MountainStar Health - September 13, 2022
by Jennifer James

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


Hopefully we can all take a collective sigh of relief. Fall/Autumn is on its way. When the seasons change we can change our routine to keep boredom at bay. Maintaining a healthy diet and exercise program takes just that…maintenance. How might we jazz up our meals and exercise routine so we feel enthusiastic about keeping our healthy habits going? Little tweaks are all that might be needed my friends. We observe Labor Day and the fall equinox this month.

In good health,

Jennifer James

Success story

I like to golf. It occurred to me recently that there are many parallels between playing golf, developing healthy habits and losing weight. If we expect to play golf like the pros when we are just starting, or lose five pounds in the first three days of eating healthier, we may feel very frustrated and want to give up! This is not realistic or fair to ourselves.

We have to practice if we want to improve. We don’t get discouraged when we have a bad day. We find supportive people who are good role models to play with and learn from. We enlist the help of a coach (dietitian/exercise physiologist/other health care provider) if needed. We learn to shake it off when we make a mistake or do something stupid. Rather than focusing on the shots we don’t make or our bad choices, we focus on the positive shots and choices. When we play well or lose weight we develop confidence and get excited about our progress. Whether we succeed or fail, it is all on us. We cannot blame anyone else.

Golf is difficult but not impossible to play, like losing weight and developing healthy habits. The bottom line: we keep trying, let go of outcomes, stay positive, get help if we need it, have supportive folks around us, have patience with ourselves, not take it too seriously, and enjoy our day regardless of what the scorecard or the scale says. Fore!

The pros play beautifully but also make some horrible mistakes. Watch on YouTube.

Do you really know…Cloves?

Cloves are the dried flower buds of tropical evergreen tree native to Indonesia. Cloves are very pungent and were important in the early spice trade. They are usually combined with cinnamon and nutmeg in holiday dishes. Indonesian visitors would hold a clove in their mouths to freshen their breath before meeting the Chinese emperor. Home remedies use cloves to lessen toothaches. Try the recipe below for a different way to use cloves.

A Free Radical, an Antioxidant, and some DNA Walk into a Bar…

It seemed like a fun way to start this topic, but no jokes here unfortunately. What is a free radical? A protester free on bail? What is an antioxidant? Someone who is against oxygen? No and no. This cast of characters has a large influence on our health, such as how quickly we age, the development of disease, preventing AND destroying cancer. Confused?

A little background: free radicals are molecules that are very unstable. More technically they are missing an electron, so the whole molecule is off kilter. They usually contain oxygen, are very reactive and will scavenge that missing electron from other molecules in our tissues. This can start a chain reaction of destruction, damaging tissue and even our DNA. Interestingly, our immune system uses free radicals to kill bacteria and viruses. So, free radicals are good AND bad. A diet high in processed foods, smoking, stress, radiation, air pollution, UV light, mineral dust and inflammation all increase free radicals in our system. Normal metabolism and exercise create them too.

Antioxidants are substances that neutralize free radicals. Our bodies make their own antioxidants, such as melatonin and CoQ10. A healthy diet supplies antioxidants. Vitamins A, C, E, zinc, selenium, and lycopene function as antioxidants. It is better to obtain them from whole foods, such as fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes and whole grains. Antioxidant supplements do not seem to be as effective. I work in our cancer treatment center, and radiation is used to create free radicals to destroy tumors. Loading up on antioxidant supplements may make the targeted radiation less effective. I counsel our patients to obtain all their nutrients from food if they can.

Of course, practicing healthy habits, such as not smoking, limiting processed foods, using sunscreen and managing our stress levels will lower the free radicals produced in the first place. Including a whole foods, plant-based diet, which is chock-full of antioxidants, will preserve our tissues, slow the aging process, give us more energy, and maybe even help us lose weight. And that is no joke.

Sen, Madhumita (2013, March 13). Free radicals and antioxidants in health and disease. Slide presentation. Retrieved from 13. free radicals and antioxidants (

Use your noggin

My father has always exercised. He is 91 years young and sharp as a tack. He lifts weights twice a week, takes care of a yard, does household chores, and walks regularly for exercise. Is there a connection between his active lifestyle and his mental faculties? You betcha.

The results of two large long-term studies were recently published in the journal Neurology. They investigated whether exercise and activity in any form made a difference in the occurrence of dementia. The first study followed over 500k people in the United Kingdom over 11 years. Researchers found that regular, vigorous exercise, which had the greatest positive impact, lowered the risk of dementia by 35%. Even regularly doing household chores lowered it by 21%. The interesting bit about this study, was that even in people who had a genetic predisposition for dementia, their risk was lowered as well. The second study looked at 38 individual studies, totaling over 2 million. Participants were followed for at least 3 years. The researchers investigated whether different types of leisure activities, such as playing sports, walking or dancing, made a difference in the development of dementia. It didn’t. ANY leisure activity was beneficial, lowering the risk of dementia by 17%, compared to those who were not active.

