Straight Talk on Mammograms and Breast Cancer

Straight Talk on Mammograms and Breast Cancer

The primary focus of most women is not themselves. Women for the most part are focused on taking care of their family and put themselves at the bottom of the list. It is time to change this way of thinking and put you and your priorities at the top of your list! You must take care of yourself. No one is going to do it for you!

Why Should You Get Your Mammogram?

  • Mammograms detect breast cancer before it can be felt
  • Early stage breast cancer has a great prognosis (outcome)
  • The earlier breast cancer is identified the less invasive the surgery can be
  • Early stage breast cancer may be less likely to require chemotherapy

When Should I Start Getting My Mammograms?

  • Start getting your mammogram at age 40 and have them every year
  • You may need to start having your annual mammograms earlier than 40 if you have a family history of breast cancer
  • Start your monthly self breast exams in your 20s

What Factors Increase My Risk for Breast Cancer?

  • Family history of breast cancer
  • Alcohol intake
  • Smoking tobacco
  • Not having children
  • Prior chest radiation
  • Starting your menstrual cycle before age 12
  • Starting menopause after age 55 (longer exposure to estrogen in your life)
  • Taking hormone replacement therapy
  • A sedentary lifestyle
  • Having a breast cancer gene mutation such as BRCA

How Can I Decrease My Risk for Breast Cancer?

  • No tobacco
  • Minimal alcohol
    • Women who have three alcoholic drinks per week have a 15% higher risk of breast cancer
  • Four to seven hours of exercise per week can lower your risk of breast cancer by 20 to 30%
  • Weight management. Overweight women—defined as having a BMI (body mass index) over 25—have a higher risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer compared to women who maintain a healthy weight, especially after menopause
  • Breastfeeding can lower breast cancer risk, especially if a woman breastfeeds for longer than one year

What Are the Surgical Options for Breast Cancer Treatment?

  • Lumpectomy
  • Mastectomy without reconstruction (removal of all of the breast tissue)
  • Mastectomy with reconstruction (removal of all of the breast tissue and rebuilding of the breast)
  • Oncoplastic reduction (bilateral breast reduction and lift at the same time as the lumpectomy)

What Is Involved with a Lumpectomy?

  • Removal of the breast cancer and a small amount of surrounding tissue
  • Removal of a few axillary (underarm area) lymph nodes
  • Usually followed by radiation therapy
  • There is a 20% chance the cancer will reoccur after a lumpectomy alone
  • Radiation therapy can reduce the recurrence risk to 7-10%

What Is Involved with a Mastectomy?

  • Removal of the breast
  • Removal of a few axillary (underarm areas) lymph nodes
  • You can have reconstruction at the same time

There is no difference in survival rates or prognosis (outcome) with a lumpectomy and radiation versus a mastectomy. The surgical choice comes down to patient preference and breast size in relation to tumor size. You have to do what is best for you and no one else in that moment.

Take Care of You

I encourage all women now to take care of themselves. We are often focused on taking care of others, but to take care of others and be there for them, you have to take care of yourself! Take that step now and schedule your mammogram.

If you’re curious or nervous about a mammogram, here’s what to expect and how to prepare.

Dr. Rachel Jendro, DO, FACOS

Dr. Rachel Jendro, DO, FACOS

Bryan Breast Surgical Specialists

Dr. Rachel Jendro, DO, FACOS is proud to be the first fellowship trained Breast Surgical Oncologist to serve the community of Lincoln and greater Nebraska. Her motivation for serving the women of Nebraska is due to her lifelong mission to provide evidence-based medicine to enhance the standard of care through surgical expertise, compassion for women’s health, and emotional support. As an osteopathic surgeon, Dr. Jendro brings enhanced surgical training and vast experience from accredited medical institutions, and is committed to her patients through their entire journey.

As a native of Kentucky, Dr. Jendro attended the University of Kentucky. She graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in Biology. Dr. Jendro received her medical degree from the Kentucky College of Osteopathic Medicine. Her general surgery internship and residency were completed at Grandview Medical Center in Dayton, Ohio. Dr. Jendro was selected as chief resident in her general surgery residency program at Grandview Medical Center. Dr. Jendro is board certified by the American College of Osteopathic Surgeons.

You may also like

Don’t Let Balance Issues Hold You Back

Don’t Let Balance Issues Hold You Back

Now is a great time to get out and enjoy opportunities for fun. Maybe it is a walk in the park, looking around and enjoying the birds and nature. Or it may be watching your child or grandchild’s soccer game or even playing lawn games like bocce ball at home! Or maybe it is getting out and enjoying dining in a restaurant with friends or a musical performance.

But if you feel your balance is not good and you are worried about a fall or injury, you may miss out on all these and many other fun opportunities. Don’t let concerns about balance hold you back! You can improve your balance. The first step is determining the cause and then developing a plan to address it.

Here is information to help you get back to activities that are important to you.

Common Conditions that Affect Your Balance

Balance is a broad term and can be affected by so many factors. Your balance can be affected because of:

  • Tight/inflexible muscles
  • Weaker muscles
  • Abnormal sensation (numbness/tingling)
  • Visual problems
  • Inner ear problems
  • Anxiety or fear of falls

These factors play a role on how we are able to sense information for balance and then how our muscles and nerves respond. Sometimes if those systems aren’t giving us fast enough or accurate information, we cannot react fast enough and feel unsteady.

