How to turn bad habits into healthy habits

It’s no secret that healthy habits can reduce your risk for a lot of diseases, but that makes it sound easier than it is. The truth is, adopting healthy habits can be hard – especially if you don’t approach them from the right angle. That’s why the American Heart Association has published a list of tips to help the challenge more manageable.

First, understand that you have to do something for 60 to 90 days before it becomes a habit. This is a critical period – whatever change you want to make, you have to make time for it no matter how busy your schedule may be. You should also understand that negative habits are easier to form because they offer immediate gratification, but you pay for it later in life. Positive habits, however, do not offer instant gratification but give you a bigger payout in the future.

And don’t think of your task as ending a habit so much as replacing it. In the 1970s detective drama “Kojak,” for example, the title character sucks on lollipops because he is trying to quit smoking. This is an example of someone using a new habit to replace a worse one. Of course, replacing smoking with lollipops is not as healthy as replacing it with running, but either option is healthier than cigarettes.

You should also remind yourself of why it is you’re making the change to begin with. Maybe you want to see your kids graduate, or walk your child down the aisle… or maybe you just want to look better so you can impress someone special. When it comes to why you should live a healthier life, there’s no wrong reason.

When trying to develop a new habit, it’s also helpful to break it into smaller, short-term goals. If your goal is to cut back on your alcohol intake, for example, start by reducing how much you drink by a little bit each day. Once you start to see how much difference a little change can make, you’ll be motivated to try larger changes.

Share your goal with someone you trust, and who will hold you accountable. It’s tough to change a habit when you don’t have the right support.

Allow yourself a cheat day once in a while. If you’ve avoided sweets all week and have been exercising, it’s okay to let yourself splurge a little. That’s a reward for your hard work.

You should also try to free yourself from the television, or at least exercise while you watch. Imagine how healthy you would be if all the hours you spend in front of a TV were simultaneously spent on a stationary bike.

SOMC PT completes Walt Disney World Marathon

Danielle and Kelly Wheeler are seen after the 2015 Walt Disney World Marathon.

Kelly Wheeler has ran her share of marathons – and endured her share of injuries.

It’s part of what makes her so effective at her job – an SOMC physical therapist who also oversees the Runner’s Assessment Program. A running assessment consists of a runner placed on a treadmill and asked to run at a comfortable pace. He or she is then recorded and analyzed with Dart Fish software, which looks at each joint, measure joint angles and looks at symmetry in the running pattern.

It improves efficiency and helps determine what could be contributing to any pain the runner may experience.

“I understand the plight of being unable to run as desired because of an injury,” Wheeler said. “It’s my passion to help runners like me get back to their training regimens and reach their goals.”

Wheeler’s goals lead her to finish 24th out of 1,736 in her division (women, 25-29) during one of the county’s most unique marathons – the Walt Disney World Marathon. Running alongside her sister, Danielle, she likened the experience to a backstage tour of Disney’s parks.

“It was absolutely the most entertaining marathon we have ever run,” Wheeler said. “There were characters scattered throughout the race… When we ran through Cinderella’s Castle in Magic Kingdom, Elsa and Anna (from Frozen) were there waving at us with snow falling.”

Finishing 24th in her division in the Walt Disney World Marathon is just the latest highlight in Wheeler’s five years of endurance running. She also completed the 2010 Columbus Marathon, the 2011 Cap City Half Marathon, the 2011 Columbus Marathon, the 2012 Columbus Marathon and the 2013 Boston Marathon.

“I run because I enjoy challenging myself,” Wheeler said. “And I enjoy helping others do the same.”

For more information about how a runner’s assessment may help you, contact SOMC Rehab Care at 740-356-2400.

It’s not too late to make a resolution

If you didn’t make a New Year’s resolution last month, it’s still not too late!

There’s no wrong time to resolve to be a better you – and there’s no wrong way to do it, either. If traditional resolutions don’t speak to you, here are a few changes you can make that might feel like a better fit.

Go natural – at least once a week. After a long day at work, it’s easy to throw a frozen dinner in the microwave and collapse on the couch. But overly-processed foods contain high levels of chemicals, fat, calories and sodium.

Instead, pick up some fresh, seasonal ingredients from a local farmer’s market and use them to make a wholesome, well-rounded meal from scratch. You don’t have to do it every day, but you may end up enjoying it if you resolve to do it every Friday.

