Tag - Live Well Lamoille

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Five Easy Minutes
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Become a Live Well Lamoille Blogger!
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What Is Your New Years Resolution?
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How to Get Started Mountain Biking
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WIC Offers Fresh Produce From Local Farms
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Learning Through Arthritis
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Building Resilience and Hope in Children and Youth
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Homelessness in the Lamoille Valley 
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Improving Heart Health, One Step at a Time
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Vermont Health Connect 2018 Open Enrollment Runs Nov.1 – Dec. 15

Five Easy Minutes

By: Daniel Regan

I have a simple suggestion that could enhance the quality of your life. It may give you a sense of inner peace and could even, in the long run, prolong your life.

Give yourself the gift of five extra minutes. I don’t mean extra minutes to stay in bed or on your phone; rather, a five-minute cushion (10-15 is even better) before your next appointment, commitment, or task.

Try it. It might lower your blood pressure and change your life. 

Did anyone watch the NBA playoffs in June? Those who did, commentators and casual fans alike, could not help but note series MVP Kawhi Leonard’s unhurried style of play and approach to the game. He seemed always to anticipate and be prepared for what came next. In the midst of a highly stressful activity and setting, he nevertheless appeared—well—at peace.

It doesn’t take his extraordinary skills and preparation to glean an important message for the rest of us, as we live our everyday lives: try to move through life quickly and purposefully, but not frantically. Doing so will enhance tranquility and heighten your ability to focus.

I am realistic. Some will scoff at this simple suggestion, reject it, conclude their lives are too complicated for five extra minutes. (And if truth be told, some don’t care about making good, time wise, on their commitments; but that’s another story.) Why are some of us addicted to stress? It’s more than just an individual refusal to deprive ourselves of anything—even a proven danger like stress to our health and wellbeing.

Ours is a nation developed upon stress. It’s not just the current demands of our fast paced technological era. Much earlier in our nation’s history, the industrial era kept workers on edge so they would work hard and produce. That philosophy may have helped grow the economy, but it did not necessarily contribute to our psychological health. Stress may produce sweat, but not necessarily the best work, much less satisfaction or happiness.

So give yourself five extra minutes—to complete that required task, meet that person, show up at an appointment, pick someone up, etc. Not permitting yourself that cushion can have negative consequences. One morning I tested and verified that assertion: Had I backed out of my driveway in a rush, and skimped on looking behind me, I might have struck the little girl from next door or crashed into the car that suddenly made a U-turn and came up the road behind me. Or I might have turned left too soon, onto a busy thoroughfare, which would have added to the long list of accidents by impatient motorists. And that was only in the first five minutes after my departure from home.

So save your reaction to stress for those situations that truly require it. Meanwhile, do yourself a favor and take a few extra minutes. Doing so might even prolong your life, which would make a whole lot of time cushions very worthwhile.


Dan Regan, a sociologist, is the former dean of academic affairs at Johnson State College and continues to work part-time for Northern Vermont University.

Become a Live Well Lamoille Blogger!

The Live Well Lamoille blog is a joint community effort to share information and encourage one another to make healthy choices, and now YOU have the opportunity to be a part of it! This month, we are beginning our search for new bloggers to join the conversation about how to live well and build a healthier community.

So many factors contribute to “health.” Medical care is certainly important; however, many of the other factors that shape our health reside outside the doctor’s office, such as access to nutritious food, economic stability, and the policies and laws that shape the choices available to us.

Too often, the clinical aspects of healthy living are considered separate from the more social aspects. Live Well Lamoille attempts to create a shared space where our community can come together for a more holistic conversation. We bring together bloggers from health organizations, local government, advocacy groups, educational institutions, and local businesses to contribute blog posts sharing resources, activities, and ideas to help readers make healthy choices.

This year, we hope to feature even more perspectives and approaches to improving health. Adults over the age of 18 in the Lamoille Valley are invited to enter our contest to become a new Live Well Lamoille blogger. Entering is simple:

  1. Visit Copley Hospital’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/CopleyHospitalVT
  2. Comment on the blog contest announcement (link above) discussing why you would be a great blogger to represent and inspire people in our community to make healthy choices.