Emotions also play a role. If we have a history or near falls or instances of instability, we may be anxious or fearful of falls. Then we self-limit, meaning we stop doing these or other activities because of this fear. As we decrease our activity, our muscles can get weaker and our joints/muscles get less flexible which makes activities that were previously easier to do harder. It is a circle that just keeps expanding and can eventually have some significant negative impacts on our mobility and overall health!

Ways to Improve Your Balance

There are several activities that can help improve your balance. You can do these on your own, or you may want to have an assessment by a physical therapist trained in balance problems to identify specific causes and create a customized program to improve your balance.

Activities You Can Do on Your Own

  • Walking, biking and climbing stairs are good ways to strengthen muscles in your lower body; a recumbent bike is a safe way to start if you have significant concerns about your balance
  • Stretching loosens your muscles and can reduce tightness and inflexibility
  • Yoga strengthens and stretches muscles; Tai Chi moves, which are gradual shifts in weight from one foot to another with additional moves, offers a good approach to improve balance

Benefits of Working with a Physical Therapist

Physical therapy is a way to identify factors that affect your balance and help you gain confidence with your activities. A physical therapist can help assess areas that can play a role in your day-to-day activities.

Stretching programs and certain strengthening activities can help target those areas if needed. Other activities can be designed to increase stability when doing specific tasks that you have avoided because of your balance such as walking and turning your head, walking on unlevel/unpredictable surfaces or being able to adjust your body positioning when in crowded areas.

In addition to strengthening exercises, physical therapy teaches you ways to make adjustments as needed based on your activities! We want you to be able to enjoy your life and not miss out on all those important and fun times!

Take Steps Now to Improve Your Balance and Your Life

Bryan Health has physical therapists trained in balance problems to help you on the path to a life with better balance. The Bryan Center for Dizziness and Balance provides more information about balance, ways to improve it and innovative treatment approaches.

Laura Corbridge

Laura Corbridge

Bryan Health Physical Therapist

Laura Corbridge received her master’s degree in physical therapy from the University of Iowa in 1999. She has worked with both adult and pediatric patients and specializes in treating those with neurological disorders including traumatic brain injury, stroke and other progressive neurological disorders. She also treats patients with chronic lung conditions. Laura has had advanced training in balance and vestibular rehabilitation including Neurocom Balance master integration training and Emory University’s certification of vestibular competency. Laura provides comprehensive vestibular balance testing services and pulmonary therapy.

You may also like

Exercise Is the Best Way to Manage Arthritis Pain

Exercise Is the Best Way to Manage Arthritis Pain

Your knees, hips or back are stiff and sore and sometimes hurt with certain movements, so why would you want to strength train or do other types of exercise? Simple: Exercise is crucial for people with arthritis of all kinds because it:

  • Increases strength and range of motion
  • Reduces join pain
  • Helps to combat fatigue
  • Keeps your muscles and surrounding tissue strong to support your bones
  • Helps with weight management, which puts less stress on your joints
  • Improves balance
  • Improves sleep
  • Eases depression

If you don’t exercise, your supporting muscles weaken, creating more stress on your joints. Alternatively, when you move more throughout the day, you increase the lubrication in your joints so everything is easier to do!

Useful Exercise Tips to Get the Relief You Need

  • Start slowly and warm up with some range of motion exercises for your joints.
  • Stay within a pain-free range of motion and progress as your strength increases.
  • Use a supportive sleeve or elastic wrap around your affected joint to keep swelling down and make exercise more comfortable.
  • Plan light, moderate and heavier exercise days throughout the week to help with recovery and progression.
  • Wear proper footwear with support and cushion when doing weight-bearing exercises.
  • Strength train two times a week with an exercise for every major muscle group. Just don’t do this two days in a row. Give your body a recovery day.
  • Keep impact activities low.
  • Train at a time of day when your symptoms are better.
  • Use heat prior to exercise and ice afterwards.
  • Progress slowly in intensity and/or duration. This is key!

It is very common to have muscle soreness as you adapt to the exercise, but you should not experience sharp pain. If you have a flare up, take a rest day, do an activity that is low impact or shorten your duration and/or intensity.

Benefits of Exercise for Arthritis

Exercise is one of the best treatments for arthritis. Starting with light cardiovascular activity and easing into strength training will help reduce inflammation that causes pain. You may think exercise will aggravate your joint pain, but that is not the case. It is the lack of exercise that can make your joints even more stiff and painful.

For best results, attend a class specific for arthritis. A warm water class can be a great way to start. Ideally, find a qualified trainer to create a program for your specific needs.

Personalized Arthritis Care at Bryan LifePointe

Our certified exercise professionals will create a training and exercise program that can help you transition into regular physical activity. Making activity a routine in your lifestyle is the best way to manage arthritis. We can help you create a program that is specialized to you. Below are services specific to arthritis plus much more.

To learn more about Bryan LifePointe services and how we can help with your arthritis pain, give our team a call at 402-481-6300 or visit our office in Lincoln today!

Cindy Kugler, MS, Bryan LifePointe

Cindy Kugler, MS, Bryan LifePointe

Cindy is a certified exercise physiologist and certified strength and conditioning coach.

You may also like

How to Be Your Own Best Advocate at a Doctor’s Appointment

How to Be Your Own Best Advocate at a Doctor’s Appointment

Have you ever gone to your doctor’s office and thought, “I have several questions I want to ask” and then gone home and realized you forgot to ask them? This happens to many people for multiple reasons. You may feel anxious during your appointment. You may feel uncomfortable asking a question. Or you may feel overwhelmed, answering so many questions about your health that you may simply forget the questions you wanted to ask. Whatever your reason is, here is what you can do to better self-advocate at your next appointment.

