Tag Archives: new year

Healthy Resolutions like Fitness

Vantage Point: Healthy Resolutions Without the Cost

What just happened? I blinked, and all of a sudden, it’s 2018! The holidays came and went, and now it’s time to go back to our normal routines. I’m personally excited for spring to get here. I’m over this cold.

As I go back to my routine, I think of what I’m going to do differently this year. It is very cliché, but I really do look back on my previous year and reflect on what I can improve on for 2018. We can improve in every aspect of our life: relationships, work, finances, and health.

We all try to set goals and keep them for the entire year. But sometimes we set unrealistic goals, or we just don’t try hard enough. The most common goal I hear is having a healthier lifestyle. We all have at least one unhealthy habit that we want to kick to the curb. As I get older, I realize it is not about looking good or having “rock hard” abs, it’s about being healthy and strong.

There are so many ways we can have an active lifestyle. Many people would join a gym to reach that goal, but what happens if you can’t afford a gym membership? And the older we get, the harder it is to do heavy lifting or the more dangerous it is to use a treadmill.

We are so lucky to have an organization like the Wellness Place in the Wenatchee Valley. Its mission is “[t]o improve and enhance the health and well-being of community members through programs and education; inspiring every person to live their best life now.” Their current programs include targeting and supporting cancer patients, Stay Active and Independent for Life (SAIL), and diabetes support services.

The SAIL program started in 2006 and focuses on balance and fitness for those 65 and older. Exercises that improve strength, balance, and fitness are the most important activities you can do to stay active and reduce your chance of falling as you age.

These classes are offered all over the greater Wenatchee area, and they’re no cost to the attendees. It is a great opportunity to kick off a healthier lifestyle for free. Learn more about the classes and when and where they take place and start your new year the right way.

Jessica Arroyo, born and raised in the Wenatchee Valley, is a Medicare community liaison for Health Alliance, serving Chelan, Douglas, Grant, and Okanogan counties in Washington. During her time off, she enjoys spending time with her husband and infant son.

What's in a Nickname like Sticks?

Long View: What’s in a Name?

Have you ever had a nickname? My oldest son, now 23 years old, goes by Sticks. Over the course of his life, I’ve given him at least a dozen different nicknames. This particular child needed a lot of nicknames because he was a kid who was constantly evolving, first in his own mind, but eventually for the entire world to see.

When he was about 16, he announced that he had taught himself to play the drums, which was a surprise to me since we did not own any drums. What we did own were 2 abused trumpets, gathering dust from lack of practice and the sudden desire to quit band and join the football team.

One night while on a vacation cruise, he played the drums like a rock star as part of a talent show band he had assembled with the other kids on board the ship. Stickle-Fritz was born in that moment. Now, I simply call him Sticks, and he is still a drummer for several different church worship teams. This nickname stuck.

Scoobs is my 19-year-old son, and he’s only had the one nickname (in shortened or altered versions) since the day he came home from the hospital. Scooby-Doo popped into my head as I lay him in his crib for the very first time because he was the most adorably pudgy little Gerber baby. He looked nothing like the animated goofy Great Dane, but a mother’s nickname doesn’t have to make sense to anyone but her.

It became Scooby-Snack when he was just so cute, I could eat him up. Scoob-inator when he played football and rugby. Today, he’s just Scoobs. (Sticks is rolling his eyes right now because his baby brother “is just so spoiled!”)

My freshman year in high school, a close friend of mine nicknamed me Lorelai-Poop. The name stuck. Over the course of 4 years of high school, it was truncated down to just the last 4 letters. You can imagine the “joy” it gives me to hear my high school nickname shouted out at the mall 31 years later. I’ve been trying to scrape this one off my shoe for decades. (Thank you Brad Hosford.)

The nicknames we give ourselves in our heads can stick too: Lousy-Dancer Larry, Bad-Golfer Gus, Can’t-Cook Carol. Give yourself a new nickname for the new year. Let’s take a page from Mr. Sticks and decide to become something even before we actually are. The way we talk to ourselves has a tremendous effect on the eventual “self” that we become.

Be kind to yourself in 2018. Challenge yourself in 2018. Soon you may find yourself becoming Likes-to-Boogie Larry, Getting-Better-Golfer Gus, Maybe-She-Can-Cook Carol. Sticks, Scoobs, and Poop will be pulling for you.

Lora Felger is a community and broker liaison at Health Alliance. She is the mother of 2 terrific boys, a world traveler, and a major Iowa State Cyclones fan.

