessons that have shaped his character and philosophies and nurtured his gift for finding humor in just about anything.
For much of his childhood, Joe lived with his parents, James and Billie, and his siblings, Jim, Max and Beth, in rural Kentucky, where the children relished horseback riding through the spacious countryside and playing a more realistic version of cowboys and Indians than most children enjoy. After that, his upbringing reads like a U.S. geography lesson, thanks to his father, an engineer whose job was to oversee the startup of new Southwire Corporation plants around the country.
At age 10, Joe and his family left Kentucky for Roseville, California, near Sacramento, where they lived for 2 years, followed by Florence in northwest Alabama, where Joe spent his little league years, and then on to Decatur, Georgia, where he attended high school from tenth grade until graduation.
At that point, he came face-to face with a what next? crisis, which immobilized him for about a year while he pondered what to do with the rest of his life The Air Force seemed a good place to start, so in 1987, he enlisted for 4 years, during which he worked as a security policeman at Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany.
One of the important lessons he took from his Air Force experience was the value of standard procedures and teamwork. We had to do things a certain way every time, even when it seemed unnecessary, Joe recalls. The rationale for this practice eluded him until an emergency called for quick action. Those seemingly unimportant procedures enabled an automatic and appropriate response to the crisis, avoiding the potential danger of delayed reactions and snap decisions If you do things the same way all the time, then when it really counts, you react quickly and do it the right way, he says. That lesson applies not only to the military but to everything in life.
By his third year of service, Joe had learned enough German to carry on a conversation and enjoy a social life. Ultimately, albeit not directly, thats how he came to know his future wife, Liane. Their meeting was orchestrated by a friend of Joes who spoke only English and a friend of Lianes who spoke only German. Our friends wanted to date so Liane and I agreed to tag along as chaperones and translators, he recalls. In the course of their friends courtship, Joe and Lianes interest in each other blossomed, and they continued to date even after their friends parted ways. In 1990, Joe and Liane married in a 400-year-old church in the village of Molschbach.
Following his service in the Air Force, Joe and Liane settled in a north Georgia community, where Joe began looking for a job, despite being eligible to receive unemployment benefits. I live on the principle that if you are physically able to work, you should work, he said. True to his creed, he took a job at a chicken plant in Baldwin, which ironically paid $80 per week less than he would have received on unemployment. He left that job after two weeks and applied for a position better suited to his experience. Being hired as a security guard presented yet another opportunity to appreciate the incongruities of everyday life. My new job paid $1 less per hour than my previous job and it was at the same poultry plant, he says. I thought I was in the Twilight Zone.
With higher education now having much greater appeal to Joe than on the heels of high school, he enrolled at North Georgia College in Dahlonega as a 23-yearold freshman with the unspoken goal of pursuing a medical career. I had always thought about becoming a doctor but it wasnt until that point that I was sure thats what I wanted to do, he recalls. Even so, he didnt declare his intentions when he entered college because he figured no one would take him seriously.
With ample motivation and a well honed work ethic, Joe managed the demands of his classes along with that of a 30-hour-a-week job. College for me was just school and work, he said. Not your typical experience. Liane supplemented the couples income working in a German bakery in Helen.
After receiving a degree in biology from NGC, Joe entered the Medical College of Georgia, where his interest in family medicine as a specialty continued to grow. Family medicine offers more variety and an opportunity to develop a relationship with the patient, Dr. Hooper says. Being a doctor is about more than being a good technician, and family medicine is a good place to bring all that together. Dr. Hooper completed his internship and residency at Rapid City Regional Hospital in South Dakota, where he and Liane enjoyed living because it was so different in culture, climate, and scenery from their previous experience. With their hearts still in Augusta, though, they stayed with their plan to return and settle there.
Their first opportunity to get back to Georgia was an offer from a busy medical group in Elberton, where Dr. Hooper subsequently practiced for two years. It was a good job and it took a good opportunity to get me to leave, he says. That opportunity came in the form of an opening at the Center for Primary Care in Augusta. In addition to the couples wish to return to Augusta, CPC was appealing because of the quality of the doctors, its good reputation, and the fact that it is growing, Dr. Hooper says. He also considers CPCs diversity a strength.
The Hoopers have purchased a home in the Historic Hill section of Augusta, which they love for its character and rich history. Once settled, they will spend their leisure time with their sons, Jet, age 5, and Leo, age 3, and frequently hosting friends and family visiting the area. Dr. Hooper began working at CPC in December of last year and is anticipating a long professional relationship with its physicians. I am looking forward to the support of this strong team of physicians and to the mentorship of those more experienced to help me become a better doctor, he explains. In return, I hope to someday do the same for others.
Five Simple Ways to Reduce Stress
If stress reduction is on your to do list for this year, learning how to recognize your bodys stress indicators and developing stress-buster habits are good ways to start: Listen to your body. When under emotional or mental stress, your body responds with physical warning signals, including headache, muscle tension, rapid heartbeat, insomnia, irritability, fatigue, physical illness, and low energy. If you recognize the warning signs of accumulating stress early on, you can break the cycle before it leads to serious health issues.
Take timeouts. Build in a little quiet time for yourself each day, even if its only a few minutes. Taking an occasional break will calm and re-energize you and help you cope better with the demands placed on you.
Be thankful. Remembering at least one thing each day you are grateful for will help you keep a balanced perspective on life. Make time for fun. Do something that is both enjoyable and healthful every day. Take a walk, listen to calming music, play with a favorite pet, meditate whatever works for you.