Prepare to Answer Basic Questions First

Knowing what to expect up front can help alleviate some anxieties. So, this is the basic process to expect during a doctor’s visit.

  1. In today’s world, you’ll start with COVID-19 questions, insurance information, emergency contacts and verifying your address.
  2. You’ll go to the scale. This part always makes me nervous because I don’t want to look.
  3. Your vitals are taken—blood pressure, temperature and pulse.
  4. You’ll review your medications and how you take them. It’s very important that you also share information on vitamins, natural supplements and any over-the-counter items you take. This helps your doctor make sure nothing interacts.

It’s a lot to go through, and all of this can occur before you get to the reason for your visit. While it may feel overwhelming now, there are steps you can take to be more confident and get the most out of your visit.

You & Your Doctor Are a Team

You both have a common goal—to take care of your health. To achieve that goal, you have to work together. This starts with being honest and sharing information with your healthcare provider. By being forthcoming, it helps them examine, diagnose and treat the problem. If you feel too uncomfortable sharing information, the doctor can’t do their job, let alone offer you optimal care.

Here’s what to do to avoid “losing your voice” when the white coat walks into the room:

  1. Prepare a list of questions before your visit. Write them down and bring that list with you to the doctor’s office. Having that list to reference will make sure you get all of your questions answered.
  2. Bring a friend or family member with you if you know you’re going to be overwhelmed. They can help you listen and ask the questions. Having a support person with you can be very comforting during a doctor’s visit.
  3. Be patient while the receptionist and nurse ask you questions. Your answers will be passed along to the doctor. This information also helps correctly pay for your bill so you don’t have to worry about it later.
  4. Write down the information you receive during the appointment. You can bring a notepad or use the notes app on your phone. Taking notes will help you remember everything that was said during the visit, including instructions for a treatment plan.
  5. Call back or send a message through your patient portal if you have questions after your visit. We want you to follow your care plan, so we’re happy to clear up any confusion. You can only follow our recommendations if you fully understand what we suggested.

These tips will help to make you feel empowered the next time you step into a doctor’s office. After all, you are your best advocate! If you or someone you know could benefit from a professional consultation, take our free, confidential mental health screening online from the comfort of your home today.

Stacy Waldron, PhD

Stacy Waldron, PhD

Licensed Psychologist, Bryan Medical Center Counseling Center

Dr. Stacy Waldron provides treatment for individuals of all ages across the lifespan and specializes with adolescents and adults. She offers individual and family therapy to help clients with stress, anxiety, mood disorders, life transitions and chronic pain. This includes helping individuals with stress management, assertiveness training, communication and problem solving skills as well as relaxation training. She also provides psychological assessments that include bariatric surgery evaluations, spine surgery, and spinal cord stimulator evaluations.

Waldron earned her doctorate in counseling psychology from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. She serves on the Board of Psychology for the State of Nebraska, the Board of Directors for the Midwest Pain Society, and the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards.

You may also like

What’s Weighing Heavy on Your Heart? How Weight Impacts Your Heart Health

What’s Weighing Heavy on Your Heart? How Weight Impacts Your Heart Health

Obesity in the United States is increasing at an alarming rate and is a primary cause of our country’s current health crisis. More than 40% of Americans are now obese, rising from 23% in 1990. Many times the terms “overweight” and “obese” seem interchangeable. However, the CDC has specific definitions for each depending on a person’s Body Mass Index (BMI):

  • Overweight = BMI of 25.0 to < 30
  • Obese = BMI of 30.0 or higher

About three out of four adults in America are presently overweight, and the trend is only expected to increase. Obesity promotes buildup of cholesterol in your arteries, leading to heart attacks and strokes. It also gives way to high blood pressure, sleep apnea, depression, poor physical health and diabetes. As a heart doctor, the majority of diseases that I treat every day are partially due to obesity.

3 Steps to a Healthy Weight and Happy Heart

  1. Calculate your Body Mass Index (BMI): Use this BMI Calculator. It’s a quick and easy way to assess if your weight could cause health issues. It assesses your weight-to-height ratio. A healthy BMI is less than 25.
  2. Measure your waist circumference: This is measured just above your hip bones after exhaling. A waist circumference measuring over 35 inches for women or over 40 inches for men places a person at a higher risk for developing heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
  3. Increase exercise and reduce calorie intake: Increasing exercise and reducing calorie intake are great ways to lose weight. In general, we recommend the Mediterranean Diet, which is high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and beans. It includes fish, poultry and dairy products with only limited red meat. This diet is associated with a lower risk of heart disease, strokes and several cancers.

Losing weight can be difficult for many. If you find yourself in need of a healthy change and are discouraged by the lack of results you’re seeing, know that you’re not alone. Bryan Health is here to support you along your journey.

Resources Available to Take Control of Your Weight

Bryan Health offers a multitude of resources and support when it comes to weight loss. Our team of professionals will provide education and lifestyle changes to embrace healthy eating habits, increase activity and promote positive behavior patterns you can live with for the rest of your life. We’re here to assist you in exploring which weight loss option is right for you.

