Coping with Chronic Pain

Back after a long drought in the Ascent blogisphere!  An individual in the community was kind enough to submit an article to help our patients and others who deal with chronic daily pain.  We hope this is helpful!

 

yoga-1313114_1280.jpg

Image via Pixabay

Coping With Chronic Pain Naturally

Arthritis, fibromyalgia, and migraines are just a few conditions that could cause chronic pain, which affects an estimated 25.3 million Americans. If you’ve recently found out you’re one of them, medication and physical therapy might be part of your treatment plan. But there are also changes you can make on your own to cope with chronic pain. Here are a few tips to help you get started.

 

Cleaning Up Your Act

 

Research shows the more visual stimuli we have in our environment, the harder it is to concentrate on any one thing, according to experts quoted in Fast Company. Clearing clutter can improve your ability to focus and process information. Studies have also found that being in a cluttered environment can cause the stress hormone cortisol to spike, which can not only increase your stress, but your weight, both of which can make chronic pain worse.

 

Before clearing clutter, come up with an organized plan of attack that accounts for the fact you might need to take frequent breaks. After all, you won’t be able to enjoy the fruits of your labor if it causes your pain to flare up for days afterward. If you find a particular activity puts you in pain down the road, experts suggest using pacing strategies including breaking up tasks into smaller parts, working at a less-intense level, gradually increasing the time spent on a task until you know your limits, and varying activities frequently to activate different body parts.    

 

Emphasizing Exercise

 

Similarly, you should tailor your exercise routine to ensure your activity levels don’t aggravate your chronic pain or any other health concerns. But, if it’s approached correctly, physical activity can help people cope with chronic pain. In fact, engaging in moderate amounts of exercise can change people’s perception of pain and help those dealing with a chronic condition better perform everyday activities, according to one expert quoted in The New York Times.

 

Individuals should check with their healthcare providers before beginning a program, but there are some activities that are appropriate for many grappling with chronic pain, including:

 

Walking: This is a great form of light aerobic exercise that you can literally do at your own pace. And the only gear it requires is a pair of comfortable shoes. Experts suggest splitting up walks into shorter sessions throughout the day. You’ll reap the same rewards as those who do one longer walk and reduce the risk of overexerting yourself.

 

Strength training: Stronger muscles use less energy than weaker ones, so building them up can help you fight fatigue. Research has also shown strength training can help fight depression. Experts suggest starting with light weights and perfecting your form to get the most from your muscles and mood.

 

Yoga: Yoga moves through meditation, breathing exercises, and a variety of postures that help practitioners improve their endurance, energy, flexibility, sleep quality, and more. In addition to its physical benefits, yoga can also boost your mental health by making you feel less helpless about chronic pain and more in tune with the present moment.

 

Meditation: While it won’t help you work up a sweat, meditation is a mind-body practice that helps increase feelings of calm and relaxation while reducing the likelihood of depression, a common partner to chronic pain. While meditation won’t replace conventional treatments, experts say it can help people dealing with chronic pain put negative thoughts aside, focus on the present, and tap into a more positive outlook going forward.

 

And, who knows? Maybe your clutter catharsis will clear a space in your home that provides a perfect place for yoga and meditation. All you really need is a mat in a low-traffic area. You can also personalize your space with plants and add aromas with essential oils, for example. Almost any space can work as long as it feels right to you.

 

So you shouldn’t feel helpless in the face of chronic pain. Indeed, there are many steps you can take to cope with your condition that will improve your overall quality of life.

- Jackie Waters

Open Enrollment Time

We are once again in the thick of open enrollment.  This affects individuals and families who are looking for new insurance or considering changing insurance on the government health care exchange and patients new to medicare or changing medicare benefits.  There are also many large corporations that do open enrollment and review of benefits at this time.  Open enrollment began November 1st for the Health Insurance Marketplace.  The deadline for new coverage to start on January 1, 2017, is December 15, 2015.  The last day for enrollment or change in insurance is January 31, 2017.

This is a great time to look at your options and consider whether Direct Primary Care membership is right for you or your family.  I have seen insurance rates increase anywhere from 21% to 37% this year.  I have talked to so many families who are paying much more each month for health insurance than they are for a home mortgage.  You are paying higher premiums, still with high deductibles, and you can use that hard-earned insurance to go to the urgent care or emergency room when you are sick, where you will pay higher co-pays and get a hefty explanation of benefits 6 months later, because there is a very good chance you won't be able to get into your primary care doctor for a few weeks, or 4-6 months if you don't already have one!