Use this as an opportunity to introduce yourself and let your personality shine. Who are you? What is your approach to health? Do you enjoy cooking, exercising, or practicing mindfulness? Do you work to improve quality life for children and families through your career?

We are looking for a variety of backgrounds and approaches to health and wellness. In the past, bloggers have written about both traditional healthcare topics (such as heart health and managing a chronic disease), as well as topics not traditionally thought of in health discussions, such as:

  • neighborhood walkability
  • preventing substance abuse
  • addiction recovery
  • early childhood education
  • coping with grief
  • local recreational resources

Every blogger will bring their own unique voice and stories to the blog. Each Live Well Lamoille blogger will be responsible for writing 2 to 3 blog posts per year.

Head on over to Copley Hospital’s Facebook page and tell us why you would make a great blogger!

What Is Your New Years Resolution?

A new year has arrived, presenting the perfect opportunity to reflect on the past and reset. Even if you’re not in need of a completely fresh start, everyone can benefit from embracing a more positive frame of mind and a few new wellness goals.

We asked Live Well Lamoille bloggers to share the healthy habits they hope to embrace this year. Here is what they said:

Valerie Valcour, Vermont Department of Health: A renewed focus for me in 2019 is work-life balance. The first step will be to incorporate 10 minutes of meditation into each day. The best time will be the transition between work and home each afternoon and mornings on the weekend. A book with 52 meditative focus areas will be my weekly topic guide. I wish you all the best in accomplishing your goals for 2019.

Caleb Magoon, Power Play Sports: A couple of years ago, I was a bit down in the dumps following a very tough year. In an effort to focus on all the positive things I had going in life, I resolved at the New Year to write a bit about those positive aspects of my life. Rather than a traditional journal chronicling all life events, I decided instead to simply write about positive events, moments of beauty I saw daily, or uplifting interactions with people around me. My goal was to write nearly every day, which I did, albeit not for the whole year.

Though my effort was short-lived, it was not without a positive effect. I found that by focusing on the positive rather than complaining about the many negative things (because that is just too easy), had a profound effect on my outlook.

This year, I plan to do something similar. I have some new and slightly more realistic expectations. I’m quite certain that by taking just a few minutes each week to celebrate the positive things in my life, I will see an improved outlook. Deep in the Vermont winter, many of us struggle to keep a positive attitude. Small exercises like this that take little time can do big things for your mental health.

Dan Regan, Northern Vermont University-Johnson: In 2019 I resolve to continue two strategies, which I’ve begun. The first is: Allot extra time for all tasks and commitments. My mom gave me this advice, and she lived past 95. It means leaving early to pick someone up, arriving beforehand for an appointment or meeting, planning on extra time to cook dinner, complete a report, etc. I’m someone who acutely feels the pressure of an upcoming commitment. For me, and maybe others among you, a more unhurried approach reduces stress, helps control blood pressure and contributes to overall health.

In my seventies, time is obviously precious; but I can’t honestly claim that each second is equally indispensable. So I don’t begrudge waiting and “wasting” some of those seconds. Paradoxically, the willingness to waste some time unapologetically has made my “productive” moments feel—well—more productive and meaningful.

The second resolution is: Minimize multitasking. That means, for starters, no peering at screens while I’m exercising or checking phones when I’m actually watching something. I find the more I commit to uni-tasking, the more I get done. I’m better able to focus on the task at hand. And an unforeseen benefit is that, without distraction, my mind is free to move in unexpected and sometimes productive directions. For instance, I “wrote” this short piece in my head while running in a pool.

I hope I can make good on these two, simple commitments and I wish everyone a good (better) and healthy 2019!

What are your health and wellness resolutions? Maybe you’d like to start meal planning, start walking for 20 minutes per day, or just want to stop overscheduling your calendar to cut down on stress. How do you plan to stick to them? Let us know in the comments section below.

