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Spectrum Health United Hospital unveils new MRI unit 

 

New MRI provides patients with faster exams, excellent images, and an open concept that reduces claustrophobia

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) exams—non-invasive  diagnostic imaging exams of soft tissue, bone and muscles—have become one of the fastest growing types of medical diagnostic tests in the United States. With Spectrum Health’s recent installation of a MAGNETOM® Aera 1.5T Open Bore MRI system, patients can now experience faster, more comfortable exams without leaving Greenville.

“United’s new MRI scanner is the latest technology available, one of the most advanced in West Michigan. It will allow us to perform more types of scans closer to home, where people really need us most,” said Dave DeBoode, Director of Clinical Diagnostics at Spectrum Health United Hospital.

Benefits of the MAGNETOM Aera 1.5T Open Bore include:

  • Superb image quality that may be used for a wide range of medical needs, from orthopedic and sports-related injuries to breast cancer testing, and can help physicians make quicker, more accurate diagnoses.
  • The tube-like structure of an MRI machine (where the patient lies during the imaging process) is larger and can accommodate patients up to 550 pounds.
  • The system’s ultra-short bore (145 cm) can help to alleviate concerns of claustrophobia since many exams can be performed with the patient’s head outside of the bore.
  • Mood lighting on the system, which can help create a calming environment for patients in the examination room.

“The new MRI unit is state of the art and it is an open magnet which allows us to accommodate more patients, said John Merchun, MD, Advanced Radiology Services, Spectrum Health United Hospital. “The newly constructed addition to the hospital that houses the magnet is both functional and beautiful. We will also be able to add new services in the near future such as breast and cardiac MRI. We are well equipped to serve the needs of the community for years to come.”

To schedule an appointment for an MRI or any other diagnostic imaging performed at United Hospital (including x-ray, Computerized Tomography (CT), ultrasound, digital mammography, nuclear medicine, breast biopsy, or bone densitometry), call 616.225.9090.

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State of Michigan launches aging website 

 

Older Michiganders will now have quick and easy access to information on services in their area through a new website at www.michigan.gov/aging. The site was developed by the Aging & Adult Services Agency (AASA) within the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), and in partnership with the Michigan Department of Management and Budget (DTMB).

“The state, in partnership with local aging agencies and service providers, offers numerous high-quality programs and services that can help older adults maintain their independence as they age,” said AASA Director Kari Sederburg. “The state’s new aging website was developed to be the best place to go to quickly find out what types of services are available, and which agency you need to call to see if you qualify.”

As part of his special message on aging in 2014, Gov. Rick Snyder charged AASA, and DTMB with the task of creating an aging website to easily connect residents with local aging programs and services.

“This new website is another step toward achieving Governor Snyder’s overall mission of creating a citizen-centric government,” said DTMB Director and State Chief Information Officer David Behen. “This one site will quickly connect older Michiganders with services they need, without having to navigate through multiple government agencies.”

The state’s aging website has been in development over the past several months and required a collaborate effort between several key state departments that interact with the state’s aging programs and services. This comprehensive team held focus groups to ensure the website organized aging programs and services in a thoughtful manner, and that it was built with the user experience firmly in mind.

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Good news about high blood pressure

 

HEA-High-blood-pressureNine out of 10 people can control it but only half do

(BPT) – There is some really good news about high blood pressure that you simply must hear.

“This silent killer can be prevented, and in the majority of patients who already have high blood pressure, it can be controlled,” says Dr. George Mensah, director of the Center for Translation Research and Implementation Science at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), part of the National Institutes of Health. “Our research supports these two facts.”

Recent studies suggest that 9 out of 10 people with high blood pressure can control it; however, only about half of the people in the United States with high blood pressure do.

“We need to understand, develop, and scale up strategies to support patients and their health care providers to achieve higher control rates,” says Dr. Mensah. Many lives can be saved by controlling high blood pressure rates, according to Dr. Mensah. For example, effectively controlling high blood pressure in 10 percent more patients can save about 14,000 lives every year in the United States.

Work must also be done to prevent high blood pressure in children. Most babies and children have normal blood pressure. In fact, 90 percent of girls and 80 percent of boys in the United States have healthy blood pressure levels. “This is good news because if prevention begins in childhood, we have the greatest chance of most children growing into adulthood without developing high blood pressure,” says Dr. Mensah.

