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Living Well: Caring for dry winter skin

October through March, Dr. Laurie Good recites the following two rules to practically every patient who walks through her practice's door. As a dermatologist, now part of the MRH medical team, she sees every day what our cold, low-humidity climate does to winter skin. Following are her recommendations for keeping the flakes and itchiness at bay.

• Take a colder shower or bath — "When it's cold outside, we love our hot showers," Good said. "But in the winter, when we step out of a hot shower into the colder air of the bathroom, we lose all our moisture."

This is especially true if we're older. As we age, we become less adept at retaining moisture in our skin, she said. And some medications, such as statins, are further dehydrating to skin. So, Good advises, if your flaky skin is bothering you, try turning down your water temperature. "It's not a popular suggestion, but it works," she said.

• Moisturize every day — Whether or not you follow rule number one, Good's second rule for soothing the winter-skin blues is to gently blot your skin dry when you get out of the shower or tub — don't rub or wipe it —then immediately slather on a thick coat of a good moisturizer.

What's a good moisturizer?

"If it comes in a pump, it's not useful in our climate. Look for a thick, fragrance-free moisturizing cream that comes in a jar. Children and people with eczema may need to use an ointment, which is even thicker than a cream," Good said.

Of course, our hands in winter deserve special attention. They get extra-dry, because we plunge them into water to wash them many times a day.

"Those little splits and fissures on our fingertips are painful," Good said. "For hands, I recommend an emollient ointment, and I suggest applying a thick coat after every handwashing."

Good is a board-certified dermatologist who joined the MRH medical team in December. She practices full-spectrum dermatology for people of all ages, from children through seniors and sees patients in both Craig and Steamboat MRH locations.

Memorial Regional Health: Support essential in quest toward weight loss — Research shows emotional, social, practical support bolster weight-loss goals

Editor's note: The following article is sponsored by Memorial Regional Health.

Year after year, Americans make New Year's resolutions to lose weight, but research shows many completely give up on their goal by February.

Many weight loss resolutions include some kind of quick-fix fad diet, which research shows is one of the worst plans a person can follow in terms of long-term success. Fad diets usually claim to help you lose weight quickly — more than 1 or 2 pounds per week — often without exercise. Fad diet marketing campaigns show promising before and after photos, contain boasting endorsements from people who are likely being paid as part of the advertising, and usually require you to spend money on things like pills, books, seminars, prepackaged meals, protein powders, and more, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians.

At Memorial Regional Health, a new monthly weight loss support group is aiming to help patients who have had bariatric surgery succeed the healthy way by providing education, tools, and social support for living a healthier lifestyle.

The third Thursday of every month, MRH will host a different speaker to discuss various weight loss-related topics before opening the discussion for attendees to ask questions, said Adysen Jourgensen, registered dietitian at Memorial Regional Health. While the group is geared toward bariatric surgery patients, others can attend.

"These topics can vary from exercise to nutrition, and we are hoping to get some guest speakers who can come in and talk about the different bariatric surgeries and various other topics related to weight loss," Jourgensen said. "We are covering all of these topics in hopes of providing attendees more knowledge and various tips that individuals can use to achieve their weight loss goals."

Support works

Support, whether emotional, practical, or inspiring, is a major factor in achieving weight loss goals, according to The Mayo Clinic. Emotional support might be a shoulder to lean on when you're feeling discouraged, while practical support could involve someone watching the kids while you exercise. Inspiring support might include an exercise partner who motivates you on days you feel like giving up.

Psychological research shows it's easier to stick to a weight loss plan when you have support, according to the American Psychological Association. And just in October 2018, the Journal of the American Medical Association reported the findings of a weight loss study that showed intensive, multicomponent behavioral interventions in adults with obesity can lead to clinically significant improvements in weight status. These interventions focused on nutrition, physical activity, self-monitoring, identifying barriers, problem solving, peer support, and relapse prevention.

MRH's weight loss support group includes all of these components, and Jourgensen said she thinks it has the potential to truly benefit attendees.

"Being able to discuss practical ideas when it comes to meeting physical activity goals, different nutrition tips, and various other topics of interest in the weight loss realm with peers can be great," she said. "Support is huge when trying to achieve any type of goal, and building relationships with others who are experiencing the same things you are can really help with staying on the right track. I think the comradery that will come from this group will be huge in helping our participants."

Why fad diets aren't the answer

Unfortunately when it comes to weight loss, there are no quick fixes. That's not to say you can't lose a fair amount of weight quickly with a fad diet, but keeping it off becomes the challenge.

