Your Practice Transformation Companion

Friday, December 1, 2017

Winter is Coming! Wash Your Hands!

While “Winter is Coming” may mean different things to different people (I’m with you fellow Game of Thrones fans!) we can all agree that to promote health and stop the spread of infectious disease during winter, we need to keep washing our hands. To prevent a seasonal epidemic, protect our vulnerable populations and be an all-around clean person, hand hygiene is a responsibility for all to share.

Wash your hands! How often did we hear that when we were kids? How often do we say that to our kids or grandkids? You’re a pretty normal parent or grandparent if you admit you say it all the time. There is a great reason for this being a part of our vocabulary. Hand washing plays a significant role in stopping the spreading of infection. Grocery carts, doorknobs, escalators, oh my! If you’re a germaphobe like me, the disinfecting wipes and hand sanitizer stay pretty close-by.  

Employees must wash hands before returning to work! Geez, I hope so. I actually get a little spooked when I read those signs in restaurants or grocery stores. Are there people who actually don’t wash their hands after using a restroom? Ugh! Seriously? The sign is there for an unfortunate reason. A scary, germy, gross reason. Wet hands, apply soap, rinse well, dry hands. It’s not that hard.

But, unfortunately, people don’t always wash their hands and “Winter IS Here” as Game of Thrones only has six episodes left for their final season. Anticipate the destruction of treacherous Queen Cersei! Fight the Night King and the White Walker invasion! Beware the Ice Dragon and its magical zombie breath! Impart strength to our beloved characters and two remaining dragons as they battle to save humanity! But in the meantime, what will happen with the wild romance of our gorgeous power couple, Daenerys and Jon, especially since the viewers know the blunt facts of Jon’s parentage? So you ask me, what do dirty hands and Game of Thrones have in common? Not much, except there isn’t a whole lot of hand washing going on in Game of Thrones. In their defense, it was a tough time to live so I’ll cut them some slack. But I won’t cut you any slack!

The game-changing twists are what have kept us tuning into Game of Thrones. Thank goodness our personal winter doesn’t have to be a complex weave of story line with a huge cast. And although I’d love my boring Michigan winter to be spent in breathtaking locations such as where Game of Thrones was filmed, I’ll ultimately be happy to get through the winter without getting sick. I’ll also be watching Game of Thrones reruns in the comfort of my warm home in my favorite chair with a lit candle and glass of wine…with clean hands.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Making the Case for Diabetes and Prediabetes Education

One of our nation’s most prevalent and serious diseases is diabetes. With November being National Diabetes Month, bringing this disease to the forefront by focusing on control and prevention is of the upmost importance. Diabetes costs millions of dollars in medical expenditures every year. It impacts many different areas of the body. Not only is diabetes disabling and costly, it can be life-threatening.

According to the Mayo Clinic, the longer you have diabetes, the higher the risk of complications. These complications include:
  • Cardiovascular disease – coronary artery disease, heart attack, stroke
  • Nerve damage (neuropathy) – injury to the tiny blood vessels that nourish your nerves
  • Kidney damage (nephropathy) – harm to the waste filtering system
  • Eye damage (retinopathy) – impairment of the retinal blood vessels
  • Foot damage – poor blood flow, nerve damage, healing poorly, toe/foot amputations
  • Skin problems – more susceptible to fungal and bacterial infections
  • Hearing impairment – more common to diabetics
  • Alzheimer’s disease – diabetes increases the risk

There is also a diagnosis effecting pregnancy called gestational diabetes that can cause serious problems for the baby and the mother.

If you have diabetes:
  • Follow your health care professional’s advice
  • Be proactive and get your eyes checked by an ophthalmologist to protect your vision
  • Work with a diabetes educator to get your questions answered
  • Learn what you can do to self-manage your disease such as healthy eating, being active, monitoring your blood sugar, taking your medication correctly and problem-solving to live the healthiest lifestyle you can
  • Take a 6 week Diabetes PATH workshop to learn the self-management tools above and more. To find a Diabetes PATH workshop near you check out the following link:

Prediabetes is also a huge issue that is characterized by blood glucose levels that are higher than normal, but not high enough to warrant a diabetes diagnosis. People diagnosed with prediabetes are at an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes unless they make an active attempt to change their lifestyle. 

