Picture of a dad and baby girl dancing

Get Moving With Your Family

Engaging your kids in a health-promoting lifestyle can be a fun way to enjoy time with your family!

The more you move, the better off you are! It doesn’t matter how wacky your antics, if you are moving and having fun, you’re getting in shape. It’s that simple.

Go on a treasure hunt

Here’s a great way to keep the family fit and teach your kids about trust, teamwork, and problem solving at the same time. Take them to a local park and set an expedition course on a map, circling various “checkpoints.” Take turns navigating to each point on the map and leading the team to each destination. Sound too complicated? Then merely go hunting for bugs, animals, or flowers. You can’t entertain a young kid much better than finding a colorful salamander under a log or rock.

Plan 10-minute spurts of activity

Follow spurts of activity with 5-minute rest periods. Don’t force your adult exercise program on your children. That’s a recipe for disaster. Instead, take advantage of their natural tendency to participate in intermittent and sporadic play and exercise bouts. A game of tag is a perfect example. Children’s bodies are designed to sprint and rest, sprint and rest. Because they are easily distracted and incapable of long periods of focused activity, they will resist long exercise sessions that don’t include rest periods.

Train for school fitness tests as a family

Learn which fitness tests or activities your child is doing in physical education class and train for them as a family. Set goals, such as running a quarter-mile and then a half and then a full mile in a certain amount of time — and reward each family member for meeting each goal.

Play follow the leader with one or more children

Line up single file and weave your way through the house or backyard. Every few steps, hop, skip, do the grapevine or some other movement that your followers must imitate. Once the kids get the hang of the game, let them take turns as leader. Their naturally creative minds will come up with all sorts of fun movements for the followers to imitate. You’ll be out of breath before you know it.

Give your child a head start — and race around the house

You can do the same with calisthenics. You do 10 crunches, and your child does 5. See who can complete them first.

Spend an hour doing yard work together

Raking leaves, pulling weeds, shoveling snow, and spreading out mulch all help to build strength and endurance. Plus, when your kids help, it doesn’t take as long or seem as much of a chore (depending on the age of the child, of course). There are numerous ways to make yard work more fun for kids. For instance, when you finish raking a pile of leaves, you get to jump in them.

Wash the car together

The scrubbing is good exercise, but everyone getting wet and soapy is just plain fun for kids.

Give your kids a list of indoor chores — then join them

Younger children often like to feel helpful and will enjoy helping you with household chores. Ask them to help you make the beds, fold the laundry and put it away, set the table, and put dishes in the dishwasher — all physical activities that can help get your heart rate up, stretch your body, and build your muscles.

Take a hike

Grab a backpack, plenty of water, and a light lunch and head to a local trail for a hiking expedition. Wear hiking boots for rocky terrain or sneakers for smoother trails, and pack sunscreen and insect repellent. To make this more fun for kids, make it about something else, such as looking for a particular animal or bird, climbing to see a lake or pond, or seeing how many rocks you can scamper over without touching the ground. Kids like hiking much better when they don’t realize it’s about hiking! Bring a picnic; of course, this is a great opportunity to share a delicious but healthful meal and cultivate good family eating habits.

Dance during commercial breaks

Make it a family rule that whenever you watch television, you have to stand up and dance around during the commercials. This goes for everyone! Whoever gets caught sitting on the couch during a commercial break must perform his or her least-liked household chore for one week.

How do you get moving with your family? Share your ideas in the comments.

Picture of a woman walking alone in the woods

Celebrating National Gratitude Month with a New Habit

According to Greater Good Science Center at University of California, Berkeley, gratitude’s amazing powers can shift us from focusing on the negative to appreciating what is positive in our lives. People who practice gratitude daily tend to have:

  • Fewer feelings of isolation and loneliness
  • A stronger immune system
  • Better sleep
  • Lowered blood pressure
  • Reduced anxiety and depression
  • Reduction in body aches and pains
  • More forgiveness
  • Increased satisfaction at work

My New Gratitude Habit

To develop a daily habit of gratitude and fulfill a personal goal to improve my Procreate app skills, I designed this playful graphic and shared to social media (LinkedIn and Facebook) on Nov. 1, which marked the first day of National Gratitude month.