How to Get Started Mountain Biking

By: Bonnie Strong, Copley Hospital Authorization Coordinator

Mountain bikes are a great way to exercise and get out into the woods. Compared to road bikes, they have bigger tires with rugged tread and suspension to absorb shock. Trails vary from smooth and flowy to technical single track.

After you figure out what kind of riding you want to do (trail, x-country, enduro, downhill) head to your local bike shop and they will fit you to the appropriate type of bike. There are different types of riding and bikes to match. Trail bikes are good for all purposes and most riders around here have these. Cross-country bikes are lightweight and good for smoother trails (they have no rear suspension); enduro bikes are ok for uphill and good for downhill, while downhill bikes are specific for lift assisted mountains and bike parks.

Ride some demo bikes or rent them and check out some bike swaps. Ask your bike friends what they’re into; it’s a great way to socialize. Grab some biking shorts, gloves, and a helmet. There are plenty of clinics at mountain bike centers (often free!) that will get you started and they’ll rent you a bike. Learn the basics and you’ll be on your way.

Most towns with mountain biking trails have a club that does a weekly group ride. If you’re not riding with others yet, it’s a great way to learn where the trails are, improve your riding and meet other riders. The rides are divided into different levels and you won’t be left behind. Meet up with the riders at your level on other days or head out on your own and keep learning and improving. Go to other bike shops in other towns for maps and ideas, and ride everywhere. Soon, you’ll be hooked!


Bonnie Strong is Authorization Coordinator at Copley Hospital and volunteers with Stowe Trails Partnership. When not biking, you can find her doing trail work and leading group rides.

WIC Offers Fresh Produce From Local Farms

By: Nancy Segreto, WIC Nutritionist, Vermont Department of Health

The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)  provides wholesome food, nutrition education and community support for income-eligible women who are pregnant or post-partum (including fathers and caregivers), infants, and children up to 5 years old. Our community now has three clinic locations, located in Johnson, Hardwick, and Morrisville.

In addition to the standard food offered by WIC, each summer the Morrisville WIC office distributes coupons worth $30 – $60 to families. These “Farm to Family” coupons can be used as money to buy produce from participating farmers at Vermont Farmer’s Markets, from July through the end of October. Families can meet the farmer who grew their food, tasting new foods while developing an appreciation for fresh, local whole foods. This program also supports Vermont farmers who receive 100% of the coupon value.

WIC recently partnered with Lamoille Valley Gleaning to offer monthly “WIC Gleaning Taste Tests” under our tent in the Morrisville WIC office parking lot. For those who may not know, “gleaning” is the gathering of extra crops from the fields after the harvest. Gleaning helps keep fresh, wholesome food in our community and supports a healthy food system. Past events have offered freshly harvested green beans, zucchini, lettuce, baby kale, arugula and more. Taste-tests and recipes are provided with themes such as pasta salads, soups, baby foods, and holiday inspirations.

The next WIC Gleaning Taste Tests will take place August 2, September 13, October 11, and November 8, from 2- 3:00pm at the WIC office (63 Processional Dr, Morrisville).

Families with Medicaid or Dr. Dynasaur insurance are income eligible for WIC. Know a family who might qualify for WIC? Tell them about us!

To connect with WIC today, visit: healthvermont.gov/wic or call 800-649-4357 or 802-888-7447 (Morrisville). WIC is an equal opportunity provider. For more information about WIC, visit the Health Department website at http://www.healthvermont.gov/local-health-offices/morrisville/wic-services.

Learning Through Arthritis

By: Daniel Regan

arthritis_tips_Live Well Lamoille

At 72 most of my squash-playing days are behind me. Although I took up the game, a fast-moving racquet sport, too late in life, there was plenty of time, apparently, to pound on my joints. Soccer, before squash, had taken its toll too. Arthritic changes started showing up at least ten years ago on my ankle. In 2016, osteoarthritis of my left hip was bad enough for me to walk away from a consultation carrying a binder entitled “Preparing for Your Hip Replacement.”

