MountainStar Health - June 10, 2020

LILI Newsletter June 2020

The Ogden Regional Medical Center / Heart Center, “Losing It and Loving It” weight loss class and support group newsletter


I am scratching my head…how did we make it to June? We have been living in an alternate universe for the past 2-3 months. The seasons are changing right on schedule, but human life…massive unforeseen changes. The great good has been the outpouring of support from our community for our health care workers. Very touching. There is always good, no matter how bad it gets. Wishing you a lot more good than bad as we navigate our new existence. Happy Father’s Day to all the daddies and Happy Summer with the solstice.

In good health,

Jennifer James

This is a tough call to find someone who has NOT gained weight, slacked off on exercise, watched trash television or gone to bed later and later. So, what is success when we are confronted by a pandemic that is highly contagious and life-threatening for some? When it is difficult to motivate ourselves to do anything? I have found that if I start the day by making the bed, wearing something other than sweats and a t-shirt, cleaning up whatever ever needs cleaning, I feel better. So, off to a good start. If you set any goals, make them achievable but with some effort. If the goal bores us, we need to make it more challenging. If it overwhelms us, we need to make it easier. If we can’t be bothered with ANY goals at all right now, that is ok too. I think we could all use a little self-compassion right now. These are unprecedented times. Rather than beating ourselves up for not accomplishing what we think we should, how about patting ourselves on the back for the things we do, even with some resistance? We are not robots, nor are we Spock, with no emotions. Beating a tired, anxious horse will not likely produce a good outcome. So my dear friends, how can we take better emotional care of ourselves right now? Cry? Journal? Call a friend and have a nice long chat? Go for a walk? Try a new hobby? Or just watch that television program you always wanted to, but didn’t have the time? I think a little TLC may be in order here. Rather than pushing ourselves so hard right now, maybe a gentler approach will get us better results. Just sayin’.

Have you tried…mint?

Mint is named after the Greek mythical character Menthe. There are many varieties, and they all have a square stem. A very fragrant perennial, mint originally hales from Asia and the Mediterranean. It is popular in Middle Eastern dishes, desserts and herb tea. The most common varieties are spearmint, peppermint (a cross between water mint and spearmint) and catnip. Mint was used for centuries as a mouth freshener and digestive aid. It contains some potassium, vitamins A and C. Unchecked, it will take over your yard. Check out the recipe below for a fresh twist on mint.

Where do we go from here…

When I watch the news there is a clear line to me between the facts and the conjecturing. Conjecturing is future-based which can be highly anxiety-producing. No one really knows what will happen until it happens. If you have been struggling with a lot of fear and anxiety lately, one question we can always ask ourselves is “Am I ok right now?”. And if the answer is “yes”, than YOU ARE OK. We may not be ok later on, but right now is when we are living. And not being “ok” may never come, or at least not for a while. If you are laying in the gutter with no money, no clothes and no food in a snowstorm with no one around to help you, you could say that you are not ok.

If you lost your job, but still are living in a house or apartment with some food to eat and loved ones around, you are doing ok. Let’s try not to add to the conjecturing going on right now, especially with our own lives. Do what needs to be done NOW, and the future will take care of itself. Attend to the task at hand, and tomorrow, attend to those tasks, and so on. Stay here and now, and things are way better than what our anxious minds can produce for our future existence. Please.

Grandma once gave me a tip:

During difficult times, you move forward in small steps.
Do what you have to do, but little by bit.
Don’t think about the future, not even what might happen tomorrow.
Wash the dishes. Take off some dust. Write a letter. Make some soup. Do you see?
You are moving forward step by step. Take a step and stop. Get some rest. Compliment yourself.
Take another step. Then another one. You won’t notice, but your steps will grow bigger and bigger.
And time will come when you can think about the future without crying. Good morning.
(Elena Mikhalkova, “The Room of Ancient Keys”)