Picture of a list of things to be grateful for.

Roxy’s gratitude graphic. What are you grateful for today?

So far, my experiment has been a success; after the first three days of practice, I was bursting with gratitude! I thanked my husband for the renovations he’s made to our home which we’re now spending most of our time together in and for preparing healthy and delicious meals each night.

Gratitude is Meant to Be Shared

To further hold myself accountable to my daily commitment, I sent the graphic to peers in my workgroup and invited them to participate with me. Using the prompts on corresponding days, I kicked off meetings by asking participants to share what they were grateful for, sharing first what I was grateful for to model the behavior.

What I’ve enjoyed most about this activity was the opportunity to grow relationships and say thank you by sharing stories that might not have come up through our day-to-day discussions.

I’ve seen my graphic shared on social media along with the posters’ personal gratitude reflections. As Thanksgiving approaches, I hope it may inspire creative ways for some to celebrate the holiday virtually as needed.

Comment below what you are grateful for. I promise it will make you feel good.

Woman standing in a forest

Maintain Your Summer Weight into The Fall And Beyond

With lawns to cut, golf to play, decks to stain, and sweat to… be sweated, summertime is when many people are at their most fit and trim.

“Now that we’re into the fall season, commit to building on that momentum,” encourages Nicholas Massa, M.D., senior medical director for clinical services at Excellus BlueCross BlueShield. “Come up with a plan to keep feeling the burn throughout the fall and winter months when you might easily lapse.”

Physical Activity: More than A Seasonal Activity

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 60 percent of adults do not achieve the recommended amount of regular physical activity. The CDC defines a moderate amount of physical activity as using about 150 calories of energy per day, or 1,000 calories per week.

“Being active shouldn’t be a seasonal thing, and activity doesn’t need to be strenuous to achieve health benefits,” says Massa.

Among the CDC’s suggestions for moderate fall fitness activities are raking leaves for 30 minutes, washing windows for 45 minutes, gardening for 30 minutes, and shoveling snow for 15 minutes.

Health Benefits of Physical Activity

According to the CDC.gov, regular physical activity improves health in the following ways:

  • Reduces the risk of dying from heart disease.
  • Reduces the risk of developing diabetes.
  • Reduces the risk of developing high blood pressure.
  • Helps reduce blood pressure in people who already have high blood pressure.
  • Reduces the risk of developing colon cancer.
  • Helps control weight.
  • Helps build and maintain healthy bones, muscles, and joints.
  • Helps older adults become stronger and improves balance.
  • Promotes psychological well-being.

As we head into the indoor months, Massa recommends adopting a more structured personal fitness plan that utilizes equipment in your home and virtual classes. “You won’t be cutting the lawn every week, so use that time to take a weekly fitness class,” he said.

Most health insurers have a section on their websites with information about rewards and incentives to join a gym or purchase equipment. Massa advises Excellus BlueCross BlueShield members to visit ExcellusBCBS.com and click on the Health and Wellness tab.

“Whatever the season, always keep your fitness goals S.M.A.R.T – specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely,” adds Massa. “And remember to have fun!”

Picture of a man sitting at a table with an ipad

Change the Channel, Change Your Mood

When I first started working from home full-time in March, I developed a new routine for watching the news. I watched the news in the morning while I ate breakfast, at noon while I ate lunch, and then at and after dinner time, usually two different news broadcasts.

Watching the news at lunch time was the biggest change for me. While working in the office, I preferred to spend lunch out of the office, exploring downtown Rochester. Now, instead of enjoying the daily special and a coffee at a restaurant, I was watching the news alone, feeling stressed out. I was getting myself worked up over the same news stories I heard just hours earlier.