I returned it to the clinic two months later. In the meantime, I had decided to try physical therapy combined with modest amounts of over-the-counter medication. Today, more than two years later, I have “graduated” to a prescription medication, but continue to work out one to two hours almost daily. Luckily, my current schedule allows that. I check in with a superb PT, who is an acute observer and listener, every three or four months for a “tune up.” Although others will choose differently, my road to an eventual joint replacement will be as gradual as she–and I–can make it.

No one chooses arthritis, although worse afflictions can be imagined. More than 54 million Americans, plenty of whom live in Vermont, live with doctor-diagnosed arthritis. Of those, more than 30 million have osteoarthritis, the most common form of disability in adults. If arthritis sufferers conveyed what they’ve learned from their experiences, the pooled knowledge would constitute a valuable life studies curriculum.

Here are some of the life lessons I think I’ve learned from living with arthritis:

  1. Revel in a good day, do what you can to endure a worse one; but try not to read too much into either. Unless one is extraordinarily lucky, or unlucky, the day-by-day trajectory is neither clearly up nor down. I don’t need a weather app, for instance, to provide painful confirmation that the barometric pressure is falling; but tomorrow the skies may clear. An overall trajectory may well exist, but each particular day need not reflect it.
  1. Appreciate the small pleasures of life. I take real pleasure in walking even short distances with something like the stride I remember. There are analogues in every sphere of life.
  1. Learn to accept assistance, but try to gauge what you really need. I use a sock aid, but only for the foot I struggle to reach, and am considering using a single hiking pole for longer walks. For life in general as for arthritis, it’s important to accept necessary assistance; but it’s also worth remembering that the Beatles sang about “a LITTLE help from my friends.” It’s a good idea, to the extent possible, to push yourself.
  1. Move! When life is less than stellar, passivity and inaction are apt to take over. Long-term, this is exactly the wrong response to life as to arthritis. On the other hand, although I try to move through the initial pain in anticipation of relief, if it’s too much and I need an easier day, I take it—without second guessing myself.
  1. Relax. Time is especially precious, compared to when I was 20; but no particular moment is indispensable, really. In particular, not every second must be used productively. Waste some time, shamelessly, allot extra time for tasks; and minimize multitasking, unless you really, really like having the news on all the time. Arthritis and life require a dual sense of time–as both precious and dispensable–and the ability to move back and forth between them.
  1. Seize any opportunity to examine what is at the core of your identity. I had to ask—am still asking—myself to what extent my sense of self is wrapped up in moving as I had before. More generally, what makes you you? And without a particular attribute or capacity, how could you reinvent yourself? That act of remaking oneself is also an exercise in humility.

It is also an exercise in empathy. Overall, living with arthritis has heightened my empathy for those—the many people–who move as gracefully as they can through life with pain either external or internal.

Building Resilience and Hope in Children and Youth

By: Scott Johnson, Lamoille Family Center

In a 2017 article co-authored by Boston Pediatrician, Bob Sege, MD, PhD, et al., the authors highlight recently released data about fostering healthy childhood development by promoting positive experiences for children and families. The article recognizes that many families experience hardship and adversity, and they point to research about the importance of balancing those adversities and early life traumas with positive experiences that can grow hopefulness. The piece is called: Balancing Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) With HOPE* New Insights into the Role of Positive Experience on Child and Family Development, and the full article can be found at this website: https://www.cssp.org/publications/documents/Balancing-ACEs-with-HOPE-FINAL.pdf.

Assuring healthy outcomes for children is important and complicated work. Families, communities, schools, and workplaces all play a role in the support and development of healthy children. The Lamoille Family Center works across the Lamoille Valley region (Lamoille County plus the towns of Craftsbury, Greensboro, Hardwick, Stannard, and Woodbury), fostering hope and positive outcomes for children, youth, and families.

One way we build hope and support healthy lifestyles is through our “Send a Kid to Camp” program. Initiated as a celebration of the Family Center’s 40th anniversary three years ago, this highly successful program supports local children who otherwise would not be able to afford a summer camp experience. International expert and researcher on childhood trauma, Michael Unger, PhD, believes that camps can play a critical and positive role in a child’s trajectory.