Online Risk Assessment

A great first step towards a healthy weight is to take Bryan’s free WeightAware Risk Assessment. This assessment will only take seven minutes to complete, and at the end, you will receive personalized, confidential information that will help you:

  • Learn your current health status
  • Assess and identify your potential risk for conditions impacted by weight
  • Identify medical and lifestyle factors to reduce your risk of developing certain health conditions
  • Take action to reduce your level of risk through the many services available at Bryan Health

Bryan Bariatric Services

Bryan Health offers weight loss surgery, along with the education and support for your success. Call us at 402-481-5454 to schedule a consultation today.

Bryan LifePointe

Bryan LifePointe offers many services to help you on your weight loss journey. Wellness Revolution, our newest program, provides exercise, nutrition and health coaching for your overall success. Learn more at Wellness Revolution by calling 402-481-6300.

Joseph Kummer, MD, FACC

Joseph Kummer, MD, FACC

Bryan Heart Cardiologist

Born and raised in Omaha, Nebraska, Dr. Joseph Kummer attended Creighton Prep High School and the University of Nebraska Medical Center. After subsequent training in Chicago and Detroit at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and Henry Ford Hospital, Kummer became a diagnostic cardiologist at Bryan Heart. He specializes in heart catheterizations to find blockages in arteries and cardiovascular clinical work like treating hospital patients for rhythm disorders, heart failure, chest pain, and more. Kummer finds his work deeply rewarding because he can help people resolve their problems with the best quality cardiology care in Nebraska.

Learn More About Joseph Kummer, MD, FACC

You may also like

When Should You Start Screening for Colon Cancer? 50? 45? Never?!

When Should You Start Screening for Colon Cancer? 50? 45? Never?!

When Should You Start Screening for Colon Cancer? 50? 45? Never?!

If you answered 45 – good for you! Most people don’t realize that the recommended age by the American Cancer Society (ACS) to begin these screenings has been lowered from 50 to 45—and sooner if you have an increased risk or family history.

Here are some other questions you may have:

  • Why was the age to start screening changed from 50 to 45? Studies show colorectal cancer among people younger than 50 is on the rise. The ACS determined that screening starting at age 45 could help save more lives.
  • Why is screening important? The earlier cancer is found, the more treatable it is. A significant number of people with colon cancer, especially early in their disease, don’t have symptoms. One screening method, a colonoscopy, not only detects cancer, but can prevent it by removing precancerous growths before they become cancer.
  • How could this benefit me? If found early, colon cancer can be easier to treat. But colon cancer can also be prevented through screening. That means you don’t have to undergo treatment to beat it; you can prevent it from happening and go on living your life.

If you answered never – you’re probably in good company because many people don’t want to think about this or take the time to do it. But I refer you to the above facts and hope you’ll reconsider your answer.

As an oncology (cancer) nurse navigator and mother of three, I understand that life gets busy and our own wellness is easy to put off for a later time! Whether we are busy with work, carting kids to activities, attending social events or our ongoing daily to-do lists, the one thing we all have in common is the need to keep ourselves and our families healthy and safe.

This can start with regular checkups with our doctors, which should include screening for colorectal cancer if you are 45 or older, and sooner if you have a family history of colon cancer.

Answers to Common Colon Cancer/Colonoscopy Questions & Misperceptions

The following information is provided by David Newton, MD, a gastroenterologist with Gastroenterology Specialties, through a recent podcast. We encourage you to listen to the entire 10-minute podcast to get more detailed information.

How can you screen for colon cancer?
There are two ways to do this:

  • A sensitive test that looks for signs of cancer in a person’s stool (a stool-based test)
  • An exam that looks at the colon and rectum (a visual exam)

What is the benefit of a colonoscopy (a type of visual exam)?
A colonoscopy is the single most important tool we have for the detection of polyps or tumors. During a colonoscopy, a gastroenterologist screens your colon looking for any growths or polyps. If a polyp is found early, it can be removed before it has a chance to become cancerous.

What about the home-based stool kits; how do they work and are they effective at detecting cancer?
These tests can detect if cancer is present. FIT DNA testing is widely available now, and studies show they will catch 93% of cancers, which is a good number. But when looking at it closer, the test missed one in 13 colon cancers, and about 60% of larger precancerous polyps in the right colon, which we know through studies contributes to 20-30% of overall cancers diagnosed in the U.S.

One of the big differences between these tests and a colonoscopy is that with a colonoscopy, you can not only detect cancer but prevent it by removing precancerous growths.

Many people consider a home test (FIT or FIT DNA test) to avoid a colonoscopy. However, if the home test is positive, the next step is a colonoscopy.

Does insurance cover colon cancer screening?
Colon cancer screening is covered at 100% in Affordable Care Act compliant health plans.

  • If you choose a colonoscopy for screening, it is covered at 100%.
  • If you first choose a FIT or FIT DNA test, that test is covered under your screening benefit. But, if the home test is positive, you will then need a colonoscopy and that colonoscopy would be considered diagnostic and would not be covered 100% by the insurance carrier. This would be subject to both co-pay and deductibles toward the maximum out-of-pocket amount.

Note: At this time insurers are not required to (and some might not) cover the cost of colorectal cancer screening before age 50.

What about the ‘prep’ you have to do for a colonoscopy?
Times have changed! You no longer have to drink a gallon of salty water. There are many small volume prep products on the market. The one we use is only about 25 ounces of a solution that you mix with the clear liquid of your choice. In fact, many of our patients are amazed at how easy it is. So, don’t let misconceptions about what the prep was like in the past affect your future. The preps now are much easier and shouldn’t discourage you from getting a colonoscopy.