The Importance of Taking a Break

“Taking a break during the workday is imperative for good emotional health,” said Amanda Shanahan, RD, Employee Wellbeing Manager, Excellus BlueCross BlueShield. “But it’s important to break and do something you enjoy and look forward to. This will increase your focus, creativity, and productivity while also reducing stress. This leaves you refreshed to start working again.”

Calming Power of Cooking Shows

After about a month or two of what I’ll call “binge doom viewing” during lunch, I knew I needed to try something different. Still at home by myself for lunch, I looked for something less stressful to enjoy during the lunch hour. That’s when I discovered the calming power of cooking shows. I’ve found that the WXXI Create channel has some great programs on at lunch time, mostly cooking and food shows. I find myself looking forward to watching each day. For me, there’s something calming about watching someone slice vegetables and prepare food.

More Than Just Cooking

One program that really took me by surprise was To Dine For with Kate Sullivan. Not knowing what the show was about, I was expecting to learn a new recipe for potato pancakes, or perhaps a better technique for making a pie crust. To my surprise, Kate’s guest was Deepak Chopra, offering to “solve the mystery of our existence.” I learned that the show is actually about interviewing notable guests while enjoying a meal together at their favorite restaurants. So, here was a gem of enlightenment only a click away.

I still miss my lunches out exploring the city. But I have settled into this new routine and now look forward to taking a break at lunch to step away from work and check in with my new WXXI Create friends.

Has your lunchtime routine changed? Share how you relax and unwind during your break in the comments below.

Picture of someone holding an American flag

Veterans: Stories of Bravery, Freedom, and Service

This Veterans Day – and every day – it’s important to reflect upon and celebrate the true meaning of this national holiday by honoring those who have served our country. Excellus BlueCross Blue Shield is one of many companies in our community that are honored to have veterans in their workforce who have played important roles in our country.

This year, as parades and in-person celebrations are paused, look for new ways to celebrate their courage and sacrifice. Talk to a veteran in your life and have a conversation with them to learn more about their lives, hear their moving and compelling stories, and understand their experiences while serving our nation.

As Chad Tooke in our Utica office said, “Ask a veteran about their experiences. Talking may enlighten you as to why they are the way they are, and you may appreciate them a little more. They may have seen things and experienced things that they will not talk about, but have affected them greatly… Most veterans are humble and don’t want to be thanked and don’t need the accolades.”

We would like to share some of the stories of the brave men and women who wore our country’s uniform and come to work for us each day continuing to serve our communities.

Bob Berie, Director, Claims Cost Containment

Bob joined the Air Force in May of 1981 and retired in 2018.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

“I spent 12 years on active duty. While on active duty, I was assigned to bases in Florida and Texas.  Most of my active time was spent in logistics and as an instructor.  Then, in 2009, I went back into the Air Force Reserve in Medical Administration at Westover Air Reserve Base in Chicopee, MA. In 2012, I transferred to the 174th Attack Wing in Syracuse and joined the 174th Medical Group. I retired in 2018 as the First Sergeant of the Medical Group after 23 years of service. “

Chad Tooke, Provider Network and Strategy Manager

Chad joined the Army on in 1992 earning his badge from Air Assault school. He retired in June 2015.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

“I started at Excellus BCBS Sept. 23, 2002 and, on my first day, I let Excellus BCBS know that I was deploying for Afghanistan on Sept. 26, 2002 and it did not feel proper to accept the position I was hired for. I was told to fill out the orientation paperwork and to take the remainder of the week off… My job would be waiting when I returned. I think that is a great testament to our organization and how they support their employees.

In Afghanistan, I led a Civil Affairs Team Alpha (CAT-A). We conducted many missions and coordinated the building of wells, schools, and medical facilities to assist the local populace. We also provided food and clothing when we could. In November of 2007, I was mobilized to Fort Dix, NJ for a one-year tour that turned into nearly five years. I was sent there to train soldiers going overseas to Iraq, Afghanistan, and Africa.”