Get Organized

Covered Bridge: Getting Organized for the New Year

Every year I start out with a new goal. Of course, a healthier lifestyle is always at the top of my list, but I also always make other goals. (Maybe it’s so if I fail at my first goal, I have backups? We’ll discuss that on next year’s January e-column if I succeed!)

Some are big and some are small, but one I know consistently comes back each year is, “how do I get organized?” (I do realize that if this is a consistent goal each year, shouldn’t it be my first goal? Baby steps here…)

I notice each year when I set out to accomplish this goal, I feel the need to take this on alone, and then suddenly, I’m overwhelmed and want to quit immediately. That should be my first red flag.  

Asking for help should be the first step in this goal. Whether it’s from a spouse, children, family members, friends, or co-workers, asking for help will always make it easier to get the task done, no matter what you are trying to organize.

Don’t try to do it all at once! We get so wrapped up in trying to accomplish our new goal that we try to do too much at once, and then we fail, because it’s just too much. Start small, work in timed intervals, and most importantly, remember it doesn’t have to be done in one day.

Enjoy the process! Whether you are reminiscing over photos or paperwork or cleaning out the garage, take the time to remember the things you’re going through and share your stories with someone. You never know, someone may want the item as a keepsake to tell the story later.

At Reid Health Alliance, we hold Downsizing and Decluttering educational presentations, and if you know a group that may want some more information in the coming months, please feel free to reach out to me. Even if I never get organized this year, I can help you get organized!

Happy New Year and new goals!

Morgan Gunder is a community and broker liaison for Reid Health Alliance. Born in the South and raised in the Midwest, she is a wife and mother with a passion for traveling, learning, and technology.

National Food Holiday Recipes

National Food Holiday Recipes

This week, we’re celebrating with national food holiday recipes that feature popular holiday dishes and ingredients perfect for a week of entertaining. 

First up for National Pumpkin Pie Day, indulge without the guilt with the Ultimate Healthy Pumpkin Pie.

The Ultimate Healthy Pumpkin Pie


For National Candy Cane Day, make breakfast for visiting family special with Dark Chocolate Peppermint Muffins.

Dark Chocolate Peppermint Muffins with Soothing Peppermint oil {Grain Free}


Beat fruitcake’s bad rap for National Fruitcake Day with these gorgeous Mini Fruitcakes.

mini fruitcakes


Whip up Dark Chocolate Bark with Dried Fruit for an easy and beautiful National Chocolate Day treat.

Dark Chocolate Bark with Dried Fruit Recipe


It’s National Pepper Pot Day, and Pepper Pot is a Caribbean stew, especially popular in Philly and at Christmastime. Try making your own.

Pepper Pot
Image and Recipe via Saveur


It’s National Bacon Day, and a little bacon goes a long way in this delicious Creamy Butternut Squash Alfredo.

Creamy Butternut Squash Alfredo Pasta


It’s time for a new year! Clear out your leftover cranberry sauce and impress your guests with Easy Cranberry Brie Crostini.

Easy Cranberry Brie Crostini

Answers to Your Health Insurance Questions

Vantage Point: Time to Answer Important Health Insurance Questions

It’s that time of year again. My husband comes home with a huge packet of healthcare information. Yep, it’s open enrollment for his employer health plan. It’s time for us to look at the options and choices that best suit our family in the coming year.

Every year, Medicare beneficiaries get this kind of event too. It’s called the Annual Enrollment Period (AEP). Each year from October 15 to December 7, they have the opportunity to look at the options available in their service area and choose which plan is the best for them and their health.

This is an important time for everyone. As we age, our health may change too. Understanding and knowing what coverage is best for you can be a daunting task, so you should ask yourself some very important questions each and every year.

Am I happy with my current plan? What’s changing for the new year? Is the premium going up on the plan I currently have? Do I need more coverage?

I understand that as Medicare members, you’re sent an enormous amount of marketing material during this time of year. All the Medicare Advantage, Medicare Supplement, and prescription drug plan companies are trying to get your attention and your business.

How do you weed through all the material? And even more important questions come up for you each year. Do I know the difference between Medicare Advantage and Medicare Supplement? Is the prescription drug plan I’m currently on the best value for the prescription drugs I’m taking? Finding the answers can be confusing and frustrating.