“Camps help children feel in control of their lives, and those experiences of self-efficacy can travel home as easily as a special art project they carry in their backpack. Children who experience themselves as competent will be better problem-solvers in new situations long after the smell of the campfire is forgotten.”

The Family Center works with local schools and sister agencies to identify children who want to go to camp but whose families cannot afford to send them. In the camp’s second year, we were able to send 45 kids – almost double the number of kids to camp from the inaugural year. This year we are on track to treat 59 kids to outdoor and other fun camp experiences.

Here’s what one mother said about her son’s first camp experience:

“He came home from camp grinning ear to ear! Though it will take many months for him to tell us all about camp, he did say, ‘I have SO many friends, him and him and him and her. I don’t know their names but they are my friends.’ As we drove away from Camp Thorpe he was waving and people were waving goodbye and telling him they’d see him next year. I never ever imagined there would be a camp for him.”

We look forward to hearing from more kids this year with their stories about their summer experiences. Building hope in children is the best part of our jobs, and we believe these are smart investments in our future.

Homelessness in the Lamoille Valley 

By: Will Eberle, Agency of Human Services Field Director, Barre and Morrisville Districts

In a rural community, homelessness can feel invisible. You don’t walk down the street and step over homeless people sleeping on the sidewalk to get to the coffee shop. You don’t see people flying signs at every underpass and median. Homelessness in the Lamoille Valley may feel invisible but it is as real as you and me.

Over 150 people came together in Morrisville in early February for a Homelessness Awareness Walk to raise the point that any one of the people walking that day could find themselves homeless from circumstances that swing out of their control.

We called this event “We are the 64” because last year’s “Point in Time count,” which counts the nation-wide homeless population once a year, made it clear that on any given day in Lamoille there are at least 64 people experiencing homelessness. Nearly half—27 individuals— are children.

Every week our Housing Solutions Team pours over a 6-8 page list of individuals and families who are homeless or about to be, to help them secure safe and stable housing.

If you stand up after reading this and remember one thing I say, let it be this: anyone can become homeless at any time. It is not a moral lapse, or a shortcoming of character, but a crisis, a state of emergency – that has more causes then we could list.

If we’re honest, every one of us who has achieved a modicum of success must admit that it is due not just to our own efforts, but the support of friends and family, and the communities we hold so dear.

Together, let us draw a line in the sand and say we don’t want homelessness to be a part of our community anymore. Let us embrace the ethic that we are no longer interested in focusing on blame and judgment but the goodness, and value, and potential, of every person in our communities. Let each of us who stepped out on that cold day, and every other ally we can muster, roll up our sleeves and do our own small part to ensure all of our neighbors have a warm bed to sleep in every night.

Causes of homelessness are complicated, and the solutions are too — but we Vermonters are crafty and resilient and willing to work as hard as we need to get the job done. The faith community, law enforcement, a host of non-profits, state entities, and private citizens have stepped up to begin to weave a safety net for our most vulnerable Vermonters. What we have accomplished together is inspiring but there is much hard work left to do. Together we must build the world that we want to live in.

When you look in the mirror tomorrow morning, ask yourself: “Did I take a step to make the world a better place?”

Make the answer, “Yes.”

To get involved, contact me at Will.Eberle@Vermont.gov.

Improving Heart Health, One Step at a Time

Keeping your heart healthy may seem like a big job, but even small changes in your daily habits can make a big difference. In fact, small changes are much easier to integrate into our lives than larger ones, so they’re more likely to become lasting habits.

In honor of American Heart Month, we asked our Live Well Lamoille bloggers to share one simple thing they do to keep their heart healthy. We hope this list provides inspiration for incorporating heart-healthy behaviors into your life.

Steve Ames: To be honest, I try to run up the stairs as often as possible, and skip elevators or so escalators whenever possible.

Mary L. Collins: I have begun a practice of going to sleep while listening to meditative music. It may seem an odd way to be heart healthy but for me, as I age, I find sleeping is one of the areas I can easily attenuate to be healthier.  So, I listen to music that helps me fall asleep. It softly plays on my nightstand at a very, very low volume.  I can barely hear it but it is just enough “there” so that I am soothed into sleep. Think of it as “Lullabies for Adults”.  Works for me and is completely natural.

