Delivering caring, personalized, quality healthcare to women in an environment that is supportive, education-focused and compassionate.

Health Warrior Mary

Hello Readers,

For the past two years I’ve shared my journey on the TMC for Women blog, specifically topics that I felt helped me with my weight loss journey.

My weight loss journey hasn’t always been easy or straight forward. For many of us it’s difficult to lose weight and even harder when life becomes stressful.

This past year was a particularly trying year for me. I lost my younger brother.  There were days when I just had a hard time going to see him in the end because he was very sick, but I did and never missed his request.  There were times where I would hit a plateau and the scale would not budge.  Eventually, I worked through each and every plateau.  2016 was my year of colds, viruses, and even a short two night hospital stay.  I kept going and never quit, gave up or complained. In fact, I believe everything I went through made me stronger and more determined to reach goal weight.

Although I didn’t achieve my goal weight this year I’m certain I will next year. There is no hurry with your health journey, it’s more important to keep going and never give up.

I learned the healthy way of losing weight through the TMC Wellness programs which I attended and the best dietitians, Mary and Laurie.

This journey started with a promise that I made to my beloved mom on her death bed. I promised to take care of myself, to lose the extra weight and regain my health that I had neglected during the 12 years I was caring for her.

Many people have ask me today if I would take care of my mom for those 12 years if I could do it all over again knowing the impact that it would have on my health and career.  The answer will always remain the same YES! Why ? I gained a lifetime of extra special memories of a wonderful lady, my mom. The job I left wasn’t as important as the job I had caring for my mom. The money wasn’t as valuable as my time with my mom and the Steeler games were just as good on TV. In fact, I had the best seat at the game.  Most importantly the promise I made to my mom helped me lose alot of weight and regain my health back.

I put myself out there with my personal journey on this blog. Often I’d talk about topics which my family and friends couldn’t believe because I am a private quiet person. I did this in the hope I could help others struggling with being overweight and the associated health issues.  I want everyone to know if I can lose weight you can too with no excuses. I  want to thank the following who I believe helped me succeed, Laurie Ledford, Mary Atkinson, TMC Wellness and Mike Urquhart. I also want to thank Rachel Miller for allowing me to write for two years and endlessly editing my posts and giving me the best feedback.

Also, last, but not least all of you, my fabulous readers, who followed and allowed me to give one last gift to my beloved mom. My tribute of reaching one million views on Mary’s Promise.

May God bless, keep you healthy and wishing everyone the best New Year.

Good bye.

Love,
Mary

Health Warrior

Mary Kmak has lost over 130 pounds using what she learned in TMC Wellness classes. She has shared her journey on TMC for Women in Mary’s Promise.  We commend Mary for all her hard work and for sharing her commitment and passion on her health journey. Well done Mary, you’re an inspiration.

Want to make the kind of changes that Mary has and see similar results? Make an appointment to see one of TMC’s Registered Dietitians for a one on one and gain a whole world of scientifically based, tried and true techniques to improve your health and fits your individual lifestyle.

New Year Resolutions – Making them Stick

by Mary Atkinson, RD. Director of Wellness at Tucson Medical Center

We pick something to change that we think is wrong with ourselves, and we expect that this is going to be something we want to do….really?! “I’m going to lose 20 pounds.” “I’m going to start exercising.” “I’m going to get organized.” Did you know that for 75 percent of us, we only stick with our resolutions for a week? One week!

So how do we break this pattern and actually come up with resolutions that are relevant, realistic and rewarding? First, think about what the word resolution means. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, resolution is the act of finding an answer or solution to a conflict, problem, etc. Maybe rather than coming up with a resolution, perhaps we should first determine what problem needs to be solved and what we are willing to do to fix it.

1. Are you making a resolution for the right reason.

Maybe we shouldn’t be wanting to lose weight in order to fit into those skinny jeans, but because it will better for our health and quality of life.

2. Be the tortoise rather than the hare – small steps

Small changes in our daily habits is the best way to make lasting change.

3. Be kind and forgiving to yourself

It is important that we are kind to ourselves and forgive ourselves, if we misstep, tomorrow is a new day.

