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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.

 

Five Whys to Motivation and Weight Loss

Okay, okay, so you want to lose weight because it’s causing chronic health issues, or you can’t be as active as you’d like, or when you look in the mirror someone else stares back, someone who can’t be you.

Your motivation is what sustains you, but still you keep stumbling. How do you get past the stumbling blocks? Our Wellness crew shares how you can take the ‘Five Whys’ problem solving approach used in businesses and apply it to your weight loss journey.

Our “why” is the essential motivation that can sustain us as we try to make healthy changes. In the case of weight loss, it isn’t some transitory desire, like wanting to look good at the beach this year. Rather, it is something related to our sense of self. Perhaps we want to feel like the active person we believe ourselves to be, or a wish to grow old without the burden of a chronic disease. We can also use “why” to find the essence of something undesirable, such as the root cause of a behavior we would like to change. In business, this is known as “Five Whys.” You look at a problem to be solved and analyze the contributing factors layer by layer, until eventually you find something at the base that can be changed. It may actually take you more or fewer than five steps to get there.

The ‘Five Whys’ process with a sample problem in health:

  1. Write down the problem.

    Be as specific as you can.
    ex. Problem: I have a habit of eating half a bag of potato chips when I get home from work.

  1. Ask why you take this action

         Why? Because I am starving.

  1. What is this a symptom of?

    At this stage you probably uncover a symptom, not the real problem. So…

         Why am I starving? Because I skipped lunch.

  1. Again you have a symptom or a contributing factor

          Why did I skip lunch? Because I didn’t have time, or I thought I was saving calories.

  1. Aha! You may have found your answer.

    Your body needs fuel, and because you are tired at the end of a day, you grab what is easy and comforting.

Possible Solution: Eat a healthy lunch.

Finding the root cause of a problem does not guarantee an easy solution. You may need help finding or creating a solution. This is where sitting down with a supportive friend or family member or even a medical professional can help.

TMC Wellness Programs have nutritional and activity consultations available to support you in your journey, as well as a Weight Loss Support Group. Check our weight management programs out today.

Mary’s healthy holiday eating tips

Hello Readers,

Today marks the beginning of the holiday season. Tis the season for office work parties, family and friends gatherings and they’re all filled with unwanted extra calories, fats and sugars.

The holidays provide many less than healthy temptations that even the most disciplined of us have a hard time saying  “No, thank you”.

For many of us the holiday season starts now and ends in January.  What can you do to prevent the average seven to twelve pound weight gain? It is possible to eat healthy and enjoy this time of year with proper good nutrition knowledge.

Here are some tips I’ve used over the past nearly two years to prevent weight gain:

1.  Don’t go hungry

Never go to a party or dinner hungry by skipping any meals.  Eat a low fat snack before you go with plenty of water to fill you up.

2. Use smaller plates with portion control.

Fill up on vegetables and fruits including a big salad with healthy veggie toppings and just sample a small portion of the traditional fare.

3. Stay far away from the food and dessert tables

Spend more time with your family and friends at your social events. Distance yourself from bad choices.

4. Chose the lean cut

Know your meat cuts, and make sure you choose leaner meats like skinless chicken breast, turkey breast and lean beef when you’re at the table.  Not sure what a lean cut of beef is? Check out the sirloin tip, top round roast and steak, and top sirloin steak. Pick the cut with least amount of marbling, and not that labelled ‘Prime’ which often has more fat.

6. Plan ahead, be adaptable, but get that exercise in.

Make that time to continue exercising even if you must make a change in times or types of exercise. It’s important to make a plan that takes account of changes in your schedule. If your schedule is more cramped, perhaps make your work out more intense, or rise earlier to get your work out in.

Remember to pay attention to the true meaning of the season and spend time with your family and friends while you practice portion control.  If you overdo it at a party or dinner gathering don’t be hard on yourself and start feeling guilty.  Just pick yourself up the next day and go back to eating healthy. Enjoy a happy healthy holiday.

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 the choices she makes when faced with the challenges of eating healthy during 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 shares her progress and her latest weight loss number!

Hello Readers,

In September I wanted to try and change my exercise program by adding different exercise machines to my daily routine of riding the Exercycle.  I hoped by adding additional exercises with a variety of changes that this would help supplement my weight loss.

Please consult your primary care physician before embarking on an exercise regime. Mary’s Promise reflects her experience and does not constitute medical advice.

I tried the treadmill a few times a week and although I got a good workout it was more like walking for me. My preference is to walk outdoors this time of year and enjoy the Fall’s fresh air.  I tried the stair stepper and elliptical too, both provided a good workout as well, but I preferred my Exercycle over all three.

In the last couple of weeks of September, cool temperatures allowed me to do some additional walking throughout the day boosting me beyond my 12,000 daily steps. With the above changes along with some different food choices in meals I was able to lose four pounds which makes my grand total weight loss 131 pounds to date!

When you lose so much weight you must makes changes monthly to continue your weight loss goals.  Sometimes these changes very challenging, but those challenges keep my attention, and help move me forward. If you’re struggling in your weight loss journey toward health get support. The wellness professionals at Tucson Medical Center offer individual support as well as a comprehensive Weight Management Support Group.

Here are my plans for October:

1) I will cut back 200 calories each day out of my allotted total. I will take 40 calories off breakfast, lunch and dinner then 15 calories off my two daily snacks.

2) Keep my one hour a day exercises in two 30 minute incumbents and plan on riding my Exercycle before and after work.