Lisa Sexton, Human Capital Management Talent Acquisition Consultant

Lisa joined the Air Force in 1993 and was honorably discharged in April of 2001 as a Staff Sergeant.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

“I was an Air Force brat – my father is a graduate of West Point and is a retired Air Force Major, and my sister is also retired from the Air Force. When I joined in 1993 at 21-years-old, my career field was Hospital Administration. I was stationed at Eglin Air Force Base, Fort Walton Beach, FL for five years where I worked in a hospital and then attended Airmen Leadership School and graduated top of my class and was awarded the John Levitow Award (highest honor).

I have been trained in Medical Readiness (able to work in a battle field hospital and provide first aide to injured soldiers), chemical warfare, etc.  It wasn’t all work and no play, though! I played volleyball for the base team and traveled all over the country to play against other bases.

Then I was stationed at Kirtland Air Force Base, Albuquerque, NM where I worked at the Medical Clinic for the remainder of my Air Force career where I coordinated Life Flights to move our injured soldiers to different Major Hospitals across the Country and World.

I absolutely loved my time in the Air Force and I believe it helped shape who I am today.  I have made forever friendships and connections!”

Please share your own stories in the comments below.

Picture of woman holding her head in her hands

Domestic Violence: The Silent Epidemic

Lisa Haskins, of Monroe County, wished she spoken up sooner about how domestic violence impacted her family. She wished more people talked about it so that domestic violence victims don’t feel ashamed or are afraid to speak up.

Growing up, Lisa said domestic violence occurred in her family. Lisa said the cycle of abuse continued over generations. Her sister found herself in an abusive relationship as an adult, she added. After years of verbal and emotional abuse, nearly five years ago Lisa’s sister committed suicide.

Last year, Lisa broke her silence and shared a Facebook post in honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October.

Helping Those Who “Don’t Have a Voice”

“Today I take a stand, as I should every day…for those women who have lost their voice, their self-worth, their self-love, their self-compassion, their confidence, their hope, and for some their lives” she wrote in the post.

 “Domestic violence doesn’t always have visible bruises.  Sometimes there are signs, and sometimes we may see nothing.  For any woman suffering from domestic violence, dig deeper than you ever have in your life and know that you are worth loving.  You deserve joy and kindness and freedom to live.  There is help.  There is safety, even though it may not seem like it. 

 Every day I miss my sister.  She may have committed suicide, but domestic violence is what killed her.  I stand for those who no longer have a voice…like her.  We have to speak up because it might just save a life.  And one life can mean the world to someone.  I know.  I live every day without my sister.”

After speaking up, Lisa said she felt as if a weight was lifted from her shoulders.

“I feel as if we sit here and live in silence and worry that the abuser will come back and threaten us, but all that does is give him control,” she said. “That’s why domestic violence is so persistent. Many people fear taking the risk and speaking up.”

A Perfect Storm for A Domestic Violence Crisis

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men in the United States have experienced violence from a partner in their lifetime — and the risks to victims can be severe. During the COVID-19 pandemic, news outlets across the country have reported a rise in domestic violence. Victims of domestic violence face more social isolation in general, even when there isn’t a widespread pandemic. Abusers have more tactics at their disposal when victims can’t easily get away from home.

“With the numbers of people that continue to get sick, the growing unemployment rate, and an increase in anxiety and financial stress, this pandemic has created the perfect storm for an exacerbated domestic violence crisis,” said Dr. Sudha Bakshi, Excellus BlueCross BlueShield medical director.

Lisa: What Gives Her Hope

Lisa said knowing more about local groups that help domestic violence victims gives her hope. It is important for those in high risk situations to know that courts and many domestic violence organizations, phone hotlines, and shelters are available to help. Domestic violence organizations are also working to develop new strategies to support victims during the pandemic, by offering hotline services through online chats or texting, in case victims cannot call with an abuser at home.

Excellus BCBS is proud to provide support to these domestic violence organizations across upstate New York as part of its response to the COVID-19 pandemic:

Let Victims Know They’re Not Alone

Lisa said it can be challenging to convince domestic violence victims to speak up and get help.

