Don't let the holidays undermine your health goals

LACONIA — Come Jan. 1, many will resolve to adopt a healthier life style, with healthy eating and increased activity. However, that resolution often follows a couple of weeks of just the opposite, as the holiday season is rife with pitfalls for those looking to improve their health. A couple of local health experts urge soon-to-be resolvers to take a few steps that will give them a head start when the new year arrives.

One of the hazards of the holidays, noted Liz Littell, personal training manager at The Fitness Edge in Meredith, is stress. There's the emotional stress of family gatherings and pressure of finding everyone the perfect gift, and the financial stress of getting it all done within a budget. Meanwhile, all the extra events and shopping trips might leave the regular exercise regimen by the wayside.

"Make it a point to do something," said Littell. "It will help with the extra calories, and it will help with the stress."

Many people equate exercise with an hour spent at the gym. That's not always in the cards, she realizes, but urges that just a little activity is much better than inactivity.

"It doesn't have to be so intense," she said.

Find ten minutes, three times a day, to be active, and better health outcomes will follow. She suggested finding the farthest parking spot at the supermarket, instead of the closest, or climbing a flight of stairs five times instead of once. If there's a break in the day, take a walk in the woods or take a child to the playground, activities that burn calories as well as alleviate stress.

"It's the little things like that that can help you out," she said.

Laura Walker, holistic health coach at Sunflower Natural Foods in Laconia, said that the rich meals associated with the holidays can be mitigated by planning in advance. If there's a likelihood that such a meal is coming up, she suggested replacing another meal that same day with a healthy shake. Or, if attending a potluck, bring something healthy so that there's at least one good option to fill up on.

Walker said the most common mistake, especially at this time of year, is that people don't get enough water.

"Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!" she said.

Caffeine and alcohol can be dehydrating, she said, so if drinking anything that contains those two chemicals, follow it with a glass of water. Continue drinking water in between meals, she said, but not immediately before eating. That can make digestion sluggish and ineffective.

"When you chug a glass of water, you dilute the acid in your stomach," she said.

With all the stress, travel and gatherings, the holidays are a common time to get sick. Walker said that's a good reason to try and get enough rest, and to avoid too much sugar.

"All bacteria and viruses feed on sugar," she said.

Littell recommended avoiding processed foods. It might be worth indulging in a dessert that was made by a loved one, but if the cake was store-bought, take a pass. She also suggests taking a sample size, or asking someone who's already tried an item, if the pleasure of eating it is worth the calories.

"Make sure it's really worth the indulgence," she said.

But the holidays aren't really about the food or drinks, said Walker. She said, make the parties about the other people there.

"Dance, move, laugh, sing and breathe," she said. "Focus on connections and conversation."

And, it might be the best move to simply decline an invitation if the season is already busy enough.

"It's OK to say, 'No.' It's OK to favor quality time at home with the family over going to that party," she said.

Taking these steps can help put a person in a strong position to continue a healthier life style in 2016. For those that will make a health-related New Year's resolution, Littell warned against setting unrealistic goals or picking an activity that isn't likely to be kept up.

"When thinking about goals for the future, don't make them so big that they are not attainable," she said. And with exercise, she said to find something fun. "In order to have true adherence, you have to enjoy it. The people who have the most success find something that they like to do."


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Electronic medical records for county home deemed an urgent need

LACONIA – Belknap County Commissioners are looking to get the Belknap County Nursing Home into keeping electronic medical records as soon as possible in order to stem an estimated $185,420 yearly loss in Medicaid income.
County Commission Chairman David DeVoy said interim Nursing Home Administrator Bob Hemenway recently told commissioners that the current record keeping system is ineffiicient and doesn't accurately capture all of the activity for which the county should be reimbursed.
The county currently uses PointClickCare software for the nursing home, but licensed nursing assistants do not have access to it, so they enter information on what they have done into another system at the end of the day.
DeVoy said Hemenway recommended that the county move as quickly as possible to install kiosks where the information can be entered throughout the day by the LNAs, which will ensure that the information is accurate and reflects all of the activities which are performed.
The county has already paid for wireless access throughout nursing home and purchased two laptops for the second phase of the medical records program, he said.
"We need to buy 12 wall-mounted kiosks for approximately $20,000, software for approximately $12,500, and there's a monthly charge of $1,627," wrote County Administrator Debra Shackett in a memo to the commissioners. She said the total cost for Phase 1 is estimated at $52,000, and that if the commissioners can get an additional $9,000 in 2016, the county can get the whole project online.
DeVoy said commissioners are looking at encumbering the needed funds from this year's capital improvement budget line so they can implement electronic medical record keeping as early as possible in 2016.
"If we wait and go through the 2016 budget process, it could take us until May or June before the program is implemented. It will cost about $90,000 we won't be reimbursed for. And I'm sure there will be other savings from the program. It's a win-win for us if we do this as soon as possible," said DeVoy.
He pointed out that the nursing home currently hires registered nurses who come in at the end of the month to work on the files, and that is another expense which can be eliminated.
"We're the only county nursing home in the state without electronic medical records. We want to be ready to pull the trigger and move ahead on this," he said.
DeVoy said that commissioners will hold a special meeting on Wednesday, Dec. 30, at 3 p.m., to take up the issue. They are scheduled to meet at 4 p.m. that day with the Belknap County Convention's Executive Committee to take up budget transfer requests.

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Meredith 2016 budget shows 7 percent tax hike

MEREDITH — Despite some misgivings about the magnitude of the projected increase in the property tax rate, the Board of Selectmen this week unanimously approved the 2016 town budget presented by Town Manager Phil Warren.
A public hearing on the 2016 budget will be held during the regularly scheduled meeting of the selectboard on Monday, Feb. 1, beginning at 4:30 p.m.
The selectmen propose total appropriations of $14,265.952, an increase of $216,916, or 1.5 percent. The budget includes includes 2 percent increase in the wages and salaries of town employees, additional personnel in the Town Clerk/Tax Collector's office and the purchase of a tub grinder, which reduces wood and green waste, for the solid waste facility.
The budget projects revenues from sources other than property taxes of $4,734,925, supplemented by $750,000 from the undesignated fund balance. After adjusting for overlay and war service credits, the amount to be raised by property taxes is $9,041,777, an increase of $584,462, or 6.9 percent. The projected tax rate of $5.14 represents an increase of 33 cents, or 6.9 percent.
"That is quite a burden," said selectmen Ray Moritz, who asked Warren to "double your effort to get that increase down to 5 percent. He suggested trimming $158,000 from the budget.
Warren suggested drawing another $200,000 from the undesignated fund balance.
"We have the capacity," he said, explaining that the policy of the board has been to maintain a fund balance of at least 7.25 percent of the budget.
Moritz disagreed. "We have no wiggle in the fund balance," he said while also ruling out any reduction in capital outlays.
"I wish I had something to offer you," Warren replied, "but I don't."

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