If there’s an important game coming up on TV, you do your best not to miss it. A weekend getaway with old friends? You’re in. But what about the time it takes to see a primary care doctor? Do you make time for your health? Do you have a primary care provider?
Men, for a variety of reasons, are less likely than women to go to the doctor for a yearly checkup. Roughly 40 percent of men skip this important health appointment, according to a Cleveland Clinic survey. What they may not realize, however, is that they’re missing out on much more than routine bloodwork. They’re passing up a relationship that could improve, even save, their lives. A primary care physician is more than someone who looks at blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Primary care providers act more like coaches – they can tell you what you need to work on to improve your health and the strategies it will take to achieve your goals.
Do you need a screening?
One of the perks to modern health care is the ability to catch significant illnesses early when they’re easier to treat. Of course, that can’t happen if you don’t take advantage of health screenings. The best person to help you stay up to date with recommended screenings is your primary care doctor. Using their knowledge of your health and the current recommended guidelines, your provider can tell you if you’re overdue for blood work or if it’s time to schedule a colonoscopy. Remember, many health problems won’t create symptoms. High blood pressure, a serious medical condition, doesn’t cause any symptoms at all. The only way to detect it is to have your blood pressure measured.
Peace of mind.
Is that freckle on your shoulder just a sun spot or something more to worry about? What about the pain you’ve recently noticed in your neck? Is it arthritis or just a pulled muscle? Should you keep lifting weights? These are the types of questions your primary care can answer, giving you peace of mind.
When you need urgent care, your primary care doctor can share important medical information with the emergency care doctors treating you. Your primary care doctor can tell them your family medical history, whether you take any medications, have drug allergies or have any relevant underlying medical conditions.
Guiding you through the insurance maze.
One of the greatest benefits to having a primary care physician is knowing they can help you navigate insurance requirements. Should you have a health problem, your primary care provider can help ensure you get whatever tests you really need. At Bon Secours, our primary care providers are part of a larger medical group of physicians, specialists, and facilities. With dozens of practices throughout the region, we offer many convenient locations to our patients.
For someone who’s grieving the loss of a loved one, the holidays can be especially hard. The time we take as Americans to surround ourselves with family and friends to celebrate being grateful is a painful reminder that not everyone we love is able to sit with us at the holiday table.
In fact, if someone close to you has died, you may feel like skipping the holidays and all the extra work and stress that comes with them. Giving yourself permission to opt out of activities or scale back on celebrating can help make the holidays a little less painful.
“If you’re grieving, don’t feel obligated to celebrate the way you used to or the way someone else wants you to,” said M. Regina Asaro, a psychiatric nurse who volunteers at the Bon Secours Bereavement Center in Newport News. “Recognize what you truly want for the holidays and honor it. Everyone is different and has their own needs.”
If you feel like coming together with others to honor a loved one, that’s a personal choice, Asaro said. If it’s too painful to talk about the person who’s gone or you want to spend time alone, that’s OK, too.
While it’s nearly impossible to escape the holidays altogether, Asaro offers the following survival strategies to help make this time less stressful.
Simplify holiday meals.
Although you may have always hosted the big holiday dinners, that doesn’t mean someone else can’t host this year instead. If you still want to have a holiday meal at your house, ask others to help prepare the food or organize a potluck. Feel free to adjust the menu, change the time, use disposable plates, or order takeout. Many local supermarkets offer holiday dinners and platters you can serve at home. Don’t feel like eating at home? Make a reservation at a restaurant instead.
Be mindful of your energy for decorating.
Grieving can drain your level of energy. If you decide to decorate, try to do it during the time of day when you have the most energy. Consider putting out fewer decorations or only the ones that are most important to you. Remember, it takes energy to put decorations away, too.
Socialize the way you see fit.
You may not have a lot of energy to attend every holiday party or dinner invitation. If you can, plan time to be with people who love and support you. Make sure you let your friends and family know that you may change your mind at the last minute. They will understand.
