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Simple Resolutions for a Healthier You

While an ambitious resolution might seem like a great way to start off the New Year, setting the bar too high can lead to disappointment. This year, instead of focusing on one lofty goal, why not focus on simple changes that will affect your overall wellbeing. Below is list of easily attainable health and wellness resolutions to strive towards in 2019.

Eat your fruits and vegetables
Your mom said it over and over again. If you have kids, chances are you have said a few thousand times: “Eat your fruits and vegetables.” It turns out, all of that nagging is justified. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), in addition to providing essential vitamins and minerals that are important for overall health, diets rich in fruits and vegetables may reduce the risk of cancer and other chronic diseases. Christine Miller, MS, RD/LDN, CDE, owner of Advanced Nutrition Concepts, recommends 8-9 servings of fruits and vegetables a day. “Instead of just telling my clients to eat more fruits and vegetables, I tell them to serve a fruit and/or vegetable with every meal and then double the recommended serving size,” Miller explained.

For instance, if a ½ cup of broccoli equals one serving, double that to one cup and you will have knocked out two servings in one meal. By following this plan and adding in a double serving of a fruit or vegetable as a snack, you will meet the recommended daily allowance.

Check your food’s ingredients
The reality of this fast-paced world is that prepackaged food is a staple in a majority of homes. For years, the trend was to scan the labels of store-bought food for fat grams, calorie count and sugar content. While these factors are still important, Miller recommends paying closer attention to the ingredients on the label. “Most of us tend to buy the same products over and over again and it may be time to reevaluate our purchases.” Miller said. “Generally, the fewer the number of ingredients listed, the better.”

Foods with only one ingredient, such as fruits and vegetables that get their flavor from Mother Nature, are ideal. When packaged foods are a must, be sure they have a short list of easily recognizable names in the ingredients list. The longer the list, the greater the chance you are eating unnecessary additives.

Floss your teeth
Everyone knows that it is important to brush your teeth twice a day, but simply brushing is not enough. Flossing is the key to warding off plaque, that sticky film sticky film that collects between teeth and under the gum line. Plaque is a breeding ground for bacteria. If left unchecked, it can enter the blood stream and contribute to serious health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and respiratory infections.

Flossing can be done in the morning, at night, in the shower – whatever works best for you. Those who grumble about flossing because it makes their gums bleed, take note. According to the American Dental Association, bleeding or sore gums can be a sign of gingivitis, an early and reversible stage of gum disease – all the more reason to kick that flossing habit into high gear.

Know your family’s health history
It may not make for the most entertaining dinner conversation, but discussing your family’s health history is an important step in protecting your own health and the health of your children. “Your family’s health history plays a major role in giving your physician direction in your treatment,” noted Dr. Alexandra Zelenka, MD, of Premier Internal Medicine.

Having a close family member with a chronic disease, such as diabetes, heart disease or cancer, may increase your risk for developing that disease. The same holds true for health concerns such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Sharing your family’s health history with your physician helps him or her determine what preventative screenings and tests should be administered and when. For instance, Dr. Zelenka pointed out that a patient with a strong family history of breast cancer might be advised to undergo an initial mammogram before the standard recommended age. “The earlier we can catch something, the better,” Dr. Zelenka added.

The CDC recommends beginning the health history discussion with parents and siblings and then expanding the search to grandparents, uncles and aunts, nieces and nephews, and any half-brothers or half-sisters. Pay particular attention to family members who suffered from a disease earlier in life than expected or if multiple family members suffered from the same disease. Keep the information you gather in a central location that will make it easy to share with your physician and other family members. The Surgeon General offers a free web-based tool where information can be stored and printed. Visit to access this easy to use tool.

Get active
It is no secret that an active lifestyle plays a major role in overall health and wellbeing, yet it is easy to let exercise slide when the demands of life get in the way. The key is to view physical activity as an integral part of life rather than an added bonus when time permits.

The American Heart Association recommends adults work in 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes per week of vigorous aerobic activity, or a combination of the two. If that sounds overwhelming, don’t worry. You don’t have to achieve this fitness level overnight. Start by setting a reachable goal and then gradually work toward the recommended weekly activity level. A simple way to get started is by walking more – it is free, easy and can be done just about anywhere, including the numerous sidewalks and trails right here in Westchase and our Northwest neighborhoods.

To progress to more intense activities, certified health and fitness professional, Shannon Thigpen stresses the importance of looking for activities that will stick. “Consider what you enjoy doing as a foundation for choosing the activity. Think about the time of day you are most likely to stay committed to the activity. If you are a morning person, look for opportunities to do things earlier in the day. If you have a family, consider looking for activities you can do together,” Thigpen recommended.

