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

Here’s to Your Health

What is your breast cancer risk? How do we tell and why you should know.

You might be tempted to dismiss your risk of developing breast cancer due to a lack of family history. Or perhaps, to worry incessantly about it because of some family history. However, as women, we are all at risk of getting breast cancer. Yes, men are also at risk. But simply being a woman is the number one risk factor. We talked with Dr. Michele Boyce Ley, board-certified breast cancer surgeon and medical director of the TMC Breast Health Program about assessing your risk.

What factors play into breast cancer risk:

  • being female
  • getting older
  • family history
  • not having children or having children after age 35
  • receiving hormone replacement therapy
  • obesity
  • lack of exercise
  • more than four alcoholic drinks a week

Dr. Michele Boyce Ley explains the key here is if multiple people from multiple generations in your family have been diagnosed, then you’re considered high-risk. “If your aunt had breast cancer when she was 65, for example, it’s probably not as important as if your mom had breast cancer at age 45,” she said. However, most women with breast cancer do not have a family history. Don’t ignore other factors because your family has no history of breast cancer.

Online high-risk assessments

Additionally, there are some easy-to-use scoring methods online to help you figure out if you’re high-risk or not. We have an online health risk assessment tool you can use and connect you with our nurse navigators if it appears that you’re at high risk. Still not sure? It’s best to get established with a breast specialist to assess your risk and what to do about it. A breast specialist can also help you figure out your breast density, which oftentimes can be another risk factor.

What about genetic testing for breast cancer risk?

Genetic testing is also an option, but proceed with caution. It’s not for everybody, and there are lots of caveats. Dr. Boyce Ley said it really needs to be done by a breast health specialist. Testing used to be limited to just testing for the BRCA 1 and 2 genes. Now there are numerous companies which offer genetic testing for up to 25 different markers. Certainly good information to have, but oftentimes it turns into a case of “We have this info. Now what do we do with it?”

While these mutations have been identified, it takes a highly trained team of clinicians to know how to interpret the results. Genetic testing can make a big difference in the treatment planning but it’s not a one-size-fits-all approach. “The testing can be helpful, but it’s not helpful in the same way for every person,” said Dr. Boyce Ley.

“I always tell my patients who want to pursue genetic testing this: Let’s think this through. If you get the testing done, and you get these results, what are you going to do about it? Your motivation might be to protect yourself or simply to help your children figure out their risk.”

Dr. Boyce Ley warns, however, that testing can have implications for an entire family. “Sometimes there is guilt associated with it if people realize they have passed this gene onto their kids. This isn’t like getting a blood test and finding out you have high cholesterol. It’s a bit more complex than that,” she said. That’s why it’s important to sit down and talk with an expert. Insurance coverage of genetic testing has gotten measurably better with the exception of Medicare, which is more restrictive in covering the cost.

Bottom line: Have a plan before you get genetic testing done.

Doctors continue to develop a better understanding about what characteristics constitute a high-risk patient, and there are an assortment of new drug therapies in the pipeline that work to reduce a patient’s risk. “Just because you’re identified as high-risk doesn’t necessarily mean you need an invasive procedure,” Dr. Boyce Ley said.

Something super simple you can do to reduce your risk of breast cancer that isn’t talked about much? Exercise and manage your weight. “It’s been shown over and over again that maintaining a healthy weight and exercising more than four times a week reduces the risk of breast cancer. Those are things where you don’t need to see a doctor. They’re not easy, but they’re free!” she said.

The TMC High-Risk Breast Clinic is at 2625 N. Craycroft Road, #201. Call (520) 324-BRST (2778) to make an appointment

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

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

How sitting too much can hurt your body:

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

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

What is a desk-bound office worker to do?

Here are a few tips to get you out of your chair.

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

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

The Nutritionista (aka Laurie Ledford)  is a Registered Dietitian at Tucson Medical Center who uses her knowledge and experience every day to support patients making healthy nutrition choices and prevent or combat the major killers of our time. Have a question about something you’ve heard or seen about nutrition or diet? Send your question to the Nutritionista at tmcforwomen at gmail dot com. Check back on TMC for Women for Nutritionista’s blog posts.

Holistic Heart – Your Health Coach Molly Griffis

If only you could have your own health coach! Someone who could cheer you on and support  you in achieving your healthy best…but that’s only for celebs and the fabulously rich, not mere mortals like you and me, right?

Not so! Tucson Medical Center’s satellite wellness center, The Core at La Encantada, offers individual health coaching with Molly Griffis RN.

As a holistic health coach trained at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and a University of Arizona Nursing School graduate, Molly is a health care advocate and consummate cheerleader. She’s your wellness ally working with you to become the best, most healthy and happy versions of yourself.

