6 Tips for Coping with Anxiety

Enrich - Published on February 13, 2018

While seemingly simple, anxiety disorders wear many hats. Those who suffer with this disease may experience completely different symptoms from one another. Some may have anxiety around specific situations (i.e. large crowds or flying). Some may experience frequent panic attacks, where they may feel that they can’t breathe or that they are dizzy and lightheaded. Some feel physical symptoms and mistake their anxiety for a medical event, such as a heart attack.

While anxiety rears its ugly head in many ways, there are some common methods to help cope with your symptoms.

Eat Right, Get Enough Sleep & Exercise Regularly

While this may feel like an odd solution for a mental health disorder, keeping a healthy lifestyle can have a great benefit for those with anxiety. Managing a diet and keeping to a workout routine not only maintains overall health, it also instills positive routine in your life, which can offer a sense of control that keeps anxiety at bay. Plus, only 15 minutes of exercise releases endorphins that can instantly boost your mood. Getting enough sleep can be difficult with anxiety, but allows your mind and body to cope with stress much more effectively.



Avoid Stimulants and Depressants

Anxiety can be heightened when your body is imbalanced. Introducing stimulants, such as caffeine, or depressants, such as alcohol, can increase or cause anxious feelings or panic attacks, especially if you’re already experiencing symptoms. While it may seem that a glass of wine will help you relax, if you suffer from anxiety, it may do the opposite.

Evaluate Your Worry

While experiencing anxiety or panic, try taking five deep soothing breaths, then think thoughtfully about what’s causing your symptoms. What was your trigger? Is it a real threat or issue? Is the issue itself one you can set aside and address at a more appropriate time, possibly with your physician or therapist? Has your worry grown from a simple thought to a laundry list of what ifs that have you overly and unnecessarily stressed? While this practice takes work, being able to calm yourself down and think logically about your triggers can help you to put them away or move past them.

Keep a Schedule – And Get Out of the House

Again, anxiety is often related to a sense of loss of control. Keeping a daily schedule can help keep you in the driver’s seat of your life. It’s also important to note that for many, anxiety and depression go hand in hand. Those who suffer from anxiety can also experience depression, and the combination of both can be overwhelming and life threatening. If you feel like you have symptoms of depression – lack of interest, exhaustion, desire to be alone, and thoughts of suicide, it’s important to seek help right away. Staying active, social and being outdoors can help those with anxiety curb these feelings.



BREATHE

You’ve heard it before, and you’ll hear it again – when experiencing anxiety or a panic attack, just breathe. Close your eyes, sit or lay comfortably and take long, deep breaths. Count to three as you inhale and as you exhale, and repeat at least five times. This technique can help calm your brain, slowing down your breathing and heart rate. Meditation can also help you learn to control your breathing, and plenty of free apps (like Head Space) are available. Yoga also teaches you to breathe deeply and effectively, and is a great exercise for controlling anxiety.  Again, free apps (like Down Dog) allow you to stay home while doing even 5 minutes of poses.



Get Help

While once taboo to discuss, mental health disorders are now known to be extremely common and experienced by people in all walks of life. Don’t let your anxiety about anxiety keep you from getting the help you need. Talk first to your primary care provider who can get you started with the treatment and care that fits your needs and lifestyle. Even just talking with someone who understands what you’re going through can be a helpful first step to living a full and happy life.

Joanne Gaul, MD, a family medicine physician caring for patients of all ages, enjoys encouraging and watching patients make changes in their lives that add up to better health. In Dr. Gaul’s personal quest for a healthy lifestyle, she runs half marathons, triathlons and countless shorter races. She also enjoys reading, knitting, quilting, playing flute and cooking. She serves on the Community Violence Intervention Center board and has performed with the city band and symphony.

Bold New Era: Creating a Destination for Care

It's Altru - Published on February 6, 2018

Imagine the last time you were a patient, or visited a patient in a hospital. Were you worried about an illness or anxious about a procedure? What about your loved one? Were you alone?

If you could escape this stressful time and go anywhere to reduce your anxiety, where would you go? What does it look like? What features of this place contribute to your calm?

Often, responses include ideas of outdoor spaces, water and the soothing elements of nature. It’s inherent to seek the reprieve that the natural landscape provides. There’s an emotional and psychological tie between people and places.