Spend 10 minutes a day writing in a journal. Good health means more than taking care of your body, it also means taking care of your mind. Spending time to write down your thoughts, feelings or just whatever pops into your head can be very therapeutic. Don’t underestimate the importance of maintaining good mental health, too.

Floss! It’s something you already know you should be doing. If you’re not, though, now is the perfect time to make it part of your daily routine. Studies have shown that flossing regularly, which helps fight periodontal and gingivitis, may actually reduce your risk of heart disease and respiratory disease.

Don’t take the morning for granted. Sure, you may not have time to do an hour-long spinning class before work, but you probably do have time for a 10-minute walk. You could also consider starting your day with some quick yoga or a few sets of pushups. Anything is better than nothing, and doing it first thing in the morning can set the tone for the entire day.

SOMC to host elder abuse in-service

Southern Ohio Medical Center will be offering an in-service on Elder Abuse Prevention/Reporting, as well as Elder Financial Exploitation, on February 10.

The in-service will take place in Room 4 of the Micklethwaite Education Building on SOMC’s Main Campus and last from 1 p.m. until 2 p.m. It will be presented by Kaye Inoshita, RN, director of the Regional Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program for the Area Agency on Aging.

Professionals and community members are welcome to attend. For more information, call 740-356-6845.

Dr. TJ Stidham eager to bust a move, but not a bone

When he was first approached about being part of Dancing With Our Stars, Dr. TJ Stidham – a pediatrician at Southern Ohio Medical Center – knew exactly what he wanted to say: No way.

What he actually said, however, was yes.

“My initial thought was ‘absolutely not,’” Dr. Stidham explained. “My dancing experiences to this point have been limited to the shower and bobbing my head when I’m riding the lawnmower. But, after I thought about it, I decided it would be fun. Plus, it’s a good way to get involved in the community while raising money for a decent cause.”

Dancing With Our Stars is a fundraiser for the Ohio River Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross. Dr. Stidham is one of ten competitors who will show off their dance moves during the March event. Whoever manages to raise the most money, both leading up to and during the event, will be crowned the victor.

“I know I can’t out-fundraise Neal Hatcher,” Dr. Stidham said, referring to another contestant in the event, “but I hope I can at least out-dance him.”

Although dancing is not something Dr. Stidham is known for, he does have experience participating in comedic videos and talent shows. In his spare time, he says he enjoys comic books, soccer, digital art, science fiction, playing with his two children and being involved in children’s outreach. “Basically,” he says, “I’m an all-around nerd and a giant child myself!”

Since committing to the event, Dr. Stidham has teamed up with a partner, Ashlyn Howie (who is also an employee of SOMC), and begun practicing. The dance itself, however, remains a closely guarded secret.

“I can’t reveal that yet,” Dr. Stidham said. “I promise to keep it interesting, but at this point my biggest goal is to make sure I don’t get injured.”

Just in case he comes up short of that one, though, he jokes that he has taken out extra disability insurance. Whatever he has planned, after all, it’s probably more complex than nodding to music from atop a riding lawnmower.

To support Dr. TJ Stidham in Dancing With Our Stars, visit Each dollar donated will count as one vote for him to take home the competition’s top prize.

Support breast cancer patients with “A Night of Broadway”

Musical theatre enthusiasts will have the opportunity to enjoy their favorite tunes while supporting local breast cancer patients during the upcoming production of “A Night of Broadway,” which will take place at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 31 at the Vern Riffe Center for the Arts

The show is presented by Dr. Vincent Scarpinato, Linda Tieman, and the Portsmouth West Vocal Department, in association with the SOMC Development Foundation, Shawnee State University, Bob and Debbie Gambill, and the SOMC Service Guild.

The program will feature vocal selections from both alumni and current Portsmouth West High School students. All proceeds earned will benefit the SOMC Breast Cancer Compassion Fund.

“A Night of Broadway is a musical celebration that will bring the entire community together to invigorate hope and help us defeat this terrible disease that affects so many lives,” Dr. Scarpinato, senior medical director of Surgical Services at SOMC, said. “While there are often many resources for breast cancer patients, there are also many patients who need help with critical needs; this production will raise money for those people.”