"Slow, steady weight loss is more likely to last than dramatic weight changes. Healthy plans aim for a loss of no more than 1 to 2 pounds per week," according to the American Academy of Family Physicians. "If you lose weight quickly, you’ll lose muscle, bone, and water. You also will be more likely to regain the pounds quickly."

Jourgensen said her rule of thumb is that, if you don't think you can eat a certain way for the rest of your life, then you probably shouldn't start it.

"Quick results are much more exciting and satisfying than long-term lifestyle changes," she said. "I think all of us enjoy instant gratification, so it is much easier to get discouraged when you aren't seeing immediate results."

So what's the best answer? Jourgensen said it's eating healthfully — including lean meats, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and limiting eating out — and in the appropriate portion sizes, and getting 150 minutes or more of physical activity per week.

One of the best tips Jourgensen has is to write things down — your weight loss goals, the "why" behind those goals, grocery lists, workout schedules.

"As simple as this sounds, seeing your goals each day and reminding yourself why you started the journey can serve as a huge motivator to continue working towards achieving them," she said. "Those who make a life-long commitment to eating healthier and exercising have the most success in terms of weight management in the long run."

Craig teen with muscular dystrophy inducted as honorary firefighter

CRAIG — Nearly 10 years ago, Craig’s JP Price was diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

The disease affects one's ability to move freely and can cause frequent falls, trouble with standing or running, and some learning disabilities. It has rendered JP mostly bound to an electric wheelchair.

But in the past decade, JP, now 13 has had some real life heroes take him under their wings.

Members of the Craig Fire/Rescue team inducted him as an honorary firefighter Thursday night.

"One of the cool things I get to do as fire chief is promote firefighters," said Craig Fire Chief, KC Hume. "Tonight, I get to do that again. But tonight, this is the first, at least to my knowledge, in the history of Craig Fire/Rescue, that we induct our first honorary Craig firefighter."

Hume fought back tears as he told a small crowd of firefighters and residents the impact JP has had on Craig's firefighters.

"We've developed a friendship," Hume said. "We see you quite frequently, and it's very special to us. I would offer up that you have made us a better team, have made us a better organization, and quite frankly, have made us better men and women."

Since JP’s diagnosis almost 10 years ago, Craig's firefighters have raised some $50,000 for the Muscular Dystrophy Association's Fill the Boot campaign.

JP Price visits with Tuft the dalmatian and firefighters during the Fill the Boot campaign — an annual fundraiser for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

"He's my nephew, and he come up with that disease about nine or 10 years ago," said Battalion Chief Troy Hampton. "I had been running the MDA fill the boot drive, and we started that back up again. Every one of these guys would come out and spend time with that little guy, and it's just become a family. We welcome him as one of our brothers now. We're a pretty tight-knit group."

A room full of Craig's toughest firefighters were watery-eyed as Hampton and Hume presented JP with a real firefighter badge, a one-of-a-kind challenge coin, and a bright red Craig Fire/Rescue jacket with a number that belongs only to JP.

"No one ever gets that number again," Hume said. "Your number is seven. It's displayed on your jacket and on your badge."

JP was also emotional Thursday, but he eventually pulled his teary eyes from beneath his Denver Broncos cap and thanked Craig's firefighters.

"I just wanna say thank you, guys, very much," he said quietly.

He said he hopes one day MDA and the Fill the Boot campaign will help to "find a cure."

Contact Clay Thorp at 970-875-1795 or cthorp@craigdailypress.com.

Dry January: Why take a break from booze?

"Dryuary" or "Dry January" started in 2013 in the United Kingdom and is gaining popularity in the United States. Committing to 30 days of not drinking alcohol is an excellent way to reevaluate your relationship with booze. As you explore other ways to relax and experience life sober, you will be improving both your physical and mental health. Caution: Chronic, heavy, and daily drinkers may experience life-threatening withdrawal symptoms and should seek the advice of a medical professional before attempting an abstinence program.

The negative effects of alcohol use may include liver damage, increased risk of many cancers, disrupted sleep, lost productivity, and often, disrupted relationships. Alcohol use also causes memory problems and impaired judgment. Even moderate use of alcohol may worsen depression and anxiety and cause impulsive behaviors. Many people commit suicide while intoxicated. 