The answers you seek can be found quickly and easily. Visit our website or call us directly for answers to your health insurance questions. There are also independent brokers available to you, like GHB Insurance located right in Olympia, to help you with all the plan information you receive. In the Thurston County area, there are also SHIBA (Statewide Health Insurance Benefit Advisors) representatives who volunteer their time to help you understand Medicare and all the parts associated with it. They can be found at both the Lacey and Olympia senior centers.

So never fear, your Medicare questions can be answered here. Or at least, we can assist you in getting the answers you need. Remember, you have resources available to you. All you have to do is use them.

Joy Stanford is a community liaison with Health Alliance, serving Thurston County. She’s been involved with Medicare for 20+ years and truly enjoys it. She enjoys gospel, R&B, and country music, and she owns over 100 pairs of shoes.

Finding Passion this Hobby Month

National Hobby Month

January is National Hobby Month, and you may not realize how much hobbies can help your health and reduce stress.

Fishing for Your Health


No idea how to start finding a hobby as an adult? We can help.

Finding Hobbies As an Adult


How does our blogger bust boredom with hobbies in the winter? Steal her ideas.

Hobbies to Bust Boredom


If you need help getting started, Discover a Hobby can help you find the perfect fit.

Still at a loss? Try one of these ideas if you still need a new hobby.

Hobbies for All


January is the perfect time to turn your healthy New Year’s resolution into your new hobby.

Resolutions to Hobbies


Check in with our blogger as she prioritizes self-care through hobbies and projects.

Hobbies for Self-Care








Time for Self Care

My Healthy Journey: Putting Self-Care First

It’s a new year, which means it’s time to re-evaluate and set new healthy goals. For me, that always means trying to refocus on self-care.

As those of you following along know, I always have a hard time prioritizing the little things. So far, I have 3 big self-care goals that help with that for 2017.

Get Organized for Self-Care

Planning in Writing

I always have a planner for scheduling our company’s social media because I like to have it in writing. But this year, I took it a step further and bought myself a Passion Planner.

If you haven’t heard of Passion Planner, it combines a lot of things, like keeping a bullet journal, setting goals, imagining your future, and reminders to take care of yourself. Here’s a peek at what that looks like:

Weekly View of Passion Planner

It’s built to help you track time, workload, and to-do tasks for your personal life and goals, and it even makes you find the good in your week.

Finding Time

In an effort to fight off my workaholic tendencies, I’ve been thinking a lot about time and time management. There’s one TED talk in particular that has had me thinking for weeks:

Video via TED

This idea that there is enough time for the things that matter to you, even if you live an extremely busy life, feels so wonderful. Not only do I have no doubt that she’s right, it’s also an idea to live your life by.

For me, I’m adding a third-column to-do list to my Passion Planner, which is the self-care to-do list Laura recommends in that video. Too frequently things like my chipped toenail polish are such a low priority that I never make time for them (and I can only imagine this just gets worse as you have kids).

By putting them on my list, I give myself permission to make those little things a priority, to make time for them, even when they seem selfish or stupid. I can make time for reading a book, checking my personal email, playing with my dogs, anything. This is how I plan to make self-care a priority.

Soon, I will use the pages at the end of each month to evaluate how the first month of this is going, how my goals went, what was good and bad this month, and more.

Evaluating for Self-Care

Meal Planning and Tracking

I’ve been trying to make healthy meal plans and grocery shop in advance each week, which again, requires I make time for it.

This great video series of bento box lunches from Mind Over Munch, one per day in January,  has really been helping me to get inspired with each day’s meals. (She also has a digital cookbook of these if you need more than 30 days of inspiration!)

How I Meal Plan

To meal plan, I’ve been using a lot of tools to make it happen, which makes it a lot more fun for someone like me who loves checking things off.

First, I have a lovely Wonder Woman list that I write down meals for the week on, organized by breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I try to choose at least one recipe for a nice big breakfast on the weekends, at least one recipe for a few lunches (something I can make multiple times or a big batch of something, like soup), and then 5 or 6 dinner ideas that I’ll make over a week and a half or so (taking leftover days off from cooking). And finally, at least 1 dessert because I have a huge sweet tooth. I label where each recipe is coming from and use it as a weekly menu, marking off things I make as I go along.

Meal Planning Tools

From there, I make a grocery list on the lovely Wunderlist, which is my favorite because it syncs across devices, but there are lots of other grocery shopping apps you can try.

And I use that whiteboard beside my Wonder Woman list to keep track of all the meal prep I need to do, like boiling eggs, making homemade salad dressing or sauces ahead of time, or prepping veggies and snacks for the week.