Transforming Our Environment

Our bold new era in care means not only reimagining the way we give care. We get to transform the environment where we care for our patients during the most sensitive, and sometimes fragile, moments of their lives. Using our surroundings, we can create a destination that is natural, recognizable and comforting.



The space we need to do this is right before our eyes on our Columbia Road Campus. Mature, luscious greenery borders the campus. With our proximity to features such as the English Coulee and Sertoma Park, we have the good fortune of integrating the city’s natural elements into our design.

“New era plans stretch beyond the types of technology we’ll include and the buildings we’ll create. We have an incredible opportunity to continue development of our Columbia Road Campus in a way that creates the best healing environment for our patients,” states Dennis Reisnour, Chief Strategy Officer.


Altru’s master plan steering committee considered many factors for the location. With the support of Altru’s Board of Directors, the decision was made to build the new hospital within our Columbia Road Campus, north of the current hospital location.


 


New Era Next Steps

“Our bold new era marks a significant investment for our region,” states Brad Wehe, Chief Operating Officer. “We are committed to understanding the voice of our patients, physicians, staff and all stakeholders. Together we will create a state-of-the-art healing environment that takes care of the entire region for decades to come.”

Altru will hold multi-day workshops through the planning and construction process with stakeholders from throughout the health system and in the community. These workshops will include concentrated conversations and hands-on activities focusing on the needs for space. Work is also being done to increase collaboration among providers to further enhance patient care and eliminate tasks that don’t directly provide value to the patient.

“As the needs of our patients, and our communities, change, it’s our responsibility to innovate so we can meet those needs for future generations,” states Wehe.

As plans are developed throughout all of our facility developments, we are seeking input from our region’s community members, our physicians and staff. We invite you to send your ideas and suggestions through the form on our website or by emailing news@altru.org.

See also:

Top Ways to Protect Yourself and Your Family From the Flu

Enrich - Published on February 2, 2018

Flu is active across much of the United States right now. Here are simple steps to keep yourself and your family healthy throughout this influenza season.



Take good care of yourself, starting with the basics.

Get enough sleep. Aim for 7-9 hours per night for adults. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. Make time for regular exercise (be sure to sanitize gym equipment before and after use). Fill your plate with fruits and veggies to keep your immune system in tip-top shape. Stay away from people who are sick.

Scrub, scrub, scrub!

Wash your hands even more often than usual. Wash them after you're in public, pushing a shopping cart, touching railings, shaking hands, etc. Wash them before you eat. Wash them before you prep food. Use soap and warm water and scrub for 20 seconds, or about the time it takes to sing "Happy Birthday."



On a related note, avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.

If you get sick with flu-like symptoms, stay home, except to get medical care.

If you're feeling ill, give Altru's influenza hotline a call at 701.780.6FLU (6358) to seek medical advice from a registered nurse. This will help you know if you should come in to be seen and tested for influenza.

If you do come in, we encourage you to use the masks available at the clinics or emergency room to prevent spreading germs.



Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated. 

These include light switches, appliance handles, door knobs, remote controls and more. Wash dishes, such as cups and water bottles, well before reusing. Don’t share utensils.

Get the flu shot. (Yes, you still can.)

Flu shots are still available and important if you have not yet had one this season. “Getting the flu shot is one of the best ways to protect yourself from the flu,” shares Dr. Joshua Deere, medical director of primary care and family medicine provider. “While this year’s vaccine may not be formulated for all strains of influenza, it may lessen the severity and duration of the illness.” Call your provider's office, or use MyHealth to make an appointment. Shots are available for adults and children over six months of age.






Flu Symptoms
Influenza symptoms can range from mild to severe. The flu is different than a cold. Symptoms of the flu usually come on suddenly. Listed are differences between the flu and cold.



















Flu Cold
Muscle aches and pains Mainly in the head and nose
Exhaustion, feeling wiped out, headache Runny and stuffy nose, sore throat
High fever Low fever



Flu Complications
Most who get influenza will recover in a few days to less than two weeks. However, some will develop complications, some of which can be life-threatening.

Pneumonia, bronchitis, and sinus and ear infections are examples of complications from flu. The flu can make chronic health problems worse. For example, people with asthma may experience asthma attacks when they have the flu, and people with congestive heart failure may experience worsening of this condition.