Anyone, including children and teens, can develop high blood pressure. The risk of developing high blood pressure increases with advancing age. And although high blood pressure is more common in African Americans, it can develop in anyone, regardless of race, ethnicity, or gender.

In most people, a specific cause of high blood pressure cannot be identified. Factors associated with high blood pressure include a family history of high blood pressure; a diet high in salt; not enough exercise; stress; some sleep disorders; and drinking too much alcohol. It is important to talk with your health care provider if you have any of these factors. Everyone should:

* Follow a healthy diet. Limit the amount of salt and alcohol that you consume. The NHLBI’s Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) eating plan promotes healthy eating.

* Be active. Regular physical activity can lower high blood pressure and reduce your risk for other health problems.

* Maintain a healthy weight. Staying at a healthy weight can help you control high blood pressure and reduce your risk for other health problems.

* Learn to manage and cope with stress. Learning how to manage stress, relax and cope with problems can improve your overall health.

* Check your blood pressure. The test is easy and painless and can be done at a health care provider’s office or clinic. Your health care provider can tell you how often you should be tested.

* Know your family history. Figure out if a blood relative such as a mother, father, sister, or brother has or had high blood pressure. This will help you determine if you are at a higher risk of developing it.

Many people who adopt these healthy lifestyle habits may prevent high blood pressure or delay its onset. And if you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, it is important that you work with your health care provider for lifelong blood pressure control and follow your treatment plan closely. Early and ongoing treatment may help you avoid heart attack, heart failure, stroke, kidney failure and other high blood pressure-related problems.

“It is important to continue research that will inform us on how to get high blood pressure controlled in everyone,” says Dr. Mensah. “NHLBI-supported research on high blood pressure has led to many advances in medical knowledge and health care. Much of this research depends on the willingness of volunteers to participate in clinical trials. Clinical trials test new ways to prevent, diagnose or treat various diseases and conditions such as high blood pressure.”

To learn more about high blood pressure and how to prevent and control the condition, visit NHLBI’s website: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/hbp. And to learn more about DASH, visit: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/dash.

For more information about clinical trials related to hypertension and the ways you can get involved, visit: http://clinicalresearch.nih.gov.

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Eight tips for a healthy pregnancy

HEA-Tips-for-healthy-pregnancy

(BPT) – Did you know that every single minute in the United States a baby is born too early? That’s approximately 450,000 born too early each year. A pregnant woman’s good health, both physical and emotional, is essential to the health of her baby. You can boost your own chances of having a full-term pregnancy and a healthy baby by following a few tips and by learning more about the important development of your baby, even during the final weeks of a full-term pregnancy.

1. Get early prenatal care

Early prenatal care is important for you and your baby. As soon as you find out you’re pregnant, contact your health care provider to schedule your first prenatal visit. During that appointment you’ll get advice for a healthy pregnancy and be screened for risk factors associated with preterm birth.You can also visit GrowthYouCantSee.com for a checklist of risk factors and example questions to bring with you to help guide the conversation with your health care provider.

2. Make every bite count 

What you eat is a key part of pregnancy health. Your baby absorbs everything you eat, so good nutrition is not only essential for your own good health but also for your baby’s growth and development. Make sure you eat a well-balanced, healthy diet and drink plenty of fluids to help ensure both your good health and your baby’s.

3. Manage stress

Bringing a baby into the world is no easy task. Pregnancy can be nerve-wracking and it’s normal to feel stressed. However, too much stress can cause health problems and increase a woman’s chances for preterm birth – delivering a baby before 37 weeks or more than three weeks prior to the due date. Taking care of your emotional health by learning to manage stress makes for a healthier pregnancy and is an essential part of taking care of your baby.

4. Exercise regularly

Maintaining a regular exercise routine throughout your pregnancy is important for your general health and can help you prepare for labor. Exercise is also a great way to reduce stress and help you feel your best. The American Congress of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) recommends at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise on most, if not all, days of the week, unless you have a medical or pregnancy complication. Talk to your health care provider about your fitness routine during pregnancy to keep you and your baby safe.