Or you can get a membership at Ascent Direct Primary Care so you can see your doctor when you need to and your doctor doesn't change, even if your insurance does.  Our membership goes well with high deductible insurance that gets your premiums down each month, or even better, with cost-sharing programs like Liberty Direct or Medishare that are considerably more reasonable than most insurance plans.

Thinking about just waiting it out to see how things fall over the next year?  Likely insurance prices will still remain high regardless of the fate of the ACA.  It will take some time to increase options in the market, increase competition, and get costs down.  And if/when that happens, hopefully there will be even more affordable major medical or high deductible plans available that go great with direct primary care and save you more money!  

Now is a great time to make a change.  We would love to help by providing high quality, affordable and accessible primary care to you and your family!  Give us a call.  Happy open enrollment and have a blessed Thanksgiving!

Ascent is Turning 1!

Ascent Direct Primary Care is less than three weeks away from our first birthday!  What a year it has been!  It has been such a privilege to serve our patients!  We thank each one of our loyal patients and families for your support in our inaugural year.  We have seen and experienced some amazing things.  We have heard and enjoyed stories from our patients on how extraordinary and refreshing direct primary care has been for them - stories of time saved, time and care spent in appointments, costs saved and a level of care that is unexpected in this era.

We have seen the addition of new and exciting opportunities for patient healthcare, like Liberty Direct and our involvement as a Liberty Direct Premier Practice.  We are hearing of other expanding opportunities for direct primary care, as the movement gains traction across the nation.

We have some changes coming November 1st that we want to make our patients and prospective patients aware of.  Our introductory monthly rate of $39 per month per member will end on Nov. 1.  Members enrolling after 11/1/2016 will be at our regular rate of $49 per month per individual.  Their will also be an annual enrollment fee of $99 per member.  We will update the website with this new information soon.  

As a thank you to our loyal members who helped get us off the ground, you will be grandfathered in at your current rate, provided your membership does not lapse.  The annual enrollment fee will also be waived for members who stay current on their membership.  We will also continue to offer the introductory rate of $39 per month for anyone who signs up in October!  We will throw in a free flu shot for members who join the remainder of Oct.  (Missouri's first flu case of the season has already been reported!).  If you have been considering trying DPC and want to become a member of Ascent, now is a great time to do it!

Thank you again so much to the members who have made this journey through our first year of operation possible.  We pray for you and your families, for your health and blessings on your life, and we thank God for the blessings of this first year for Ascent Direct Primary care.  We look forward to another year entrusted with your care!

Big News!

We are excited to announce that Ascent Direct Primary Care is now a Liberty Direct Premier Practice!  This is a great option for responsible consumers of healthcare who are tired of the increasing costs associated with healthcare and are ready to look for a better way.  For our existing and prospective members, this is not mandatory or expected, and does not change who we are or how we operate.  It is simply another option in how you pay for your membership with us and cover additional healthcare expenses such as imaging, preventive services, emergent, surgical and specialist care.

Liberty Direct is a cost sharing program that recognizes the quality and value of direct primary care along with the need for wise stewardship of member healthcare dollars, as out-of-pocket healthcare costs continue to spiral out of control for many.  Like other healthcare cost sharing programs you may have heard of, Liberty Direct is comprised of members who pool their resources to cover one another's healthcare costs.  Each member, couple, or family has a monthly share amount.  Each year there is an unshared amount that the member is responsible to cover.  After that amount is met, healthcare expenses are eligible for sharing.  Healthcare cost sharing programs are not insurance and are EXEMPT from the Affordable Care Act.  Members are EXEMPT from the ACA insurance requirement.  Timely information, as Missouri's insurance exchange options narrow even more and costs continue to rise.  What makes Liberty Direct unique is its partnership with and commitment to direct primary care practices.  Liberty Direct actually pays a stipend toward your membership at direct primary care premier practices, like Ascent Direct Primary Care, that covers a substantial portion of our membership!

Ready to take back control of your healthcare spending?  Then read on for the details:

 

Liberty Direct Cost

  • Initial membership dues $125 for the first year then $75 each year thereafter.
  • Monthly share amount for individual, couple, family of any size (if youngest spouse < 30 yrs old): $149, $249, $399, respectively.
  • Monthly share amount for individual, couple, family of any size (if youngest spouse > 30 yrs old): $199, $299, $449, respectively.
  • Unshared amount for individual, couple, family of any size: $500, $1000, $1500, respectively.  After that amount is spent out-of-pocket on healthcare, additional costs are eligible for sharing.
  • Monthly stipend for direct primary care membership for individual, couple, family: $60, $80, $100, respectively.
  • Liberty Direct has not raised their costs in 5 years!