Physical activity does not always need to be restricted to a set exercise regimen. “Combine exercise with daily living activities throughout the day, like standing whenever possible, moving around, chair squats from your desk, calf raises when reaching for shelves, balancing on one leg when doing dishes, etc. The options are limitless. You can burn calories, strengthen muscles and joints and become more flexible,” Thigpen said.

Finding an exercise partner or group of individuals with like-minded exercise goals can help maintain motivation and accountability. Thigpen summed up by offering this sage advice: “Be realistic, recognizing that life happens and setbacks or inactivity for a period of time should not equate to an all or nothing situation. Get back to it as soon as possible.”

Wear sunscreen every day
One of perks of life in Florida is the year-round sunshine. All of that glorious sunshine can wreak havoc on our skin, however. More than 90 percent of the visible changes that play out on our skin as we age are due to exposure to the sun. Ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun is also the main cause of skin cancer – now the most common form of cancer in the United States with more than 3.5 million cases diagnosed annually according to the American Cancer Society.

Sunscreen combines several ingredients that help prevent the sun's ultraviolet (UV) radiation from reaching the skin. Look for broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher. Broad-spectrum sunscreens protect against the two types of ultraviolet radiation: UVA and UVB rays. UVB rays are the primary source of sunburn, while UVA rays, which penetrate the skin more deeply, are associated with the aging effects of the sun (brown spots, wrinkling, sagging, etc).

And don’t let those rare cloudy days fool you. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, up to 40 percent of the sun's ultraviolet radiation reaches the Earth on a completely cloudy day. Your best bet is to get into the habit of applying sunscreen to exposed skin on a daily basis, reapplying every two hours on days of prolonged sun exposure.

Take a break from the gadgets
In this technology-driven age, information is at our fingertips 24/7. It comes to us in an endless stream of texts, tweets, emails and Facebook updates. While advances in technology bring a certain level of convenience to our lives, they also make it easy to succumb to technology overload. Setting aside time every day to unplug from the digital world will help avoid technology burnout.

Maria Aranda, Ph.D., a licensed psychologist, advises turning off all electronic devices one hour before bedtime. Aranda pointed out that docking the gadgets allows more time to talk to family members about their day, which in turn helps maintain good family relationships. She also noted that the pre-bedtime technology break might result in better sleep habits. “Shutting off electronics one hour before bedtime allows our bodies to unwind. Electronic devices with screens emit a blue wavelength that suppresses melatonin, the hormone our body releases that helps sleep onset. Decreasing levels of melatonin lead to difficulties with falling asleep,” Aranda explained.

To resist the urge to steal glances at your phone or tablet every time a message comes through, try setting up a docking station for the entire family where all gadgets should land at a designated hour. That email, text or tweet will still be waiting for you the next morning.

Aranda also advises parents to monitor screen time for children, so they do not exceed a pre-determined daily limit. “This could mean having kids not use devices on car rides, which can also help promote talking and interacting with family members,” Aranda explained. “Also, limit screens during all mealtimes. Again, without an electronic device in front of them, they will be more apt to talk or even read.”

Stay in the know
When it comes to protecting the health and well being of our children, the best defense is knowing where the dangers lie. Especially as children get older and begin to explore the world on their own, they may, sometimes unknowingly, take part in behaviors that can have long-lasting health consequences. Juuling, a discreet form of vaping, is one such behavior that is becoming rampant with teens. Electronic cigarettes are devices that utilize stored electricity to heat a liquid into vapors, which are then inhaled by the user. The liquid can be anything from a flavored water-type mixture to liquid nicotine to THC, the principal active element of marijuana. JUUL is a brand of e-cigarette that is currently cornering the market with teens due to its sleek design that is easily concealed and provides a powerful “throat hit” when inhaled. While many teens may assume vaping is a much safer alternative to smoking, one JUUL nicotine cartridge provides about 200 puffs, about as much nicotine as a pack of cigarettes. The prevalence of juuling is just one example of the potential dangers our children face – and a prime example of why it is important to stay on top of the latest trends in order to have honest discussions with our children that can help safeguard their health.

The New Year is a great time to make a fresh start. Focusing on a few simple lifestyle changes will go a long way in impacting your overall health and wellbeing. And after a while, you may just find that those larger goals seem much more attainable.