You Have the Power to Prevent Colon Cancer

Screening is a way to help find colorectal cancer early or help prevent it altogether. Being an oncology nurse navigator, I have walked alongside many patients during their journeys with colorectal cancer and feel passionate about this topic.

I hope you will go home, talk with your family and add regular screenings to your calendar—so we can stay strong and healthy for ourselves and families.

To learn more, visit the American Cancer Society.

Breanna Nedved, RN

Breanna Nedved, RN

Breanna Nedved, RN, is an oncology nurse navigator at Bryan Medical Center. This is a specially trained nurse who helps patients and their families through each step of cancer treatment.

You may also like

How Healthy Is My Heart?

How Healthy Is My Heart?

I fell in my home. It was in the afternoon on a very cold day. I was watching TV, keeping occupied inside instead of braving the cold and walking outdoors. As is known to happen to grandmas, I had the urgent need to use the bathroom. You’ve seen the commercials, so you know how this goes. I threw the blanket off my lap, not realizing it was still wrapped around my legs. Then, bam! When I went to stand, I fell flat on my side.

Getting Up After a Fall

As I was lying still, I saw blood under my head. I slowly got up, saw more blood, and got to work cleaning my wound and the floor. Soon after, John joined me and looked at the side of my head. He insisted on taking me to an urgent care. I shooed the idea away until my head started pounding. Then I agreed. At the urgent care, the staff was very helpful, and I walked away with three staples.

Round Two in the Urgent Care

The next morning, my head was better, but now my right foot hurt. We went to Bryan’s urgent care without any disagreements from me this time. After X-rays, I was put into a walking boot because of a fracture in my foot. I could only think, “What the heck? An injury?” This was a first for me.

I know I will heal fine and be back to playing pickleball and taking long walks in a couple of months. However, it did cause me to think about my age and my personal expiration date.

Finding My Heart Age

I routinely go to my primary care physician, and he’s never put up any red flags about my longevity. Still, I was curious to find out if my heart age was the same as my chronological age. I remember seeing something in his office about comparing those two ages through an online questionnaire. My daughters and grandkids were all concerned about me. Everyone would be on my back if I didn’t look into it.

So, I took the questionnaire called HeartAware. It was easy to complete, even for an old lady like myself. I couldn’t recall all of my health information, but by going through my old “MyChart” entries, I figured it out.

My HeartAware Results

The results of the questionnaire were not perfect, but they also weren’t as bad as they could have been. My actual age is a couple of years younger than my heart age. My cholesterol level was my main issue, but I’m allergic to statins, so I’ll try to lower my cholesterol through diet.

I informed all of my kids and grandkids about the difference in the two ages. Their reactions varied from, “But you’re so active, how could that be?” to “What will you do about it?” to “Have you told your primary care physician?” All of these were good questions.

I promised my grandkids I would follow up on all of their suggestions, even before I’m able to take this crazy boot off. I’ve created a new Rocky workout routine and hope it goes well. All my grandkids told me they loved me, but they couldn’t figure out who Rocky was.

Take an Online Screening

What’s your heart age? Take the free HeartAware Risk Assessment now to find out!

Nancy Becker

Nancy Becker

Grandkids & Grandparents

I have four grandchildren ages 14-17. In some ways, I’m a very typical grandma, always proud of everything the kids do and wanting to help support them in whatever way I can. In other ways, I’m not very typical. My goal as a blogger is to share my thoughts and experiences that I think are funny and meaningful as I adventure through grandmahood.

You may also like

One Way to Stick to Your New Year’s Resolution

One Way to Stick to Your New Year’s Resolution

The start of a new year—an opportunity to start fresh, set goals and resolutions, and on and on and on. Somewhere, someone has already given up on their resolutions just reading this never-ending laundry list. Here are my recommendations for creating a New Year’s resolution that will actually stick.

Making Resolutions in the New Year

I usually find something to define my year—a word, a song verse or even a vision board. But this time, as I try to type out my intentions for 2023, the delete key on my keyboard is getting plenty of use. I’ll write a line, press the delete key, type another word, and hit delete again and again.

I keep thinking this is the year of better health in all dimensions—physically, mentally, emotionally, socially and spiritually. I want to be better at listening, taking in less caffeine, consistently journaling, meal prepping more often, and spreading more kindness, joy, and grace. I just want to be better in every aspect.

Do Your Goals Need to Be SMART?

The teacher in me shouts, “Goals need to be SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timebound,” and “Just be better” is certainly not specific or easily measurable.

But being better is relevant and attainable. As we raise our children, being better is definitely relevant. Not being better than someone else, but making ourselves better. We can all aspire to “just be better”.

How to “Just Be Better” in 2023

But how am I going to be better this year? I’m going to create micro goals around my health and use the three-layer goal-setting method instead of the SMART system. Here’s what that looks like for me:

  • For the first 10 days of January, I’ll get better in two areas (maybe journaling and meal prepping).
  • On days 11-20, I’ll add another area (like taking in less caffeine) and be better in a total of three areas.
  • In the last 11 days of January, I’ll add another, more challenging area (like extending more grace) for a total of four areas.

These micro goals will lay a foundation in my first month and make achieving a vague goal—like better health—more likely. Plus, these layers will allow me to focus when it’s incredibly easy to get off track in the snowy winter months. No excuses, just plenty of sticky notes to remind me to be a better person than yesterday.