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) facts on prediabetes are staggering:
  • 86 million adults have prediabetes
  • 9 out of 10 people with prediabetes don’t know they have it
  • Without weight loss and moderate physical activity, 15%-30% of these prediabetics will develop type 2 diabetes within 5 years

With the above information in mind, the CDC developed the National Diabetes Prevention Program. This evidence-based program showed losing a modest amount of weight (5-7% or 10-14 pounds for a 200 pound person) and increasing physical activity (150 minutes or more a week of brisk walking or something comparable) lowered the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. This year-long lifestyle change program starts with sixteen weekly core classes to learn about healthy eating and physical activity. Participants are weighed each week and turn in food and activity trackers that show what their food intake and activity minutes have been for the previous week. Other class subjects include how to problem solve, stay motivated and manage stress. Bimonthly and/or monthly post-core sessions reinforce and build on what was taught in the weekly classes.

PTI has trained lifestyle coaches who can bring this program to your organization. If you’re interested, contact us for more information. Health insurers and employers are starting to add this program as a benefit. Medicare has also made this program a benefit for Medicare patients starting in April 2018.

The old Benjamin Franklin axiom, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” will always be a thing. Keeping that in mind, diabetes education helps with control for those already diagnosed and prediabetes education lowers the risk for getting type 2 diabetes. With winter on its way, a focus on healthy eating and physical activity can help everyone stay at the top of their game. Happy November!

Monday, October 2, 2017

Make Fire Prevention a Fall Habit

As we move into our fall season, evening campfires may be something your family and friends look forward to. Who doesn’t love hanging around a cozy campfire wrapped in blankets, roasting marshmallows and having an adult beverage? As you enjoy the sounds, smells and colors that the fire makes as it blazes safely inside the fire ring, let those sparks be the spark that reminds you to think about home fire prevention.

The theme for this year’s Fire Prevention Week of October 8-14 is “Every Second Counts: Plan Two Ways Out.”  What an important message to plan two ways out of a fire. It makes sense that one of the ways you had planned to use may not work out when the urgency of this situation presents itself. How scary. It is hard enough to think when something like this happens. Your brain is in shock. Your body moves by reflex. It makes sense to have two ways figured out ahead of time that can jolt you into action.

The website for the National Fire Protection shows the key messages for this year:
  • Draw a map of your home with all members of your household, marking two exits from each room and a path to the outside from each exit.
  • Practice your home fire drill twice a year. Conduct one at night and one during the day with everyone in your home, and practice using different ways out.
  • Teach children how to escape on their own in case you can’t help them.
  • Make sure the number of your home is clearly marked and easy for the fire department to find.
  • Close doors behind you as you leave – this may slow the spread of smoke, heat, and fire.
  • Once you get outside, stay outside. Never go back inside a burning building

Take advice from someone who has had a house fire. Me! My house fire nightmare was seven years ago in the middle of the night. My husband and I were sleeping in our second floor bedroom until I was first awakened by the sound of our smoke alarm. As I awoke from sleep, I immediately noticed the smell of smoke. I jumped out of bed, turned on the light and hollered at my husband to wake up. Our bedroom had a light layer of smoke in it and so did our hallway. As we ran downstairs, we could see there was even more smoke on the first floor. Once my husband opened our basement door, thick smoke poured out and made us realize that the fire was in the basement. Then we saw the fireball. To this day, that fireball was one of the scariest things I’ve ever seen in my life. We got lucky. Thankfully, the fire was put out quickly and we didn’t have much damage to our home. After investigation of our fire by the house insurance company, they figured out the fire was from a blown seal on a spray paint can that blew toward the pilot light on our hot water heater. It caused other spray paint cans located in the same plastic milk carton crate to start burning and blowing up, too. Paint was everywhere and that entire area of my basement looked like a Jackson Pollock painting. What did we learn from this freak accident? Don’t keep anything like spray paint cans near something that has a flame, like a hot water heater or furnace. Go home and check where your spray paint cans are located. Seriously. Get them away from a fire source.