Get enough shut-eye. As often as possible, get a good nights sleep. Adequate, uninterrupted sleep boosts your immune system, repairs and refreshes your body, and improves problem-solving, creative thinking, learning ability, memory, and concentration, all of which will help you keep stress in check. Apparently, if you dont snooze, you lose! Remember that stress is an inevitable part of life, and not all of it is bad. Under some circumstances, stress can have a positive effect, making you try harder, perform better, or accomplish more. However, if youre under chronic stress that is taxing your physical and emotional health, its time to take action, either on your own or with the help of your CPC physician.
Source: Sleep on It is good advice to improve memory, News in Science, Australian Broadcasting Corp., 2003; The benefits of sleep, Vhi Healthcare, 2004; Make 2005 new years resolutions a reality, WebMD Health, 2004; Is your body overdoing its biochemical reactions? NurseZone, 2004 (websites).
DRY ITCHY SKIN?
Does your skin feel drier and itchier as the weather turns cooler, even though you follow the same cleansing and moisturizing routine as you do the rest of the year? For most people, that uncomfortable feeling is a sure sign winter is here.
Winter dry skin, or winter itch, is caused primarily by decreased humidity in the air. The air we are exposed to in winter both indoors and outdoors has much less moisture, causing water in the top layer of skin to evaporate at a faster rate.
The methods we use to heat our homes forced-air furnaces, wood-burning stoves, space heaters, and fireplaces all produce heat with no moisture. Outside, the air is lower in humidity because cool air does not hold as much moisture as warm air. Constantly moving between the two extremes from your warm house, to the frigid outdoors, to your toasty car, and back out again – combined with exposure to winters punishing elements, such as wind and freezing temperatures, further exacerbates the drying process, leaving skin sensitive, itchy and, in extreme cases, scaly, cracked, and raw.
Some of the pleasurable activities we enjoy in winter can also worsen the problem. Long, hot baths and showers at the end of the day are warming and relaxing, but the prolonged exposure to excessive heat pulls moisture out of the top layer of our skin, leaving it feeling overly dry and taut. People who enjoy coffee or hot toddies by a cozy fire get a double dose of skin-drying exposure. The fires radiant heat dries skin from the outside in, while the diuretic effects of caffeine and alcohol do the same from the inside out. You cant escape the elements, but you can minimize the uncomfortable effects of dry skin this winter:
Adjust your cleansing routine. Use moisturizing cleansers rather than detergent-based soaps; use soap only on the areas of your body that need daily cleansing, such as the underarms and groin; take fewer and shorter showers and baths, using lukewarm rather than hot water; and avoid abrasive scrubs, especially on already dry, irritated skin.
Increase the humidity in your environment. A home humidifier or vaporizer adds moisture to the air, which keeps skin from drying out so quickly. Seal in moisture. After a brief, lukewarm bath or shower, gently towel off, leaving skin slightly damp. Immediately apply a moisturizing cream or ointment, such as Vaseline Intensive Care lotion, to retain skins natural moisture.
Protect against the elements. When possible, avoid the outdoors on extremely cold or windy days, but if you must go out, be sure to defend your skin. Apply a moisturizing cream or ointment to form a barrier between exposed skin and harsh conditions, wear a scarf, hat, and gloves, and apply sunscreen and lip balm (SPF 15 or higher) liberally before braving the outdoors. When indoors, instead of cranking up the heat, dress more warmly.
Choose wisely for itch relief. Some products that relieve itching, such as calamine lotion, powders, and alcohol, are drying agents and should be avoided. Cortisone creams and ointments, available over the counter at pharmacies, are a better choice for non-drying itch relief. See a doctor when necessary. If your skin becomes hot, red, or weepy, see your CPC physician. These symptoms are extreme and indicate possible infection, which may require more intensive therapy than you can provide at home.
Source: Goodbye to Dry: Weathering Winter Skin Woes, behindthechair.com; Keep Skin Soft During Dry Winter Months, HealthDay, Yahoo! News 2004; Dry Skin: Moisturize Your Life, University of Iowa Health Science Relations, Virtual Hospital 2004; Xerosis (Dry Skin), The Skin Site, 2003 (all websites).
Outfoxing The Flu
Regardless of whether you had a flu shot this year, its important to do everything you can to cap the spread of influenza. Here are some simple guidelines for protecting yourself and your loved ones this winter:
Keep your distance. The flu virus is transmitted primarily through coughing, sneezing, and direct contact with an infected person. Steer clear of people who have the flu, and by all means, if youre sick, stay home!
Cleanse your hands. Wash your hands often and thoroughly with soap and water. When you cant wash, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, such as Germ-X.
Avoid touching your face. Germs on your hands can easily invade your body through your eyes, mouth, and nose, so keep your hands away from your face.
Keep coughs and sneezes to yourself. Avoid expelling germs into the air and exposing others by covering your mouth and nose with a tissue (not your hands) and tossing it in the trash right away. If you dont have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your sleeve or turn your head away from others.
Sanitize shared objects. Use a virus killing disinfectant to clean shared surfaces such as doorknobs and handles, kitchen countertops, phone receivers, and toys that can become contaminated when touched or handled by someone who has the flu.
Take care of yourself. Eat a balanced diet, drink plenty of fluids, get enough sleep, exercise, and fresh air, and whenever possible, avoid stress. These healthy habits will strengthen your immune system, making you less vulnerable to illness.
Source: Avoid the Flu This Winter, Big Tree VFC; Natural Ways To Prevent Colds and Flu, WebMD; Community Flu Information 2004- Louis County Health (websites).