With fewer than 30 days of abstinence from alcohol, improved sleep is almost immediate. Healthier looking skin and weight loss are common. Increased energy, improved mental clarity, and less anxiety result in more productivity and better moods. The sense of achievement is a powerful motivator to increase other healthy habits. Hobbies such as reading, exercising, or arts and crafts become more enjoyable. Thirty days of sobriety also results in an improved immune system and better liver function, and most people maintain these benefits well beyond the 30 days.

Research shows that habitual drinkers are often unaware of how much they are drinking and may not know the definition of moderate drinking. The latest research as published in The Lancet (April 2018), suggests moderate drinking should not exceed five to six standard drinks per week or about one standard drink per day — but not daily drinking! Also, moderate drinking means limiting how fast you drink and, as a result, keeping your blood alcohol concentration below .055, which indicates that, no, you should not drink all five to six drinks on one day. In certain situations, no amount of alcohol is considered safe, such as during pregnancy, when taking certain medications, when it involves those younger than age 21, or when driving or operating dangerous machinery. 

A standard drink is equal to the following

• A 12-ounce beer with 5 percent alcohol.

• A 5-ounce glass of wine with 12.5 percent alcohol.

• 1.5 ounces of 80 proof liquor.

Dry 30 offers the opportunity to reset drinking habits toward moderation. Studies show that, after completing "Dryuary,” most people continued to drink less up to eight months later. There are many online sources for self-assessment and support during a Dry 30, including Rethinking Drinking, Moderation Management, moderatedrinking.com, dryuary.org, alcoholchange.org.UK, and SAMHSA.

If moderation is not possible, there may be evidence of alcohol addiction or dependence requiring professional help. Mind Springs Health offers individual assessment of alcohol use and many approaches to treatment, including individual and group therapy, as well as pharmacotherapy. Why wait? Give dry a try!

For more information, contact Mind Springs Health at mindspringshealth.org.

Mary Horn, MN, FNP-BC, PMHNP-BC, APN, is an advanced psychiatric nurse practitioner for Mind Springs Health and is committed to reducing the stigma of mental illness through community education. She can be reached at 970-920-5555. For more information about local mental health resources, mindspringshealth.org.

Memorial Regional Health Hospital board to consider investing in drug, alcohol treatment program

CRAIG — A two-year, $502,639 investment in a public-private partnership for a drug and alcohol treatment program will be considered for approval when the Memorial Regional Health Board of Trustees meets at 6 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 17.

The comprehensive program would see people struggling with substance abuse treated through telemedicine and local residential treatment programs offered through the partnership.

In addition to considering approval of two consent agendas, the board will also hold concurrent executive sessions to consider the 2018 fourth-quarter risk report under the mandatory non-disclosure provisions of Part 2, Article 72 of Title 24 C.R.S. § 24-6-402(4)(g) and review matters of negotiation pursuant to C.R.S. § 24-6-402(4)(e); and to review physician contracts pursuant to C.R.S. § 24-6-402(4)(f).

Members of the board will meet for dinner at 5 p.m., and the meeting will follow in the conference room at The Memorial Hospital, 750 Hospital Loop Road.

To view the complete agenda, visit memorialregionalhealth.com/wp-content/uploads/1-17-19-bot-agenda-please-post.pdf.

Superfood Tip: Seafood is good for you — eat it!

Vary your protein routine by adding seafood to your weekly menu twice per week, according to current advice from the government and health organizations.

Seafood is a nutrient-rich food that is a good source of protein, vitamins, and minerals. Scientific studies continue to explore the relationship between the unique type of fat found in seafood — the omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA — in the prevention or mitigation of common chronic diseases.

Select a variety of seafood, include some that are higher in oils and lower in mercury, such as salmon, trout, and herring, according to dieticians at choosemyplate.gov. Canned seafood, such as salmon or tuna, is quick and easy to use.

Like other perishable foods, foodborne illness caused by microorganisms or naturally occurring toxins is the primary food safety risk associated with seafood. Many scientific studies have found that the benefits of eating seafood greatly outweigh the risks and that removing seafood from the diet can have negative effects on human health.

Source: seafoodhealthfacts.org

Fitness tips: 5 ways to get kids more active

Physical activity is important for children and adults of all ages. Children need 60 minutes of exercise per day. Follow these tips to add more activity to your family's busy schedule.

Set specific activity times: Determine time slots throughout the week when the whole family is available. Devote a few of these times to physical activity. Try doing something active after dinner, or begin the weekend with a Saturday morning walk.

Include work around the house: Involve kids in work and other active chores around the house. Have them help you with shoveling the walks or vacuuming the floors.

Include other families: Invite others to join your family activities. This is a great way for you and your kids to spend time with friends while being physically active. Plan parties with active games, such as bowling or an obstacle course.