5. Get plenty of rest

When you’re pregnant, discomfort can make it difficult to get a good night’s sleep. Maintaining a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and managing stress can all help improve sleep during pregnancy. Relaxation techniques, such as yoga or a warm bath before bed, may also help you fall asleep. If you’re unable to sleep well at night, try resting more during the day.

6. Change your habits

Healthy lifestyle choices directly impact the health of a growing baby and certain habits can cause lifelong health problems for your baby. In particular, smoking, drinking alcohol and using street drugs (also called illegal or illicit drugs) can restrict a baby’s growth and increase the chances for preterm birth. Avoiding substances such as nicotine, alcohol and other street drugs during pregnancy gives your baby the time he or she needs to grow and develop. If you need help to quit, talk with your doctor.

7. Learn about the signs and symptoms of preterm labor 

Help protect your baby by familiarizing yourself with the signs and symptoms of preterm labor, which can lead to preterm birth, so you can proactively discuss them with your health care provider. Visit GrowthYouCantSee.com to learn more.

8. Enjoy this special time 

Forty weeks sounds like a long time, but you won’t be pregnant for forever. Enjoy this special time in your life with family and friends.

There’s a lot of growth that happens in your baby, even in the last few weeks of pregnancy leading up to your due date.

For more information on the risks of preterm birth and the benefits of a full-term pregnancy, visit GrowthYouCantSee.com.

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Lose weight with tools from the USDA and NIH

 

Science-based technology provides users greater customizing to help reach and sustain a healthy weight

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and National Institutes of Health (NIH) have partnered to add the NIH Body Weight Planner to USDA’s SuperTracker online tool (https://www.supertracker.usda.gov) as a goal-setting resource to help people achieve and stay at a healthy weight.

Created in 2011, the SuperTracker tool empowers people to build a healthier diet, manage weight, and reduce risk of chronic disease. Users can determine what and how much to eat; track foods, physical activities, and weight; and personalize with goal setting, virtual coaching, and journaling. With science-based technology drawing on years of research, the Body Weight Planner will enable SuperTracker’s more than 5.5 million registered users to tailor their plans to reach a goal weight during a specific timeframe, and maintain that weight afterward.

The math model behind the Body Weight Planner, an online tool published by NIH in 2011, was created to accurately forecast how body weight changes when people alter their diet and exercise habits. This capability was validated using data from multiple controlled studies in people.

“We originally intended the Body Weight Planner as a research tool, but so many people wanted to use it for their own weight management that we knew we needed to adapt it with more information about how to achieve a healthy lifestyle,” said Kevin Hall, Ph.D., who led creation of the Planner and is a senior investigator at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), part of the NIH. “The Planner is a natural fit within the SuperTracker as it lets people accurately determine how many calories and how much exercise is needed to meet their personal weight-management goals.”

The Planner’s calculations reflect the discovery that the widely accepted paradigm that reducing 3,500 calories will shed one pound of weight does not account for slowing of metabolism as people change their diet and physical activities. More recently, the math model was further validated using data from a two-year calorie restriction study of 140 people. With those data, Hall and colleagues showed the model can also provide accurate measurements of calorie intake changes by tracking people’s weight. Researchers are examining how to apply this method for public use.

“We are pleased to offer a variety of interactive tools to support Americans in making healthy lifestyle changes,” said Angie Tagtow, executive director of USDA’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, which created and manages SuperTracker. “The NIH Body Weight Planner helps consumers make a plan to reach their goals on their timeline, and SuperTracker helps them achieve it.”

More than two-thirds of American adults are overweight or obese. Maintaining a healthy weight can help prevent complications related to overweight and obesity such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer, some of the leading causes of preventable death.

“NIH’s collaboration with USDA allows the public to quickly reap the benefits of the latest medical research results,” said NIDDK Director Griffin P. Rodgers, M.D. “Sharing resources and expertise lets us get out important information as efficiently as possible, empowering people to take charge of their weight and their health.”