So, if you’re like me and not sure how to set goals this year, just choose to be better.

Shelly Mowinkel

Shelly Mowinkel

K-12 & Teens

My husband and I have three kids. Our oldest is a freshman in high school, and our youngest is in second grade. Most days, I feel like we are a “tag-team chauffeuring” service, yet I wouldn’t have our life any other way. Not only I am a business/technology teacher at Milford, I am also the district technology integration specialist. I love teaching because I get the opportunity to make those around me better. My hope is that, through my blogging, I am able to inspire, encourage, and share with you my adventures of being a wife, mother, and professional.

You may also like

Mindful Eating vs. Emotional Eating: 6 Steps for Success

Mindful Eating vs. Emotional Eating: 6 Steps for Success

What is emotional eating? Emotional eating is generally when we eat as a way to suppress or soothe negative emotions such as stress, anger, fear, boredom, sadness and loneliness. When we work to reduce emotional eating, it is important to be aware of behaviors we can change to allow our food to be more useful to our bodies and to gain emotional control over food.

Here are six pointers that I have found effective in my practice as a clinical psychologist at Bryan Counseling Center.

1. Slow Down so Your Body and Brain can Communicate

Eating more slowly is one of the best ways you can get your mind and body to communicate what is really needed for nutrition. The amount of time it takes your brain to register that your stomach is full is about 20 minutes. This is why we often unconsciously overeat. Eating more slowly allows enough time to receive the signal from your brain that you are full. This in turn helps us eat the right amount of food. Simple ways to slow down might include many of your grandmother’s manners like sitting down to eat, chewing each bite 25 times (or more) and setting down your fork between bites.

2. Know Your Body’s Personal Hunger Signals

Are you responding to an emotional want or responding to your body’s needs? Often we listen first to our minds, but like many mindfulness practices, we might discover more wisdom by tuning into our bodies first. Rather than just eating when we get emotional signals, which may be different for each of us – stress, sadness, frustration, loneliness, boredom – try to listen to your body. Is your stomach growling, your energy low or are you feeling lightheaded? Too often, we eat when our mind tells us to, rather than our bodies. True mindful eating is listening deeply to our body’s signals for hunger. Ask yourself: What are your body’s hunger signals, and what are your emotional hunger triggers?

3. Cultivate a Mindful Kitchen

Do you eat alone and randomly or do you eat with others or at set times? Another way that we eat mindlessly is by wandering around looking through cabinets and eating at random times and places rather than thinking proactively about our meals and snacks. This prevents us from developing healthy environmental cues about what and how much to eat, and wires our brains with new cues for eating that are not always ideal. (For example, do you really want to create a habit of eating every time you get in the car?)

Sure, we all snack from time to time, but eating at consistent times and places can boost both your mind and body’s health, not to mention greatly helping your mood and sleep schedule. Yes, that means sitting down (at a table!), putting food on a plate or bowl, not eating it out of the container and using actual utensils. It also helps to eat with others if that is possible – not only are you sharing and getting some healthy connection, but you will also slow down and enjoy the food and conversation more.

Having a mindful kitchen means organizing and caring for your kitchen space so it encourages healthy eating and nourishing gatherings. Consider what you bring into your kitchen and where you put things away. Are healthy foods handy? What kinds of foods are in sight? When food is around, we eat it.

You don’t have to plan your food down to each bite, and it’s important to be flexible, especially on special occasions, but just be aware of the fact that you might be changing your eating habits at different times of the year or for different occasions. And when you do plan ahead, you are more likely to eat the amount your body needs at that moment rather than undereating and indulging later, or overeating and regretting it later.

4. Understand Your Motivations

Eating foods that are emotionally comforting vs. eating foods that are nutritionally healthy is a tricky balance. Ideally, we can find nourishing foods that are also satisfying and comforting. When we slow down and think about the healthy foods in our mouths we often enjoy them more than the story we want to tell ourselves about healthy food.

As we practice eating healthier and a greater variety of foods, we are less inclined to binge on our comfort foods, and more inclined to actually enjoy healthy foods. Ultimately we can find many foods mentally and physically satisfying as opposed to just a few.

5. Connect More Deeply with Your Food

Outside of hunter-gatherers or sustenance farmers, most of us have become disconnected from our food in recent years. Many of us don’t even consider where a meal comes from beyond the supermarket packaging. This is a loss because eating offers an incredible opportunity to connect us more deeply to the natural world, the elements and to each other.

When you pause to consider all of the people involved in the meal on your plate: from the loved ones (and yourself) who prepared it, to those who stocked the shelves, to those who planted and harvested the raw ingredients, to those who supported them, it is hard to not feel both grateful and interconnected. Be mindful of the water, soil and other elements that were part of its creation as you sit down to eat whatever you are eating. You can reflect on the cultural traditions that brought you this food and the recipes generously shared by friends or brought from a distant place and time to be handed down in the family.

As you consider everything that went into the meal, it becomes effortless to experience and express gratitude to all of the people who gave their time and effort, the elements of the universe that contributed their share, our friends or ancestors who shared recipes, and even the beings who may have given their lives to a part of creating this meal. With just a little more mindfulness like this, we may begin to make wiser choices about sustainability and health in our food, not just for us but for the whole planet.