Resolution 2.0 | Don’t Diet

Enrich - Published on February 2, 2018

Whether you’ve fallen off the wagon for weeks, months or years, it is never too late to start making healthier choices. Do yourself a favor and start now. Not tomorrow, not Monday, but now.

The good news is, you don’t have to do anything drastic to lose weight or reach your health and wellness goals. Going to the extremes often tends to backfire and results in the vicious diet cycle:

Diet → Restriction → Deprivation → Craving → Giving In → Weight Gain → Guilt → Diet


5 tips to lose weight without dieting


1. Don’t drink your calories.

Unless your goal is to gain weight, strongly consider eliminating liquid calories from your diet. Most beverages are packed with added sugars, which promote both weight gain and obesity. Say goodbye to juice, bottled smoothies, soda pop, specialty coffee drinks and alcohol. Your new best friend is water. Replacing sugary beverages with water is one of the easiest ways to cut back on hundreds of calories from sugar.



Additionally, drinking water has been shown to reduce appetite and increase metabolism. Being adequately hydrated helps enhance focus, memory, learning and in the sports world, reaction time, agility and movement. Yet, Americans only consume an average of four cups of water daily; this is significantly lower than what most people need in order to be hydrated.

To determine how many ounces of water you need per day, take your body weight in pounds and divide by two. This number is your minimal daily goal, though active individuals or athletes should aim to double it (1 oz/pound).

Other than water, healthy beverage options include unsweetened milk, black coffee, unsweetened tea and naturally flavored sparkling water such as La Croix.

2. Pack & snack.

Ever find yourself hungry between meals and scavenging for just about anything edible? We all know what happens next. You find the nearest vending machine, snack bar, gas station or… evil candy drawer.

“Hanger” causes most people to choose chips, chocolate, pop, energy drinks or candy rather than a nutritious, balanced snack that will satisfy you until your next meal.

In order to avoid this situation, plan and prepare your snacks ahead of time. For example, take 15 minutes on Sunday evening to prepare your snacks for the work week ahead. Consider pairing your favorite fruit or veggie with a protein or healthy fat source:

  • Carrots + hummus

  • Grapes + string cheese

  • Almond butter + celery

  • Peanut butter + banana

  • Apple + almonds

  • Pineapple + cottage cheese

  • Greek yogurt + berries


Planning and packing snacks ahead of time will allow you to make a stress-free, healthy choice. Lastly, our bodies can sometimes confuse hunger for thirst, so before making an impromptu snack-related decision, try drinking water first.

3. Cut back on sugar.

Added sugars are hiding everywhere. Although they are listed on nutrition labels, it can be tricky as sugar can be found under 50 different names. Many packaged foods that appear healthy, such as marinara sauce and nutrition bars, contain added sugars. Take that extra 30 seconds to scope the ingredients list for added sugars.



Men and women should eat less than 9 and 6 teaspoons per day, respectively. However, adults and teenagers consume an average of 22 teaspoons (½ cup) and 34 tsp (¾ cup) of added sugar daily. You may be wondering where all this sugar is coming from? It’s hiding in your favorite snacks, beverages and condiments, such as:

  • Low fat yogurt

  • Sports drinks

  • BBQ sauce

  • Flavored coffee

  • Chocolate milk

  • Canned fruit

  • Ketchup

  • Spaghetti sauce

  • Granola bars

  • Juice


Avoid foods that have some form of sugar listed among the top three ingredients. Though there are dozens of names for sugar, just remember: sugar is sugar. Organic sugar is sugar. Dextrose, honey, molasses, organic brown rice syrup… it’s all sugar.

4. Shrink your plate.

The size of your plates, bowls and containers can impact the amount of food you consume. Think about the last time you dined at a buffet; if the plates were bigger, you’d probably come back to the table with way more food, right? Individuals have reported that swapping larger plates for smaller plates at home has helped them reduce portion sizes and even lose weight. Speaking of portion sizes, here’s how you should go about filling your plate:

  • Start by filling half your plate with vegetables (1.5-2 cups).

  • Add 3-6 oz. of lean protein (size of the palm of your hand).

  • Add minimally processed starches (yams, potatoes) and whole grains (brown rice, quinoa); the portion should be no bigger than the size of your fist (1-2 cups).

  • Wait 10 minutes before helping yourself to a second serving. It takes time for your brain to realize you’re satisfied.