The NIDDK, a component of the NIH, conducts and supports research on diabetes and other endocrine and metabolic diseases; digestive diseases, nutrition and obesity; and kidney, urologic and hematologic diseases. Spanning the full spectrum of medicine and afflicting people of all ages and ethnic groups, these diseases encompass some of the most common, severe and disabling conditions affecting Americans. For more information about the NIDDK and its programs, see www.niddk.nih.gov.

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Regrets Spoken at end-of-life

HEA-Hospice-Regrets

“I wish I would have made amends with my sister.”

“We always said we would get married, we just never got around to it.”

“I always said I would finish my degree when I had more time. Now time is running out.”

Regrets. While many try to live without them, they have a way of creeping up. But it does not have to be too late to rid your life of regret.

Marnie Squire, social worker with Hospice of Michigan, explains that it is often not until patients begin hospice care that they examine their life and want to right any wrongs.

“Working through regrets at the end of life can be an important part of dying a peaceful death,” Squire says. “Hospice is about more than just the physical pain; it is about the emotional pain, too. Patients often need to work through that before they are ready to let go.””

When Hospice of Michigan begins working with a new patient, the team asks if the patient has any regrets and when regrets are shared, HOM makes addressing them a priority. This often involves all members of the hospice team: the doctor, nurse, social worker, aide, chaplain and volunteers.

“We’ve planned a lot of weddings,” Squire recalls. “We have planned baptisms, held ceremonies to honor veterans and have been a peacemaker between family members, all in an attempt to fulfill last wishes, rid the patient of regret and provide the opportunity to die a peaceful death.” ”

Squire explains that a common regret is a rift with a family member or friend. When people die, they often want to feel like they are leaving the world without feelings of contempt.

“When people realize they are nearing the end-of-life, it is common to look at past disagreements differently and reconsider the decision to cut ties with a loved one,” Squire said. “We do our best to help with this. We talk with the patient and family and determine if it is appropriate to reach out the estranged family member or friend with a phone call.”

If the patient can no longer communicate, it might be as simple as holding the phone up to the patient’s ear and letting the person on the other line talk to them. If a call is not appropriate, we can help the patient write a letter that may or may not be sent. Sometimes just getting the words out can bring the patient peace of mind.”

HOM does everything in its power to bring a patient peace as the final days draw near. Unfortunately, some regrets are too complicated or are impossible to undo.

“When we cannot fix the problem, we turn our focus from problem solving to acceptance,” said Karen Monts, director of grief support services with Hospice of Michigan. “We encourage the patient to talk about their regrets and we listen. Sometimes just sharing can bring peace. We also help patients recognize when they have done everything they can and the situation is out of their control.””

HOM not only helps patients work through their regrets, but they also help grieving families cope with remorse over things they could have done differently for their deceased loved one.

“When a loved one dies, it is common to feel like you could have or should have done things better or differently,” Monts said. “We help the grieving understand that this is a normal reaction to death. When one feels they have lost control, the normal reaction is to think about how they could have managed the situation differently.”

“We encourage the bereaved to share their feelings with a counselor or someone close to them.  We help them understand that they cannot go back and, instead, should focus on what they can do now. Sometimes the answer is writing a letter to the deceased or visiting the cemetery. Another option is to help loved ones the deceased left behind. They might be a shoulder for the spouse to cry on or help the child pay for college.””

Another regret of the bereaved is that they did not call hospice soon enough.  Many hesitate before making the call to hospice, thinking it signals they are giving up hope. But that is not the case, as Monts and others on the Hospice of Michigan team know.  What the family is doing is bringing in experienced resources who can help improve the quality of care their loved one is receiving at the end-of-life.

While regrets come in all shapes and sizes, Monts reminds people that as long as you are living, it is not too late.

“As hospice providers, we do all we can to help patients die without regrets but if you have regrets, hospice is not something to wait for,” Monts said. “Examine your life, look at what needs fixing and do your best to make it better now.””

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Feeling short of breath? It could be something serious

Pete Mulliner, PFF Patient Ambassador

Pete Mulliner, PFF Patient Ambassador

Pete Mulliner at eight months with his grandparents

Pete Mulliner at eight months with his grandparents

(BPT) – Unlike many Americans, Pete Mulliner knew of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) long before he was actually diagnosed with it. His grandfather died from pulmonary fibrosis the year Mulliner was married. “Granddad was the go-to guy in my world,” Mulliner says. “He taught me how to use tools, renovate houses, how to think clearly and logically and how to approach life.”

