Thursday, December 31, 2015

A dietitian speaks out: Simple ways to kick start New Year’s food-related resolutions

Long-lasting change doesn’t happen overnight, but Jan. 1 can launch lifestyles that will last a lifetime. “Instead of jumping on the latest and greatest fad diet, try setting anywhere from one to three realistic goals for yourself this year,” says Stephanie Hart, a dietitian with CoxHealth. “Once those goals become habits, set new goals to build your healthier lifestyle and achieve a healthy weight you can maintain.”


Here are eight of Hart’s top tips:

  1. Avoid or limit drinks like soda, sweet tea, juice, and sports drinks. Drinking just 12 ounces of a sugary drink can cause a weight gain of 15 pounds in a year. Instead, try unsweet tea, fresh-fruit infused water, or even carbonated water.
  2. Don’t skip meals. Aim for at least three meals each day and have a balanced snack planned ahead of time for when you’re hungry.
  3. Choose more fresh, whole ingredients. A food that does not require an ingredient list – such as fresh produce – is as “whole” as you can get. Try shopping at a local farmer’s market to get foods that are at their peak freshness and highest quality. For dishes with ingredients, try choosing ones with shorter ingredient lists. If you can’t pronounce the ingredient, or your great-grandma wouldn’t recognize the food, it probably shouldn’t become a staple in your house.
  4. Try the 80-20 rule. 80 percent of the time, try to make higher quality, less processed food choices – and then, more processed foods and sweets can still sneak in for the other 20 percent. This will help keep you from feeling deprived and as if you are on a diet.
  5. Avoid dieting. Diets which deprive fail in 95 to 98 percent of cases because bodies, brain, and day-to-day environment all fight against them. Research shows that depriving yourself of a food actually increases hunger and cravings for the particular food. Instead, give in once in a while, but watch your portion – and enjoy it!
  6. Practice mindful eating. This means being in the moment when you eat, avoiding distractions, eating slower, and enjoying every bite. The slower you eat, the sooner your brain will register that you are full. You will also enjoy your food more. The first four bites of food are the most pleasurable: Beyond that, we’re just eating to be eating, or eating mindlessly.
  7. Aim for 30 minutes of activity per day. This doesn’t have to be done consecutively: It can even be 10 minutes three times a day. A lot of people have great success with aids that track their movement – such as pedometers – and help them set new step goals for themselves. And remember that seemingly little things, like parking farther from the building or taking the stairs, can make a big difference!
  8. Reward with life, not food. When you meet milestones, don’t turn to food to celebrate. That helps stop the mental connection between reward and the addictive, emotional aspects of eating.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Leaving a legacy to begin a new chapter

Some might say that Norma Curry is a CoxHealth institution. As an Administrative Director of Nursing, Curry is one of the health care system’s top professionals – but back in 1968, she was simply a student entering the Burge School of Nursing (now Cox College). She didn’t know that 47 years later, she’d have risen through the ranks, spending her entire career in one place.
But on Dec. 24, nearly five decades after it began, Curry is closing the CoxHealth chapter of her life. She’s retiring, taking a legacy of memories and leaving huge shoes to fill.   

Choosing her career

Curry knew from an early age that nursing was what she wanted to do. “It’s just something that was in my heart,” says Curry. “From the time I was ever asked, (nursing was) all I ever thought of.”

Norma Curry in a yearbook photo from 1971.
In high school, she took classes geared toward that career. And after graduation, the only school she applied to was Burge School of Nursing. “I entered the school in ‘68, which was over on the North campus, and literally never left,” says Curry. She graduated in 1971, and began working as a staff nurse in the Cardiac Care Unit (CCU) all while working on her BSN, which she obtained in 1972.

That role in the CCU, and later in the Emergency Department, also gave Curry her first management experience and led to her promotion to evening supervisor. Things just snowballed from there. “Then from evening supervisor to dayshift assistant director to director to administrative director,” says Curry of her career progression.