Rebecca Copans: Each week I try to take a brisk walk on five days and go to at least one yoga or other exercise class. I find that if I set a goal of trying to eat 5 different colors of fruit and vegetables each day it helps me to eat more fresh foods.

Rorie Dunphey: I take a 30-minute walk during my lunch hour.

Caleb Magoon: I love to drink a cold beer or two once in a while. But boy those calories add up! I have a simple rule I follow: Sweat before you drink. I allow myself the indulgence, but only on days when I am sure to get a little exercise.

Todd Thomas: I religiously check my Fitbit each day to ensure that I get my steps in. I have always been told that 10,000 steps a day makes for an active and healthy lifestyle. My personal goal is to get to 14,000 steps a day. I chose to walk to and from work (and to and from the house for my lunch-break) to help meet my daily goal. If I achieve that daily goal, that gets me to 100,000 steps per week. My body always feels great when I achieve 100,000 steps weekly!

Nancy Wagner: I love to snowshoe with my dog. She’s right there waiting and ready when I get home from work. I have a headlamp and we go out back in the woods.

Michele Whitmore: I exercise regularly and play tennis three times a week. Playing tennis has many health benefits including increasing aerobic capacities. lowering resting heart rate and blood pressure. Additionally, in 2016 there was a study done involving numerous exercises and sports that increase one’s lifespan, tennis was ranked in the top two. This research report also stated that playing a racquet sport, such as tennis, was linked to a 47% reduced risk of death. (More information here.)

Valerie Valcour: I do Tai Chi for 20-30 minutes five mornings a week. It helps ground me and gets my heart rate up just enough to get going.

What is one thing YOU do to be heart healthy?  Let us know in the comments section below!

Vermont Health Connect 2018 Open Enrollment Runs Nov.1 – Dec. 15

Enroll in a Plan, Make Changes to Existing Plans, Compare Plans

Now is the time to consider your health insurance options and choose the health plan that best fits your medical needs and budget. The Department of Vermont Health Access (DVHA) has launched the “2018 Plan Comparison Tool,” an online tool that allows people to compare at least 24 health plan options by monthly premiums and deductible amounts as well as by estimated total annual costs. The 2018 Plan Comparison tool is available online at https://vt.checkbookhealth.org. Now is the time to consider your options as the 2018 Open Enrollment for Vermont Health Connect runs November 1 through December 15th.

Open enrollment is the period of time when people who are eligible to enroll in a Vermont Health Connect plan can enroll in a plan, make changes to an existing plan, and/or choose a different plan. Current Vermont Health Connect members that are satisfied with their current health care plan are not required to take any action. As long as they continue to pay their bills, they will automatically be renewed into the 2018 version of their 2017 plan. However, if they wish to comparison shop various plans, state officials suggest they do their research now, before open enrollment begins.

When logged in to the 2018 Plan Comparison Tool, you will be asked to enter your age, income, health status, and expected use of medical services. From there, the tool tells the user if they qualify for subsidies to lower the cost of coverage. It also presents the estimated total costs of each of the 24+ qualified health plans in a typical year as well as a high-use year.

More than three-quarters of Vermont Health Connect members find that they qualify for subsidies to lower the cost of insurance, with the typical individual receiving $395 per month toward the insurance plan of their choice. For most uninsured Vermonters, this means it is cheaper to buy health insurance and gain health care than to pay the federal fee for being uninsured and still risk the immense costs that can come from an accident or unexpected illness.

Starting November 1st, applicants can sign up for Vermont Health Connect in one of four ways: online, by phone, by paper, or with an in-person assister. For more information or to get started, visit http://VermontHealthConnect.gov or call 1-855-899-9600.

Copley Hospital Patient Financial Counselor Angela Griggs is also available to assist people with enrollment. She can be reached at 802-888-8336.

For more information, visit https://www.copleyvt.org/about-us/articles/vt-health-connect-open-enrollment-runs-nov-1-dec-15.