by Mary Catherine Cochran

 

“Cholesterol can be both good and bad”, explains Dr. George Groman, a cardiologist on staff at Howard County General Hospital: Johns Hopkins Medicine.  “Because having too much on one kind and not enough of the other can put you at risk for coronary heart disease, heart attack or stroke, it is important to understand the difference between the two and know the amount of each in your blood.”

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What Are the Ideal Numbers?

  • Total cholesterol level of less than 200 mg/dL
  • An HDL level of 60 mg/dL and above
  • An LDL level of less than 100 mg/dL

Higher Risk Numbers:

  • Total cholesterol level of 200 mg/dL or higher
  •  HDL level less than 40 mg/dL for men or 50 mg/dL for women
  • An LDL level of 160 mg/dL and above.

Good versus Bad

“Good cholesterol (HDL) helps keep the bad cholesterol (LDL) from building up on the walls of the arteries supplying blood and oxygen to your heart and brain.  This build-up narrows the arteries and makes them less flexible- a condition called atherosclerosis.  If a clot forms and blocks the artery, you can have a heart attack or stroke, “says Dr. Groman.  While your body naturally produces LDL, your genes and the food you eat can elevate your LDL levels, putting you at risk.  In addition to your HDL and LDL levels, it’s important to monitor your triglyceride level.  You can have elevated levels of this fat, which is formed by your body, if you are overweight/obese, physically inactive, smoke, consume excessive amounts of alcohol and have a diet very high in carbohydrates.  “Often people with high triglyceride levels have high LDL and low HDL levels,” comments Dr. Groman.

Testing

The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends all adults age 20 and older should have a fasting lipoprotein profile- which measures total cholesterol, LDL (bad) cholesterol, HDL (good) cholesterol and triglycerides- once every five years if there are no other cardiac risk factors. “This test is performed after you fast for nine to 12 hours,” explains Dr. Cecily Agcaoili, a primary care physician on staff at HCGH. “To get a comprehensive picture of your heart disease risk, your doctor will factor in the reported total cholesterol,  HDL, LDL and triglyceride levels as well as other risk factors including your age, gender, family history, if you smoke, have high blood pressure or diabetes.”

Being Proactive

“Because people do not usually exhibit symptoms as a result of having high cholesterol, it’s very important to get tested.  High cholesterol can be controlled, and you play an active part in protecting your health by working with your physician to monitorand maintain healthy cholesterol levels,” says Dr. Agcaoili.  Knowing your cholesterol levels and taking the necessary steps to maintain healthy HDL and LDL levels are part of the seven key steps the AHA has established for living healthier, know as Life’s Simple 7.

Life’s Simple 7

  1. Get Active
  2. Eat Better
  3. Control Cholesterol
  4. Lose Weight
  5. Manage Blood Pressure
  6. Stop Smoking
  7. Reduce Blood Sugar

Resources in our Community

According to Marilyn Smedberg-Gobbett, support network coordinator for WomenHeart of Central Maryland, a program of the national Coalition of Women with heart Disease, being educated about heart disease, knowing your numbers- blood pressure and cholesterol- as well as your family history is vital.  Howard County General Hospital holds an ongoing WomenHeart Support group that provides education and expert speakers.  Call 443 854-8333 for information about group meeting times and locations.

Be sure to stop by at the Howard County General Hospital: Johns Hopkins Medicine FREE Cardiovascular Clinic at Center Court in the Mall in Columbia on March 3 from 11:00 a.m.–3:00 p.m.  Registration is not required.  Visit our booths and speak with our physician experts.  Participate in screenings including height and weight measurements, total cholesterol, glucose, blood pressure and body mass index.

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Do you receive Wellness Matters, Howard County General Hospital: Johns Hopkins Medicine’s health magazine? If not, and you wish to receive this free magazine, call us at 410 740-7810 and we’ll add you to the list!

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Howard County Library System invites you to attend The Health Care You Deserve.

Please join us for this encore workshop at 7 pm on Wednesday, February 1 at East Columbia. We are pleased to welcome back Dr. Bob Sheff, M.D., author of The Medical Mentor.

This event is not to be missed. It is especially important if you have ever had questions about the health care system and the level of care you should be receiving. It is also a rare opportunity to receive firsthand information from a medical insider who combines his professional experience with his experience as a patient.

HCLS customers relished Dr. Sheff’s first workshop and were throughly impressed with the quality of information presented. One customer remarked, “I’ve heard so much sense talked in such a short time. Thank you so much!”

Books will be available for purchase and signing.

Register for this Well & Wise workshop online or by calling 410.313.7700.


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2012 CalendarJanuary 28, 2012. 10 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.  Y-FI- Youth Fiance Event. Take the Y-FI challenge: Put your money skills to the test!  Join makingCHANGE and Junior Achievement of Central Maryland for a fun literacy event geared towards teenagers.  Howard Community College, Duncan Hall.  Register online for this free event.