5. Focus on habits, not diets.

Have you found yourself dieting more than twice in the same year? If yes, this is a sign that you need to stop following diets that bring more guilt than results. Here’s the thing: research shows the average diet only lasts three weeks. Dieting is not a long-term solution.

Did you know it takes 21 days to form a habit? Instead of following some crazy diet for three weeks, focus your energy on creating a healthy habit for 21 days. Keep it simple—reduce your pop intake from three cans to one, or add a serving of veggies to your dinner every night. Over time, it will become a habit. Set a reminder on your phone or place a post-it note on your mirror. After 21 consecutive check marks, it should be second nature. That’s when you move on to the next one!

Danielle Rancourt is a performance dietitian with Sports Advantage. She enjoys cooking, baking, working out and spending time outdoors to keep busy.

Beth Ann’s Sports Advantage powered by EXOS Testimonial

Altru Moments - Published on January 9, 2018

Name: Beth Ann Nord

EXOS participant since: October 2017

More about Beth Ann: Mom of three young kids, enjoys being active, has always liked working out.

> > > > > > > 

Why Sports Advantage powered by EXOS:
I had a few friends who had been training there, so I heard of the program through them. I decided to give it a shot during the free open house week in September and really enjoyed it. It felt like the perfect fit for me, so I signed up.



What did you do for exercise before?
Prior to joining Sports Advantage, I worked out at a traditional gym. I focused mostly on strength as that is what I enjoy most. It was a good workout, but I didn’t feel I was getting the most out of my time like I did when I tried EXOS.

What’s different at Sports Advantage?
The EXOS methodology is a game changer. I’ve always been a regular at the gym, but this program was not only a great workout, it was also extremely fun. I genuinely look forward to going every day. You get a solid hour of exercise with appropriate warm-ups and a great combination of conditioning and strength. The team ensures you’re working hard, but you’re also being safe. I trust them, which is huge. I know they’re not going to let me get hurt!



Tell us about your Sports Advantage routine:
During my first year, I went two days a week. Just recently I signed up for the unlimited package. I wanted to be able to go whenever I wanted because I like it so much! I usually go to the 9 a.m. session, or sometimes I’ll go at 5:30 p.m. if I have a conflict with one of my kids’ schedules. I like the flexibility to be able to go when I want. I also enjoy having Danielle, the performance dietitian, available for questions. I feel like I have a good knowledge of what to eat, but it’s great to be able to ask her about specific things, for instance “I’m going to make pasta – what’s the best kind?” or “which bread is the healthiest choice?” She’s always willing to talk and answer questions. That’s a great benefit to the program.

Why would you tell someone to sign up?
You’ll get a balanced workout with knowledgeable trainers. Everyone who I’ve talked to thinks the same – it’s fun, it’s a great group. I’ve never left feeling like I didn’t get a good workout. And, it challenges all of us in a different way - the trainers make sure that the workout is appropriate for each person. It feels like it’s custom to your needs.

What would you say is the biggest benefit you’ve gotten out of your time at Sports Advantage?
I feel like the mental piece is the most important; it provides me with the longevity to stay active and keep up with three young kids. My workouts help me to de-stress and stay mentally balanced. It’s my me time.

Jeff Tellman’s Sports Advantage powered by EXOS Testimonial

Altru Moments - Published on January 9, 2018

Name: Jeff Tellmann

EXOS participant: Over 2 years  

About Jeff: Owns the Red Pepper with his wife, Nicki. When not at the restaurant, he chases his kids around and takes them to their activities. He golfs in the summer and plays and watches hockey in the winter.

> > > > > > > 

What’s your athletic or exercise background?
Prior to joining Sports Advantage, I would go to the gym on my own and work out on a variety of machines. I tried some at-home video programs, too. Most of my fitness came from activities – bike rides, golf and water sports in the summer, and playing hockey and snowboarding in the winter. 

Why did you choose Sports Advantage powered by EXOS for training?
The program was recommended to me by a friend – Dr. Jeremy Gardner, who is an orthopedic surgeon at Altru. He urged me to try it out, but I was hesitant to get into a group-class setting. I finally caved and went one evening. After one session, I knew it was something I would enjoy long-term so I signed up on the spot.

What has your experience at EXOS been like overall?
I love it; it’s a great workout environment. Like I mentioned, I never thought I’d like a group workout, but it’s awesome to have familiar faces there every day. We have built our own fitness community. On top of that, I am in the best shape I’ve ever been.