4. Be honest

Be honest with yourself and set resolutions that are meaningful and realistic. Don’t make a resolution just because it’s what you think you should do; resolutions should be things we value.

5. Put it on Paper

Write down your SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-based) goal on paper and make a list of reasons why you want to accomplish your goal and place it in an area where you will see it every day.

6. Create a plan

Schedule certain days (or every day) at certain times where you will dedicate your energy to help achieve your goal.

7. Join forces with friends

You are not alone in achieving your goals! Invite friends or family members to join and help you achieve your goals. Make new friends who share the same goal or interests as you. Friends can keep you accountable for achieving your goal while making it fun.

8. Make it fun

You are more likely to maintain these life-enhancing modifications if you are laughing, smiling and having fun while doing it.

9. Switch it up

Keep your activities towards achieving your goal fresh, interesting and stimulating. Read current articles pertaining to your goals and become an advocate or expert on your new goal.

 This earlier post has some practical tools to use in successful goal setting.

Eating out with Mary – Mexican Food

Hello Readers,

The best 23 miles of Mexican food in the United States is the claim, and we have to agree. We are fortunate living in Tucson to be surrounded by incredible Mexican restaurants, but that tempting menu can be a bit daunting for a customer looking to make healthy choices. It isn’t impossible though.

Making a lifestyle change doesn’t mean giving up your favorite foods.  In fact, by being selective with good choices and portion control you can enjoy a healthy meal at any restaurant of your choice.

How to make healthy choices when eating out.

  1. Special Order

    I know, I know, if you’ve ever been in food service this might make you raise an eyebrow, but make it easy for the restaurant staff. Check the menu in advance, identify some possible menu items and call to ask if they can adapt.

  2. Check for baked  or steamed rather than fried

    I ask for the server for my tortilla chips to be baked, rather than deep fried, fresh corn tortillas cut in 6 pieces. My party enjoy these over the deep fried chips which are normally served.

  3. Load up on the salsa, moderate the cheese and the guacamole

    Our Tucson restaurants often pride themselves on flavorful salsas. Fresh tomatoes, cilantro, onions – you can’t beat it. It’s the piling high of cheese, guacamole, creamy sauces and deep fried tacos and tortillas that will sabotage your attempts at healthy choices.

  4.  Come up with your own variations of a classic

    I enjoy a chicken tacos, so I request a corn rather than flour tortilla, heated not fried. I add shredded chicken breast, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, a slice of fresh avocado and some salsa and voila a tasty and healthy option.  If I’m hungry for a salad I will order “Mary’s ” taco salad that includes a bed of lettuce, tomatoes, fresh green chilies and a serving of approx 2 oz of shredded chicken followed by a slice of avocado slice. I skip the deep fried taco bowl. Often I order one side of fresh pinto beans that aren’t refried to top the salad and add a few thinly sliced green onions.

  5. Can’t do without the guacamole? Be careful about portion size!

    If it just isn’t eating out at a Mexican restaurant without sampling the guacamole or some other favorite dish, make sure modify the portion size. What is presented in the restaurants as a portion is often several. Savor the taste, don’t over do the amount.

I have always found our local Mexican restaurants to be very accommodating. You can enjoy a healthy  meal with portion control and by special ordering your choices. You don’t have to feel limited, and you may find, like I did, that your options actually taste better than the menu higher calories choices.

Mary H Kmak

Health Warrior

Mary Kmak has turned her life around, losing over one hundred and thirty-one pounds, and found a path to health through the Tucson Medical Center Wellness program. In Mary’s Promise she shares tips, recipes, challenges that she has learned along the way. Today, she shares how she manages to fully enjoy eating at the fabulous Mexican restaurants here in Tucson 

Want to make the kind of changes that Mary has and see similar results? Make an appointment to see one of TMC’s Registered Dietitians for a one on one and gain a whole world of scientifically based, tried and true techniques to improve your health and fits your individual lifestyle.

Eat Well – Janos Wilder’s Lentil Rice Salad

Why is it that the food tastes so much better when you eat at a restaurant? What is the special magic that chefs use to get the food to taste so wonderful? And can it really be healthy AND tasty?