Looking back   

That experience has showed Curry more than just how to be a good manager: It’s given her a first-hand look at how health care has changed over the years. She recalls things, years ago, that were different – such as admitting patients to the hospital to run tests.  “That was the common, totally acceptable thing to do,” she says. “So you came in for your checkup and your battery of tests and you might be in the hospital two or three days.”

She recalls the construction of Cox Medical Center South in the early 1980s, which was initially designed to be a niche women and children’s hospital. But in the 2.5 years it took to build the hospital, Springfield had changed enough to warrant more expansive services on the south side of town. They decided to add services such as adult medical-surgical and critical care units and “see if the beds would fill,” says Curry. They did. “Then we just opened unit after unit after unit and saw the need grow, and never looked back again.”

But despite the innovation that came with a new hospital, Curry recalls some things that took a little longer to modernize. One example is the immortalized all-white nurses’ uniforms, which was never complete without a white cap. “I still have two places on my head where the bobby pins went that don’t have as much hair,” says Curry. “It was heavy, it was awkward. And it got knocked around a lot when you were actually giving patients care.”

Despite its tieback to nursing’s proud history, that’s one thing that Curry wasn’t sorry to see go by the wayside. “You finally had to break that mold and realize that you’re a professional, regardless of what you wear – and whether or not you have that precious, blessed cap on your head,” says Curry.

Personal journey

As the days fade away, Curry knows what she’ll miss the most about CoxHealth. “The stress? No. The long hours? No. Being on call? But the people. The relationships,” she says.

After all, those relationships have had nearly five decades to grow and develop – offering a network of support, such as when tragedy struck through the death of her 15-year-old daughter. “I just will never forget how kind and caring people were during a time in my life when I didn’t know how I could put one foot in front of the other,” Norma says.
She also recalls the new graduates she hired, and the joy that comes from watching them rise through the ranks. “And now one is going to walk into this office and sit in that chair,” says Curry, pointing to the seat behind her desk. “Those are friendships and relationships that couldn’t have been forged any other way than to just be here and be a part of this.”

Dietitian offers top 10 tips to avoid holiday weight gain

From fudge to frosted cookies, it seems even the most disciplined weight watchers can struggle with temptation during the holiday season. Lisa Frazier, clinical dietitian at Cox Medical Center Branson, is sharing her top 10 tips to help you avoid packing on any extra pounds this season.

“The key is planning ahead and then sticking with that plan,” Frazier said. “If you are going to a party, plan ahead and have a healthy snack beforehand so you are not tempted to overindulge. If your week nights are jam-packed with activities, plan ahead and have a quick, healthy meal ready to put together at home. With a little forethought, you can make it through the holidays without putting on an extra pound.”

Plan ahead: Think about your schedule. If you have evenings when you will be short on time, plan ahead and have all of the ingredients on hand for a quick, healthy meal.

Maintain: Do not put undue pressure on yourself by trying to lose weight. Make a goal of maintaining and not gaining this holiday season.

Make time for exercise: This time of year, schedules are busy, it gets dark early and it is often cold out. While an evening walk might not be ideal, look for creative ways to work exercise into each day such as walking on your lunch break or make a lap around the mall before you start shopping.

Don’t get too hungry: Getting too hungry can set you up for bad decisions. Curb those hunger pangs by keeping healthy snacks on hand. Fruit, nuts, fresh vegetables or cheese sticks are great for taking the edge of off hunger.

Follow the 15 minute rule: While you may be hungry when you sit down for a meal, don’t assume you will need a second helping to feel satisfied. Start by eating a small plate of food slowly and take time to enjoy what you are eating. Wait 15 minutes before going back for more and only go back for that second helping if you are still hungry.

Limit your alcohol: A glass of wine can have the same number of calories as four cookies and a pint of lager often has the same number of calories as a slice of pizza.

Take the focus of off food: From cookie exchanges to candy-making parties, often our holiday gatherings revolve around food. Instead of putting the focus on food, consider making a craft together or spending that time volunteering instead.