February 7, 2012. 5:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.mAdult Child and Infant CPR/AED.  This course will teach you the skills to perform CPR and how to clear an airway obstruction. Upon completion you will receive a two-year AHA Heartsaver CPR/AED certification card.  Offered at the Howard County General Hospital: Johns Hopkins Medicine Wellness Center, 10710 Charter Drive, Suite 100 in Columbia.  $55.  For more information, call 410 740-7601.

February 11, 10:00 a.m.  Wonder Talk: Squirmy Wormy Worms that Work: Kitchen Garbage to Top Soil at the Howard County Conservancy.  Worms work miracles with their little bodies.  Learn all about these amazing little animals.  See how they transform the wastes of our planet into rich earth.  Learn how to create your own worm soil factory.  Free program for all ages.

February 21, 2012.  5:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.mAdult Child and Infanct CPR/AED This course will teach you the skills to perform CPR and how to clear an airway obstruction. Upon completion you will receive a two-year AHA Heartsaver CPR/AED certification card. Offered at the Howard County General Hospital: Johns Hopkins Medicine Wellness Center, 10710 Charter Drive, Suite 100 in Columbia.  $55.  For more information, call 410 740-7601.


 

 


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by Jessica “JP” Protasio

Jarret Wade

Jarret passed away at 4:22 A.M. on Saturday, January 14, 2012. We all knew that his cancer was terminal. He prepared for his passing and was as ready as a person facing death could be. He spent time with friends, wrote a lot, fought hard, but ran out of time. Jarret was well-grounded and embodied a steadfast kind of faith and wisdom that one only gets from changing a rough start in life into a great and inspiring finish in a flawed world. He was well-liked, beloved by those who knew him, and simply fun.

Each person grieves in their own way and in their own time. Just knowing that his “mama” will always be thinking of him and that his girlfriend will be holding onto the warmth of his embraces makes my heart swell. The people he touched, inspired, or ran amok with, won’t forget his laughter or antics. We’ll celebrate his life, miss his presence, and talk about how unfortunate it is that the whole world didn’t get to know him. We’ll wonder why there aren’t more people like him or say to ourselves, “I wish I was like him.”

Dying is harder than living when your life is given an expiration date, especially when you’re young.

The truth about cancer is that it will be a part of your life someday, if it isn’t already. It’s not a matter of “if,” but a matter of “when.” You may not get diagnosed, but someone you love may be. Even if you’re on the outskirts of their life, your connection to cancer is inevitable. While it is a scary and intimidating thought, it’s reality. And all the more reason to do what you can to live well and be well in a world that is unhealthy.

Our daily decisions to do something good for people we have yet to meet is one way we can share the goodness we’ve experienced in our lives. I shared with a friend today, whose 21-year-old cousin with stage 4 cancer and a tumor the size of a football, that there comes a point when a cancer fighter needs to focus on themselves and not answer a gazillion questions starting with “How are you feeling?”

Sometimes we’re put in a position where we can only support from afar—especially those of us who may only exist in the peripheries of that person’s life. If we can’t hold that person’s hand or cut out their tumors or cure them, what does “support” look like? For some it’s offering prayers, good thoughts, or meditation and healing with that person in mind. For others it’s giving resources of money and/or time toward this person’s needs. And for some, it’s getting out there and doing something that they can do, like race and raise funds for programs so this person knows there are other avenues and resources available to them when they or their families want them. We do what we can, when we can, to help how we’re able.

So, as friends and family commemorate Jarret’s life through flickr, memorials, and posting to his Facebook page and blog. I can remember him, share the story of his fight, and raise awareness about cancer initiatives and the resources in our area and beyond.

So, Jarret, let’s ride.

JP is a Children’s Instructor & Research Specialist at the Savage Branch of the Howard County Library System. She is a Pajama Time storyteller, wannabe triathlete, KPOP-addict, baker of cupcakes, and a cancer survivor.

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by Mary Catherine Cochran

 

I have a New Year’s Resolution for you.   I promise it is simple to keep, and when you do keep it, you and your family will benefit greatly.

Repeat after me; “In 2012, I hereby resolve to complete my Advance Directives and inform my family of my health care wishes”.    There!  Not so hard, right?

And, I’ll even get you started.   The Advance Directives form for Maryland residents can be found on the Office of the Attorney General’s website.    You can click here to access the form.

Not enough help?  Howard County General Hospital: Johns Hopkins Medicine offers free seminars designed to answer your questions about Advance Directives and assist you with completing the form.    The next classes are March 8th and May 10th.   Further information and how to register can be found on the Wellness Center website, or you can call 410 740-7602.