Chef Janos Wilder, Tucson’s James Beard award-winning chef, reveals the secrets to one of his tasty and healthy dishes in this demonstration video. Chef Wilder and our Tucson Medical Center Wellness team have collaborated to create a program that helps even the most reluctant cook to create meals that are delightfully sumptuous and healthy to boot. From demonstration lunch and learn sessions with Chef Janos at The Carriage House, Chef Janos-inspired dishes on TMC patient and public menus, to easy to follow recipes and videos with Chef Janos we’ve got you covered. Check out this tasty and easy to prepare Lentil Rice Salad.  Click here to download the Lentil Rice Salad Recipe Card

Lentil Rice Salad

Yield: 4 cups

Ingredients:

¾ Cup Toasted blanched slivered almonds
1 Cup Green lentils, cooked, available at Trader Joe’s
½ Cup Uncle Ben’s long grain rice
1 Cup Chicken broth or substitute water if needed
1 Cup Grated, peeled carrots
¼ Cup Finely diced red onion
¼ Cup Finely chopped parsley
¼ Cup Crumbled feta cheese

Lemon Mustard Vinaigrette

Ingredients:

½ Cup Olive oil
5 Tbs Lemon juice
2 Tbs Whole-grain mustard
Salt and pepper to taste

Procedure:

  1. Cook rice in chicken stock or water 20 minutes until rice tender and all liquid absorbed.
  2. While rice is cooking whisk Lemon Mustard Vinaigrette ingredients together.
  3. When rice is done cool it on a sheet pan.
  4. Toss cooled rice and lentils with toasted almonds, carrots, onions, parsley and enough dressing to liberally coat the ingredients. Reserve remaining dressing for a simple green salad or other use.
  5. Sprinkle with feta cheese.

For more recipes, videos and information about The Carriage House partnership check out the Tucson Medical Center website.

Find the support you need to achieve – Weight Loss Management

Some big projects are too difficult to tackle on your own. Hanging wallpaper and moving furniture come to mind. What if it’s yourself, rather than your home, you are remodeling? Making healthy lifestyle changes and weight loss are challenges that can be too big to face alone. Although you alone are responsible for your behaviors, and you will be the one who benefits from your healthier habits, there are good reasons to have a support network in place to help you reach your goals.

Why have a support network?

  • A support group provides a sense of community, reminding you that you are not alone in your struggle or on your journey.
  • Your supporters are your motivation. They can serve as your cheerleading squad or they can actually work with you and help you along.
  • Some support groups can be a valuable source of information, especially when they are led by wellness professionals (or have them as guest speakers).
  • The members of your support group probably share your point of view. Therefore, they can provide helpful tips that that work for them. It is likely that at least some of those strategies would work for you, too.
  • A support group makes you accountable to someone other than yourself.
  • Many studies have shown that people lose more weight when they join a weight-loss group than when they try to do it on their own.

Your support group can take on any form that helps you, even if the “group” consists of only one other person. You can meet online, by phone or face-to-face. Choose the form that fits your comfort level and your schedule. Family and friends can be valuable supporters, because you share many of the same everyday experiences. If those people are not willing to adopt the same values, however, it is best to find support in an outside group.

If you are nervous about joining a group – maybe you don’t feel comfortable sharing information about yourself – contact the group leader and ask if you can sit quietly, without being called on to speak. Be honest with the leader (and with other members) about what you need from the group. Remember, there are lots of people in our community who want to help others, and they won’t let you face your challenges alone.

If you’re looking for support, consider TMC’s monthly weight management support group at The Core in the La Encantada shopping center. It’s a friendly group led by one of TMC’s wellness professionals experienced in helping people realize their health goals. All are welcome, $5 per session..

Stopping prediabetes in its tracks – Mary’s Promise

Hello Readers,

Last month was National Diabetes Awareness month and we’re coming up on almost two years ago I was diagnosed as being prediabetic. I thought it was about time for a little update on my battle to prevent falling victim to diabetes.

What is prediabetes?