6. Attend to your Plate

Multitasking and eating is a recipe for not being able to listen deeply to our body’s needs and wants. We’ve all had the experience of going to the movies with our bag full of popcorn, and before the coming attractions are over, we are asking who ate all of our popcorn. When we are distracted, it becomes harder to listen to our body’s signals about food and other needs. With your next meal, try single-tasking and just eating, with no screens or distractions besides enjoying the company you are sharing a meal and conversation with, even if it’s just your own.

While formal mindful eating practices may be what we think of when we look back on a mindfulness course or retreat we attended, the reality is that we do live – and eat – in the real world, which is a busy place. But we can take the insights gained from our formal practice – slowing down, listening to our bodies, doing one thing at a time, making even small rituals, and considering all that went into our meal on a more regular basis – and bring more informal mindfulness to our daily meals.

Finally, remind yourself each day that food is fuel for your body, not for comfort. By using mindful eating practices, you just may find the food you eat more enjoyable and nutritious.

Stacy Waldron, PhD

Stacy Waldron, PhD

Licensed Clinical Psychologist, Bryan Counseling Center

Dr. Stacy Waldron provides treatment for individuals of all ages across the lifespan and specializes with adolescents and adults. She offers individual and family therapy to help clients with stress , anxiety, mood disorders, life transitions and chronic pain. This includes helping individuals with stress management, assertiveness training, communication and problem solving skills as well as relaxation training.

You may also like

How I’m Developing Healthier Eating Habits

How I’m Developing Healthier Eating Habits

I have shared that I loathe cooking and baking of any sort with you all before, however, I do value nutrition. I seek out blogs, conversations and articles about healthy cooking, providing healthy snacks and connecting with food. I recently listened to a sports nutritionist and she made my mind start spinning.

With the school year and fall sports season fast approaching, I want to make sure I have quick nutritious snacks and healthy meal options available for our entire family.

Where I Struggle with Making Healthy Meals

I realize my downfall in providing nutritious meals and snacks occurs in multiple different areas.

  1. First is definitely the busyness of life.
  2. Having picky eaters.
  3. I have no patience or confidence in the kitchen.
  4. I do not create a fully developed grocery list.
  5. Not using the items in our pantry.

How I’m Making Changes to My Family’s Habits

With the above challenges, I am still determined to listen to the advice of the sports nutritionist and make a few changes in our habits.

  1. Create a better developed grocery list. This will help eliminate spontaneous grocery shopping, eating out and also require me to meal plan.
  2. Use the foods in our pantry and the refrigerator, especially the fresh foods.
  3. Encourage and support my family as they continue to decrease their caffeine and sugar intake. This is really eye-opening to me as our daughter is connecting eating habits not only to athletic performance but also to academic performance.
  4. The most difficult change for me will be setting aside time on Sunday to prepare lunches and suppers for the week. I am going to start small and not become overly ambitious.
  5. Revamp my snack storage in my classroom to include healthier choices to fuel energy rather than processed foods.

I wish I had a magic switch. As I sit here and blog, I just want to jump to the end result. I want the healthy eating challenges to be easy. I discuss with my kids and students it is a process to become better at anything. There are many, many times I have tried to make all of the changes above and I absolutely fail. Here is to me recommitting to healthy eating goals. In all reality, this is not just about me, it is about my family and encouraging a healthy lifestyle through healthy eating habits.

Shelly Mowinkel

Shelly Mowinkel

K-12 & Teens

My husband and I have three kids. Our oldest is a freshman in high school, and our youngest is in second grade. Most days, I feel like we are a “tag-team chauffeuring” service, yet I wouldn’t have our life any other way. Not only I am a business/technology teacher at Milford, I am also the district technology integration specialist. I love teaching because I get the opportunity to make those around me better. My hope is that, through my blogging, I am able to inspire, encourage, and share with you my adventures of being a wife, mother, and professional.

You may also like

8 Great Reasons to Try Acupuncture

8 Great Reasons to Try Acupuncture

Over my 19 years of practicing complementary medicine, since earning a master’s degree in Oriental Medicine, the most common question I hear from people is:

“Will acupuncture treat my _________?” Fill in the blank.

About 90% of the time the answer is YES! Acupuncture is a 3,500+-year-old body of knowledge that has treated over a quarter of the world’s population as the main form of medicine. It is part of the ancient practice of Traditional Chinese medicine.

I’ve seen many people benefit from acupuncture for a vast array of conditions, too many to list in a short blog. So, I will give you the eight most common reasons people use acupuncture.