We were fortunate in that we had numerous ways to get out of our home on the first floor. Our second floor has the stairway and windows to attach a home fire escape ladder. This ladder helps exit an upper floor of your home in a fire. It stays folded up neatly for compact storage in a box under a bed or in a closet. But if needed, this steel ladder with rungs can be quickly hung over a window sill to allow getting out of the second floor safely if the stairs are inaccessible. Look into them. There are many different types on the market.

Fire Prevention Week is the longest running public health and safety observance on record. Make this a time, along with changing the batteries in your smoke detectors or getting your fireplace cleaned, that you work on a family plan for fire safety. Let’s all make fire prevention a fall habit.

Friday, September 1, 2017

September is Pain Awareness Month

Pain is defined as being chronic or long term when it lasts longer than 3 to 6 months, or beyond the normal healing time of an injury. Chronic pain management is complicated as different treatments and lifestyle changes are needed. Learning what to do to manage chronic pain requires personal responsibility and becoming an active self-manager.

If you are someone you know has chronic pain, consider taking the Stanford Chronic Pain Self-Management Program (CPSMP.) It is a 6 week, 2 ½ hour program that helps people learn how to self-manage their pain. Classes are highly participative, where mutual support and success build the participants’ confidence in their ability to manage their pain and maintain active and fulfilling lives. 

The CPSMP was developed for people who have a primary or secondary diagnosis of chronic pain. Subjects covered include:
·   techniques to deal with problems such as frustration, fatigue, isolation and poor sleep
·   appropriate exercise for maintaining and improving strength, flexibility, and endurance
·   appropriate use of medications
·   communicating effectively with family, friends and health professionals
·   nutrition
·   pacing activity and rest
·   how to evaluate new treatments

If you’d like to know where a workshop is being held near you, check out our PATH state information website at . If there isn’t one close to home, PTI can provide a chronic pain program for your organization or doctor’s office as long as we have 10-12 participants registered ahead of time. If you’d like PATH Leaders trained for this program or other PATH programs please contact me

For more information on what to do about pain, check out the American Chronic Pain Association’s website at  where many helpful tools and treatments are listed and discussed.

So many people live with chronic pain in their lives. Better communication with the health care team is vital for its management. Involve them in decision making and problem solving. It is possible to live a healthy life with chronic pain. You just need the tools to do the job. 

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Are Your Vaccinations Up To Date?

Immunizations aren’t just for children. Pre-teens, teenagers and adults also need immunizations to keep protected from infection. The vaccine preventable diseases haven’t left us. They are still out there waiting for a host. Watching and waiting and ready to pounce on a vulnerable person who hasn’t been vaccinated against the disease they carry. This unvaccinated, unsuspecting person can get infected and pass it on to others. Planes are circling the globe constantly and this makes it even scarier with the ease of how a disease could travel and spread in a 24-hour period. Where is my scared, wide-eyed, unsmiling emogi when I need it? I definitely could use it now.

We talk about diet and exercise to keep ourselves healthy, but you can also add immunizations to that list. Whether it’s a yearly flu shot for every age group, or a vaccine recommended if certain risk factors or health conditions are present, it’s important that we protect ourselves and the ones we love. For some at-risk people, this could actually mean the difference between life and death.

Vaccinations are available at your primary care office, pharmacy, health department and many other locations. Currently vaccinations are covered by health insurance, whether it’s a private carrier, Health Insurance Marketplace, Medicare, Medicaid or military plan. Hopefully that never changes.

Data shows that vaccines are held to the strongest standard of safety. Vaccine information statements are required to be given at each vaccination with benefits, risks and potential side effects listed. This information is available in other languages if needed. Be an informed consumer and read up on what you’re getting and get any questions answered.

The CDC website has everything you need to learn about vaccines. There is a recommended, printable schedule for all ages that is grouped into the 3 categories below:
  • Infants and Children (birth through 6 years old)
  • Preteens and Teens (7 – 18 years old)
  • Adults (19 years and older)

Let Immunization Awareness Month be the reminder to talk to your health care provider for any questions about recommended vaccines for yourself and your children. Why take the chance of getting something when there is a vaccine against it? Get those vaccinations as soon as possible. Your co-workers and family members - children, grandchildren, parents - will be happy you did.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Hepatitis C and Baby Boomers

The baby boomer generation was the name given to people born within the years of 1945 to 1965. This age group has been found to have a high incidence of hepatitis C, as much as five times more likely than other people.