Eligible Expenses (not a comprehensive list)

  • Acute and first-time medications.  Maintenance medications are not eligible for sharing but a drug savings card is provided.
  • Vaccines
  • Preventive services such as colonoscopy and mammograms
  • Imaging such as x-ray, MRI, CT
  • Emergent care
  • Surgical care
  • Specialist visits
  • Supplements
  • Naturopathic/alternative medicine
  • Chiropractic care

Since Liberty Direct is not insurance, it can deny membership based on pre-existing conditions.  About 3-4% of applicants are not approved.  Others are approved with limited sharing on the pre-existing condition, with coverage for that condition increasing with each year of membership.  Diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, high cholesterol, obesity and smoking are NOT considered pre-existing and are not excluded from sharing.  Members with these conditions pay an additional $80/month in their monthly share amount to cover a personal health coach that partners directly with the member to establish a healthy lifestyle and prevent complications from these conditions.

Healthcare cost sharing programs present a great alternative to a system that has become unacceptable for many of us.  These programs are in-line with the aim of direct primary care in providing quality, cost transparency and accountability, and access to care.  Liberty Direct takes this innovation and commitment a step further in partnering with its premier practices like Ascent Direct Primary care to pay a monthly stipend for your membership.  We are excited to be a part of this!  We don't have to settle for the status quo!

 

Feel free to contact us or visit the Liberty Direct website at www.libertydirect.org.  The site has a live chat option in the lower right corner where you can get quick answers to questions.

 

Why DPC?

A few weeks ago our friend Dr. Jim Blaine offered me the opportunity to write an editorial for the upcoming issue of the Greene County Medical Society Journal.  I'll share it with you below:

 

On November 2nd, 2015, nine months from being just a thought or an idea, my wife Melissa and I opened Ascent Direct Primary Care in Nixa, MO.  At times, it has been like getting on a roller coaster that rapidly accelerates and decelerates then turns you upside down and leaves you there for awhile.

 

Why did we get on this ride?  The practice of medicine has changed.  I wanted to be a doctor to get to know my patients, to listen to them, to work through complex problems and to help motivate them to healthier living, and I wanted to make a suitable living doing it.  I’ve always practiced that way.  I didn’t get into medicine purely for data collection.  It isn’t enjoyable hurriedly clicking boxes like a surveyor, playing the coding game for insurance reimbursement, while half-listening to a patient for five to ten minutes then rushing to the next room.  It doesn’t feel like quality to me or to the person who came to me for my expertise.

 

While the current healthcare climate is fraught with frustrations including access problems, administrative and regulatory burdens, lack of cost transparency and overspending, it is the perfect environment for sparks of innovation and change.  Patients and providers alike seem to be reaching a tipping point.  Many recognize something’s got to give, and are ready to try something new; disrupt the status quo.

 

I am excited about the positioning of direct primary care to address some of the issues, provide some unique, though strangely familiar solutions, and reinvigorate the healthcare industry both nationally and right here in southwest Missouri. 

 

Let’s start with the access problem.  Direct primary care medical homes limit the total number of patients one provider will take on to remain accessible to the patient population the medical home serves.  Doctors with too many patients are unable to get patients in when they need to be seen, unable to handle simple things over the phone, and are unreachable outside of business hours.  This pushes patients toward emergency rooms and urgent cares when that level of care may not be necessary.  Some of the larger direct primary care networks have cited decreases in urgent care and emergency room visits of fifty to sixty percent compared to traditional medical practices.  Patients are able to access a more appropriate level of care and cut costs at the same time.  Some might argue that taking on less patients per practice will only worsen access issues.  I truly believe as doctors are able to spend the appropriate time with patients and patients get back the experience they desire and expect with their doctors, goals will align and satisfaction goes way up for both.  This increases the demand and will attract new physicians back to primary care in the long-term, as the profession begins to look attractive again.

 

Administrative and regulatory burdens do not disappear entirely.  Doctors have to learn to run a business in direct primary care.  You won’t escape prior authorizations.  But you have time to tackle those tasks because you are not spending your time and resources coding for insurance and clicking boxes in an EHR to document for the sake of documenting.