Prediabetes is when your blood sugar level is higher than normal, but not high enough to considered Type 2 Diabetes. However, if you don’t make lifestyle changes your prediabetes is likely to develop into Type 2 Diabetes. Unfortunately, the long-term impact on your heart, blood vessels and kidneys may already be underway if you’re prediabetic. You can’t wait to take action to stem the impact of diabetes and prediabetes.

I thought of my prediabetes diagnosis as a warning sign.  It scared me to think that not only did I have a number of other health issues that needed immediate attention, but that those might be complicated by diabetes. Once again the TMC Wellness programs came to my rescue. Talking with Mary and Laurie about my prediabetes diagnosis and adjusting my diet and my exercise level to help my body heal worked.

Today my A1C  (the A1C test reveals how much glucose is attaching to the hemoglobin in your blood and is a good indicator of how effectively your body is processing sugar) is now 5.3 where once it was 6.4. My doctor explained to the A1C guidelines as the following:

DIABETES 6.5 or higher

PRE DIABETES 5.7 to 6.4

NORMAL  Below 5.7

As you can see with my 6.4 A1C I was teetering on the edge of full blown diabetes. I was given three months to lower that number or I would be put on medication.  Most people aren’t aware of any symptoms of diabetes until you get your physical and blood tests which include an A1C test. There are some side effects which I had, but never paid any attention to them. The top 3 are:

1. Thirstier than normal .

2. You have to go to the bathroom more often.

3. You’re more tired than usual .

There are also risks factors which I had all of them as well. Here are the main ones:

1. Overweight

If you are overweight you are at high risk.

2. Lack of physical activity

If you aren’t physically active you are more likely to develop prediabetes .

3. Family History

Prediabetes has a heredity component. If someone in your close family has or had Type 2 Diabetes, you are more likely to develop it.

I did my research and learned through the WELLNESS PROGRAMS how to bring my A1C down to normal level.  With my doctors approval and monitoring I did the following:

Lost weight

I joined the TMC Wellness programs and learned everything to make a lifestyle change .

Added exercise to my day

Including cardio (walking, jogging, dancing and yard work), weight training (light weight curls, push ups and pull ups), and worked on balance and stretching with yoga.

By making a healthy lifestyle change which included losing weight and exercising I moved into the normal range though I still get monitored every 3 months.

If your A1C is in the dangerous range make an appointment to talk with the TMC Wellness team or with the TMC Diabetes Educators.

Get help

For patients that have been diagnosed with pre-diabetes, TMC offers an eight-hour class, Journey for Control, Wednesdays from 1-3 p.m. To learn more or to register, please call (520) 324-1960.

Additionally, TMC offers free education sessions and support that cover a wide variety of helpful topics. Discussion is facilitated by a certified diabetes educator. Classes are held on the second Wednesday of each month from 5-6 p.m. at the El Dorado Health Campus Cafeteria. No registration is necessary. To look at the full schedule of classes, click here.

Mary H Kmak

Health Warrior

Mary Kmak has turned her life around, losing over one hundred and thirty-one pounds, and found a path to health through the Tucson Medical Center Wellness program. In Mary’s Promise she shares tips, recipes, challenges that she has learned along the way. Today, she shares her journey to battle one of the nations largest health risks, diabetes.

Want to make the kind of changes that Mary has and see similar results? Make an appointment to see one of TMC’s Registered Dietitians for a one on one and gain a whole world of scientifically based, tried and true techniques to improve your health and fits your individual lifestyle.

 

 

 

Play it safe! 7 tips for exercising when it’s dark

After what seemed like an eternity of temperatures over 90 degrees Fahrenheit, cooler weather is finally here in Arizona. That’s good news for everyone who wants to get outside to be active. Unfortunately, this time of year also brings shorter days, so you may find that your only chance to exercise is before sunrise or after sunset. Our wellness team provides these tips to stay safe while exercising in the dark outside:

  1. There is safety in numbers, please don’t go out alone.

    Exercise with another person (or a dog) whenever you can. Always let someone else know where you plan to be and when you plan to return.

  2. Be visible.

    Wear reflective materials, bright colors and blinking lights if you have them, so drivers can see you easily.

  3. Walk or run safely.

    If you are walking on a street without a sidewalk, walk facing oncoming traffic. Pedestrians holding flashlights are more visible and can move out-of-the-way more easily when they see an oncoming vehicle.