What was your goal when you joined?
In a nutshell: to get into better shape. Before I joined, I was overweight. I was also starting to feel stiff and old. I always had a sore back or stiff joints. The more I did the workouts, the more I felt the benefits – my aches and pains were going away, and overall, I felt like I had more energy. You realize that building a strong foundation makes for a better quality of life, everyday things are easier and more enjoyable – from picking up laundry to skating with the kids at hockey practice.

What would you say is your greatest achievement thus far?
Last year I did the Mount Everest challenge on the Versa Climber, which is climbing 29,029 ft (the height of Everest) on the machine. I was able to complete it in 30 days, including two different sessions of 5,000 ft. Those sessions took about 45 mins each. When I first started at Sports Advantage, I was out of breath on the Versa after one minute; to be on there for 45 minutes was a paradigm shifter for me.



Do you follow any nutrition recommendations provided by EXOS?
I have changed my diet since I started working out at EXOS. My wife is a nutritionist so she helps me make adjustments. I’ve lost 35 pounds since this past spring and have kept it off. I still enjoy the Red Pepper, but I eat a few more taco salads these days.

Would you recommend Sports Advantage powered by EXOS to others?
I recommend the program all the time. Truthfully, I am often met with resistance. Some are intimidated, or some feel it’s spendy. I feel it’s worth every dime. This program has basically changed my life. I am a different guy today than I was two years ago. I was feeling over the hill, now I feel fit and like there’s nothing I can’t do.

6 Months, 70 Pounds, And Still Going | Katie’s Altru Moment

Altru Moments - Published on December 20, 2017

“I’ve struggled with my weight ever since I can remember,” shares Katie Ward, an oncology nurse at Altru Health System. “In my family, food was the center of everything. Having a hard day? Let's eat! Celebrating? Let's eat!"

The pounds continued to add on throughout her adult years and, after tipping the scales at 402 pounds, Katie knew it was time for a change. In March 2016, she joined Altru’s Weight Management Program.



Six months later, Katie had dropped 70 pounds. "It has been wonderful. My blood pressure is now normal; my cholesterol is in check. I actually weigh less now than what I lied about on my driver’s license!"



The Program
"I absolutely love the program,” shares Katie. “As a night shift nurse, they were able to personalize the program for my needs, including easy ways to fit in exercise and food plans that didn't require much effort. They also kept me accountable through an Altru app that logged my calories, exercise and water intake."

Katie continues, "When you go through the program, you feel like a member of the entire team. Everyone, especially Ann Mason, gave me unconditional support and guidance. They know each of us are there to try and better ourselves, and their goal is to help us achieve it."

Start in the Kitchen
Throughout her journey, Katie has re-learned healthier ways to eat.

“Frozen grapes are my new best friend,” smiles Katie. “They’re sweet, and you have to enjoy them slowly.”

“I bake a lot of chicken and add seasoning for flavor. I make eggs tossed with onion and green pepper. I also try to wash and pack my produce over the weekend, so it’s ready to go throughout the week with my busy schedule.”



Small Hiccup
“I have struggled with keeping the weight off at times, and have recently gained back 20 pounds after some recent stresses in my life,” admits Katie. “However, I am determined to not give up! I know I have the entire Weight Management Team behind me and willing to help me get back into those healthy habits. I know exactly what it takes to make the pounds come off and I know I can depend on them to help me reach my next goal of getting under 300 pounds."

Altru's Weight Management program offers an "Application" phase after completion of the six-month program. This includes monthly meetings on various topics, weekly weigh-ins and emails that provide advice, encouragement and new challenges. They also offer weekly workouts with Rachel Aure, Altru’s exercise specialist. Rachel shows you how to modify basic workouts to best fit your abilities and any health challenges you may have.

For Her Family
Katie's inspiration to get back on track is her family. Ryan, her nine-year-old son, is active in sports and constantly wants to play with his mom.



"After losing the weight, we have been able to do more activities together,” shares Katie. “He and my husband love playing basketball and swimming. I love being right beside them instead of on the sidelines. One of my proudest moments was when my son was able to wrap his arms all the way around me for the first time."

While Katie is still working toward her goals and understands the everyday struggle of losing weight, she shares this advice for anyone thinking about starting: “The experts in Altru’s Weight Management Program will give you exactly what you need. Use the tools, and they’ll help you get there.”