Molly’s experience includes acute-care nursing and stroke program coordinator at Tucson Medical Center. Inspired by the amazing potential of disease prevention and health maintenance through lifestyle choices, Molly made the switch more than a year ago from hospital and sick care to wellness and preventive care.

Make an appointment with Molly – Call 520-324-2673

Why meet with a health coach?

“There are simple changes people can make toward health, but often these simple things are extraordinarily difficult to do on your own, without adequate information and consistent support. This is precisely where health coaches like myself come in! ”

Molly’s Healthy Dozen – to prevent stress, excess, inflammation and illness:

Recently Molly spoke with Gina Murphy-Darling of Mrs. Green’s World and shared her top 12 healthy living tips:

1. Let food be thy medicine!

Eat a RAINBOW of real whole foods including green leafy vegetables, cruciferous vegetables, fruits especially berries, whole grains, nuts, seeds and legumes. On the other hand, reduce your consumption of conventionally raised animal meat and dairy products, commercial baked goods, fried foods, highly salted foods and white sugar.

2. Drink more water

Drink more water and less sugar-laden beverages, soda, caffeine and alcohol.

3. Just keep moving!

Participate in regular physical activity that you enjoy.

4. Get in those zzzzzz’s

Get consistent quality and quantity of sleep.

5. Plan and prioritize

At the beginning of the day create a list of things you need to do, set reasonable priorities, ask for help when necessary and, if possible, say “NO” to tasks that will overwhelm you.

6. Take time to slow down

Find your personal peace and calm. Lessen your stress by turning off large and small gadgets (TVs, computers, phones, etc..).

7. Just breathe!

Focus on your breath, and find your personal calm & relaxation through meditation, prayer, music, art, journaling, cooking, gardening, reading a good book, yoga or tai chi.

8. Nature

Go outside, enjoy a healthy dose of sunshine, savor the fresh air and touch the earth.

9. Dogs, cats and children

Dogs, cats and children are three of the BEST stress reducers. Connect with them as often as possible.

10. Channel your inner child

Smile, laugh, sing, dance & play more

11. LOVE!

Love yourself and others. Take time to connect with positive relationships on a daily basis. Share your achievements as well as your disappointments with your good family/friend. Minimize time spent with negative individuals.

12. Aromatherapy

Try stress reducing essential oils: lavender, ylang ylang, frankincense, clary sage, bergamot, lemon, grapefruit, tangerine, peppermint, rose, aroma life, patchouli, sandalwood, Roman chamomile, valor, spruce, palo santo, cedarwood and geranium.

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.

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..

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. 

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.

 

Make a commitment to you

Mary Kmak has turned her life around 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.

Hello Readers,

Did you put losing weight as one of your New Year’s resolutions? Have you been able to keep that New Year’s Resolution? Or have you struggled and given up?
We all know how to lose weight, or at least we think we do, but do we understand how to keep it off? Click To Tweet
We all know how to lose weight, or at least we think we do, but do we understand how to keep it off?

What often happens is that we start off on our own programs or different diets,  get tired of the same thing over and over again and so we falter, start to feel bad, then to feel guilty and then give up. It’s a vicious cycle.

making a commitment

 

How do we break the vicious cycle?

  1. Make a commitment to yourself

    One important factor is  making a commitment to yourself.  I made a commitment to my mother with my promise, and now I include the commitment I made to myself.
    What is a commitment?  To me a commitment is devotion, loyalty and faithfulness, but it also needs to include forgiveness and flexibility. Each day I make a commitment to meet my goals, both short-term and long-term goals. My short-term goals are steps along a much longer journey which I intend to be on for life and so when I make those short-term goals I consider what the long-term goal is. If I falter on a small step, don’t get out to exercise one day, or slide in my dietary choices, it isn’t the end of my journey- I’ve faltered, I get back up, brush myself off and carry on with my journey.

  2. Identify the steps to achievable  behavioral goals

    As you recommit to yourself, to your health, articulate what your small steps are, preferably in writing, and how they fit into your overall long-term goals. Make sure that your small steps are working toward behavioral goals that you enjoy working, and are founded in good information. For example, I recently committed to using my exercycle every day. Making a commitment to do that everyday might not be realistic for you, so make it three times a week. Make a goal that is achievable.

  3. Make your small steps part of your daily routine

    I make the exercycle part of my routine. When I come home from work I hop on the exercycle and decompress while watching television, before dinner. That might not be realistic or even desirable for you. It maybe that a good, quick walk around the neighborhood with the dog before the rest of the family wakes fits your life. The advantage of that is the dog will remind you every morning if you forget.Pop on some music or a podcast to listen to, or just take in the sounds of the neighborhood.