Then, I keep a calendar whiteboard on my freezer with dinners scheduled out. It helps me plan which days I’m eating leftovers, which ones I need something easy, or when I’m going out.

Monthly Meal Calendar

I also keep a more thorough list in my planner of what I eat for each major meal.

Meal Tracking by Month

I’ve also just been trying to find little things that make my life easier in the kitchen, like my new knife block, which swivels to hold a cookbook or tablet while I’m cooking:

Kitchen Recipe Holder

Tech and Digital Organization

Finally, on the organization front, I’m trying to clean up from a digital standpoint. This means a lot of things. I got a wireless speaker for Christmas. Syncing it to my cell phone lets me play music wherever I am in the house without needing a stereo or getting my computer close to water, like while I’m cooking or showering.

I’ve also been trying to clean up my digital presence, like organizing my iTunes, consolidating multiple Netflix and Hulu profiles I’ve had on different accounts, organizing all my bills online, backing up files like my writing on Google Docs, keeping track of my different passwords and profiles, and more.

I’ve also been taking the time to use digital solutions to solve some of life’s inconveniences, from the Tile on my keys to organizing all of my loyalty cards and memberships with Key Ring and  tossing all of those business cards without guilt by backing them up in CamCard.

It’s amazing how satisfying throwing away all that clutter can be.

(Looking for more ways to clean out your wallet?  This Real Simple article can help! It even has handy suggestions for using the leftovers off all your gift cards!)

Reading Challenge as Self-Care

There are all kinds of reading challenges all over the internet, practically one for every interest you could have. Popsugar’s yearly challenge is always a good general challenge, but looking at it, I just kept thinking about all the books I already know I want to read.

So instead, I’m making my own reading challenge. I used a Christmas Amazon gift card to buy a big stack of books that have been on my list for a while and combined them with a handful I’m in the middle of or have been hoarding,

Reading List Start
(Why yes, that is a dog toy “hidden” on top of my books…)

On my self-care list, I’m forcing myself to dedicate at least 15 minutes a day to reading a book. Not the news, not my phone, a physical book.

And once I’ve forced myself to sit still and focus for those 15 minutes, I inevitably find time for at least 15 more.

Healthy Eating Self-Care

In keeping with all that self-care and meal planning, I have to follow through with making those healthy meals too.

For Christmas, I also got 3 cookbooks, which are keeping me going. Both of Skinnytaste’s cookbooks and The Dude Diet cookbook.

My New Cookbooks


Skinnytaste’s cookbooks have a variety of recipes to make up for my comfort food favorites, from chicken enchiladas, chicken parm, and baked potato soup to staples like homemade marinara, which I’m trying to avoid buying at the store.

Chicken enchiladas with homemade enchilada sauce and lime cilantro rice.

Teriyaki pork chops, with homemade teriyaki sauce, and spicy pineapple salsa.

Oven-fried chicken, which tastes a lot like Shake ‘n Bake, with cheesy cauliflower mash.

Baked potato soup, which is filled with hidden cauliflower.

The Dude Diet

And, you may not know it from looking at me,  but nachos, bar nachos especially, and chili cheese fries are my top 2 favorite foods. (Closely followed by all things sweet, mostly candy, but that’s beside the point.) So The Dude Diet is perfect for me.

It has all kinds of healthier takes on hearty classics, even going so far as to have Taco Bell copycat tacos. (Be still my beating heart!)

So far, from simple Pad Thai, where the weirdest ingredient I needed was Sriracha, to truly bar-worthy BBQ chicken nachos, this cookbook has yet to disappoint.

Chicken Pad Thai
I substituted chicken for shrimp in The Dude Diet shrimp Pad Thai recipe.

BBQ Chicken Nachos
Drool-worthy spicy, baked BBQ chicken nachos.

Using these cookbooks, I’ve been slowly tasting my way through their wonderfulness, and it’s making a difference! Not only can I see it, but I can feel it. And the best part is I’m not sacrificing anything. These recipes are delicious and doable.

Build your own group of recipes that you trust and love, or start exploring healthy cookbooks yourself. Enjoying what you’re eating is the only way you’ll be able to make a healthy lifestyle feel achievable.

Do It Yourself

Not sure how to get started setting your own goals? Our wellness tool, Rally, can help you set food, exercise, organization, and even reading goals.

Follow us on Pinterest for more healthy recipes, or find us on Instagram to see my progress and what I’m cooking up.

And join me in setting your own healthy goals for 2017. Let’s make this our healthiest year yet!