Ready to take the leap to a healthier life? Think through these questions to understand your readiness for Altru’s Weight Management Program. Contact us at weightmanagement@altru.org or 701.780.6729, or make an appointment via MyHealth.

Anti-hibernation: Avoiding Winter Weight Gain

Enrich - Published on December 8, 2017

There’s no denying winter is upon us. Snow scrapers have reclaimed their spot in the backseat and darkness strikes at 5 o’clock. For some folks, winter is a breeze; meanwhile, others question why their belt seems a little tighter without having made any significant changes to their diet and exercise routine. So what causes this sneaky seasonal weight gain and what can we do to fight back?



Food Composition
Ever find yourself craving a fresh, crisp salad during a cold winter day? Probably not. Why? Because the type of food we desire varies seasonally. In warmer months, we crave more carbohydrate-based foods like fruits, veggies, pasta salads and sweet beverages. Once autumn falls upon us, we tend to crave fattier, calorically dense comforts foods like casseroles, specialty coffees, macaroni and cheese, and creamy soups. In restaurants where soup or salad is offered as side options, notice that most people tend to choose salad in the summer and soup in the winter. This overlooked unconscious swap from a light salad to a small yet heavier soup is one example of how those 1-4 pounds might sneak up on us during colder winter months. Our portion sizes may remain the same; however, our caloric intake can be greater due to fat providing more calories than carbohydrates and proteins. Though swapping a salad for a soup may seem minimal, over time these small differences in macronutrient composition can add a notch to the old belt.

Darkness
Some people claim to feel more tired and less motivated during fall and winter. Summer workouts go from being a daily occurrence to an “I’ll go tomorrow.” For those looking for an excuse, you can potentially blame melatonin. When the sun goes down, the body begins to actively produce melatonin, the hormone that causes the body to feel less alert, helping one feel sleepy and fall asleep. This may be one of the reasons some don’t feel motivated to exercise, cook or simply do anything once the sun goes down. 

Holidays
It’s a given that the holiday season is filled with social gatherings, which typically revolve around one thing: food. What most people don’t realize is that it’s not the holidays per se that lead to weight gain… it’s the aftermath. Think about Halloween night, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. Though we might consume two handfuls of candy on Halloween night and an extra-large serving of turkey and pie on Thanksgiving Day, consider the days following. One word: LEFTOVERS. And not just a day’s worth of leftovers, but multiple! The point is, a few Christmas cookies isn’t going to make or break the scale, but a few Christmas cookies every day for 7-10 days definitely might make it budge.

To Do List to Fight Winter Weight Gain:

1. Move more, sit less.
Humans are not meant to sit for long periods of time. However, most spend over ten hours per day sitting! Metabolism slows after just 30 minutes of sitting. This said, stand whenever possible: when talking on the phone, waiting for a ride and please, use your legs to personally deliver a message instead of calling, emailing or texting. We are all guilty of texting someone down the hall…

Be active every day, whether that means taking your dog out, practicing yoga, hitting the gym or simply walking during a part of your lunch break. Start with 10-20 minutes a day!



2. Step out when the sun’s out.
Exposure to sunlight is thought to increase the brain’s release of serotonin. This hormone is associated with boosting mood and helping a person feel calm and focused, rather than agitated and stressed. This is why you might feel happier and more productive on bright sunny days vs. gloomy rainy days.

3. Get more vitamin D.
During warmer months, most can get their daily dose of vitamin D by spending just 10-15 minutes in the sun. That’s not so realistic during northern winters. Even if it’s sunny, we are so layered up that we aren’t absorbing those rays. Therefore, consider taking a vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) supplement (2,000 IU/day), consuming 12 ounces of fatty fish such as salmon, tuna or mackerel per week, and making sure your milk is fortified with vitamin D.



4. Eat home-cooked meals.
Cooking at home leads to an increased consumption of fruits, vegetables and whole grains in addition to a decreased consumption of carbohydrates, sugar, fat, sodium and total calories. Home-cooked meals also provide more fiber, calcium and iron compared to food purchased or prepared away from home. Plus, you could save thousands of dollars each year by cooking rather than having someone else do it for you.

Utilize slow cookers, rice cookers, instant pots and one-pan meals to save yourself some precious time. Some slow cooker meals take ten minutes or less to prep; everyone has ten minutes!