Cut back on holiday cards.
Go ahead and skip holiday cards if you don’t feel like dealing with them. Another option is to make the process easier on yourself by ordering cards with your name already printed on them. You can also ask someone else to help address and stamp the envelopes. Go through your holiday list and send fewer cards this year.
Remember others in need.
You might find great comfort in helping other people in need over the holidays. Food banks and soup kitchens welcome new volunteers every year.
Don’t ignore how you’re feeling.
Sometimes, it helps to talk about your loved one and your grief. Sharing memories about them may make you cry but it may also bring up past experiences that make you laugh.
Make a family visit to the cemetery or plant a rose bush or tree in your loved one’s honor.
Make yourself and your needs a priority.
The amount of energy consumed by grieving can leave little left for holiday activities. Don’t beat yourself up if you can’t accomplish all the things you want to do. It also helps to change your expectations about what the holidays should be like. Try to schedule in down time for yourself. You can also seek comfort by observing the rituals of your faith. Or, attend a support group for people who are grieving. If being home becomes too much, travel somewhere new to give yourself a break from holiday memories.
“The fact is, when someone you love has died, the holidays can be really tough,” Asaro said. “Take care of yourself and your family. Resist the pressure to try to make these holidays like past ones. Be patient and gentle with yourself. If all else fails, remember that January is not too far away.”
The holidays are just around the corner, and you may be wondering what gifts to give your athlete this year. You want to get them something useful but aren’t sure what they need to help them succeed in practice and on the field.
Help your athlete work hard, enjoy a great recovery, and improve their game with the gifts below:
Foam rollers help athletes loosen up those tight and sore muscles. You can find foam rollers designed to feel like a trigger point massage and others that are smooth. Foam rollers come in a variety of prices, making this a great gift for any budget.
Insulated Water Bottles
Insulated water bottles help keep your athlete’s water cool for hours, no matter the season. Your athlete may already have a few bottles, so look for a design or unique features that will help this bottle stand out. You may look for one that easily clips on for runners or hikers while looking for a durable design for players who get rough and tumble.
TRX Suspension Trainer
Suspension trainers allow athletes to get in a good workout almost anywhere. Designed by a Navy SEAL, this equipment uses the athlete’s own body weight to build strength and provide an intense workout. The kit comes with instructions for hundreds of exercises to fit athletes of all abilities.
Microfiber Cooling Towels
Soft microfiber towels are great at wicking away sweat in the middle of a practice or workout. Cooling towels have the added benefit of staying 30 degrees below body temperature when wet. By wetting the towel before a workout, you can get instant cooling relief for hours.
Athletic Training Sessions
Help your athlete take their game to the next level with athletic training from the experts at Bon Secours sports performance. We offer personalized training for athletes of all ages, tailored to their sport, current abilities, and performance goals.
November is American Diabetes Month. Recent statistics show that nearly half of all American adults have diabetes or pre-diabetes. Sadly, however, many people are not given the educational tools (particularly related to nutrition) needed to manage the disease throughout a lifetime. Often, patients are instructed to eat a “diabetic diet” and handed a pre-printed diet sheet.
Diabetic Nutrition Counseling (sometimes referred to as medical nutrition therapy) is very different and helps thousands of people reach their health goals every year. This one-on-one training helps patients develop a plan to eat healthy based on nutrition needs, blood sugar management goals, and food preferences.
These programs make eating easier for people with diabetes. With the help of a registered dietitian you can take the guesswork out of your diet and feel confident that you are eating the right way to manage your health and feel great.
HOW IS MEDICAL NUTRITION THERAPY DIFFERENT THAN DIETING?
Diets take a one-size-fits-all approach to losing weight and improving health. They assume that everyone will want to eat the same things and that eating in one particular way will be good for all people. Unfortunately, that’s not true.