• Turn off the TV: Set a rule that no one can spend longer than two hours per day playing video games, watching TV, and using the computer (except for school work). Instead of a TV show, play an active family game, dance to favorite music, or go for a walk.

• Use what’s available: Plan activities that require little or no equipment or facilities. Examples include walking, jogging, jumping rope, playing tag, and dancing.

Source: choosemyplate.gov

Living Well: Ear infections common, but shouldn’t be ignored

If your children have never had an ear infection, they're anomalies, because five out of six kids experience an ear infection by their 3rd birthday, according to the National Institutes of Health. Ear infections cause pain, often indicated by tugging on the ears, loss of appetite, irritability, fever, and other cold-like symptoms. If symptoms last more than a day, especially for a child younger than six months old, it's a good idea to call your doctor.

Ventilation of the middle ear is accomplished through the eustachian tubes, a pair of narrow tubes that run from the middle ear to high in the back of the throat. The eustachian tubes are narrower and more horizontal in children, which makes the natural process of healthy draining more difficult. Swelling, inflammation, and mucus in the eustachian tubes from an upper respiratory infection or allergy can cause the accumulation of fluids in the middle ear, which can become infected.

When your child has multiple ear infections in a year, your pediatrician might refer you to an ear, nose, and throat specialist. An ENT might recommend ear tubes, small tubes placed in the eardrum to allow air to enter the middle ear and prevent fluids from accumulating and usually remain in the ear for six to nine months. While the decision to place tubes in the ear is a big one, left untreated, chronic infections can cause hearing loss and affect speech development. Ear tubes may also help prevent or at least reduce recurring ear infections.

"We have firm criteria on when to place ear tubes, and I am a stickler on meeting those criteria. Sometimes, I advise waiting if we're coming out of the cold and flu season," said Dr. Robert McLean, ENT physician who sees both adults and children at Memorial Regional Health.

According to the Mayo Clinic, ear tube placement is relatively safe but does require general anesthesia and, of course, like any surgical procedure, has some risk. The tubes aren't permanent and usually fall out on their own.

Risk factors for children can include group child care, due to greater exposure to infections and cold; exposure to tobacco smoke or high levels of air pollution; and just the winter months, when colds and flu are more prevalent. Babies who drink from a bottle, especially when lying down, tend to have more ear infections than breast-fed babies.

While more common in children, adults can get ear infections, too. Symptoms can include dizziness or vertigo, nausea and vomiting, problems with balance, hearing loss, ear pain, and sometimes fever. Treatment can include antibiotics, or just time, if your physician thinks the infection is viral rather than bacterial.

4-H open house tonight at Moffat County Fairgrounds

Moffat County’s 4-H group will continue to honor the long legacy of Moffat County’s farmers and ranchers tonight at the fairgrounds.

The Moffat County Extension Office will be hosting an open house event from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday for all families and friends of Moffat County’s 4-H program.

The open house will be inside the Moffat County Fairgrounds Pavilion.

Residents can learn about 4-H and the programs offered in Craig or enroll in said programs.

For more information, call the Moffat County Extension Office at 970-824-9180.

Three Moffat County organizations receive funding from El Pomar Foundation

CRAIG — Three local organizations received support after the El Pomar Foundation Board of Trustees approved a $200,000 allocation to 14 nonprofit organizations in the northwest region during the Foundation's September and December trustees meetings.

Memorial Regional Health Foundation will receive $30,000 toward construction of its medical office building, and Connections4Kids was awarded $2,500 in general operating support. Both grants were awarded through a competitive process.

“The competitive process remains the foundation's primary vehicle for organizations to receive funding,” El Pomar wrote in a news release.

In addition, the Boys & Girls Club of Northwest Colorado received a regional merit award of $5,000 in general operating support.

“In an effort to increase impact and establish connections across the entire state, the Regional Partnerships program was established in 2003. Each of the foundation's 11 regional councils advises El Pomar trustees and recommends grants to help support its communities. Applications for regional council grants and regional merit grants are accepted by invitation only,” according to the news release.

Founded by Spencer and Julie Penrose in 1937, El Pomar Foundation has an established legacy of general purpose grantmaking. El Pomar contributes approximately $22 million annually through grants and community stewardship programs to support Colorado nonprofit organizations involved in health, human services, education, arts and humanities, and civic and community initiatives.

To view a full listing of El Pomar's funds and grantmaking areas, visit elpomar.org/grant-making/el-pomar-funds/.