Three years after his grandfather’s death, Mulliner lost his great-aunt to pulmonary fibrosis. He didn’t know it at the time, but his own diagnosis of this deadly disease would come much later.

A Certificated Flight Instructor who teaches pilots to respond safely no matter what, Mulliner first began to question whether something was wrong with him in the summer of 2012. “My wife and I live on a small farm near my hometown,” he says. “I noticed that when I took a walk outdoors, I’d get out of breath. I figured I was out of shape and that I needed to walk more.”

But his concerns worsened after a common cold left him with a barking cough. He sought treatment at an urgent care center but the medications he was prescribed had little effect. They were meant to treat a cold, not IPF.

According to Dr. Gregory Cosgrove, chief medical officer of the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation (PFF), misdiagnoses of the disease are common. “The symptoms of pulmonary fibrosis are non-specific and shared by many other and more common lung diseases,” he says. “As a result, patients are often misdiagnosed initially and an accurate diagnosis may be delayed by months or even years.”

Weeks after Mulliner’s first symptoms, he found himself in the ER with chest pains and an inability to breathe. “My coughing was so violent that I was pulling muscles in my chest,” he remembers. Additional physician visits and a CT scan discerned he had a lung disease but Mulliner wouldn’t learn he had IPF until he visited a pulmonologist.

He was at his daughter’s home, playing with his grandchildren, when his doctor first called and told him he had IPF. “It was like a kick in the gut,” Mulliner remembers. “I felt very alone. Then I realized I wasn’t the only one suffering from this.”

In this dark moment, Mulliner thought back to his pilot’s training. “You can’t take the pilot’s seat to wonder ‘what-if’ and ‘why me’ so I didn’t allow myself to do it then.” He went looking for support groups and found the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation. “It was comforting to know that there was an advocate out there – that there was a voice speaking that much louder about the need to find a cure for this disease,” Mulliner says. “I wanted to add my voice to it. I signed up on the PFF’s Facebook and LinkedIn pages and felt an immediate sense of connection. I wasn’t so alone after all.”

Pulmonary fibrosis (PF) may occur as the result of more than 200 different interstitial lung diseases. Dr. Cosgrove says one of the biggest ways the PFF can help patients is by sorting through the confusion that exists around PF. “With education and a better understanding of the different diseases that may cause PF, patients, family members and physicians not familiar with PF are often empowered,” he says.

Mulliner has felt the benefits of the support of PFF and he’s taking his battle with IPF one day at a time. “It has put finiteness to it,” he says of how IPF has affected his life, understanding that most people with IPF die only 2-3 years after diagnosis. “I am aware there is an end coming; I’m just trying to extend it. At this point in time, if I didn’t know I had IPF, I wouldn’t know I had IPF.”

And while Mulliner lives his life, others are working to save it.

In January, the PFF announced the expansion of its PFF Care Center Network, which is comprised of medical centers with specific expertise in treating PF and IPF, collectively utilizing a comprehensive, multidisciplinary approach to patient care and providing access to resources and support for both patients and caregivers. With the addition of 12 more sites to the Network, there are now 21 leading medical centers in 20 states. The PFF will further expand the PFF Care Center Network as funding permits, with the intention of adding additional sites to the Network later this year.

“As a leading advocate for the pulmonary fibrosis community, we are dedicated to advancing the care of people living with this deadly disease, and this starts with providing greater access to experienced care teams. The PFF Care Center Network fosters collaboration between sites and the sharing of best practices,” Dr. Cosgrove says. The PFF offers up-to-date information online as part of the PFF Patient Communication Center and in print, guidance on where to find treatment and support and information on regional and national events.

To learn more about the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation, the PFF Care Center Network and the facilities involved, visit PulmonaryFibrosis.org.

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From reluctance to relief: Hospice offers peace of mind

Patricia Van Pelt with a photo of her parents. Hospice made a difference when dealing with her father’s death.

Patricia Van Pelt with a photo of her parents. Hospice made a difference when dealing with her father’s death.