  4. Avoid risky areas,

    Unpopulated areas, poorly lit or deserted streets or overgrown trails are all no-go zones if you’re out in the dark. Given the dark sky regulations here in Tucson, even midtown can have dark streets. Bring a flashlight!

  5. Stay alert.

    Look all around you as you move, and check behind once in a while. Be aware of any suspicious people or animals that may pose a threat.

  6. What to take:

    Be sure to carry a cell phone and identification with you, in case of emergency. Pepper spray might be a good idea, too.

  7. What to leave behind:

    Don’t wear ear buds or headphones. Your visibility is limited by the lack of light, so you don’t want your hearing to also be impaired.

Get out and be active and safe! The Core, our wellness facility at La Encantada often hosts safety classes throughout the year. Watch their event page and sign up for their newsletter to find out more about their classes. 

Healthy Holiday Choices – Mary’s Promise

Hello Readers ,

For years during the holidays I used the excuse that it was okay to eat this or that knowing it wasn’t very good for me, because it was the holiday season. In my mind ‘the holidays’ was a free pass to eat whatever I wanted.

Year after year I gained that seven pound holiday weight you hear about.  And yet I carried on with the same habits for years without changes.  Two years ago I got a wake up call when I joined the TMC Wellness program and Laurie and Mary brought me a new awareness about my eating habits. Today I am much more selective with healthy alternatives and portion control even at holidays.  Before I eat anything I stop (use mindful eating ) and ask myself two questions .

1) Do I really want to eat this?

2) Is it worth the calories ?

For me, I will figure out much exercise  I have to do to burn off those particular calories  and then make the decision whether I will eat it or not.

I have some examples for you to think about  the next time you have the urge to grab any of these or take extra portions.

These are approximate calories and will be different with portion sizes, your exact weight  and speed of exercising .  These are based on an individual who weighs 160 pounds.

1) Slice of pumpkin pie (One eighth of pie)  325 calories per slice

I would have to ride my exercycle for 45 minutes

2) Slice of pecan pie (one eighth of pie)  525 calories per slice

This one is very deceiving because some think it’s a healthy dessert because of the pecan nuts, but pecan pie is heavy on the butter, sugar, corn, eggs and pecans which are loaded with fats and calories. I would have to jog for 1 hour to use the energy consumed in one small slice of pecan pie.

3) Stuffing 1/2 cup 150 calories

Often the main ingredients in stuffing is white bread and melted butter .   You would have to do 15 minutes  of jumping jacks non stop.

4) Gingerbread cookie  170 calories

You would have to dance vigorously for 30 minutes .

5) Glazed ham – 3 oz 125 calories

You would have to go hiking for 15 minutes .

If you eat choices that aren’t the best please remember portion control and limit your selections. When you use awareness you can have control with your choices. Instead of eating a full slice of pie take one or two spoonfuls to satisfy your craving. Enjoy the holidays with your loved ones and not worry about having to lose those unwanted pounds you gained throughout the holidays so you can be thankful for your improved health.

Mary H Kmak

Health Warrior

Mary Kmak has turned her life around, losing over one hundred and thirty-one pounds, and found a path to health through the Tucson Medical Center Wellness program. In Mary’s Promise she shares tips, recipes, challenges that she has learned along the way. Today, she shares her thoughts on making healthy choices through the holidays. 

Want to make the kind of changes that Mary has and see similar results? Make an appointment to see one of TMC’s Registered Dietitians for a one on one and gain a whole world of scientifically based, tried and true techniques to improve your health and fits your individual lifestyle.

 

 

Mary’s October Results

Hello Readers,

October was an interesting month for me.  I planned to cut back 200 calories per day and work out for one hour daily by doing two half hour increments on my Exercycle and continue my 12,000 daily steps.   I was able to keep up with this plan for two weeks. My work schedule took me away from the Exercycle to one 30 minute work out daily for the additional  two weeks,  but I stayed with my 12,000 steps walking in our beautiful fall weather and was able to stick with the decreasing 200 calories in my daily food caloric count.  I expected with the food decrease and exercise increase to pull off a monthly weight loss, but I hit a plateau and maintained my weight .