By Karen Ring

2019 Health and Wellness Guide Summaries

WOW thanks the following physicians and health/fitness businesses for helping to bring you the Health and Wellness Special. The listings on these pages represent paid advertisements in conjunction with the Health and Wellness Special. Look for their ads in our special section; page references are available in the business directory. Paid advertising is not an endorsement by WOW, Inc. Interested residents should contact the businesses and ask all relevant questions prior to engaging their services.
Advent Health Centra Care
(813) 792-2550
As a hospital affiliated urgent care provider, operating over 30 locations, Centra Care provides patients with fast and convenient care for urgent, non-emergency medical needs.

AdventHealth Carrollwood – Surgical Services
(813) 932-2222
AdventHealth Carrollwood, formerly Florida Hospital Carrollwood, is nationally recognized for patient safety and offers comprehensive surgical services, including weight-loss, orthopedic, spine, general, women’s and urology surgery, in a state-of-the-art facility.

Internal Medicine & Pediatrics of Tampa Bay
(813) 961-2222
Our board-certified doctors and nurse practitioner provide the highest quality of primary care for newborns, children, teens and adults in the Westchase area.

Stretch Rx
(813) 382-2363
Stretch Rx offers therapeutic stretching, exercise, massage, reflexology and ionic foot baths. Customized sessions can help people decrease pain, increase flexibility, improve posture, tone muscles and lose weight.

Arbor Terrace, Citrus Park
(813) 773-3172
Arbor Terrace Citrus Park offers the best independent living, assisted living and dementia care in the Tampa, Florida area.

Children's Medical Center of Westchase
(813) 891-6501
Children Medical Center provides premier pediatric healthcare for children from birth to 18. Well/sick care, after hours, telemedicine, free CPR and prenatal consultations available.

Dr. Sanjay K. Madan
(727) 669-2969
Dr. Sanjay K. Madan is a board-certified provider of Humana Medicare Advantage Plans®. Dr. Madan provides a full range of services and offers same-day appointments.

J. Russell Lowrey, DPM, FACFAS – Foot & Ankle Specialists
(813) 855-3606
Dr. Russ Lowrey treats all foot, ankle, and leg conditions and sees patients of all ages. Dr. Lowrey has been a Westchase resident since 1999.

Westchase Orthopaedics
(813) 792-9843
Good health is the cornerstone of a good life.  At Westchase Orthopaedics, we strive to help our patients have the best quality of life through physical therapy, non-invasive interventions or through surgery.

Shim Spine
(813) 814-9251
Your local spine surgeon with a 5-star reputation and a conservative approach to surgery. For education and information, go to

Tower Radiology Centers
(813) 489-5063
Tower Radiology has 14 full service outpatient centers, accredited by the American College of Radiology and located throughout Hillsborough, East Pasco and East Pinellas Counties.

100% Chiropractic
(813) 510-3986
We are committed to helping you learn how to achieve true health through a functional nervous system, and healthy lifestyle. Empowering the members of the Westchase community to live their lives at 100%.

Northwest Hillsborough Family YMCA
(813) 249-8510
When you join the Y, you're committing to more than achieving fitness resolutions.  You're supporting the values and programs that strengthen your community. Join today!

Jazzercise Westchase Fitness Center
(813) 748-3704
Jazzercise is the original dance party workout, 50 years strong!  The results? Long, lean muscles and an undeniable mood boost.

Advanced Hand and Plastic Surgery Center
(813) 866-4426
Advanced Hand and Plastic Surgery Center specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of hand and upper extremity injury and illness

BayCare Medical Group
(813) 792-8878
At BayCare Medical Group, it’s our pediatricians’ goal to help your children stay healthy. Care for your family is always nearby. Learn more at

(813) 605-1122
Treat depression and anxiety directly at the source. TMS is a transformative, non-drug depression treatment that is FDA approved and free of systemic side effects.

Westchase Pediatric Care
(813) 818-1543
Westchase Pediatric Care is a NCQA certified patient centered medical home providing compassionate, family-centered care.  We strive to promote your child’s physical and emotional well-being.

Florida Autism Center
(866) 610-0580
Florida Autism Center is the leading provider of center-based ABA therapy with a specific focus on early, intensive behavioral intervention, verbal behavior, and social skills.

Lotus Pond Yoga Studio and Center for Health
(813) 961-3160
The Lotus Pond is a full service Yoga Studio, offering 200 and 300 hour Yoga Teacher Training programs, workshops, and classes seven days a week.

Touch Aveda Salon & Spa
(813) 814-1390
We offer upscale services at affordable prices for everyone.  We help you find balance by
offering all the Signature Aveda services, rituals and products.


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