3) Continue my daily 12,000 steps of walking and when time allows do additional walking. With the cooler weather this time a year makes it easier to sneak out for a 15 minute walk here or there throughout the day.

For me it seems critical to make both food and exercise changes to continue losing weight.  Remember, as you lose weight you may need to cut back on calories. Less mass to move requires .  I plan to do different changes to enable me to reach my goal weight.  It’s exciting and challenging which I enjoy.

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 current progress and plans for October. 

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.

Think you’ve heard enough about mammograms? Think Pink!

October is Breast Health Awareness Month and an ideal time to reiterate the vital importance of mammograms. Wait! Don’t click to another page!

Yes, it’s been talked about – a lot. It’s been published here, there and everywhere, but its importance can’t be overstated and there are some really important things every woman should know about mammography.

thinkpink pink breast cancer mammogramBreast cancer is a deadly serious matter, and however the subject is approached the fact is that breast cancer is the most common cancer among women and a leading cause of cancer-related deaths in women.

Getting a mammogram is so important because it is the most effective way of detecting breast cancer early, and detecting breast cancer early can save lives. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that getting mammograms regularly can lower the risk of dying from breast cancer.

So, does that mean every woman should get a mammogram, at what age and how often?

Although there are many resources and lots of good information out there, the best answers will come from your doctor. Every woman is unique and should assess her breast cancer risk, and discuss preventative measures, with her doctor.

Ok, so does that mean every woman who needs a mammogram is getting one? Well, first let’s cover something everybody already knows – women are far better (than men) about seeing their doctor regularly. Here’s something you might not know, the five-year breast cancer survival rate in the U.S. is 90 percent. Take that, breast cancer!

Unfortunately, finances are a significant barrier for many women to get a recommended mammogram. Everyday economic challenges can result in this important screening taking a back seat, especially because women often put the needs of their family and others ahead of their own.

Tucson Medical Center’s Breast Health and Education Program was designed to promote awareness and increase accessibility to services. For more than 18 years, with the help of the TMC Foundation, this program has provided free mammograms to nearly 7,000 women in Southern Arizona.

“We get the opportunity to educate women on the importance of screenings and very often they ask other women’s health questions that they have,” said Karen Narum, nurse practitioner with the TMC Oncology Program. In addition to providing education and screening, women are able to receive additional assistance regarding women’s health needs. “We then have the ability to guide women to other resources as well.”

Just how important is this service? Since the program began, nearly 40 women who were asymptomatic, and came in for a routine screening, were diagnosed with breast cancer in early stages.

If you have been putting off a mammogram for any reason – see your doctor. Encourage your girlfriends and female family members to talk about mammograms with their doctors. Mammography services are available, don’t wait another moment – put your health first.

 

Additional resources:

Susan G. Komen

Susan G. Komen Arizona

National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc.

Breastcancer.org

Breast Cancer Research Foundation

American Breast Cancer Foundation

Foundation for Women’s Cancer

American Cancer Society

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

 

If you have any concerns or questions, please feel free to contact the TMC Breast Center at (520) 324-1286 or email breast.navigator@tmcaz.com.

Medical insurance covers annual mammography screening as a preventative service, and grant funds allow TMC to offer mammograms for uninsured women age 40 and over. To make an appointment, call (520) 324-2075.

 

How to make SMART goals – Mary’s Promise

Hello Readers,

I always mention SMART goals in my blog posts because they are the #1 reason why I’m succeeding with my weight loss journey.  I first heard about SMART goals in the TMC Wellness programs and they have changed the way I approach healthy living.

I used to pick fad diets to lose weight quickly never reaching any goals and only gaining what I lost back and more and failed with each fad diet I tried.  By practicing  SMART goals I don’t put pressure on myself and stress out.

What does SMART stand for? Specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely.

SPECIFIC

Make a specific goal rather than a general goal.
‘I want to get healthy’ is a general goal. ‘I want to reduce my total cholesterol to normal levels by X amount by X date.’ or ‘I want to fit into my size 14 jeans again by X date.’ or ‘I want to be able to run a 5K by X date.’ are specific goals.

MEASURABLE

Whether you’re measuring your progress toward your goals by pounds, dress sizes, or blood sugar levels, make sure you can measure your progress. Don’t forget to keep track.  I would write my weekly weight loss total in my journal which helped keep me motivated.

ATTAINABLE

Be realistic, identify baby steps and you are more likely to attain them. The success of attaining those small goals helps drive me forward.

REALISTIC

You must be honest with yourself, make sure you identify actions and goals that you can attain, that are realistic. Choosing a high goal, ex I’m going to lose 50 pounds, or I’m going to run 5 miles everyday, or workout everyday for at least an hour, you set yourself up for failure. Set a goal to get active for 30 minutes a day for five days a week, if you don’t walk/run/workout one day or even two that week it’s not a problem, you still have five days that you can work out.

TIMELY

Give yourself a timeframe to achieve your SMART goals in. EXAMPLE I will be able to run 5 kilometers, using the coach to 5K program, in time for the Be Tucson Women’s 5K on February 19th, 2017.

The best thing I ever did was making SMART goals and I was able to stick with them. I’m happy with my progress and excited about reaching goal weight. What are your SMART goals going to be?

Mary H Kmak

Health Warrior

Mary Kmak has turned her life around, losing over one hundred and twenty-five 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 talks specifically about SMART goals. 

Please consult your primary care physician before embarking on an exercise regime. Mary’s Promise reflects her experience and does not constitute medical advice.

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.