 

One of the greatest frustrations in healthcare is the overspending and lack of cost transparency.  Insurance premiums continue to rise, along with deductibles, at an alarming rate.  Explanations of benefits will continue to confuse, patients and providers are often completely unaware of the costs of medical care.  This is where direct primary care gets really exciting.  Practice overhead drops dramatically when you don’t have to throw all the resources at billing and coding for insurance reimbursement and the staff required to carry that out.  The savings get passed directly to patients and the physician can still make a very reasonable living.  Patients know what they are paying for and how much they are paying for it.  No explanation of benefits needed.  The direct financial relationship also adds a level of accountability for both the patient and the provider.

 

I won’t pretend to think that direct primary care is the solution to all of our nation’s problems with the healthcare system, but it sure takes and amazing crack at a lot of them.  There are still hurdles.  We need collaboration with insurers to provide products that mesh well with direct primary care; that offer lower premium options that cover the big stuff, the unforeseen surgeries, hospitalizations and true emergencies.  We need collaboration with specialists and with the larger hospital systems to provide patients with necessary screenings and care at an affordable rate.  I believe there is potential for that sort of collaboration and that it is beneficial for all sides and for the health of our community.

 

In our first five months of operation at Ascent Direct Primary Care, we have been able to do some really cool things for our patients, invest more time in their lives and their health, save them hundreds of dollars, often in a single office encounter, and completely surpass their wildest expectations of the doctor’s office experience.  I’m enjoying the ride.

Sun and Skin Care

This is a good time to talk about skin protection for all my fellow fair-skinned friends who are ready to get outside and soak up some sun.  I love this time of year when everyone is able to get outside more and be active.  I would encourage everyone to spend more time outdoors this month, but as spring hits full swing and we move into the summer months, don't forget to protect your skin.  We see skin cancers with ever-increasing frequency.  

There are simple steps you can take and make routine that can help prevent skin cancer for you and your family.  If you plan to be in direct sunlight for even 15-20 minutes, sunblock is a good idea.  Look for something SPF 30 or higher.  For longer periods of sun exposure, you should re-apply every 30 minutes or so.  Wearing hats or visors, especially with a wide brim the covers the ears, can give added protection.  Wearing lightweight, cool, long sleeved clothing can also help.  

Much of the risk for developing skin cancer comes from exposure to ultraviolet light that occurs when we are young.  Be especially vigilant about sunscreening your kids!  It is encouraging to see that each summer, swim shirts and frequent sunscreen application for the little ones seems to become more the norm than the exception.

For adults, using a facial moisturizer that has sun protection SPF 30 or higher first thing in the morning before you even leave the house is a good strategy.  Make sure to get the ears as well.  There are a multitude of good products out there.

If you have moles or skin spots that are new, seem to be changing, are irregular in shape, raised, or vary in color, come in and have your doctor look at them.  Early intervention can prevent major complications down the road and provide a better cosmetic outcome.  Early treatment can also be less painful and less costly.

Now, take your vitamin D supplement, put on your sunscreen, and get outside!

ADHD

Tonight I had the privilege of talking with Nixa parents at Mathews Elementary's Parent-Palooza about ADHD.  Here are some of the things we discussed:

Recognizing ADHD in your child:  ADHD can manifest primarily as hyperactivity, inattentiveness, or both.  If your child is restless, can't sit still, talks excessively, interrupts frequently, cannot play quietly, and is always on the go OR has trouble completely tasks or school work, has trouble listening, seems disorganized, avoids activities that require focus, can't follow through or is easily distracted, ADHD should be considered.  Now, some of this may seem like normal childhood behavior to many.  And it can be to some degree.  But if it impairs your child's ability to function in more than one setting (socially/at play, at school, at home) and persists for greater than six months, there may be more to it.  Input from your child's teacher is important.  There are a handful of good, validated rating scales that your doctor can administer to help clarify the diagnosis and distinguish ADHD from other behavioral or mental health concerns.  

Treating ADHD:  There are a number of behavioral interventions parents can initiate that will help their child with ADHD.  The main idea is to provide structure and consistency.  Have a regular schedule, use checklists to help stay on task, provide plenty of positive reinforcement, find activities your child enjoys and can excel at, use calm discipline.  Discuss educational resources available with your child's teacher or school.  When needed, medication, can be a great tool that can enable your child to focus and function at school and at home.  There are many facets to medication choice, effectiveness, potential side effects, and dosing schedules, that require careful consideration and discussion between you, your child and your doctor.

If you think your child may be struggling with ADHD, talk with teachers, schedule an appointment with your doctor, and have the conversation.

Go Red!