Don’t keep this resolution to yourself!  Share with your friends. (My book group will be completing ours together at our next meeting in February)

Don’t leave the burden of these critical end-of-life decisions to your spouse, or your children.  They will be overwhelmed and uncertain about how YOU want to live your final days…   leave them clear directions and the peace of mind that they’ve fulfilled your wishes.

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Advance Directives is a legal document that allows you to convey your end of life decisions ahead of time. The document that allows you to give specific instructions about your medical treatment in the event you become unable to communicate. The document can be tailored to meet your individual preferences and values and can include information about the types of treatment you want or do not want in certain situations

 


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By  Angie Engles

Let’s say you were too embarrassed to tell anyone you had a clutter problem bordering on hoarding, but you still needed someone with a kind and firm hand to guide you through your situation before it got worse. You might turn to Dr. Robin Zasio’s The Hoarder in You: How to Live a Happier, Healthier, Uncluttered Life, a reassurance in print that it’s never too late to attack that clutter crushing your life at home.

Health columnist Jane Brody writes, “I would say that Dr. Zasio’s book is about the best self-help work I’ve read in my 46 years as a health and science writer. She seems to know all the excuses and impediments to coping effectively with a cluttering problem, and she offers practical, clinically proven antidotes to them.”

Dr. Zasio, clinical psychologist, a star of the show Hoarders, and director of the Anxiety Treatment Center in Sacramento, California, helps the reader master their relationship with “stuff.” For both the compulsive hoarders and the ordinary collectors, Zasio offers solutions for handling those drastically intimate and intense relationships with material things, the heart of the hoarding matter for many.

“Does Your Clutter Cause Conflict?” and “Are You Sentimental or Stuck?” are examples of sidebar features which force readers to truly look at what they buy and hold on to. Also featured are: practical advice for de-cluttering and organizing (with emphasis on handling the emotional pull of possessions), making order out of chaos by getting a handle on it all, and creating an organizational system that reduces stress.

Key to getting through this clutter crisis and moving on with your life is remembering it’s not all doom and gloom.  Dr. Zasio is not here to scold or alarm. One of the most important things I took away from The Hoarder in You was this:  “Start with the easiest, and be proud of what you’ve done. Then gradually move on to more challenging projects.”
In her review for The New York Times, Jane Brody’s last words on the subject were especially touching and stark:  “By cleaning out my late husband’s stuff and my own, I will spare my children a horrible task when I’m gone. And when I stop wasting time accumulating, storing, searching for and moving around stuff I really don’t need, I might have time for a new companion: a dog.”

Angie Engles has been with the Howard County Library System for 17 years, 14 of which were at the Savage Branch. She currently works at the Central Branch primarily in the Fiction and Audio-visual departments. Her interests include music, books, and old movies.

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2012 CalendarJanuary 21, 2012, 2:00-3:00 p.m. The 150th Anniversaryof the Civil War: A Marylander’s View. Using contemporary views largely from Harpers and Frank Leslie’s Illustrated newspapers, former President and Chairman of the Maryland Historical Society, Henry Stansbury will take us from the 1860 Presidential Election to Ft. Sumter leading up to the Pratt Street Riots. HCHS at Miller Library and Historical Center. Call 410 480-3250 for more information.

January 22, 2012, 2:30 and 4:30 performances. Henry & Mudge – Theatreworks USA. CandleKids – Performing Arts Series for Families at Smith Theatre, Horowitz Center, Howard Community College; $10/person. Visit Candlelight Concerts or call 410 997-2324 for more information.

January 25, 2012, 7-9:00 p.m. Prenatal Class for Early Pregnancy. Parents-to-be will learn about the early stages of pregnancy. Located at the Howard County General Hospital: Johns Hopkins Medicine Wellness Center, 10710 Charter Drive, Suite 100, in Columbia. For more information call 410-740-7601.

January 25, 10:30am & 11:30am. Mini Milestones.
Prepare your toddler to learn manners, succeed with toilet training, and deal with separation anxiety through literature, songs, and activities at the Glenwood Branch. Ages 18-36 months with adult; 30 min.  Register online or by calling 410.313.5579.

January 26, 10:30am. Healthy Kids. Join us at the Glenwood Branch to explore simple health concepts inspired by children’s literature. Ages 3-5 with adult; 45 min. Multi-week series. Register online or by calling 410.313.5579.

January 28, 2012. 10 a.m. to 2:00 p.mY-FI- Youth Fiance Event. Take the Y-FI challenge: Put your money skills to the test!  Join makingCHANGE and Junior Achievement of Central Maryland for a fun literacy event geared towards teenagers.  Howard Community College, Duncan Hall.  Register online for this free event.

February 7, 2012. 5:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. Adult Child and Infant CPR/AED.  This course will teach you the skills to perform CPR and how to clear an airway obstruction. Upon completion you will receive a two-year AHA Heartsaver CPR/AED certification card.  Offered at the Howard County General Hospital: Johns Hopkins Medicine Wellness Center, 10710 Charter Drive, Suite 100 in Columbia.  $55.  For more information, call 410 740-7601.