5. Track your weight.
Catch gains before they happen by tracking your weight or how your clothes fit. Research shows that individuals who weigh themselves on a consistent basis (daily or weekly) can avoid putting on weight and lose weight, too! Though weighing-in cannot be directly linked to weight loss, it appears that frequently “checking in” motivates people to engage in healthier eating and exercise behaviors.

6. Get the ball rolling.
Don’t let winter keep you from reaching your goals. Start by making a list of what you want to accomplish and focus on just one thing at a time. Then, dissect tasks into tiny pieces to make them more achievable. For example, the hardest part about exercising is not the actual workout; it’s initiating the first step. It’s getting off the couch. It’s getting your workout clothes on. It’s driving to the gym. Once you get the ball rolling, it’s all downhill from there! So don’t think about the lengthy process. Just think about the very first thing you need to do, whether it’s putting your socks on or taking out the cutting board.

7. Enjoy yourself.
The holidays can be crazy and stressful. Don’t forget to take time to enjoy it. When you find yourself running around, pause. Breathe. Take a minute to appreciate the festive decorations and Christmas spirit. Also, don’t forget to take a minute for yourself; get your nails done, take a bath or slowly savor your favorite cup of coffee.



When it comes to the abundance of delicious food, find a balance between depriving yourself and overdoing it. Have a Christmas cookie or two and enjoy every bite; just don’t eat the entire batch!

Danielle Rancourt700x700_Rancourt is a performance dietitian with Sports Advantage. She enjoys cooking, baking, working out and spending time outdoors to keep busy.

Altru’s Twelve Days of Health

Enrich - Published on December 4, 2017

“On the first day of Christmas, my doctor sent to me…” In honor of the well-known carol, Twelve Days of Christmas, we here at Altru have created our own rendition of the familiar song: Twelve Days of Health. As the festive tune goes, we too will begin with one item essential to your health.



1 Colonoscopy
 Due to advancements in detection and treatment, colorectal cancer death rate has been dropping for more than 20 years. When detected early, it’s treatable. If you're over 50, give yourself the gift of prevention. Schedule a colonoscopy >>

Men: No More Than 2 Alcoholic Drinks Per Day
Alcohol is often at the scene of holiday parties. If you choose to drink, do so only in moderation. For healthy adults, that means up to one drink per day for women and up to two per day for men (under age 65). Learn more from Mayo Clinic >>

3 Weeks to Make or Change a Habit
Did you know it takes three weeks to make or change a habit? Food for thought: If you started your New Year's resolution now, it would feel natural to your daily rhythm by January 1. What's one habit you'd really like to make or change?

4 to 5.6% is the Normal Range for Hemoglobin A1c Levels
For people without diabetes, the normal range for the hemoglobin A1c test is between 4 and 5.6 percent. The test provides an average of your blood sugar control over the past two to three months. Someone who's had uncontrolled diabetes for a long time may have an A1c level above 8 percent. Learn why it's important to take care of diabetes >>

5 Workouts Per Week of at Least 30 Minutes
For optimal health, try and get 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week. This could mean five 30-minute workouts, or whatever fits into your life. For more health benefits, add regular strength training into your routine >>

700x700_5 workouts

6 Ounces of Protein Per Day is the Recommended Amount Per Person
The USDA recommends that all men and women over age 19 should get at least 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. A few examples of protein-rich picks include: Greek yogurt, eggs, milk, beans, peanut butter, edamame, chicken and fish.

Eat 7 servings of fruits and vegetables per day
In the season of endless cookie and lefse platters, be the person who offers to bring a fruit or veggie tray instead. Aim for seven servings of fruits and vegetables per day to give your body the nutrients it needs to stay fit and ward off illness.

8 hours of sleep every night
Sleep is essential to good health, and most adults need between seven and nine hours every night. Small changes, like switching your bedtime routine, can make a big difference. Learn more about healthy sleep >>

700x700_8 hours

9 weeks (on average) to go from couch potato to 5K runner
Dreaming of running a 5K this spring? The average couch to 5K program takes about nine weeks. Start slowly today and build up your endurance over time. Be sure to avoid joint pain with these tips >>

10 thousand steps taken every day helps promote a healthy heart
If you're not already hitting the gym regularly, start small by going for short walks throughout the day. Aim for 10,000 steps per day. Sitting at a desk all day? Every hour, take a quick stroll down the hall for water or a bathroom break.