February is American Heart Month!  Heart disease is the number one killer of men and women in the United States, so we will take some time out from caucuses, primaries and the Zika virus (but feel free to call if you want to talk about the Zika virus), to focus on heart health!  A staggering one half of middle-aged men and one third of middle-aged women in our country will develop coronary heart disease.  Nearly 18 million Americans already have it.  

Some of the risks can't be helped, like age and your family history, but many of the risks for heart disease are preventable.  Some of these include smoking, high cholesterol, diabetes, and high blood pressure.  Here are some things that can help.  And you don't have to do them alone.  We can help!

  • Quit smoking.  There are nicotine replacement products and medications that can help you do this.  It also helps to have a friend or family member help hold you accountable.  Set a firm quit date, put it on the calendar, celebrate it.  Find healthy habits to replace your smoking time.
  • Exercise.  Strive for 30-60 minutes a day or 150 minutes a week of vigorous activity.  This will look different for different people.  Brisk walking, bike riding, swimming, jogging, running or taking up a new sport are all great, but even just being active outdoors with mowing or gardening can help.  Find creative ways to increase your movement.  Park at the back of a parking lot on a nice day.
  • Healthy eating.  Eat more whole, fresh foods and less processed foods.  Eat small, healthy meals at least three times a day.  Avoid foods that are high in sodium to keep your blood pressure normal.  This is an extensive topic, but keep it simple.
  • Lose weight.  If you are overweight, losing even just 5-10% of your current body weight can make a big difference.  We like to help with this too.

We are always thinking about our patients' health risks when we see them, including looking at each individual's risk for heart disease.  In February, in honor of American Heart Month, we are offering cardiac risk assessment to all new members, including a free EKG and lipid panel.  We hope you Go Red too and take action to reduce heart disease risk for you and your family!

Direct Primary Care Refresher: What if I already have insurance?

We routinely get questions about how direct primary care works for people who already have insurance.  Now is a great time to revisit this question, as the February 1st deadline for open enrollment approaches.  Insurance is a good thing.  It covers us when we have major events like accidents, severe illness, and surgery.  It is also currently mandated by law under the Affordable Care Act.  We encourage patients to carry some form of health insurance for the big stuff if they are able.  

On the other hand, what we pay for insurance isn't so good!  In fact, it is outrageous.  We see rate hikes every year in premiums and deductibles.  This is where direct primary care can help.  We as healthcare consumers collectively have been paying much more as the years go by for insurance to do more than it should; to cover our everyday medical care, minor illness and preventive care.  This has driven up the cost of primary care considerably.  We can still do primary care for our patients and families at a much more reasonable cost, with better quality of service than traditional practices that are stuck with the rules of third party payers (insurance companies).  We do this by not involving insurance companies.  

We encourage people to challenge the current status quo.  Look for high deductible insurance options to cover the big stuff and use us for your primary care.  For many, even if you made no change in your current insurance coverage, you would still pay less annually for your primary care using our membership than your current insurance deductible.  Below are some scenarios to illustrate this point using our membership, the best priced local health plan we could find, and a Christian cost-sharing ministry that meets the ACA mandate for insurance:

Single Adult

  • Our membership: $39/mo = $468/yr, no deductible.
  • CoxHealthPlans Bronze: $227/mo = $2724/yr, $6300 deductible, $6300 max out-of-pocket.
  • CoxHealthPlans Silver: $297/mo = $3564/yr, $3000 deductible, $6350 max out-of-pocket.
  • CoxHealthPlans Gold: $370/mo = $4440/yr, $1500 deductible, $5000 max out-of-pocket.

In this scenario, even the plan with the most comprehensive coverage still has a $1500 deductible.  That is over three times the cost of our yearly membership.  Even if you have expensive insurance coverage, you stand to save money by doing our membership if you never hit your deductible for the year.  Now compare that most comprehensive Gold plan to our membership plus the higher deductible bronze plan.  $39/mo + $227/mo = $266/mo compared to $370/mo with the Gold plan, a savings of over $100/mo or $1248 per year!

Family of Four

  • Our membership: $156/mo = $1872/yr, no deductible.
  • CoxHealthPlans Bronze: $666/mo = $7992/yr, $6300 deductible, $6300 max out-of-pocket.
  • CoxHealthPlans Silver: $869/mo = $10,428/yr, $3000 deductible, $6350 max out-of-pocket.
  • CoxHealthPlans Gold: $1085/mo = $13,020/yr, $1500 deductible, $5000 max out-of-pocket.
  • Medi-share high deductible: $265/mo = $3180/yr, $7500 deductible.
  • Medi-share mid deductible: $442/mo = $5304/yr, $3750 deductible.
  • Medi-share low deductible: $683/mo = $8196/yr, $1250 deductible.