February 11, 10:00 a.mWonder Talk: Squirmy Wormy Worms that Work: Kitchen Garbage to Top Soil at the Howard County Conservancy.  Worms work miracles with their little bodies.  Learn all about these amazing little animals.  See how they transform the wastes of our planet into rich earth.  Learn how to create your own worm soil factory.  Free program for all ages.

February 21, 2012.  5:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. Adult Child and Infanct CPR/AED This course will teach you the skills to perform CPR and how to clear an airway obstruction. Upon completion you will receive a two-year AHA Heartsaver CPR/AED certification card. Offered at the Howard County General Hospital: Johns Hopkins Medicine Wellness Center, 10710 Charter Drive, Suite 100 in Columbia.  $55.  For more information, call 410 740-7601.


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Already given up on your many well-intentioned New Year’s Resolutions? Well, here’s a way to pay penance, earn a get-out-of-jail free card, wipe the slate clean…well, at least do something pretty fantastic. January is National Blood Donor month, and you still have 13 days to make it count.

Did you know:

  • Only 5 percent of eligible donors across the U.S. donate blood, but the number of transfusions increases by approximately 9 percent every year.  About 4.5 million Americans will a need blood transfusion this year!
  • Blood donation only takes about 45 to 60 minutes, and many work places will “give time off” for employees to make donations, especially if your employer is hosting the blood drive.
  • Healthy adults who are at least 17 years old, and at least 110 pounds, may can donate as frequently as every 56 days. An added benefit from frequent donations, you receive a  a mini-physical once every two months.
  • One pint of blood can save up to three lives. One unit is divided into three parts: red blood cells, platelets, and plasma.
  • A hip replacement typically uses one unit of blood, heart transplant-2 units, cardiac bypass-2 units, and liver transplant-10 units!
  • Blood can only be given by people; it can not be substituted or manufactured.
  • Statistics show that 25 percent or more of us will require blood at least once in our lifetime.

All the above facts are from the the Mayo Clinic and America’s Blood Centers. For additional information, check them out, as well as the American Red Cross, where you can also locate the nearest donation centers and upcoming blood drives (hint, hint).

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by Mary Catherine Cochran

 

The world conspires to make me old.  I was a widow at 43, needed reading glasses at age 45, started receiving AARP mail at age 48 and last week, I found out that my internist is really a “geriatrician”.

(I was perusing the U.S. Health and World Report health section online and reading about the forty-four Howard County General Hospital: Johns Hopkins Medicine doctors who were chosen as “Top Doctors” in 2011.   It is an impressive number of physicians and specialties – which I attach below. )

All is not lost on the aging front, though.   I also found out this weekend via the Senior Center newsletter, that at age 50 I can start taking classes at the Ellicott City Senior Center and- in the not too distant future- at age 55, I can take advantage of the Howard County Recreation and Parks Senior listings.   Of course, many of these opportunities are offered during the day- and while the age definition of senior citizen might be decreasing… the age at which we can retire seems to keep increasing.

More good news!  An AARP membership at age 50 can give me a 25% discount on a car rental at Hertz and a 20% discounts on hotels like the Sheraton-  perfect for that extreme snowboarding trip I’m planning for February.  (This, of course, leads me to finding a physical therapist that provides a senior discount for the month of March.  I wonder if the Bolduc Outpatient Center can hook me up?)

The forty-four Top U.S. News and World Report Doctors who practice at Howard County General Hospital:

Funlola Aboderin, Neonatologist

Robert Akbari, Colon and Rectal Surgeon

Richard Andorsky, Gastroenterologist

Merrill Ansher, Neurologist

Anuradha Boddeti, Nephrologist

*Marcia Canto, Gastroenterologist

Clark Brill, Physiatrist

Jacqueline Brown, Pediatrician

Edward Cahill, Pediatrician

Kevin Carlson, Geriatrician

Nathaniel Carter, Neurologist

Marc Chaiken, Obstetrician-Gynecologist

Jane Chew, Dermatologist

Adinarayana Divakaruni, Gastroenterologist

Andrew Farb, Cardiologist

Deborah Frassica, Radiation Oncologist

Lynne Gaynes-Kaplan, Endocrinologist

David Glasser, Ophthalmologist

Ramya Gopinath, Infectious Disease Specialist

Stephen Grill, Neurologist

William Herzog Jr., Cardiologist

Sushma Jani, Psychiatrist

Atiya Khan, Pediatrician

Duniya Lancaster, Pediatrician

Barry Lance, Endocrinologist

Lea Lazar, Family Medicine

Jia Liu, Nephrologist

Mary Mailander, Pediatrician

Michael May, Pediatrician

Charles Mess Jr., Orthopedic Surgeon

Maureen Muoneke, Obstetrician- Gynecologist

Harry Oken, Internist

Josephine Owusu-Sakyi, Internist

Feroz Padder, Interventional Cardiologist

Barry Reiner, Pediatric Endocrinologist

Jon Resar, Interventional Cardiologist

Francisco Rojas, Obstetrician- Gynecologist

Joseph Savitt, Neurologist

Patrick Tong, Ophthalmologist

Debra Vachon, Colon and Rectal Surgeon

Asha Vali, Family Medicine Doctor

James Zalucki, Colon and Rectal Surgeon

Lynne Zheutlin, Allergist-Immunologist

Khalid Zivi, Interventional Cardiologist

 

*Dr. Marcia Canto is, in Castle Connolly’s estimation, among the top 1% in the nation in her specialty.

A detailed list of the rankings and information about the ranking methodology can be found here.


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Here at Well & Wise, we like to offer something for everyone. Teens, it’s your turn.  Through the Howard County Library System, you now have the opportunity to learn to manage stress, stay physically fit, and make healthy choices with Well & Wise classes. Check out what’s coming up:

01/19/12, 7pm at the East Columbia Branch. Teen 2 Teen.
Counselors and teens who have overcome substance abuse challenges relate their experiences in a panel discussion. Ages 13 and up with a parent. Cosponsored by HC Drugfree. Register here.

02/06/12, 7pm at the Elkridge Branch. Healthy Relationships & Dating Dangers.
Statistics show that one in three teenagers experience abuse in a dating relationship. Experts from the Domestic Violence Center teach you to recognize the signs of unhealthy relationships and dating abuse. Register here.

02/11/12, 3pm at the Savage Branch. Smart Snacks.
School, homework, sports, and hanging out leave little time for healthy eating. With a little planning you can make healthy snacks that give you the energy to succeed. Learn how to create easy recipes, and sample the tasty foods. Parents welcome! In partnership with Howard County General Hospital: A Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine. Register here.

02/18/12, 3pm at the Glenwood Branch. Smart Snacks.
School, homework, sports, and hanging out leave little time for healthy eating. With a little planning you can make healthy snacks that give you the energy to succeed. Learn how to create easy recipes, and sample the tasty foods. Parents welcome! In partnership with Howard County General Hospital: A Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine. Register here.

And teens and tweens, please don’t forget that there are plenty of books just for you on health and wellness.

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2012 Calendar

  • January 14, 2012, 10:00 a.m.  Wonder Walk at the Howard County Conservancy.Cool Turtles and Snakes in Your Back Yard.  FREE. Check in with naturalist Ray Bosmans as he talks about snakes and turtles that are local to Howard County.January 14, 1:30pm. We Are What We Eat! Join us at the East Columbia Branch for a humorous look at the foods we eat and the digestive system. Ages 5-8; 45 min. Tickets available at Children’s Desk 30 minutes before program.
  • January 14, 3pm. Ya Yoga. Stressed about classes and exams? Want a natural and healthy edge in sports? Learn about the mental and physical benefits of yoga, then participate in a free 30-45 minute session at the Savage Branch. A Teen Well & Wise event. No registration required.

January 16, 2012-Howard County Library System closed for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

January 17, 10:30-11:00am. Just For Me. A class at the Glenwood Branch for children ages 3-5 who are ready for an independent class that includes creative expression, listening comprehension, and early reading skills. Register online or by calling 410.313.5579.

January 17, 2-2:30pm. Just For Me. A class at the Savage Branch for children ages 3-5 who are ready for an independent class that includes creative expression, listening comprehension, and early reading skills. No registration required.

January 17 & 18 & 19, 4-6pm. Midterm Mania. Open study for high school students in the meeting room at the Elkridge Branch, with refreshments and research tools. Ages 13-18. No registration required.

January 17, 7pm. History Of Gardening and How To Use It In Your Own Landscaping. Learn about the evolution of gardening and add ageless appeal to your own garden. Presented by Pat Greenwald at the Glenwood Branch. Part of the Master Gardener series. Register online or by calling 410.313.5577.

January 18, 10:15 & 11:15 am. Just For Me. A class at the Elkridge Branch for children ages 3-5 who are ready for an independent class that includes creative expression, listening comprehension, and early reading skills. No registration required.

January 18, 10:30am & 11:30am. Mini Milestones.
 Prepare your toddler to learn manners, succeed with toilet training, and deal with separation anxiety through literature, songs, and activities at the Glenwood Branch. Ages 18-36 months with adult; 30 min.  Register online or by calling 410.313.5579.

January 18, 7pm. Maintaining Your Voice. For those dealing with repercussions of Parkinson’s Disease and aging, learn the causes of age-related and illness-induced voice change and how to maintain a strong, healthy voice. Presented by Christopher Klein, M.S., Speech-Language Pathologist at the Central Branch. Register online or by calling 410.313.7800.