Most hepatitis C is transferred by blood from an infected person. Many of us baby boomers could have gotten infected during the time before universal precautions were taken for blood, blood products, needles, reusable syringes and the wearing of gloves during medical procedures.  Some studies show the hepatitis C epidemic can be traced to hospital transmissions caused by the practice of reusing needles with the peak being in 1950 when many of us baby boomers weren’t born or were very young. Other studies show the years being the highest from 1948 – 1963. What everyone agrees on is that before modern medicine as we know it, there was an increased chance of transmission of hepatitis C. Being a nurse, I had needle sticks many times while working in the hospital. Nurses didn’t worry much about them at the time. We had our shot of gamma globulin, filled out an incident report, and that was that. But as we gain more medical knowledge, sometimes changes must be made.

Keep in mind the potential other ways you could have gotten infected with hepatitis C such as getting an unsafe tattoo, having high-risk sex and recreational drug use. These are seen as risky behavior and caused stigma to be associated with hepatitis C for many people and stopped them from getting tested. With studies showing the hepatitis C spread most likely to be due to the absence of the universal precautions we now take, wipe that stigma away and get to your health care professional.

People infected with Hepatitis C sometimes may not even know they have it. They can live for decades without symptoms, but more people end up with a chronic infection. Unfortunately, Hepatitis C can lead to liver damage, including cirrhosis and liver cancer if not treated and cured.

Are you in the baby boomer age range? If so, get tested. It’s just a simple blood test called a hepatitis C antibody test that can be drawn at your primary care physician’s office. So easy. If your physician doesn’t ask you, ask them at your yearly exam. I had it on my list to ask my doctor and she also brought it up. I had the blood test and I was ecstatic to be found negative. Yay!


Thursday, June 1, 2017

Help Raise Awareness for PTSD

PTSD stands for post-traumatic stress disorder. It is a mental health disorder that can occur at any age after someone has experienced dangerous or scary events, such as a car accident, natural disaster, physical abuse or incidents that have occurred due to being a war veteran. It can also happen after the death of a loved one. Whatever the cause, some people may suffer from it for a few weeks or months and it gradually goes away with time. But for others, PSTD becomes chronic, disrupts everyday life, and goes on for years or even decades.

Symptoms and problems caused by PTSD include:

  • Nightmares
  • Flashbacks
  • Frightening thoughts
  • Bad memories
  • Being easily startled, anxious, irritable or on edge
  • Insomnia
  • Trouble concentrating
  •  Feeling anxious
  •  Avoiding certain situations
  •  Anger
  •  Negative beliefs and feelings
  •  Depression
  •  Drinking or drug problems
  •  No longer interested in things you used to enjoy
  •  Relationship problems
  •  Employment issues

What can be done to help people with PTSD? For some, it just takes time. The PTSD fades or becomes less intense. After dealing with the death of an aging parent, you eventually get through the day without crying. You never forget, but you’ve accepted what happened and are able to move forward with your life. If you’re recovering from a car accident, you gradually stop being fearful of injury when you pass the location of your car accident. You’ll continue to be wary of the area and remember the teenager who ran that stop sign, but you’ve moved on.

But some people can’t move on. The events they’ve experienced are too much. These are the people who need to get help.

A psychiatrist or psychologist can diagnose PTSD. To reduce the risk, it is important to seek help from family, friends and support groups once a problem is realized. PTSD is not a sign of weakness. Counseling from behavioral health providers to learn positive coping strategies can be an important step in going forward with life. Medication properly prescribed can help others. Sometime a combination of the two is needed.  

The number of our veterans who experience PTSD is astounding. They’ve been exposed to many horrible and frightening experiences. With this diagnosis finally getting the attention it deserves, many support groups and organizations are now available not only for veterans, but their families and caregivers.