Deductibles listed for the insurance options are for one individual.  The deductible for the family will be somewhat higher.  So, once again, our membership is still less than even the smallest deductible from the most expensive, comprehensive insurance plan.  Let's look at the potential savings when you combine our membership with the most affordable insurance option and then with the cost-sharing ministry.

Our membership and the Bronze plan: $156/mo + $666/mo = $822/mo.  Still more affordable than the Silver plan alone and a savings of $263/mo or over $3,000 per year compared to the Gold plan!

Now the cost-sharing ministry + our membership.  Medi-share does not cover preventive services, which pairs well with our membership, since we do!  Our membership + Medi-share high deductible option would be $421/mo, over $200/mo less than even the most affordable Bronze insurance plan.  That's almost $3000 less per year and almost $8000 less per year than the Gold plan!

Now, keep in mind, these are some of the most affordable carriers I could find, so other insurances may be substantially more expensive than what you see above.  And there is some nuance to all of this.  Pricing is going to vary based on age, smoking status, etc.  You have to study up, seek an expert, do your homework.  But it may be time for a change that could bring you substantial savings AND better healthcare!  Give us a call.

A Little Christmas Egg Blog, Anyone?

The holidays are always a difficult time to keep up healthy habits.  Schedules are busy, junk food abounds, we stop getting outside as much as the weather cools.  How do you fight the holiday and winter weight gain?  How do you stay in shape?  Maintaining healthy eating habits and regular exercise are vital to keeping our immune systems tuned for the onslaught of winter viruses.  Below, we would like to outline some ideas, offer a few recipes and give some tips for keeping the weight off through the winter.  If you have ideas, recipes or other thoughts on this topic, hit the "contact us" button and share those with us.  You can help us keep our members healthy!

1. Skip the egg nog, grab the water!  We can do a lot of damage with some of the things we drink.  Things like soda, sweet tea, chocolate or other flavored milk, juices and alcoholic beverages come loaded with calories and sugar.  Other drinks like diet soda contain preservatives or additives that are not good for our bodies and can still cause weight gain and problems with our sugar metabolism.  JUST DRINK WATER!  When patients of mine have given up just soda or sweet tea alone, I have seen an average of six to twelve pounds of weight loss in the first month.  Just that one change can make a huge difference. If water just won't do, try the orange cranberry cider recipe below.

2. I still can't believe I'm saying this, but back off the red meats and pork!  You don't need it everyday, and you're probably better without it at all (I can hear the outcries!).  Red meats and pork are increasingly linked to heart disease and cancer risk.  Eating leaner meats like fish, chicken and turkey (not fried) will have benefits for heart health and will help cut out fats in the diet and lead to weight loss.

3. Home for the Holidays!  Try eating more at home.  Eating out, whether fast food or fine dining, adds bad fats, salt, and higher carbohydrates.  Plan some meals at home at the beginning of the week and try to use fresh, whole foods for ingredients.  Eating out should be limited to twice a week.  Gathering around the table at home also strengthens family relationships. Spend time with the ones you love. 

4. Put some space between you and the fruitcake!  I don't mean that strange relative you haven't seen in two years who shows up at a family gathering.  Keep serving dishes off the table and in the kitchen.  Fill your plate with reasonable portions then have a seat.  Make it where you have to physically get up and move across a room to get seconds.

5. Move!  Be intentional about getting outside and being active.  Instead of slouching down on the couch and falling asleep to the football game, get the family up and out on a walk.  Keep it brisk.  For the more ambitious, get out and play a game of touch football in the yard, racquetball, or go for a jog.  Make an active lifestyle part of your family legacy and tradition.

 

Recipes:

Orange Cranberry Cider

Light cranberry juice (50% less sugar)

Light orange juice (50% less sugar)

Cinnamon sticks

Mix juices half and half in a sauce pan, warm with cinnamon sticks to desired temperature and taste.  Enjoy!

 

Mel's Stuffed Chicken

Chicken breasts

Laughing Cow light swiss cheese spread

Cheddar cheese, grated

Miracle Whip Light

Italian bread crumbs

Pound chicken out flat.  Spread cheese spread on one side of chicken, sprinkle with cheddar cheese.  Fold chicken and place toothpicks through the breast edges to keep it together.  Roll stuffed chicken breast in light miracle whip then roll in bread crumbs.  Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes and eat! 

Have a blessed Christmas season!