January 19, 10:30am. Healthy Kids. Explore simple health concepts at the Glenwood Branch inspired by children’s literature. Ages 3-5 with adult; 45 min. Multi-week series. Register online or by calling 410.313.5579.

January 21, 2012, Howard County Preschool and Child Care Information Fair – Ten Oaks Ballroom
This annual Fair will provide parents, guardians, grandparents and child care personnel with a “one stop shop” for information on child care and pre-school programs, as well as the opportunity to talk face-to-face with teachers and program directors. Representatives from community service organizations that provide programs and services to Howard County’s young children will be on hand to furnish information to parents. For more information, contact the Office of Children’s Services at 410-313-1940 or e-mail Debbie Yare at dyare@howardcountymd.gov

January 21, 2012, 2:00-3:00 p.m. The 150th Anniversaryof the Civil War: A Marylander’s View. Using contemporary views largely from Harpers and Frank Leslie’s Illustrated newspapers, former President and Chairman of the Maryland Historical Society, Henry Stansbury will take us from the 1860 Presidential Election to Ft. Sumter leading up to the Pratt Street Riots. HCHS at Miller Library and Historical Center. Call 410 480-3250 for more information.

January 22, 2012, 2:30 and 4:30 performances. Henry & Mudge – Theatreworks USA. CandleKids – Performing Arts Series for Families at Smith Theatre, Horowitz Center, Howard Community College; $10/person. Visit Candlelight Concerts or call 410 997-2324 for more information.

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By Matthew Hall

I have always resisted taking multivitamins. When looking at the label and seeing the long list of compounds, of which I had no clue what they were or what they did, I just assumed that I would be fine without them. During my years as a vegetarian, I would attempt to take supplements (at my wife’s admonition) to stay healthy as I basically just ate junk food that happened to be meatless. But I failed to take them consistently, and they ended up gathering dust in my spice cabinet.

However, exactly one year ago I decided to make major life changes with regard to my health. I started exercising and eating right, and as I read more and tried to do anything I could to maximize my results, I realized that I was not supporting my body with the most popular supplement, a multivitamin.

Again, looking at the label at the pharmacy, I couldn’t tell why I really needed one. I searched the internet, and eventually some marketing genius enlightened me. They called their multivitamin a “nutrient optimization system.” While this is a rather grand-sounding title, it does in reality get to the core of why taking a multivitamin is important. A multivitamin does not boost your health by providing excessive amounts of a particular vitamin or mineral, but rather supports your body’s natural functions in a way that maximizes its ability to absorb and use nutrients in your diet.

So this means that while it is very important for health reasons to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables as a large part of your diet, without the support of a multivitamin, your body may be having trouble utilizing all of the wonderful compounds you are taking in. As inexpensive (and important) as they are, there is no reason not to start taking one! And for the big kid at heart, they even make gummy vitamins for adults now. Take a trip to your local pharmacy, grocery store, or supplement shop to see which one works best for you!

 

Matthew Hall is currently an Operations Specialist for Howard County Library System and a student at Liberty University.

He spends the majority of his free time with his wife and kids. His interests include religious studies, psychology, and fitness.

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 by Christina Lombardi

 

photo by ichaz

Are you’re afraid to open your credit card statements this month?  If so, I assume that you didn’t stick to a holiday budget this past December. After repeatedly falling into that trap myself, I invested more thought on creating my 2011 budget. The following tips may not alleviate your existing Christmas debt, but it will set you up for wiser spending in 2012.

1. Envelope budgeting: In the era of smart phones, this method may sound archaic, but it’s tried and true and works for my family. Last winter we put ourselves on a budget and set aside envelopes with a predetermined monthly cash allotment for common things like “Groceries,” “Take-Out” and “Household Goods.” When the money ran out, so did the spending in that category until the next month. I saw this tip on a morning talk show that interviewed America’s Cheapest Family. The physical feel of dollars leaving your hand makes you a smarter shopper. Plus, according to financial and debt reduction expert Dave Ramsey, we spend 12 to 18 percent more when we use a credit card. He cites a study conducted by MIT and published in Carnegie Mellon magazine.  The study, utilizing MRI results, indicates that the pain centers of your brain activate when you use cash!

If cash envelope budgeting isn’t appealing to you, there’s a great app called mvelopes  that takes this same concept and revamps it for your electronic devices.

2. Wait for the online deal: I looked online for the Matchbox Mega Rig Shark Adventure – hey, it works well on land and tub- for my three-year-old for Christmas.   On Amazon, I was able to place it in a Wish List folder. One day it was $32; a week later it jumped to $49, then back down into the thirties again.  My suggestion? Create a Wish List through your online vendor and review it periodically to track the price range for the best deal.  My vendor sent me periodic emails when the price changed because it knew I reviewed the item.

