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‘All things in moderation’

Avera Marshall physician assist. shares tips for healthy living

Photo by Karin Elton Samantha Hammer, a physician’s assistant at Avera Medical Group in Marshall, shares tips for healthy living.

MARSHALL — If Samantha Hammer, a physician’s assistant at Avera Medical Group in Marshall, had to give one tip as a must for good health it would be, “all things in moderation.”

Hammer, who lives in rural Minneota, is a Minneota High School graduate class of 2010, and graduate of Des Moines University in Des Moines, Iowa, said moderation is good in “all aspects of life — work, the use of technology, alcohol, eating…”

As far as losing weight, Hammer knows that when a person is tired and hungry after work, they might reach for the nearest, fastest food item — which may not be the healthiest item.

“Meal prep is a key to healthy eating I have found,” she said. “Doing it is a hassle and a lot of work, so when you get home from work and you’re hungry it’s easy to grab just anything. But if you have healthier things prepped and ready you’re more likely to eat healthier.”

Struggling with cravings such as a sweet after a meal? Hammer suggests dark chocolate with almonds. Dark chocolate is healthy — in moderation.

“Don’t restrict yourself,” she said, “because if you do you’ll end up overindulging.”

Hammer suggests a healthy regimen that you can reasonably stick to your whole life.

“Some people might be cutting carbs, but it’s hard to keep that up,” she said. “The minute you eat bread again, you’ll gain it back.”

Hammer said people might do well by eating smaller portions regularly, maybe eating five smaller meals instead of three big meals during the day.

“Also not eating super close to bed time,” she said.

Other keys to good health is getting enough rest.

“You probably shouldn’t have caffeine past noon, turn off your TV/screens an hour before bed — which nobody does — we’re all guilty of it. Don’t watch TV in your bed, don’t eat in your bed. Have a routine — the same bedtime and wake schedule,” she said.

Some people might benefit from having a fan going during the night — “white noise.”

If we’re tired, we’re more likely to overeat to compensate.

“When you have less sleep, you are more likely to crave something to replace that sleep — pop or junk food,” she said. “Better sleep leads to healthier eating choices.”

Drinking more water helps with weight loss.

“Most of the time you’re not hungry, you’re thirsty,” she said.

“Also, people might benefit from drinking water before mealtime to cut down on your food intake.”

As far as exercise goes, “it doesn’t have to be like sprinting marathons or hardcore weightlifting,” she said. “Just 30 minutes a day of elevating your heart rate and moving more. If you hate running, don’t choose to run as your exercise. Pick something you enjoy doing.”

Little things mean a lot such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator, Hammer said. “Park farther away rather than right by the door if you can. All of those things help.”

Tips to avoid getting the flu or a cold, include practicing “good hand hygiene, making sure you’re staying well-rested, getting plenty of fluids, get seven to nine hours of sleep at night. For water intake, a good rule of thumb is drinking half your body weight in ounces each day. It can help to take a multi-vitamin. Some people think Vitamin C is effective.”

If you do get influenza, “it’s good to isolate yourself and stay home versus going out in the community and spreading it,” she said.

Most important to avoid getting the flu? “Get your flu vaccine,” she said.

In addition to these physical tips, there is the emotional aspect — the mind-body connection. “Talking positively to yourself, respecting yourself and your body,” she said. “Most people forget that.”

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