To further prove a point, even school age children who are more active do better mentally. Researchers tracked 1200 children between the ages of 7 and 15 years for 30 years, into middle age. Those who participated in regular exercise had better scores on cognitive function tests. Activity’s positive effects on our brains start early and continue into our senior years.

What does this tell us? Get up off our keisters and move! All of us. If humans were meant to sit all the time, we would have tiny T-Rex legs and keisters as big as a barn. If your backside is in this category, it might be time to make some changes. Just sayin’.

Zhu, J. et al. (2022, July 27). Physical and mental activity, disease susceptibility, and risk of dementia: A prospective study based on UK databank. Retrieved from Physical and Mental Activity, Disease Susceptibility, and Risk of Dementia: A Prospective Cohort Study Based on UK Biobank - PubMed (

Su, S. et al. (2022, August 10). Leisure activities and risk of dementia: A systematic review meta-analysis. Retrieved from Leisure Activities and the Risk of Dementia: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis - PubMed (

Tait. JL et al. (2022 August). Longitudinal associations of childhood fitness and obesity profiles with midlife cognitive function: An Australian cohort study. Retrieved from Longitudinal associations of childhood fitness and obesity profiles with midlife cognitive function: an Australian cohort study - ScienceDirect

How to make the right decision

My brother recently applied for a job. He obligingly endured four interviews, they made an offer, then lowered the starting salary, and asked him to go through three more interviews. One person who wanted to interview him never signed on to the call! He started to feel antsy and called me. My first question to him was, “what is your gut telling you to do?”. It was, in no uncertain terms, telling him to remove himself from that hot mess. Which he did, and felt much better consequently. Who wants to work with a bunch of clowns who can’t communicate?

Our bodies try to keep us safe. Sometimes our thinking gets in the way of making the right decision. We know we should get a divorce, change careers, and set better boundaries with our overbearing friend. But we choose not to. Why? I believe we always know the answer, we are just afraid of it. Because it might mean making some big changes, confronting and upsetting people, and possibly upending our lives. So, we don’t listen to our intuition, at our peril. We might choose to do some unhealthy things to quell our anxiety about our bad choices, such as overeating. (I had to tie this to weight, after all😊).

Living a life of integrity, where our insides match our outsides, is a high calling indeed. Listening to that still small voice, checking in with how a situation or a person makes us feel, and honoring that, is so vital to our well-being. It will save us from our misguided notions of how we should live, what we should put up with, and who we should be.

I am fortunate to live a fulfilling and authentic life with a clear conscience. But, it took some hard work and soul-searching to get to this point. I wish everyone a calm and contented life, free of self-created drama and bad decisions. We can all do this, but we have to be brave and listen to our heart (and gut), and act accordingly. They won’t lie to us.

Spiced rice (is nice)

This is a subtle recipe with good flavor. You can vary it by using another type of brown rice. Use a toothpick to make holes in the onion, it will be easier to insert the cloves. If you want a stronger clove and onion flavor, discard after cooking.


  • 1 cup brown basmati rice, rinsed in a strainer
  • 2-1/2 cups water
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and halved
  • 12 cloves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 halved garlic clove
  • 1-inch piece peeled ginger
  • Salt to taste (optional)


  1. While bringing water in a medium pot to a boil, push 12 cloves into the onion halves. Add the rice, bay leaf, cinnamon stick, garlic, ginger and onion with cloves to the pot. Lower heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 25 minutes.
  2. Discard the onion halves with cloves. Return lid to pot and cook until rice is tender, another 15 minutes or so. Discard the cinnamon stick, bay leaf and garlic clove.
  3. Fluff with a fork and let sit for 5-10 minutes. Salt to taste if desired. Serve as a side dish.

½ cup rice = 125 calories

September class and support groups

“Losing It & Loving It” weight loss/wellness class

September 15 – December 8, Thursdays, 6:00 – 7:00pm (first class 6:00-7:30 pm)

Heart Center Conference Room
425 East 5350 South, Suite #200 (ORMC Medical Plaza)
Register at or call (886) 877-3999

Questions? Call Jennifer at (801) 479-2133

Support groups

  • Mondays, 2:00pm-3:00pm, Heart Center Conference Room
  • Tuesdays, 4:30pm-5:30pm, via Webex (contact Jennifer for password and meeting number)