The power of marketing

My sister understood the power of marketing years ago when her young son threw a temper tantrum in the store when she refused to buy New Tide with Bleach. I am forever correcting people when they ask about pork, how wonderful coconut oil is, and that the word “natural” on a food label is a guaranteed good choice. For the record, pork is considered red meat, coconut oil raises LDL cholesterol, and the word “natural" has no legal definition when used on a food label. What is the bewildered consumer to do?? Go for the facts. On food labels there is a section called “Nutrition Facts”, because that is what they are, generally. The terms “fat-free”, “trans-fat free”, and “sugar-free” mean less than 0.5 gram in a serving. If a label states it has “Trans fat 0 grams”, it is correct, based on the above definition. But there still may be trans-fat in the product, sussed out as partially hydrogenated oil in the ingredient list, albeit less than 0.5 gram in a serving. The use of vague terms, bright colors and irresistible advertising make it difficult to discern what is fact and what is not. One cannot blame the food manufacturers to make their product enticing. The Nutrition Facts panel can be a bit misleading in some aspects, but it is more accurate than anything else on the food label. So, a few rules of thumb. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. And single foods are not magical, unless you are on infant on breast milk. Look for independent reviews of a product, not by the manufacturer, as they have something to gain (your money) by selling it. The Center for Science in the Public Interest, Consumer Reports, any reputable university websites, the National Institutes of Health, to name a few, are objective resources. Also remember that the simpler the food, the better. No one doubts an apple is an apple when purchased in the produce section. The less boxed and packaged foods we eat, the better. I hope this helps. Nothing in this world is perfect and neither is food labeling.

Argue, eat or ??

Many, if not all of us, have had our sympathetic nervous system revved up more than usual. It is the part of our nervous system that springs into action when we perceive a threat. It preps us to run or fight with increased heart rate, blood pressure, and so on. How we deal with our perceived (or actual threats) can have longstanding effects on our health and longevity. If we watch the latest COVID and unemployment reports, we may feel our heart rate go up. If we listen to politicians, that can generate some reactions as well. Years ago, during my anger phase, I fantasized about throwing plates against a brick wall, but could never figure out where to perform this without involving law enforcement. Rather than breaking things, arguing with our spouse, drinking more alcohol or eating a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey, why not go for a walk? Or a bicycle ride? Or my favorite, hit some golf balls? Our bodies are prepping us to be active anyway, why not help our bodies dissipate all those stress hormones in a healthier way?

Exercise is a natural antidepressant. Just ask one of my coworkers, an exercise physiologist, where depression runs in her family. She runs, hikes and bicycles regularly. No problem here! One bout of exercise can increase anti-anxiety neurochemicals, like serotonin. So my dears, if you are having trouble with anxiety, anger and depression, get moving! Mental health professionals heartily recommend it. It may even alleviate the need for medication in some people. You will feel 100% better exercising than eating that bag of Cheetos.

I guarantee it.

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America, Exercise for stress and anxiety,

Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School, (24 October 2019), Can exercise help treat anxiety?

Spring pea soup with mint

This is a delicately flavored soup. It was fun (albeit a bit messy) to make. You can vary the flavors as you like. I combined several online recipes to come up with the one below. One version added croutons before serving. It is NOT your typical pea soup.

  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 5 cups of fresh garden peas or petite frozen peas, thawed
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • ¼ cup fresh mint leaves
  • 1-2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3-1/2 cups water
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 6 grinds black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons Better then Bouillon chicken broth paste
  • 3 Tbsp. half and half

Heat the oil over medium heat in a Dutch oven or soup pot. Add the onion and cook until soft and translucent, around 6-8 minutes. Add the garlic midway through. Add the bouillon paste, water, salt, pepper, lemon zest, mint, and peas. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer, partially covered for ~15 minutes. Remove bay leaf and add soup to a blender. Blend until smooth, you may need to do this in batches. Return to pan. Stir in the half and half, adjust seasonings. You can adjust the water depending on how thick or thin you want the soup. A little lite sour cream or nonfat plain Greek yogurt can be added for a little more zing, or croutons, or a mint sprig if you like. Enjoy!

1/6 recipe = 170 calories, 368 mg sodium

June support groups

The support groups are back! Everyone will be required to wear a mask, and as long as we do that, we don't have to sit 6 feet apart. Please join us! If you are still hesitant about coming in, email your goals to me every week and I will keep track of your progress.

Mondays, 2-3 pm
Tuesdays, 4:30-5:30 pm
Heart Center Conference Room

Patience is a form of wisdom.
It demonstrates that we understand
and accept the fact that sometimes
things must unfold in their own time.

—Jon Kabat-Zinn