Heading to a potluck? Take a healthy dish: We tend to take our most indulgent, delicious dishes to share with our family and friends. Don’t forget that healthy dishes can also be delicious and you might just start a healthy trend.

Don’t just jump in line: If you find yourself at a buffet line, take some time to see what your options are before jumping in line. Plan what you want to eat and only put those items on your plate.

Use the buddy system: Don’t be tempted to overeat by large, restaurant-sized portions. Split an entrĂ©e or dessert with a friend. This saves calories and money.

For great, healthy recipes, visit

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

CoxHealth creates Young Professionals Council to better connect to the community

In an effort to better align CoxHealth’s mission, vision and values to the needs of the community, the health care system has created the Young Professionals Council. This hand-picked group of civically engaged professionals, all between ages 21 to 39, will serve as a sounding board for the CoxHealth Leadership Team and Board of Directors.  
“As a locally governed health care system, it is important that we continue to expand our perspective to better understand our community's needs,” says Steve Edwards, CoxHealth president and CEO. “This council will be in a position to provide insight and influence to our leadership and Board of Directors, and we’re honored they agreed to serve.”
The charter council includes the following members:  
Logan Aguirre (417 Magazine)
Mike Brothers (Drury University)
Carrie Brown (Elliott, Robinson & Company, LLP)
Mitchell Cox (CoxHealth)
Teresa Coyan (CoxHealth)
Brad Erwin (Paragon Architects)
Scott Fitzpatrick (MariCorp U.S, State Representative, District 158)
Emily Johnson (Marlin Network)
Marshall Kinne (Med-Pay, Inc)
Marc Mayer (Great Southern Bank)
Megan Morris (Bass Pro Shops)
Krystal Russell (Payroll Vault)
Jeff Seifried (Branson Area Chamber of Commerce)
Bryan Simpson (5 Pound Apparel)
Stephanie Summers (Ozarks Technical Community College)
Besides providing collective feedback to CoxHealth leadership, the group will also directly influence CoxHealth’s Board of Directors: The council’s chairperson will serve as an ex-officio board member with vote.

“As our community grows, it’s important that we align and expand to serve it effectively and efficiently,” says Joe Turner, chairman of CoxHealth’s Board of Directors. “Having a member on our Board of Directors will ensure that the board’s direction reflects those needs.”
The council plans to meet quarterly, but may gather as often as six times per year. Members are appointed by the council’s chair, with advice and counsel from CoxHealth’s leadership, and will serve two-year terms.

Photo caption: Members of the CoxHealth Young Professionals Council gathered for the group’s orientation on Nov. 30. Pictured from left to right (front row) are Brad Erwin, Logan Aguirre, Stephanie Sumners, Krystal Russell, Megan Morris, Teresa Coyan; (back row) Mike Brothers, Marshall Kinne, Emily Johnson, Marc Mayer, Carrie Brown, Bryan Simpson and Mitchell Cox. Not pictured are Scott Fitzpatrick and Jeff Seifried.

Cancer patients are knot forgotten

Battling cancer really is the fight of one’s life, and the courage necessary for such a struggle deserves recognition. This year, that strength can be honored and memorialized through the CoxHealth Foundation’s Knot Forgotten Christmas trees. It’s the decorations that make these trees special: Each one is adorned with red, gold and silver “knots”  (bows) in honor or memory of cancer patients.

Every bow will have a card attached with the donor’s name, as well as the name of each honoree. If desired, one can also add a special message with words of encouragement. Trees are displayed at Cox Medical Center South in the north lobby and West Pavilion and in Hulston Cancer Center.

Bows are $5, $7 and $10 and can be purchased at Allenbrand Resource Center inside Hulston Cancer Center, in the north lobby and in the West Pavilion lobby of Cox Medical Center South or online at Proceeds benefit the Glauser Oncology Fund’s Patient Advocacy Program, which helps patients with free medications, travel assistance, nutritional supplements and supportive medical care in the hospital and at home.