It is important that the public becomes aware of PTSD and what effective treatments are out there. Through research, education and training, people can turn their lives around with many making a full recovery. Let the healing begin.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Learn the risks of high blood pressure

High blood pressure is a serious condition that can lead to heart failure, stroke, coronary artery disease, kidney failure and many other health problems. It’s a good idea to know your risks. Although some of the risks are out of our control, others can be worked on. With May being high blood pressure awareness month, let’s take a moment to discuss what we can do to help ourselves.

Items out of our control include the physical and hereditary risk factors such as:

  • Age – due to the blood vessels losing elasticity
  • Gender – men more likely than women early on; women catch up with men later in life
  • Race – African-Americans are at a higher risk even at a younger age
  • Family history – You have an increased chance if a close blood relative has it

Items we can change are the lifestyle risk factors which include:

  • Not enough physical activity
  • Eating unhealthy
  • Being overweight
  • Drinking too much alcohol
  • Smoking
  • Stress

What can you do to help yourself?
While you can’t change your age, gender, race or family history, there are some things you can do for those lifestyle risk factors:

  • Get moving. Aim for 30 minutes of activity 5 days a week. Physical activity can do so many good things for you. It can lower your blood pressure, help with weight loss, and reduce stress.
  • Improve your diet. It will help manage your blood pressure and make you feel good all over when you eat those fresh fruits and vegetables. Yummy! Watch the sodium that is found in so many processed foods as it can contribute to high blood pressure.
  • Manage your weight. You can do this by increasing your activity and improving your diet. See how everything is related?
  • Drink alcohol in moderation. Limiting alcohol can help prevent high blood pressure and help in your weight loss efforts. Alcohol has a lot of empty calories. Moderation is considered 2 drinks a day for men and 1 for women.
  • Quit smoking. It’s easy to say, but harder to do. I know! (See our November 2016 blog.) There are many tools and resources available online. Also, check with your health plan for what they will do to help.
  • Work on that stress. Stress has been known to contribute to the risk factors for high blood pressure. If you have too much stress in your life you may overeat, not get enough physical activity and/or drink too much alcohol. There are many ways to reduce and manage stress include taking care of your mood, giving yourself enough time to get responsibilities completed, being grateful for what you have, and being less of a control freak. You don’t have to do everything or be involved in everything! Let the things go that you can. Say no once in awhile.  Life is busy enough. Stop and smell those flowers that are starting to pop outside. You won’t regret it and neither will your blood pressure.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Defeat Type 2 Diabetes

What does it mean to be called prediabetic by a health care provider? It means your glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be diagnosed as a full-fledged diabetic. Ah, you say. I’m good! I’m not diabetic! But being prediabetic is not good. You shouldn’t breathe a sigh of relief that your health is fine. A prediabetic diagnosis means you are skiing on a slippery mountain slope with the threat of type 2 diabetes hanging over you like an impending winter storm.

Trust me. You don’t want to become diabetic. Suddenly you are at higher risk for a whole variety of serious health problems like heart disease, kidney failure, stroke, blindness and loss of toes, feet or even legs. Yikes! Don’t forget the added medication and blood checks you have to endure. It’s not a pretty picture and certainly not what I envision my golden years to include. I want to be as healthy as possible. Don’t you?

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) facts are staggering:

·         86 million adults have prediabetes
·         9 out of 10 people with prediabetes don’t know they have it
·         Without weight loss and moderate physical activity, 15%-30% of these prediabetics will develop type 2 diabetes within 5 years

A major clinical research study was done that showed losing a modest amount of weight (5-7% or 10-14 pounds for a 200 pound person) and increasing physical activity (150 minutes or more a week of brisk walking or something similar) lowered the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The body was better able to process the glucose made from our food and worked better with the insulin produced by the pancreas.

What followed was that the CDC developed the National Diabetes Prevention Program. This lifestyle change program is for people at-risk for type 2 diabetes and lasts a full year. It starts with sixteen core classes to learn about healthy eating and physical activity. Other class subjects include how to problem solve, stay motivated and manage stress. The monthly post-core six sessions are to reinforce and build on what was taught in the hour-long class. Participants are weighed each week and turn in food and activity trackers that show what their food intake and activity minutes have been for the last week.

