Wednesday, October 03, 2012
So here is what is up with me. I have been...
*Doing Pilates three mornings a week for three weeks
*Lifting free weights two or three days a week for a month
*Running three or four times a week for three months
*Cycling once a week
*Hiking when I can
*Camping or staying at cabins when I can
*Hashing every other Saturday
*Playing (I WENT ICE SKATING!)
*Doing my chores
I started swim lessons again, to the detriment of the running scheme. That is okay. It is good cross training. I should be able to hold on to my regular 10 Ks and start increasing weekly mileage again when swim lessons are over.
Monday, July 23, 2012
What should health care plans pay for?
There has to be some parity in health care plan expenditures among people who maintain general health and those need medical care. Those of us lucky enough to maintain general health pay more with less return than those of us who need medical treatment. It does rankle a bit, especially when maintaining a healthy weight is involved.
I was morbidly obese for years. I suspect had I documented efforts to lose weight and been unsuccessful I could have been a candidate for medical intervention, surgery or nutrition plans. I certainly had some co-morbidities for obesity including joint pain and creeping high blood pressure.
None of the options I exercised for reducing my mass are covered by my health care plan except for when I got injured in 2011, nor are they covered in an IRS-approved flexible heath care spending plan. I paid for these things out-of-pocket after taxes: gym membership, bicycles, running shoes, skis, nutritious food (instead of prescribed weight loss meals). And these things have contributed to my mental and physical health.
However, had I been taking care of my general health all along I wouldn't have been morbidly obese. Therefore wellness - how to encourage, reward, and mitigate costs of wellness without being a huge draw on the insurance accounts when a medical problem occurs - is a good goal.
What started this line of thought is a discussion on whether or not I should seek a prescription for a massage from my physician. As it stands, I can only get my health care plan to pay for massage as it relates to a medical condition. I could get a referral to a chiropractor or physical therapist to make a plan to treat injury or pain. I am not injured or in pain right now.
Massage for my general wellness would be nice. Should insurance pay for it when I do not have a medical condition except being active and alive? Well... no.
I suppose it would be different if massage really worked as a de-stressor for me. It turns out cognitive therapy has been a better way for me to manage chronic stress and emotions than massage. It costs a little more, and is covered by my employee assistance program (with co-pay) but for me has a lot of benefits.
In a way, it is parity, isn't it? I am incurring mental health care costs to keep my physical health care costs in check. For me, my mind comes before my body. My body will follow where my mind leads. The cognitive therapy has helped my mind listen to my body, and my body followed by being active and healthy.
I also think there is parity in the costs in the money I save and the costs I don't incur. I have more money in my pocket because I have fewer and lower co-payments. There are the costs that can't be quantified as I pursue a happy, healthful lifestyle with good relationships.
Thursday, July 19, 2012
What are your favorite employer-sponsored wellness programs and benefits? How do they work? What costs do you pay? How did you learn about them? What benefits are on your wish list?
I was selected to participate on the 12-member AlaskaCare Wellness Committee. AlaskaCare is the health plan for certain State of Alaska employees and its retirees. The committee serves as a workplace point-of-contact and advocates for plan wellness program involvement.
I used my health plan benefits to get where I am today and am keen on what works for you as part of my committee duties.
I *am* pleased with being selected. I had to apply online, I was not invited. I am proud to let people know about free options like SparkPeople. From my application essay:
"I finally learned how to take care of myself. When I was younger I didn't exercise, I ate poorly, and did not have a good grasp on my emotional health. By the age of 36 I was morbidly obese, with 250 pounds hanging on my 5' 2" frame. My blood pressure had crept up to 134/87. I had no energy. I was having difficulty with work relationships and field inspections, so my poor health was starting to impact my employment."
"I started using the employee assistance program in May 2009 to get my emotional house in order. In October 2009 I found SparkPeople, an online community of people like me who wanted to be fit and energetic. I learned how to track my nutrition and fitness for the first time in a daily, meaningful, results-oriented way."
"In May 2012 I can say I have maintained a 90-pound weight loss for over 12 months. I started by gently walking and using the elliptical at the gym. Then I bought a bicycle and started commuting to work. I bought a carbon-fiber road bicycle and started going for long distances. I learned to swim. I started jogging. I completed the 2011 Gold Nugget Triathlon. I ran my first 10 km event in October 2011. I learned to cross-country ski. I started hiking in earnest. I have shed insecurity, pounds, cholesterol, and blood pressure points. I have gained fitness, confidence, and like-minded friends."
"I will see 40 in 2013. As I look at my future, I don't see the diabetes that killed a grandmother, a grandfather, uncles, and aunts. I have reduced the likelihood of heart disease seriously impacting my retirement years. I discovered tools I can use to maintain my weight, stay moving, and feel fulfilled."
"The good choices we make every day are amazing and wonderful. They build a good life. I am interested in helping others discover their own good choices and using our workplace to empower and encourage making those good choices every day."
Make good choices, be well.
Monday, November 14, 2011
Letís take control of diabetes. Now.
November 14 is World Diabetes Day. This date marks the birthday of Dr. Frederick Banting, a Canadian medical scientist and doctor and Nobel laureate who isolated insulin with Dr. Charles Best.
Today I am wearing blue to acknowledge diabetes and its impact on world health and asking you to learn more. Diabetes affects over 366 million people worldwide. Diabetes is a killer, killing over 4 million people annually. Here in America more people die from diabetes than die from breast cancer and AIDS combined. Diabetes affects eye health, kidney health, heart health, gastrointestinal health, and nerve health.
Every day I make conscious decisions to maintain my weight and try to avoid developing Type II diabetes. I do my best to eat well and be active. Diabetes killed my paternal grandfather, my maternal grandmother, two maternal uncles, and a maternal aunt. I have friends and co-workers that continue to manage their diabetes through diet and exercise and monitoring their blood plasma glucose levels. I have other friends and co-workers that suffer because they donít manage their diabetes. I do my best to avoid the stress and pain caused by this disease.
I am asking you to learn more about reducing your risk of developing Type II diabetes and manage your own health. Move more, eat well (and less), and work with your physician to monitor your blood plasma glucose levels.
For more information on World Diabetes Day, please visit the International Diabetes Federation site at www.idf.org .
Friday, October 21, 2011
This week hasn't been easy. My senior cat Bandit was suffering from kidney failure and I had him put down Sunday afternoon. I miss my handsome cat. Many of us have lost loved pets and humans, and can relate to those feelings of grief. We all manage them in different ways.
I ate pizza and drank fuzzy navels for two days. Definitely emotional consumption of less-than-healthful options. I can accept this for a few days without guilt. Comfort food is comforting, and acceptable for the short term. I know how to not make a habit of it by tracking my food.
I invited a woman to come live with me in my second bedroom this summer, and she moved in last night. This causes some stress as I make a physical and emotional space for her in my home and change my daily habits. Like only using one closet, closing my bedroom door, and removing Bandit's belongings to storage.
I removed four bags of clothing and a big tote of household items. It feels good. Lighter. No more XL clothing!
This is simple stress, a physical stress of too many tasks and not enough time. When I have too many tasks and not enough time I often don't eat enough at the right times and Fast Fuelin' Freddie comes around. I've been trying to make sure what I do eat is satisfying and nutrient rich. My new roomie likes beer though. :)
I am managing. The acute pain is gone and I am adjusting as I know how.
I need some rest and less coffee.
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