It’s easy to get disheartened and fall off the healthy lifestyle wagon when you hit a plateau. Revisit your goals, remind yourself of your why and then shake things up. Hitting this plateau doesn’t disappoint or discourage me because I know plateaus happen.  I will work harder in November and I’m encouraged and  looking forward to a better month with a loss.

Here are my plans for November:

1.  Maintain my daily calorie quota from October, but make sure more of the calories are from fruit and vegetables. With high water content and plenty of fiber, a diet with lots of fruit and veg will help me feel full throughout the day.

2. Continue my 30 minutes daily on my Exercycle AND walk 12,000 steps a day.

3. If time allows I want to add more minutes on my Exercycle, and if I can’t I plan to cut an additional 50 calories out of my food quota.

By making these changes I hope to break my plateau and move forward with my journey.  I understand that plateaus will come and by working through them with changes and patience we will overcome them. Never give up on yourself  and your journey, make the proper changes and go on. I will!

Mary H Kmak

Health Warrior

Mary Kmak has turned her life around, losing over one hundred and thirty one pounds, and found a path to health through the Tucson Medical Center Wellness program. In Mary’s Promise she shares tips, recipes, challenges that she has learned along the way. Today, she updates us on her progress. 

Want to make the kind of changes that Mary has and see similar results? Make an appointment to see one of TMC’s Registered Dietitians for a one on one and gain a whole world of scientifically based, tried and true techniques to improve your health and fits your individual lifestyle.

 

 

 

6 Benefits of Walking that Changed My Life – Mary’s Promise

Hello Readers,

We often hear from our doctors about the benefits of walking. After all, walking is a low impact exercise easily accessible and free! You can walk in your neighborhood, at the grocery stores, parks, malls, in a stair well, even on the spot!  For me, along with changes in what I eat, walking has changed my life.

Every morning before work I walk my neighborhood until I get 6,000 steps and get the other 6,000 steps throughout the day. Yes, I aim for a total of 12,000 steps every day. 12,000 steps might seem monumental to you right now, but it is manageable.  Here are the health benefits I received by walking:

1. Walking helped me lose weight

One hundred and thirty one pounds to date! By making good healthy food choices and adding walking in my daily schedule this helped me lose weight. You burn up calories by walking which helps you lose weight.

2. Walking has strengthened my heart

Walking is a great cardio exercise which helped me lower my cholesterol and triglycerides.  With a family history of heart disease walking has helped me lower my risk of a heart attack and stroke.

3. Walking has helped lower my A1C level

Being diagnosed as pre diabetic I needed to add exercise along with my healthy food choices to lower my A1C. Walking was my first exercise that I started that helped me get out of out of the pre diabetic range in 90 days.

4. Walking helped lower my high blood pressure

I had high blood pressure and was on three medications a day to try and control it, but by walking daily with increased weekly increments of minutes has changed that. My blood pressure is now stable and normal and I have cut back to half of one pill a day.

5. Walking helps boost my energy

My energy level increased with walking. If I felt tired and didn’t want to walk I pushed myself and found after walking I had this increase of energy. It seems counter intuitive, but it works! Feeling a bit sluggish in the middle of the day, get out for a quick walk outside.

6. Walking helps my sleeping

I use to have problems sleeping, but now as long as I get my walking in I sleep like a baby!

Walking is a great way to help you with your health issues.  Talk to your doctors and discuss how walking can help you. Or contact the wellness specialists at TMC to talk about how walking, exercise and diet can turn your health around.  I did, and I’m so glad I did. Your turn, let’s step out!

Mary H Kmak

Health Warrior

Mary Kmak has turned her life around, losing over one hundred and thirty one pounds, and found a path to health through the Tucson Medical Center Wellness program. In Mary’s Promise she shares tips, recipes, challenges that she has learned along the way. Today, she shares how the simple act of walking has changed her life. 

Want to make the kind of changes that Mary has and see similar results? Make an appointment to see one of TMC’s Registered Dietitians for a one on one and gain a whole world of scientifically based, tried and true techniques to improve your health and fits your individual lifestyle.