When Harvey Van Pelt was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2012, his daughters knew he had a long and difficult fight ahead of him but the diagnosis was one that would likely kill him.

Patricia and her four siblings set out on a two-year journey with their then 84-year-old father to battle back the disease. He endured rounds of chemo and radiation, doctor visits and hospital stays that kept him from his Port Huron home and from the bedside of his wife of 60-plus years, Hazel, who was waging own struggle against the ravages of Alzheimer’s.

In fall 2014, Patricia, Nancy, Mary, Susan and John realized that the treatment for their father’s cancer had actually become worse than the disease itself. After talking with their father, they made the incredibly difficult decision to stop treatment but they still were not ready for hospice.

“We were still very reluctant to call hospice,” recalls Patricia, senior vice president and affiliate head of retail banking at Fifth Third Bank, who now lives in Grand Rapids. “You have to be ready to admit that you have reached the end. In the final few weeks, though, we could no longer keep my father comfortable. That tipping point finally pushed our decision. We wanted him to be comfortable. He did not want to die in a hospital with tubes everywhere. Our only option was to try hospice, so that is what we did.”

The family noticed an immediate difference in their father. Their Hospice of Michigan nurse brought in a different bed with a foam egg crate so Harvey would be more comfortable. The nurse started pain management, which provided the comfort that Patricia and her siblings could no longer give.

Their Hospice of Michigan nurse also answered their questions about what happens to the body at end of life, giving them signs to watch for in their father.  Together, they made decisions about who to contact when he died, what funeral home to call and how the service would be handled.

“Having hospice really helped ease my father’s suffering toward the end,” Patricia recalled. “Just as important, though, it gave the family support and helped us understand what was going to happen when he passed. Those last few days were very difficult, but when it ended, we made one phone call and had someone step in to handle a lot of those details. The last thing you want to be worried about at that moment are the details.  You want to be with your family.”

Less than 18 months later, Patricia and her siblings found themselves facing the end of their mother’s life, although they did not know it at the time. As is often the case with Alzheimer’s, Hazel’s decline was long and slow. Her health had peaks and valleys, including a last bout of pneumonia.

When they noticed their mother was developing a sore on her leg, they agreed they needed to get an egg crate for her, but when they started calling around, they realized the closest place was a 90-minute drive.

Hazel Van Pelt died the following day, too quickly for Patricia and her siblings to call hospice. The difference in the deaths of her parents was startling, Patricia recalled.

“My mother ended up passing much quicker than we imagined she would,” Patricia remembered. “We were faced with not knowing what to do next. We did not have hospice to call, so we had to call the sheriff or 911. The ambulance had to come out to check my mother’s vital signs and see if they could revive her before pronouncing her dead. It was hours before the funeral home could remove her body. There were things that had to happen that I did not even realize because HOM handled them with my dad. I did not realize the difference until I had these two experiences side by side.”

Hospice of Michigan nurse Melody Walker knows firsthand how tough it is to make that call. Her father died in hospice care a year after being diagnosed with esophageal cancer.

“One of our final conversations was when he asked me, ‘How do you know when it is time to stop all this nonsense?’” Melody recalled. “I told him, as I tell all my patients and families, ‘you will know in your heart.’ Everyone’s journey is their own. All the things you have been through will impact that final journey.  As a hospice nurse, I cannot add more days to someone’s life but I can do my best to add more life to their days.”

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Spring clean your health

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(BPT) – Spring is a time to reevaluate your daily routine and reduce any unnecessary clutter from your life. It is also a time to make positive changes for a happy and healthier lifestyle.

Simple changes, such as resetting your sleep pattern, updating your oral care routine and refreshing your diet can result in big changes to your overall well-being. To inspire consumers and their families to get a healthy start to spring, Dr. Nancy Simpkins, Internist and Medical Advisor for the State of New Jersey, shares a few healthful tips on behalf of Colgate Total:

Get moving outside: Spring is a great time to be outdoors, so ease back into your exercise routine with daily walks outside. This will help reduce stress and help lower your risk of heart disease and hypertension. Get creative and use apps to track and challenge your friends to walk at least 10,000 steps a day.