Medical nutrition therapy helps you make good nutrition decisions based on your own individual life. Your dietitian will help you learn about food choices and find the foods to eat based on your
Living and job situation
Medical/Nutritional concerns (such as lactose intolerance or Celiac disease)
Personal tastes and food preferences
Ability to shop for and cook healthy foods
Ability to make changes to your eating habits
Medical nutrition therapy has many goals that don’t simply focus on weight loss or appearance. The goals of medical nutrition therapy focus on improving your health in ways you can see. Goals might include:
Achieving a Hemoglobin A1C under 7 percent. (This laboratory test measures blood glucose control over the last 2-3 months.)
Lowering your blood pressure to below 140/80
Lowering your LDL (bad) cholesterol to under 100
Elevating your HDL (good) cholesterol to over 50
Your dietitian can help you meet these goals while ensuring you still enjoy eating. He or she will recommend evidence-based changes to your diet and help you cut through all the marketing noise related to eating healthy foods. Thanks to their years of studying and training, they know what will actually help you and what may just be a current fad.
At Bon Secours, our expert dietitians offer comprehensive medical nutrition therapy. After a detailed evaluation, we offer follow-up appointments to help you continue to learn about food, nutrition labels, cooking, and more. Individual eating strategies are developed to address your personal challenges. These appointments are often covered by health insurance, so you may be able to receive medical nutrition therapy at little to no cost. Reasonable self-pay rates are available to those without insurance or without insurance coverage for nutrition.
Many people see Thanksgiving as a downfall to their health; a day that inevitably leads to overindulging on rich foods, followed by the uncomfortable feeling of being “stuffed.” But it doesn’t have to be this way! Thanksgiving is actually a wonderful time to take advantage of the great variety of nutrients that are on the table. By making a few small tweaks to some traditional dishes, you can enjoy familiar flavors and still feel good about your health. Here are just a few examples:
Turkey: Many people choose white meat due to it being overall lower in calories and fat (a turkey breast has about 160 calories and 6 grams of fat, whereas a thigh has 190 calories and 10 grams of fat). However, dark meat is also higher in iron, zinc, and B vitamins. Overall, the differences are minimal, and, either way you go, turkey is a great source of lean protein and a good source of selenium, B vitamins, and phosphorus.
Stuffing/Dressing: So far as stuffing goes, try swapping out your instant boxed stuffing (which is higher is sodium, fat, and preservatives) and use a homemade recipe that incorporates whole-wheat bread, fresh herbs, and lots of veggies like celery, carrots, onions, garlic, and mushrooms.
Potatoes: Instead of mashed potatoes with butter and cream, use turkey/chicken broth, evaporated skim milk, or non-fat Greek yogurt (a great source of added protein). For added nutritional variety, mix with pureed cooked cauliflower, turnips, or parsnips. Sweet potatoes are another great choice and an excellent source of vitamin A, among other nutrients. As an alternative to candied sweet potatoes with marshmallows (you’ll be eating dessert later!), try a savory version by roasting a pan full of sweet potato wedges with Brussel sprouts, onions, and herbs.
Cranberries: Cranberries are full of a variety of nutrients as well as the compound proanthocyanidin which helps prevent urinary tract infections. However, their naturally tart taste is inevitably remedied with lots of sugar. Instead of the canned variety, try sprinkling a few dried cranberries on a spinach salad with some chopped almonds and goat cheese. Dried cranberries still have sugar, but a small amount atop a bed of leafy greens will spare some of those sugar calories as well as increase your nutrient intake.
The bottom line: Don’t look at holiday meals as an obstacle to your goal of good health; look at them as an opportunity to eat a variety of nutrients, try out new recipes, and still taste the classic flavors you’ve always loved!
By Whitney Martin, Master of Public Health Student at Liberty University
Intern for Bon Secours Physical Therapy and Sports Performance
For more information about nutrition and choosing healthy foods, visit us at