The victim may fear the abuser, they may have a skewed sense of normal if they grew up in this environment, or after years of abuse start to believe that they’re just not worth it.

One option? Offer to accompany your friend or loved one to check out an organization that supports domestic violence victims. “That may help them consider getting help,” she said.

In the end, Lisa wishes that more people talked about domestic violence.

“Not talking about it adds to the stigma,” she said. “And, how else will victims know they’re not alone?”

If you or anyone else needs help, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. The lifeline is open all day, every day.

A caregiver holding someone's hands

Why I Will Be in Line for A Flu Shot This Year

For many years, Ann Himmler of Monroe County, was required to get a flu shot every year because she was a Hospice volunteer. “I was 100 percent on board with the requirement,” said Ann, “because in addition to the patients I would be spending volunteer time with, my family had also been providing care to a senior parent with compromised health issues who lived in our home.”

Ann knew that older adults and people with certain medical conditions, including a weakened immune system, are among those who are at high risk of serious complications from the flu. “It was important that our entire family receive the flu shot as well, not only to protect ourselves from getting sick, but also reduce the risk of transmitting the flu to our relative who depended on us for their care,” said Ann.

How Dangerous A Virus Can Be

The COVID-19 pandemic has raised awareness of how dangerous a virus can be and how important it is to have an effective vaccine. “In 2019, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates between 39 million and 56 million people got sick with the flu and between 24,000 and 62,000 people died of flu complications,” said Dr. Stephen Cohen, Excellus BlueCross BlueShield senior vice president and corporate medical director.

For the very young, the very old, women who are pregnant, and individuals with compromised immune systems including many patients on chemotherapy, catching the flu can place them at high risk for serious complications, including death. “Fortunately, we have a flu vaccine in hand for this year’s strains that can provide a level of immunity or reduce the severity if you do get sick,” said Dr. Cohen.

Don’t Wait to Get a Flu Shot

The flu vaccine is now available at most major pharmacies, many physician practices, and other sites in our community. With rare exceptions, the CDC recommends it for everyone ages 6 months and older. Most health insurance plans cover the flu vaccine in full, and you usually don’t need an appointment to receive it at a pharmacy.

“The flu season will last until May, but it is important to get vaccinated sooner than later to help establish a level of immunity in our community,” said Dr. Cohen. “It takes about two weeks for the vaccine to provide protection.”

Older adults should consult with their health care provider to see if they recommend the high-dose flu vaccine that is approved for people ages 65 years and older. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine indicated that the high-dose vaccine was 24-percent more effective in preventing flu in adults 65 years and older relative to a standard-dose vaccine.

Keeping Our Community Healthy

Because of COVID-19, it’s even more important to do everything that you can to keep yourself and your family healthy this flu season. “That’s why even though it’s not required for me now, I will be in line for a flu shot again this year,” Ann said.

 

To view or download an educational flu poster, visit ExcellusBCBS.com.

Picture of a dad helping child with homework

Top 6 Tricks for Managing Kids, School, and Work

Since March, many of us have adopted the role of stay-at-home parent and teacher, as well as full-time employee. As we’re starting a new school year that undoubtedly looks different from years past, we asked Excellus BlueCross BlueShield employees to share how they are managing.

Here are our top six tricks for trying to manage kids, school, and work. Balancing all of this is a very hard task – but we hope these ideas help in some small way.

1. Plan

As a family, take some time to sit together at the beginning of every week or every day to coordinate work and school schedules. This will help everyone agree on who is doing what and when. The Meyers family starts most days with a family “meeting” to get on the same page. “I set up ‘Meyers Family Huddles’ with my two elementary-age daughters,” said Angie Meyers of Monroe County. “The girls didn’t know I was being that intentional with these huddles, it was just ‘talking with mom about our day.’ We would talk about their schoolwork for the day and what times I would be available to ask for help if they needed it.”