If this sounds good to you, please get in touch with Harmony at or 248.475.4736 for more information. We have trained coaches who can bring this worthwhile lifestyle change program to an organization. The word is definitely getting out nationally. Physician offices are screening patients and referring them to this proven curriculum. Insurers and employers are adding this program as a benefit. There is also good news on the Medicare front as the program will be a covered benefit for Medicare beneficiaries who meet certain criteria starting January 1, 2018.

With the season of spring upon us, there is the promise of good things to come. This is the perfect time to focus on healthy eating and physical activity as we strive for our best health and, in turn, lower our risk for type 2 diabetes.

Eating healthy:

·         Lowers risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, depression, cancer
·         Prevents weight gain
·         Gives energy to do the things you want in life

Physical activity:

·         Lowers risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, depression, cancer
·         Prevents weight gain
·         Gives energy to do the things you want in life
·         Improves mental health and mood
·         Strengthens bones and muscles
·         Improves ability to do the activities of daily living
·         Prevents falls

Take some personal responsibility and start today to make better lifestyle choices. Strive to eat healthy and get outside in the fresh air to increase your physical activity. Working together, we can all defeat diabetes.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Eat the Rainbow

A healthy plate of food would encompass the colors of the rainbow. The flavors would be varied depending on the season and availability of the items on the plate. Keeping those two thoughts in mind, I’d like for you to celebrate National Nutrition Month by eating a fruit or vegetable you’ve never tried before. That’s right. I challenge you to go to your local grocery store or market and pick up something colorful that you will buy and take home to eat. Something new. Something different. If you don’t like it, that’s ok. You gave it a try. You were open to new and unfamiliar things. Applaud yourself. And if you liked that new fruit or vegetable? You’ve unlocked new possibilities for healthy recipes that you and your family can enjoy. With food being one of the most important and enjoyable things we have in life, don’t stop yourself from finding happiness any way you can get it.

Our March focus is on making informed food choices and developing good eating habits. Let’s take a look at a few ways we can do this:

Know the difference between a portion size and a serving size.  A portion size is what you put on your plate. A serving size is the amount that is used to calculate the nutrients in our food; it’s what is on the food label.

Read food labels. There is a lot of good information on that label such as serving size, calories, fat, cholesterol, sodium, carbohydrates, protein and the ever-important ingredient list. If you’re on a special diet, unsure of serving size or just want to know what you’re eating, take a look at that label. You’ll be a more informed consumer.

Become familiar with MyPlate. The United States Department of Agriculture uses the image of a regular plate to recommend what a healthy diet would include. The plate is divided in half with four sections for fruits, vegetables, grains and proteins. Eating a variety of food isn’t difficult if we use this plate method as our guide. Get familiar with it and strive for that rainbow on your plate.

Strive for healthy eating. Eat fresh. Mix up your diet for nutrients and taste. Choose your snacks wisely. Aim for meals three times a day and space those meals out at regular intervals. Never skip breakfast as it fuels your day after fasting all night. Limit soda and other sugary drinks. Watch that salt intake. Choose foods with good fats like nuts and olive oil. Eat whole grains like whole grain pasta, cereals, bread and brown rice.

Learn more about processed foods. How do we separate the minimally processed from the heavily processed? That name gets a bad rep, but many items can be called ‘processed’ that are good for us. Have a read and be able to separate the good from the bad.

If you have specific questions about healthy eating, ways to prevent type 2 diabetes, information about food allergies or any other food related questions, ask your primary care physician for a referral to a Registered Dietitian (RD). An RD has met academic and professional requirements with an accredited nutrition curriculum and exam. They are your “go to” person for anything related to nutrition.

For people who are specifically at-risk for type 2 diabetes, there is even more of an urgent need to start eating healthier and increasing physical activity. The National Diabetes Prevention Program was developed at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). It is a lifestyle change, year-long program for adults with a high risk for type 2 diabetes. Participants learn how to include healthy eating and physical activity into their daily lives. The program consists of sixteen sessions of core learning followed by six sessions for the last six months to reinforce and build on content. PTI has lifestyle coaches who can bring this program to your organization. Contact Harmony at or 248.475.4736 for more information.