Three ticket types are available for the evening, including $50 VIP Tickets, $25 Patron Tickets, and $12 Regular Tickets. The purchase of a VIP ticket will include admission to a champagne reception following the event. Sponsorship opportunities are also available.

“Over the years, we have produced many shows to benefit our local breast cancer patients, and each program brings a new level of appreciation for our community,” Dr. Scarpinato said. “I’m honored to help with these shows, and even more humbled to see the response they receive. They assist so many and we hope this performance will be just as successful as those of the past.”

Tickets for the event can be purchased by calling the McKinley Box Office at 740-351-3600 or by visiting

Sleep Diagnostic Center receives program accreditation

Southern Ohio Medical Center’s Sleep Diagnostic Center recently received program accreditation from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM).

“The American Academy of Sleep Medicine congratulates Southern Ohio Medical Center-Sleep Diagnostic Center on meeting the high standards required for receiving accreditation as a sleep disorders center,” said Dr. Timothy Morgenthaler, AASM president. “Southern Ohio Medical Center-Sleep Diagnostic Center is an important resource to the local medical community and will provide academic and scientific value in addition to the highest quality care for patients suffering from sleep disorders.”

To receive accreditation for a five-year period, a sleep center must meet or exceed all standards for professional health care as designated by the AASM. These standards address core areas such as personnel, facility and equipment, policies and procedures, data acquisition, patient care, and quality assurance. Additionally, the sleep center’s goals must be clearly stated and include plans for positively affecting the quality of medical care in the community it serves.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine accredited a sleep disorders center for the first time in 1977. Today there are more than 2,600 AASM-accredited sleep centers across the country.

Southern Ohio Medical Center-Sleep Diagnostic Center is directed by Glenn Burris, MD, and is located at 1745 27th Street.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine is a professional medical society for clinicians, researchers, and other health care providers in the field of sleep medicine. As the national accrediting body for sleep disorders centers, the AASM is dedicated to setting standards and promoting excellence in sleep medicine health care, education and research.

SOMC breaks ground on West Portsmouth facility

Southern Ohio Medical Center broke ground on a new West Portsmouth facility on the morning of Friday, January 16. The facility will be located on U.S. 52 next to Earl Thomas Conley Park and will provide primary care. Pictured with shovels are the groundbreaking were, from left to right, Laine Young, CNP; Don Hadsell of J&H Erectors; County Commissioner Doug Coleman; County Commissioner Bryan Davis; and Kirk Donges of TSHD.
For updates regarding SOMC construction, visit the SOMC Construction Blog at

Five resolutions you may not have considered

To some people, the words “New Year’s resolution” sound an awful lot like “broken promise.” It doesn’t have to, though. Here are five very reasonable resolutions that you’ll have an easier time maintaining:

1.   Unplug daily. Modern electronics allow us to be plugged in 24/7, and as a result many people feel more stressed out than ever. On top of that, studies show that media overload can increase your risk of depression, social anxiety, job burnout and even allergies. The answer? Resolve to turn off your phone and/or computer for a full day every week. If you look closely, you might just notice that there’s an entire world out there just beyond the edges of your iPhone.

2.   Conquer clutter. Cleaning up your house or workspace, and keeping it clean, can do wonders for your mood. Plus, living amongst clutter can sap your energy, and just imagine all the things you could accomplish if you had a little more of that.

3.   Get your finances in order. If you examined your monthly expenditures, odds are you can find something to cut out. If you really want to find savings, look beyond classic techniques like not eating out as often. Maybe you don’t need to maintain both a cell phone and a home phone, or maybe there’s a way you can still watch your favorite shows without also buying 150 channels you don’t like. Think outside the box! If all else fails, simply resolve to live below your means. Have 10% of your paycheck automatically put into a saving’s account and then leave it there. You may be surprised by how quickly that money adds up.

4.   Embrace generosity. It can be as little or as much as you’d like, but just resolving to donate some of your time or money to charity can be a very rewarding experience. You can also resolve to be more generous simply by going out of your way to help someone that has nothing to offer in return.

5.   Spend more time in the kitchen. Kitchens these days are getting fancier and fancier, yet they’re also used less and less. Discover the joy of preparing your own meals – both your body and your taste buds will appreciate it.