  4. Choose something that you enjoy

    I chose the exercycle for my latest challenge because it allows me to get a good workout, keeping my heart in good condition, but low stress on my spine and legs and while I indulge in my favorite television show.

Exercising should be fun besides beneficial, and your meals should be delicious as well as healthy. If you need support finding an exercise that you like or making healthy yummy food suggestions, check in with the TMC Wellness specialists or check out a new type of class at The Core.

If you have any health conditions find out which exercises are good for you and your health. Try them and see which ones you enjoy and make that commitment to yourself!

Mary Kmak
Health Warrior

Go Red – Why your well-woman check is so important

You get your mammo and pap on schedule or close to it, but unless you feel like you’re dying you’re not taking off to go see the doctor!

Does that describe you? You’re not alone. Many women may be convinced to go to the doctor when they’re sick, really sick, but when they’re well? Forget it! However, an annual well-woman visit can not only provide reassurance that you’re healthy, a baseline for what your norm is, but also can catch the onset of issues before they become major health concerns.

This February, heart month, we’re encouraging you to Go Red and schedule a well-woman visit, because the best defense is a good offense. Early detection can make all the difference in a successful battle against the No. 1 killer of women, heart disease. Don’t let heart disease sneak up on you.

Why get a Well-Woman check?

During your well-woman check your doctor will check for the signs of heart disease so that you can take the necessary steps to conquer it. This is also a great opportunity for your doctor to be on the look out for other health concerns. Don’t have a primary physician yet? We can help you find one. If you’re here in Tucson, we also have a health risk assessment designed especially for women, offered by our Women’s Center that addresses a number of concerns including heart related issues.

Rosa Sanchez saw a flyer advertising the program and decided to get the tests done, since she didn’t have health insurance.

“It was nice because it was a comprehensive baseline, so I can see what happens with my health going forward,” she said. She was grateful to have an EKG, since women often overlook heart ailments, and for the bone density scan.

Turns out most of her indicators from her tests were fine, although she did find out she was in early stages of getting osteoporosis. “I am now really conscious about getting more calcium and doing the right kind of exercise. It’s really helpful to know that, so I can do something about it.”

I can see what happens with my health going forward - Rosa Sanchez #GoRed #TucsonIsWhy #WeAreTMC Click To Tweet

Rosa also appreciated that the women’s health care nurse practitioner, Karen Narum, spent so much time, walking her through each of the results and explaining the significance of the numbers. Doctors are often busy, she said, so it was nice to be able to have a conversation about her health without feeling rushed.

Narum said many of the patients who use the clinic actually do have insurance. Some decide to have the tests because they want the personal attention that she’s able to give, and sometimes it’s because their doctor or insurance policy won’t allow for the tests.

“This allows them the opportunity to take control of their health,” Narum said. “This is a way to help women have better insight into their own health. We can give them a pat on the back for what they’re doing well, and in areas where they could do some more work, it’s a way to help them design a map to make changes and get back on track.”

Whether you schedule an appointment with your primary care physician or our nurse practitioner make sure that this Valentine’s Day you give the best gift to the ones you love, a healthy you.

The Women’s Health Risk Assessment includes:

  • Blood count, to determine risk of anemia
  • Blood sugar, as an initial screening for diabetes
  • Thyroid test, to check for any abnormalities
  • Cholesterol screening, to check for heart attack and stroke risks
  • EKG, which is screened by a cardiologist
  • Heel bone density screening, to gauge the risk of osteoporosis
    Women have two one-on-one consultations lasting about an hour. The first happens prior to the series of tests, when the women have a discussion with a nurse about their diet, exercise and family history. The second is to go over the results and talk about ways to mitigate or respond to the findings.

In addition to receiving your individual risk assessment, you may be directed to consult with your primary care physician if there are specific health concerns that need to be addressed.

The package price is $150 and includes the comprehensive health survey, diagnostic tests and one-on-one consultation with a nurse practitioner.

To register or if you would like more information about these services, please call (520) 324-1286.

Everyone has a reason to live a longer, healthier life. What is yours?

We’re partnering with the American Heart Association this year on the Life is Why campaign to support your choices to a healthy heart #LifeIsWhy, #TucsonIsWhy

 

Why should I have a well woman visit? GoRed

Resolution Reboot with a Cleanse – Mary’s Promise

We’re several weeks into the New Year, how are those resolutions holding up?

Did you make an action plan? Are you struggling to keep to it? It’s time to shake things up. A cleanse is in order!

A cupboard cleanse that is!