3. Sign up for e-specials: You probably already receive eversave and livingsocial deals, but don’t forget your favorite retailers. Go to their sites and sign up for their email blasts and your efforts will pay off. Two days before my husband’s birthday, I received an alert that a particular store was having a 75 percent off sale on all adult outerwear- for five hours only. I spent $45 instead of $177. You can also subscribe to online conglomerates like Zulily where you will find steep daily discounts on high-end kids clothing and more. Need home furnishings or furniture? I’ve had success with wayfair.com–our little guy is finally getting his big boy bed, shipped free.

4. There’s an app for that: Cellfire Mobile Coupons allows you to save coupons to your grocery store savings cards and the deal pings when you scan your card at the store. No coupon cutting required! The Coupons.com app works similarly.  Coupon Clipper app saves you money on local entertainment, restaurants, home improvement and more. Coupon Clipper doesn’t deal with big box stores or chain restaurants but focuses on local businesses. I tested it and found a coupon for a deli down the street. Yum!

5. Plan ahead, well ahead! Set up separate online savings accounts now through your bank (they’re free; if they’re not, you’re with the wrong bank) and automatically deduct a predetermined amount from each paycheck for the year into those accounts.  If you set aside $100 a month, beginning now, in a “Holiday Account” by the time next Christmas arrives you will have saved $1300.  It’s a way to spread that Christmas cheer over the year the right way and maybe next January you won’t cringe when you see your credit card bills.

Do you have additional tips to share?

 

Christina Lombardi is the Publications Manager for Howard County General Hospital.


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By Michele Hunter

My family loves kale–an unusual green to love, but we do, and we’re always looking for new, tasty ways to prepare it.  Sautéing it until tender in a little olive oil with a clove or two of garlic and chopped onion, salt, and pepper to taste is always a simple and delicious side.  To save on prep time, I usually buy the pre-washed and chopped kale in large bags, so the dish takes only about 20 minutes start to finish.

With the weather turning cool, kale soup starts to sound appealing and I started looking for recipes.  Eat Greens: Seasonal Recipes to Enjoy in Abundance by Barbara Scott-Goodman and Liz Trovato had some  interesting recipes, and we decided to try the “Kale, Sweet Potato, and Orzo Soup” I’ve given below.  I followed the recipe as written except for adding 2 cloves of finely minced garlic and I added the orzo to the soup along with everything else because cooking it separately seemed unnecessary.  The results were a very simple and enjoyable soup. About the time the soup was done, our college-age, amateur-chef son showed up and declared that the soup “needed something” and started adding ingredients.  I’m still not sure what he added, but the results were very good, which served to illustrate the authors’ comment that this is a good soup to “play” with.  The soup is very plain and easy to make your own by adding your favorite ingredients.  Precooked smoked sausage would be wonderful; I’ve also seen kale soup recipes calling for white beans.  These could be in addition to or instead of the pasta.  Here’s the recipe as it appears in the cookbook, experiment and have fun!

Kale, Sweet Potato, and Orzo Soup

makes 8-10 servings

6 cups chicken or vegetable broth
2 cups water
½ pound kale, tough end trimmed, chopped into ½ inch pieces (I used bagged pre-washed kale)
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into ½ inch dice
½ cup orzo or small pasta
freshly ground black pepper
Parmesan cheese, for serving (optional)

1.    Put the broth, water, kale, and sweet potatoes in a large soup pot and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer gently until the potatoes are fork-tender, 15 to 20 minutes.
2.    Meanwhile, bring a pan of water to a boil.  Add the orzo and cook until just tender. Drain and set aside. (I added the pasta directly to the soup about 5-10 minutes into the cooking time.)
3.    Add the orzo and pepper to taste to the soup pot. Cover and cook over low heat for 10 minutes longer.  Serve immediately with Parmesan cheese, if desired.

Michele Hunter started with the Howard County Library System in 1998 as a Children’s Instructor at the Savage Branch, then transferred to the Central Branch to work in Research. She returned to Savage as the Assistant Manager in 2004. Her hobbies are ballet, gardening, and needlework.

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2012 CalendarJanuary 8, 2012, 3:00 p.m. Gemini Piano Trio – Sundays at Three.  Sundays At Three is a nonprofit organization dedicated to presenting chamber music played by the finest professional talent in the Baltimore-Washington area. The performers introduce the music and offer their insights and interpretation. The audience is invited for refreshments and conversation with the artists after the concert.Located at Christ Episcopal Church: 6800 Oakland Mills Road, Columbia.  For more information visit www.sundaysatthree.org

January 11, 2012, 7-9:00 p.m. Happiest Baby on the Block. Parents and parents-to-be will learn techniques to quickly soothe baby. $50 per couple (Includes parent kits). Located at the Howard County General Hospital Wellness Center, 10710 Charter Drive, Suite 100, in Columbia. For more information visit visit www.hcgh.org or call 410-740-7601.