As we enter the season of spring with all its aspects of renewal related to the outside environment, let’s focus on our inside environment first. Be good to yourself by making informed food choices and strive to eat that rainbow. It helps create an opportunity for your best health. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

An Eating Disorder Can Be Life-Threatening

If you’ve ever known someone who has had an eating disorder then you know how scary one of these can be. Eating disorders cause serious emotional and physical problems, and are not a phase someone may be going through. The conditions are real and must be taken seriously.

The main disorders are anorexia nervosa (self-starvation), binge eating disorder (same health risks as clinical obesity) and bulimia nervosa (binge and purge cycles), but there are other types of eating disorders that cause distress and impairment to a lesser degree. It’s important to note that eating disorders do not discriminate. They affect every race, gender, age, socio-economic class, sexual orientation and language. People with eating disorders have difficulty with their behavior, emotions and attitudes regarding food and weight issues. They are struggling and need professional help.

The health consequences of eating disorders can vary depending on the disorder, but sometimes can become fatal. Some of the most extreme include:

·         Heart failure due to slow heart rate, irregular heart rate, low blood pressure, electrolyte imbalances
·         Osteoporosis due to poor diet
·         Muscle loss and weakness
·         Kidney failure from dehydration
·         Gastric and esophagus rupture
·         Bowel issues
·         Tooth decay and other dental complications (soft tissues, bone, salivary glands)

Eating disorders have always been a difficult diagnosis for people to understand. Expressing concern without placing shame on the individual can go a long way with trust. Getting someone to a health care professional who is knowledgeable about eating disorders can be a first step. Remain supportive by letting the person know that you care and will continue to be there for them.

We must continue to bring attention to the seriousness of eating disorders and direct individuals who may be struggling to get the help they need. By increasing awareness, people with eating disorders may start thinking about getting assistance earlier. Family members or friends might realize quicker that it’s time to get involved for the health and safety of their loved one. Prevention and improved access to quality treatment, along with funding for research, is key to supporting individuals and families affected by the disorders. Websites such as have the information to learn about these disorders and the next steps to finding help and support.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Staying Safe and Healthy Over the Winter

It’s here again - that freezing, awful, bone-chilling part of the year that many of us detest. I try to think about winter as only the months of December, January and February, but in our Michigan reality it is usually a little longer. If you want a winter getaway to somewhere warm, make your plans ASAP. You’re already late with the arrangements. A beach vacation dreamily watching the waves as your toes curl in the warm sand with a tropical drink in hand is a welcome winter respite for many. I’m ready! Get me on the next plane outta here! But if you’re unable to get away at least make a pact to stay safe and healthy this winter.

·         Keep gas tanks full – avoids ice in the tank and fuel lines
·         Check tire tread – replace as needed
·         Put together an emergency car kit – charged cell phone, roadside assistance information, blankets, water/snacks, sand/kitty litter for traction, booster cables, flashlight, first aid kit
·         Winterize inside and out
·         Have fireplaces/furnaces inspected by a professional
·         Replace batteries in smoke detectors/CO2 detectors
·         Keep gas available for the generator in case of power outages

·         Dress for the weather – bundle up with a coat, gloves, scarf, hat and boots
·         Spread salt, kitty litter or sand on icy patches around your home
·         Take your time shoveling snow – listen to your body
·         Watch the weather reports – heed warnings
·         Let relatives/friends know your route and expected arrival time
·         Have a plan for emergencies – see the emergency car kit above

·         Use hand sanitizer and wash your hands – a lot
·         Take your vitamins
·         Keep active not only to stay in shape, but to lift your mood
·         Get plenty of sleep – it’s dark outside much earlier to help in your quest
·         Eat well – bring on the oatmeal, but also hearty soups, stews, winter fruits/vegetables
·         Stay hydrated – drinking water isn’t only for the warmer months
·         Socialize – we’re not bears in hibernation
·         Name three things you like about winter – yes, you really can
·         Boost your immune system with all of the above
·         Get your flu shot
·         Keep skin healthy – moisturize, moisturize, moisturize
·         Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) - If you’re prone to feeling down or blue during the winter, try light therapy. Simply getting more light into your life can help a lot. See a doctor to have your Vitamin D checked. Get outside when it’s sunny.