8 Most Common Reasons People Use Acupuncture

  1. Chronic Musculoskeletal Pain: The research continues to increase on using acupuncture to treat chronic pain. In many cases, acupuncture can reduce the need for medications. NSAIDs and over-the-counter pain medications such as Tylenol, Advil, Motrin or Excedrin can be hard on your kidneys and liver. Opioids can cause unwanted side effects and dependence. Acupuncture can greatly reduce your need to use these pain medications.
  2. Migraine and Chronic Headaches: Surveys show that 1 in 6 Americans (1 in 5 women) suffer from migraine and chronic headaches. Western medicine relies almost exclusively on medications, either oral or injectable, to tackle this common problem. Chinese medicine has been used to treat headaches for thousands of years. The reason it works so well for headaches is because Chinese medicine or acupuncture is designed to treat the individual, not the symptoms. For example, two people with a migraine may be treated in two different ways depending on the person.
  3. Autoimmune and Chronic Illness: One of the best reasons to try acupuncture is for illnesses that may be chronic and persistent, such as Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lupus, Crohn’s disease and other autoimmune illnesses. It’s also very effective for neurological diseases like Multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, ALS, etc. Acupuncture has been shown to relieve symptoms, decrease the need for medications and slow the progression of the disease.
  4. Women’s Health: There is a huge body of knowledge in Chinese medicine related to women’s health issues. Many ancient texts are written specifically for this branch of medicine. Acupuncture is wonderful for regulating menstruation, helping menstrual pain, assisting with fertility and ovulation, treating menopausal symptoms, PMS, endometriosis and more.
  5. Anxiety and Stress: It may seem counterintuitive that inserting needles in the body would bring about deep relaxation, but it does! In fact, it is common to fall into a peaceful sleep while the needles are inserted into your body. The scientific reason for this is that acupuncture releases brain chemicals called “endorphins” – the feel-good hormones that we get from meditation, exercise and falling in love. Chinese medicine takes into account that emotions can cause illness just as much as the environment. By balancing the body with acupuncture, the mood becomes level and the mind becomes at ease.
  6. Addiction, Smoking Cessation and Weight Loss: Much like anxiety and stress-related problems, our entire society struggles with addictive behaviors of one kind or another. Acupuncture has a sub-category called auricular acupuncture, which is done by stimulating specific points on the ear. In New York City in 1978, a physician named Michael Smith discovered what is now called the NADA protocol, or sometimes called “battlefield acupuncture”. He used five points on the ear to effectively treat heroin and cocaine addictions. This method is now being used for PTSD, depression, addiction and more.
  7. Boosting Your Immune System: If you are susceptible to illness and seem to catch whatever bug is going around, consider boosting your immune system with ongoing acupuncture. Acupuncture is most effective when it is used to prevent illness. Unfortunately, many people only try acupuncture after everything else has failed. Although acupuncture can help in those instances, it can have a powerful effect on keeping you healthy!
  8. Cancer Care: Acupuncture can be beneficial to people living with cancer in many ways. It reduces nausea related to chemotherapy, aids in post-surgical pain and speeds up the healing process. It jump-starts the immune system, which is much needed after chemotherapy. It has been helpful in neuropathy, which can occur after chemotherapy. It is wonderful to aid to increase energy levels as well as sleep and digestion.

I hope this blog gives you an understanding of just some of the ways acupuncture can benefit you or those you love to improve your health and how you feel.

You can learn more about acupuncture, including what to expect at an appointment, how it feels, and more.

Vicki Black

Vicki Black

Massage Therapist, Bryan LifePointe Spa & MedSpa

Vicki has been in the people professions since her early 20s. After obtaining a BA in psychology and working in the mental health/social services field, Vicki changed paths and began studying complementary medicine. She obtained her massage therapy license at the Minnesota Center for Shiatsu and Massage in Minneapolis in 1997, and her master’s degree in Oriental Medicine at Southwest Acupuncture College in Boulder, Colorado in 2003. Vicki specializes in combining massage and acupuncture for powerful, result-oriented treatments. She provides thorough, individualized treatments for a variety of health issues and preventative care.

You may also like

How to Break a Sugar Habit

How to Break a Sugar Habit

Have you ever wondered why once you eat something sweet, you keep craving more sugar? It’s not a coincidence; sugar addiction is real! If sweets are getting in your way of achieving your health goals, you CAN break the habit!

In today’s society, we eat ‘dessert’ several times a day and don’t even bat an eye. What’s now considered normal, shouldn’t be. Think about it – sugary cereal for breakfast, donuts at the office, chocolate from the candy dish and ice cream after dinner. Has your day ever looked like that?

Treats can have their place in a healthy diet; that’s called balance. But treats need to be truly considered treats, meaning you only have them on rare occasions. It’s no secret that sugar is detrimental to our health in many ways, but it’s hard to say no!

Why is it so Hard to Avoid Sugar?

Humans are hardwired to enjoy sugar. It tastes good, sometimes makes us feel good, and it’s addictive. When we eat sugar, the pleasure centers in our brains release feel-good chemicals. This is the same effect that drugs, like cocaine, have on our brains. The brain likes that feeling, and wants more – which is why we crave more sugar.

How Can You Stop that Vicious Cycle?

  • Try totally eliminating all forms of sugar for two weeks. It will be difficult for the first few days, but once you’ve broken the cycle, the cravings should decrease.
  • Change your environment. If you’re constantly surrounded by sugary treats, how long can you really avoid them? If they’re not easily accessible, you’re less likely to eat them. That may mean throwing away the leftover Halloween candy. But honestly, do you really need it?
  • Limit the artificial sweeteners. Even though a sugar-free cookie might be a lighter alternative, it’s still a treat. Artificial sweeteners, such as Splenda, are many times sweeter than sugar; so sometimes they only perpetuate the craving for sweets.
  • Find other ways to cope with stress. Many times on a stressful day, nothing sounds better than getting lost in a pint of ice cream. Finding other ways to manage stress will serve your emotional health and your waistline. Jot down some ideas of activities you could do instead such as going for a walk, playing with your pet, calling a friend or listening to music.

You CAN do it, and You’ll Feel Better

I encourage you to look for ways to reduce the amount of sugar you eat to improve your health and how you feel. As someone who loves sweets, I know it can seem daunting. If this is the case, have a friend or family member join you for support and encouragement.

Kinzy Krafka

Kinzy Krafka

Bryan Registered Dietitian

Bryan Registered Dietitian

You may also like

Pin It on Pinterest