11 ounces is the average size of human heart
Unlike the Grinch whose heart grew three times its size, healthy hearts grow proportionately with our bodies. The average female heart is about 8-10 ounces, while the male heart is about 10-12. Some conditions, such as high blood pressure, abnormal valves, an old heart attack or diseases affecting the heart muscle itself, can enlarge the heart. Our goal is to help you lead a heart-healthy, enjoyable life >>

12 Days of Health Infographic12 months in a year to practice healthy habits every day
While the 12 days of health comes to a close, we have 12 months every year to put healthy habits into practice. Get tips + insight from local experts at Altru Health System year-round >>

Lateral Epicondylitis – A Common Elbow Condition Caused by More Than Tennis

Enrich - Published on December 4, 2017

While you may not be familiar with the term lateral epicondylitis, you’ve likely heard of “tennis elbow” to describe a painful condition that affects the elbow, wrist, hand and lower arm. Unfortunately, avoiding a tennis match won’t keep you safe from developing this condition. Any activities that repetitively use the wrist extensor muscles may cause you to experience lateral epicondylitis. We sat down with Dr. Jordan McIntyre, chiropractor at Altru, to discuss this condition, its symptoms, causes and treatment options.



Q: What is Lateral Epicondylitis?
It is a painful condition involving the tendons that attach to the bone on the outside (lateral) part of the elbow. It is classified as an over-use injury that occurs when the attachment sites of the wrist extensors of the tendon become irritated and inflamed.

Q. Why is it commonly known as tennis elbow?
Tennis is a repetitive activity in which the wrist extensor muscles are used over and over. Due to this movement, elbow pain is common, and lateral epicondylitis is often seen in tennis players. This dates back to when British surgeon Henry Morris published an article in The Lancet describing "lawn tennis arm" in 1883. The popular term "tennis elbow" first appeared the same year in a paper by H. P. Major, described as "lawn-tennis elbow." 

Q. Are there any other activities that are known to cause it?
Lateral epicondylitis can be caused by any repetitive activity in which the extensors muscles are being used. Examples include:


  • Hammering

  • Typing

  • Painting

  • Knitting

  • Playing video games

  • And more.


Q. Who is at risk for developing this condition?
Those whose professions or hobbies include repetitive motion with their arm, wrist and hands. We often see it in painters, laborers, office personnel, and, of course, tennis players.



Q. What are some of the symptoms to look out for?
The symptoms of tennis elbow include pain and tenderness in the bony knob on the outside of your elbow. This knob is where the injured tendons connect to the bone. The pain may also radiate into the upper or lower arm. Although the damage is in the elbow, you're likely to experience pain when doing things with your hands.

Q. Can you prevent it? If so, how?
Some tips for preventing developing tennis elbow include:

  • When starting a new activity, gradually increase the amount of time that you are doing it.

  • Take frequent breaks.

  • Strengthen your wrist and arm muscles.

  • When pain begins, decrease the amount of activity you are doing with your hands.

  • Self-massage of the wrist and forearm muscles.


Q. Are there at-home treatment options that can be effective?
Yes, strengthening the wrist muscle along with self-massage can be effective, especially when you’re beginning a new activity. Also, using a wrist strap can help to decrease the pressure on the muscle insertion, allowing the injured area to heal.



Q. What are treatment options that are conservative/non-invasive?
We offer various treatment options that aim to decrease muscle tension in the forearm musculature and increase blood flow to the irritated area. These include the Graston® Method, massage and strengthening exercises for our patients. The treatment I most often recommend is dry needling. This treatment helps by releasing the muscles in the forearm to decrease tension on the insertion point, allowing the area to heal without having constant tightness and pulling on the affected area. It also helps to bring in blood and healing cells to the area that is inflamed to allow the body to heal.

Q. If those don’t work, what’s a next step for someone to treat it?
If these treatment options are not effective for the patients’ level of injury, the next step would be a referral to a provider at Altru Advanced Orthopedics. They may recommend cortisone injections or surgery on the area.

If you’re experiencing elbow pain, give our chiropractic team at Altru Advanced Orthopedics a call at 701.732.7620. They can work with you on an individualized treatment plan to help get you back to activity, pain-free.

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