You may also need to be more stringent about your work schedule. That approach has helped the Auch family. “I started to be pretty strict about my calendar,” said Joy Auch of Ontario County. “I rarely accept meeting invitations during the lunch hour because I’m feeding my kids and I try to minimize meetings during the times my kids are neediest, like in the early afternoon. There are a lot of meetings, but I’m no longer booked solid all day long, which has helped tremendously.”

2. Use Signs

After your “family huddle”, let everyone in your house know the schedule for the day using signs, notes, or a whiteboard. Showing the times when you will be in a meeting can help kids to be more mindful about interrupting (or maybe encourage them to knock first). “My trick is the dry erase board with what’s for lunch, dinner, and when I have meetings,” said Olivia Linke of Niagara County.

Picture of a whiteboard with family schedule

Olivia Linke’s whiteboard

3. Ask for Help

It can be overwhelming to try and manage everything by yourself. Ask relatives or neighbors for help. Our neighbor has a son the same age as our youngest (age 11). We get them together to play throughout the day and coordinate alternating working outside to watch them. Or, consider reaching out to a coworker or your manager to ask about options for more flexibility. You may have options that will help your work schedule better accommodate family priorities.

4. Enjoy Sleep… (at least theirs)

If your kids take naps or sleep in, let them! Take advantage of the early mornings or nap time to make time for work or exercise. That has helped Megan Schmidt of Chemung County manage work and her family of five. “With three kids (ages 3, 5 and 8), it has been a real challenge,” said Megan. “I try to still get up early, get a workout in and log on my computer by 6:45-7:00 so that I can get two solid hours of uninterrupted time before they are awake.”

5. Let the kids help you

Whether it is “working” beside you or helping to cook dinner, involve the kids. You might be surprised by what they can do! “My kids have been interested in my work lately, so when I can, I have them help,” said Kelsey Gratien of Erie County. “They love selecting colors or clip art pictures for PowerPoint slides. Then I’m able to explain what I’m working on and they listen. They now have a better understanding of what I do, and they are more receptive when I say, ‘Mom needs you to be quiet for an hour while she presents the report you helped with.’”

 6. Enjoy Each Other

While juggling work, family, and school is challenging, find moments of the day to enjoy being together. “My kids are not used to me being home so much,” said Olivia Linke. “We have been able to have many more family dinners and family time since I am not traveling for work.”

Picture of a woman doing yoga

Make Your Health a Priority, Even in a Pandemic

Ever since I turned 40, each year in December I would go to have my annual mammogram. I usually scheduled my screenings during a weekday where I would take a few hours off from work because I chose to wait and stay for my results. While I felt comfortable going to my appointment alone, the clinic I attended had a friendly environment where women could schedule their appointments within the same time frame. I would always see groups of women, mothers and daughters, friends making a girls’ afternoon out of their screening.

The Longest I Had Gone Without A Mammogram

Last December, I missed my appointment. I knew I needed to reschedule, but as 2020 began, I didn’t follow through. When the pandemic started, many doctor’s offices, including mine, were closed temporarily. After my clinic reopened, I found myself focusing on other priorities and pressing stressors, like the virus, changes to my personal and professional life, and racial and social unrest in my community. Still, deep in the back of my mind I was feeling guilty because this was the longest I had ever gone without having my mammogram.

A Strange Pain

One night this past July before I was to travel out of town, I felt a strange pain in my left breast. As someone who is very in-tune with my body, I knew I had never felt pain like that before and I didn’t take it lightly. While I was out of town, I continued to feel the pain in waves, wondering what it was. Was I stressed? Was it the need for a new bra? But I also wondered what if it was cancer. Then the pain went away.

About two weeks later, the pain came back on a Sunday night. It was more intense. I vowed that first thing Monday morning I would schedule a mammogram. I remained positive and hopeful the screening would help to find anything early enough to be able to address it.