Talking about making healthy lifestyle changes is one thing, but taking action and doing everything you can to accomplish this is another thing. A kitchen cupboard cleanse removes temptation and often creates a space we are happier to create healthy meals in.

Here is my checklist for kitchen cleanse. As you go through each area ask yourself does this food nourish me and my family? If it doesn’t, it should go.

If you’re like me the idea of throwing food out is sickening. It seems so wasteful. Take time to assess:

Are these food stuffs past their sell by date? Yes? Are these food stuffs (non dairy, no meat or fish) that could go in the compost? Or should they go to the landfill?

If the foods are not past their sell-by-date and unopened, consider are they nutritious? Yes? Are they part of your healthy eating plan? Yes? Put to side to return to storage. No? Send to your local Food Bank or give to friends. Just get it out of your house today!

Cupboard Cleanse

1. Empty your cupboards and food storage.

Now is the time to ask as you go through your cupboards “Is this nutritious? Is it part of my healthy eating plan?” Get rid of all the chips, candy, cookies, cupcakes and unhealthy choices. If they’re out of the house you can’t be tempted by them so easily. Place food into the following groups as you empty the fridge. I find it helps to have boxes ready so that I can just pick up and move when I’m done sorting.

  • Out of date – Compost or landfill
  • Date still good and nutritious
  • Date still good, but not a healthy choice or you’re never going to use it – Compost/landfill/Food Bank

Once the cupboards are empty, remove the boxes of out-of-date or unhealthy foods out of the kitchen.

2. Wash down the cupboards.

3.  Place dry goods in clear glass containers so you can see them easily and label so you can tell your quiona, from couscous, from polenta.

4. As you return your food to the cupboards place the foods you want to encourage upfront. Replace the unhealthy snacks with mixed nuts, all natural peanut butter*, trail mix and other healthy snacks.

One of my favorite snacks to have on hand is mixing 1/8 cup each of almonds, walnuts, pistachios, pumpkin seeds and dried cranberries. Put this in snack bags and have it all ready to grab and eat when the hankering for a snack hits.

Refrigerator Cleanse

Choosing healthy options is much easier when you don’t have to dig through a cluttered fridge, but open the refrigerator door to fresh, prepared healthy choices.
Refrigerators are for perishable food, for the heart of much of what our healthy diet should be. Let’s get rid of the chocolate milk, the whipped cream, the pies, cakes, sodas, and left over pizza.

  1. Using a similar approach to above, remove everything from the fridge.
  2. Anything older than a few months old should be thrown. If you haven’t eaten it by now it probably isn’t very good anymore.
  3. Wipe down fridge.
  4. Check the condiments for best by dates and for sugar content. Have you used them in the past six months? If not, it’s time to get rid of them.
  5. Place produce to be refrigerated in the produce tray where humidity is somewhat controlled. Vegetables tend to become limp and lose vitamins when they lose moisture. Remember not all fruit or vegetable should be refrigerated. Tomatoes taste better not kept in the fridge. Berries and stone fruit also ripen and taste best at room temperature, but remove to fridge to extend use. Tropical fruits like pineapple and melons should be kept on the countertop whole. Potatoes, onions and garlic are also best not refrigerated.
  6. Keep your oils, olive, sesame etc. in the fridge to stop oxidization which can result in rancid oils. They will become cloudy in the fridge, but will clarify at room temperature.
  7. Wrap homemade meals tightly, label and date.
  8. Keep cleaned and cut carrots, celery, crudite vegetables in clear glass containers along with hummus (homemade is easy and cheap, watch the blog for) for a quick snack.
  9. Rid your fridge of deli meats and cheeses that are overly processed.

Freshen that Freezer

It’s freezer time! Get rid of all the ice-cream, greasy frozen take-out leftovers  that you put away for lunches and forgot about, frozen quick meals filled with preservatives and replace them with healthy natural foods and snacks. Make space for when you batch cook some of your favorite homemade healthy dishes. I have frozen low fat yogurts, frozen fruits when fresh selections aren’t available and skinless and boneless chicken breasts and lean beef. Remember to label and date everything!

By cleaning out your cupboards and replacing with healthy choices you can avoid falling and keep your commitment to healthy eating. One of my biggest keys to weight loss was not only getting rid of these unhealthy foods, but never buying or bringing them home anymore. Previously, I always used the excuses when I would buy them that these choices were for company, but I would be the one eating it. Put yourself in healthy situations whenever you have an appetite for something you will only have healthy choices to choose from.

Remember 2016 is a New Year and a new you! We can do this! 🙂

Mary Kmak
Health Warrior

*Several well known peanut butter brands are chock full of added sugar. Make sure your nut butter is just nuts, no sugar.