Reset your sleep pattern: With the arrival of spring come longer days and more daylight. Beat fatigue by setting a goal to keep your waking and bedtime consistent, even on weekends. This will help avoid mid-day burnouts while keeping your body in sync with its natural rhythms.

Think about your gum health: Most people don’t realize that proper oral hygiene can be a good step toward helping to improve their overall health. In addition to brushing your teeth, make sure to take good care of your gums – they’re the foundation of a healthy mouth. Switch up your daily oral care routine by using Colgate Total’s New Gum Health Mouthwash after brushing. It has an advanced germ-fighting formula (versus non-antibacterial mouthwash) that forms a protective shield along the gum line and protects against bacteria that can cause gingivitis.

Travel healthy and be prepared: As you begin to make plans for spring and summer travel, be sure to schedule your family doctor and dentist appointments and address any issues before your trip. Compile a list of medications, unique health issues or history, and physician contact information. This will be important and save time if you end up needing healthcare while you’re away.

Refresh your diet: Simple changes to your diet can bring more sustained energy and knock off a few pounds. Swap out snacks like potato chips with banana chips and replace red meat with lean protein from turkey and chicken. Also look to incorporate fresh fruits and vegetables that are in season into your diet.

With these small changes to your lifestyle, you can upgrade your health for a better you. For more information on ways to spring clean your health and Colgate Total’s New Gum Health Mouthwash, visit www.ColgateTotal.com.

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Six strategies to boost your weight loss momentum

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(BPT) – The rules of weight loss are constantly changing-eat this, don’t eat that, take this supplement and do this exercise routine. While eating less and exercising more sounds like a simple formula, finding the right weight loss strategy isn’t always as easy as it seems.

Paul Kriegler, registered dietitian with Life Time—The Healthy Way of Life Company, knows the latest trends and one-size fits all approaches are rarely the key to success. “Over the years, I’ve coached many clients who were diligent and focused and who showed up and gave their full effort, but some small aspect of their mindset or lifestyle became a hang-up,” he says. “Sometimes an element not even related to their health was holding them back.”

Kriegler notes that getting creative with your weight loss strategy will help you enjoy the full measure of your success and offers six strategies to help drive your weight loss goals and break through those hang-ups.

1. Give the scale a break. Don’t center your weight loss success on a number. A simple scale doesn’t come close to measuring the significant changes happening in your body during your weight loss journey. Keeping track of your daily weight may complicate your strategy as you experience daily highs and lows. Instead of focusing on a number each day, notice changes in how your clothes are feeling, and how you feel and move overall.

2. Adjust your media intake. Media is one of the biggest sources for weight loss and health advice, but these messages are typically generalized and based on observational research rather than proven methods and techniques. This can become frustrating and leave a negative impact on your weight loss success. Social media can also leave you feeling defeated. Take a break from the media and pay attention only to what truly inspires you to be your healthiest self.

3. Let your closet be a source of motivation. New clothes are exciting and you almost always want to wear them right away. But if you can’t, allow that wardrobe to fuel the power of your weight loss goals. Additionally, if you have favorite outfits that are a size or two bigger than they should be, consider donating them to nudge yourself in the right direction.

4. Pamper yourself. Whether it’s a manicure or a massage, some type of weekly or monthly reward for your hard work is well-deserved and also recommended as part of a healthy lifestyle. Rather than treating yourself with food as a reward, pamper yourself in other ways and reflect on how far you’ve come.

5. Take it one hour at a time. When you’re starting out, losing weight can seem like an overwhelming aspiration. Breaking it down into smaller increments can make it more manageable. Start by having one “healthy hour.” Take the stairs, take a lap around the office at work, or ask for a salad instead of fries with your meal at lunch. As you spend more and more “healthy hours,” pretty soon your entire week will become healthier. Focus on improving the present rather than the future.

6. Take pictures to document the process. While it may seem daunting at first, documenting your visual transformation can be a great source of motivation in weight loss. Not only do pictures provide important feedback, but you’ll be able to showcase the fun you’re having while gaining strength and energy living the healthy way of life.

Your individual idiosyncrasies and characteristics make you unique, so not everyone’s weight loss strategy will be the same. Sometimes it’s the unexpected offbeat methods that are key to boosting your weight loss momentum.

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