We can’t stop our Michigan winters, but we can make it easier on ourselves by trying to stay healthy and being prepared for what the season may bring. I’ve embraced the season…but I’m also on the countdown clock. Spring 2017! I can’t wait!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Back from Palo Alto and Stanford University!

My co-worker, Megan, and I recently returned from the beautiful campus of Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, where we trained onsite for the Stanford University Self-Management Programs T-Trainer Apprenticeship.

In case you’re not familiar with this curriculum, Dr. Kate Lorig, Director of the Stanford Patient Education Research Center and Professor of Medicine at Stanford School of Medicine, developed a number of self-management programs for people with chronic health problems. All of these evidence-based programs help people gain self-confidence to better manage their health problems on a day-to-day basis.

Already being Master Trainers for these programs, Megan and I have trained many Program Leaders over the years. We had to apply to become T-Trainers and get accepted from Stanford. Imagine our excitement when we were selected to lead the November Master Training at Stanford! Our apprenticeship week on campus was under the supervision of Certifying T-Trainer Sonia Alvarez. The class of twenty-four students for the week came from a variety of professions all over the United States. We even had three people in our class who flew all the way from Taiwan.

The training week consisted of activities to help our group of twenty-four learn the program and effectively train others. The workshop activities we did were identical to the activities taught to people with chronic diseases. Trainees act like people in the community who have taken the class so they can experience it firsthand like a community member. There were two different opportunities to practice teach the program under our guidance.

It was a great learning experience and we are now T-Trainers. What this means is that we can conduct Master Trainings for other organizations. Those Master Trainers could train Program Leaders how to deliver the program correctly to their communities.

If you have any further questions about how we could work with your organization for this program or any other programs that PTI offers, please send me an email and I’d be happy to get back with you.

Have a wonderful holiday season.


Tuesday, November 1, 2016

I quit tobacco! You can, too.

November 17 is the date this year of the American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout. This date is meant to encourage the over 42 million smokers in the United States to either develop a plan to quit or use the date as their official quit date. What a lot of people don’t know is the long history of the Great American Smokeout. Events started in the 70s and have contributed over the years to the many changes in our smoking laws for public places, workplaces, hospitals and in tobacco advertising. These changes have protected non-smokers and supported smokers who wanted to quit, saving millions of lives along the way.

Take it from me, an ex-smoker named Carla, that quitting tobacco is one of the hardest things someone can do. I smoked for many years beginning the habit when I was 16 years old and started to make commitments to quit beginning at age 40.  Not only did I try the cold turkey route numerous times, but the nicotine gum and patches. It took my third time using the nicotine patches before I was able to stay off nicotine, and I’m confident I’ll never smoke cigarettes again.

If you or someone you know is contemplating quitting, research shows that smokers who have support are more likely to quit for good. There are many more tools and resources available now than when I started quitting. Not only are there the traditional nicotine replacement products, but there are prescription products to lessen cravings. Health insurers are on board to provide support with benefits and incentives. Telephone hotlines, stop smoking groups, counseling, and even online quit groups can help you feel like you’re not alone in your quest to be tobacco-free. Friends and family members can provide encouragement and support, but make sure you inform your support network about your plan. If they don’t know, they can’t help.

You’ll start noticing the benefits right away for some things. Others may take a little more time.

·         Being less out of breath climbing stairs or participating in other activities
·         Food tastes better
·         Sense of smell returns
·         Hair, clothes and your vehicle no longer reek of smoke
·         Teeth and nails stop yellowing
·         The damaging effects of tobacco will no longer play havoc with your skin and body systems
·         Save money every day you don’t smoke
·         Smoke-free buildings and events no longer bother you. You’ll start welcoming them!
·         Breathe deep. Enjoy the fresh air without coughing.

There are many tools and resources available on the American Cancer Society website regarding the Great American Smokeout and about smoking in general. You can call them anytime at 800-227-2345 for more information on support and/or telephone coaching in your area. If you’re a smoker, circle the date of November 17 to be the beginning of your smoke-free life.

Staying away from tobacco is the single most important thing you can do for your health. Claim victory over tobacco addiction. You won’t regret it.