A Sense of Serenity

I called my clinic on Monday morning and, due to a patient cancellation, I was able to come in that afternoon for a screening. The waiting room was no longer filled with women sipping beverages and socializing. Instead, the process was streamlined, and the screening was very efficient. The environment was clean, spacious, and the new procedures were clearly explained. I felt safe.

Mammograms are never pleasant, but the mammogram technician lightened the experience with her professionalism, competence, and friendliness. Patients can no longer wait for their results: I would receive them in a text message. I dressed and waited outside for my ride. As my ride was pulling up, I received a text message saying my results were normal. I felt a sense of serenity and joy and was impressed with the speed of communication.

Breast Cancer Disparities

In addition to feeling joy and relief with my results, there was something else on my mind throughout my appointment. The pandemic has brought to light many injustices that have long been part of our society, including health disparities.

A racial disparity has long existed around breast cancer. According to the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), black women are about 40 percent more likely to die from breast cancer than white women, even though their rates of getting the disease are similar. Black women are also more likely to be diagnosed at a later stage of breast cancer than other women (Source: ACS CAN). According to BreastCancer.org, these disparities likely reflect a combination of factors including differences in healthcare. As a society, we are finally having some powerful conversations that I hope will bring about positive change and reduce these disparities.

Schedule Your Screening

Looking back, I think that the strange pain I experienced was related to the increased stress I had been feeling related to the virus, the new changes in my life, and the unrest in my community. I have since adapted some stress management tactics that have been helping me, and I remain pain free.

Picture of Shaquana Divers

Shaquana Divers

It can be easy for health screenings, like mammograms, to fall to the bottom of the priority list when we’re challenged with the stressors of daily life. Not to mention the added stress of a global pandemic. Prevention is my passion and timely screenings are one part of a healthy lifestyle. Therefore, this October, I challenge you to schedule a screening that you may have missed, whether it be a mammogram, a colonoscopy, or even your annual physical. If this year has taught us anything, it is that we should fiercely prioritize our health and be more empathetic to the needs of our most vulnerable. Let us be there for ourselves and for each other.

For more information about mammograms, view a downloadable poster, Be the Priority, from Excellus BCBS. If you need help reconnecting with your doctor, visit ExcellusBCBS.com/Reconnect.

Picture of a bowl of yogurt with granola and fruit

Healthy Snacking As You Work From Home

For many people working from home, it is hard to resist the constant cravings to snack throughout the day. When you snack on the right foods, you tend to consume fewer calories throughout the day. You’ll feel fuller longer and be less likely to overeat or reach for unhealthy foods.

Healthy snacking can help you manage your weight too. Individuals who stay at a healthy weight reduce their risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, osteoarthritis and some forms of cancer.

Tips for Better Snacking

Rather than snacking on cookies or chips, try having a handful of raw almonds. Place a serving (about 23 almonds) into a snack size bag and leave it in a can’t-miss location in the kitchen, such as in front of the cabinet where the less-healthy snacks are kept.

Keep fresh fruit and vegetables front and center in the refrigerator so that it is the first thing you see when you open the door. Consider raw vegetables and fresh fruit as “nature’s fast food.”

Another healthy snack idea is to pair a small amount of cheese with whole grain crackers. The protein in the cheese will help to keep you feeling full longer.

When it comes to snacking, it’s also important to ask yourself “Am I really hungry or is this stress or boredom?”

More Snack Swaps

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers the following healthy snacking tips:

  • Try three cups of air-popped popcorn instead of oil-popped popcorn. You’ll consume 73 fewer calories.
  • Avoid the kinds of snacks you’d find in a vending machine (you may have them around the house as treats to include in school lunches). Instead, enjoy a yogurt. That’s 82 fewer calories compared to a package of six peanut butter crackers.
  • Substitute a sugary 12-ounce can of soda with a bottle of carbonated water for 136 fewer calories.
  • Instead of chocolate sandwich cookies or other sweet snacks, eat a bowl of berries or an apple or orange.

For more healthy eating tips, visit ExcellusBCBS.com/nutrition.