January 14, 2012, 9-11 a.m. Home Sweet Home. Children ages 8–12 and their parents learn safe, fun ways for children to stay at home alone. Free. Located at the Howard County General Hospital Wellness Center, 10710 Charter Drive, Suite 100, in Columbia. For more information visit visit www.hcgh.org or call 410-740-7601.

January 14, 2012, 10:00 a.m.  Wonder Walk at the Howard County Conservancy. Cool Turtles and Snakes in Your Back Yard.  FREE. Check in with naturalist Ray Bosmans as he talks about snakes and turtles that are local to Howard County.


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by Matthew Hall

How many of you have ever counted calories before? Have you ever looked at a book that specializes in 300-calorie meals but promises that they will keep you full and satisfied? Many food chains now post the calorie content of their products, and more and more people are reading the labels on foods and deciding whether or not to eat something based on that. While it is great that people are beginning to take note of the caloric value of the foods they choose to eat, there can be a pitfall in basing your diet solely around that first number on the nutrition panel. Simply stated, this is because all calories are not created equal.

In the title I suggested that “a calorie is not a calorie,” and there are multiple facets to this statement. Things like frozen “diet” meals are a good example of how something can be “low calorie” but still not “healthy.” Eating a microwave pizza the size of your fist that is so processed that it somehow has no fat, fiber, protein, or vitamins is not healthy, even if it is only 350 calories. Calories are not what makes something healthy or not, it is the quality of those calories. A good example of this would be nuts. Almonds are what many people would consider a “high calorie” food if they only read the product label. At 180 calories in a handful, some people would opt out of eating them. But in reality, these calories come from healthy fats, fiber, and protein. Compare this to a snack pack of potato chips, which has roughly 150 calories, but around 20g of carbohydrates, 0 fiber, and 3g of saturated fat. The chips have fewer calories, but are of no nutritional value to your body.

When you eat a diet based on proteins, fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats, your body is getting what it needs to function. You will still be getting carbohydrates, even if you eat little to no bread, and you will “feel full” because you will be able to eat more! Think about it this way, 1 cup of broccoli has 30 calories (from the 2.5g of protein, 2g of fiber, and 6g of carbohydrates). You could eat two filling cups of broccoli and still be at less than half of the calories of a single slice of French bread, which is comprised of mainly fast-digesting carbohydrates that won’t help you “feel full” for any amount of time.

So for anyone who might be struggling with their weight despite counting their calories and eating prepackaged low-calorie entrees, you may want to try a new approach. For each meal, try to eat one source of lean protein and one to two servings of fruits or vegetables. For two snacks in  between meals, try to eat nuts, fruits, and vegetables. When your body gets the nutrition it needs, you will feel better and will likely shed a few unwanted pounds!

Matthew Hall is currently an Operations Specialist for Howard County Library System and a student at Liberty University.

He spends the majority of his free time with his wife and kids. His interests include religious studies, psychology, and fitness.

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Let’s face it, a lot of New Year’s Resolutions deal with health.  In fact, according to USA.gov, five of the twelve most popular resolutions relate directly to improving one’s health. But as much as everyone starts the year with good and healthful intentions, resolutions, especially those related to health, are often the first things to be tossed by the wayside, as indicated in this Time article.

Why can’t we remain true to our resolutions? “Often we bite off more than we can chew, and we make them too vague: This year I’m going to exercise more. It’s harder if we don’t have a way to measure that success. Does that mean I’m going to exercise two hours a day, seven days a week? And is that really likely? Is that really possible?” states Adrianne Brennan, assistant professor of clinical psychiatry at the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center’s School of Medicine. Brennan goes on to suggest that being realistic in our resolutions is the best step toward success. There’s also plenty of help available, such as these tips compiled by the University of Maryland. And of course your local library offers plenty of materials to help make those resolutions stick, such as:

You Are Not Your Brain : The 4-step Solution for Changing bad habits, ending unhealthy thinking, and taking control of your life
by Jeffrey Schwartz.
Basic Nutrition by Lori A. Smolin.
Quit Smoking Today: Without Gaining Weight by Paul McKenna.
Fried: Why You Burn Out and How to Revive by Joan Borysenko.
We Have Met the Enemy: Self Control in an Age of Excess by Daniel Akst.

And of course Howard County Library System has many books and DVDs to help with that old chestnut resolution of exercising. So be realistic, get the help you need, and prove Mark Twain wrong: “New Year’s is a harmless annual institution, of no particular use to anybody save as a scapegoat for promiscuous drunks, and friendly calls and humbug resolutions.” OR “New Year’s Day… now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual.”

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