TVHC Blog

Teton Valley Health Care's blog

Good Choice, Bad Choice: The Siren Song of String Lake

 

Ann Loyola

Ann Loyola

It was 10 a.m. October 19 Sunday morning when my daughter Hanna and I decided to fulfill our shared goal of kayaking at String Lake. Our family has visited String Lake many times for short hikes and picnics and we’ve always been envious of people who were out on canoes, SUPs, or kayaks on this translucent fairy-tale of a lake.

Only a couple months ago Hanna had said to me “Mom, are we really going to let another summer go by without kayaking on String Lake?”  That put a burr under my saddle that finally resulted in action, though by now we were firmly into pre-winter season.

I announced our intentions to the male side of our family and my husband, who already had a tee time at Targhee Village, responded less than enthusiastically as he went out the door with his golf bag though he did promise to be back by 1 p.m. to head over Teton Pass. My teenage son assured me that we’d have fun without him and that he intended to remain glued to his laptop playing an addictive monster vs. monster game rather than go outside on a crystal clear day in the Tetons.

Using my best mother skills, I cajoled him into coming with us by being alternately threatening and heart-broken. Just as I was about to remind him that I could die at any moment from any number of horrific medical crises, he closed his laptop and pledged his participation.

I had the rental kayaks, lunch bags, beverages and kids all ready to go when my husband came back early (early!) from golfing and off we went, toward adventure, beauty and timeless family moments. Ten minutes into the drive, no one was speaking to each other due to a few snippy remarks about what a wet, rotten, freezing cold time we were all going to have. In other words, someone really wanted to finish his golf game.

In silence, we finished the 90-minute drive arriving at the beach at 2:30 p.m. Suddenly, it became clear that we were not driving to our doom. The Cathedral Peaks were reflected like etchings on the water which sparkled and beckoned us to float upon it.  So we did.

Early morning panorama of String Lake, Grand Teton National Park - Northwestern Wyoming, USA

By Tony Hochstetler from Fort Collins (String Lake Panorama – Explored)

 

Some people toss around adjectives like popcorn and we all become tired of the hyperbole. Was that bologna sandwich really fabulous? Does her salon hair color really look absolutely incredible?

I’m here to tell you that String Lake was magical that afternoon. Depths of different shades of green.  Shadows of fish bursting under us. The hush of the mountains and crackle of red-gold autumn leaves in the breeze. The sound of our teenagers laughing as they rowed their double seated kayak together.

My husband and I floated upstream, taking in the views and occasionally dipping an oar to swing us to another perspective of the range or the beach or the kids. The word “lucky” was said a few times.

I believe that everyone needs these moments out in nature. There’s a power in wild waters, mountains and greenery that heals and redefines us. The Palmer family drove home that day feeling closer, content, and lucky.

Disclaimer: This blog discusses my personal wellness goals and is in no way a soapbox to tell anyone else how to eat, exercise and/or live their lives.

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Ode to the Sheep Trail

Ode to the Sheep Trail

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Ode to the Sheep Trail

The sheep trail is a lovely path
That skims the side of Teton Creek
And although I’ve never done the math
The miles are gentle for strong and weak.

Bring your dogs and bring some bags
Cuz dogs have fun but they also poop
They’ll smile and give you tail wags
But they sure won’t help you bend and scoop.

You’ll cross a bridge over Teton Creek
That leads you on your way
Through aspens, pines, views of the peak
Flowers, birds; all on display.

Hike until the very end
Where streams meet and make a fork
Or picnic at the sandy beach
And maybe pop a cork.

Head back home with a sense of peace
And memories of what you saw
Although it’s just a simple walk
You’ll feel a humbled awe.

- By Ann Loyola, (author of the Good Choice, Bad Choice blog).

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Health ABCs from a PA-C: Cholesterol 101

It’s health fair season, and I know many of you will have your discounted lab draws done this week at Teton Valley Hospital. One of your options for those draws is blood chemistry profile. With this test you’ll get a good overview picture of your kidney and liver health, blood count and lipid profile. The lipid panel means you’ll get a measure of your HDL (high-density cholesterol), LDL (low-density cholesterol) and triglyceride levels. But what does this mean to you?

Let’s start with the basics. Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance found in your body and many foods. Your body needs it to build healthy cells and function properly. Too much cholesterol can accumulate in your body and cause plaques on your arteries. These plaques can block blood flow causing a heart attack or stroke.

We monitor two main types of cholesterol through blood work. LDL, “bad cholesterol” makes up the majority of the body’s cholesterol. LDL is known as “bad” cholesterol because having high levels can lead to a buildup in the arteries and result in heart disease. HDL, “good cholesterol” absorbs LDL and other cholesterol molecules and carries it back to the liver, which flushes it from the body. High levels of HDL, or “good” cholesterol, reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Here is a list of appropriate blood levels:

Desirable Cholesterol Levels
Total cholesterol Less than 200 mg/dL
LDL (“bad” cholesterol) Less than 100 mg/dL*
HDL (“good” cholesterol) 40 mg/dL or higher
Triglycerides Less than 150 mg/dL

 

Treatment options for high cholesterol first start with TLC (therapeutic lifestyle changes). The first and most important lifestyle modification we encourage is to maintain a healthy weight. The important thing about weight loss is understanding it isn’t about short-term dietary changes. It’s about a lifestyle that includes healthy eating, regular physical activity, and balancing the number of calories you consume with the number of calories your body uses. Fewer calories in than calories expended is the way to lose weight. To better understand how many calories you need for your body and health concerns, see your primary care provider.  AHA graphic physical activity

Increasing your physical exercise is another lifestyle modification essential to maintaining a healthy heart and keeping your weight stable which in turns prevents chronic illness. Studies have shown that 30 minutes of aerobic activity five times a week is beneficial as primary prevention of heart disease. It is also important to try to maintain your target heart rate while exercising. This can be calculated by counting your pulse for 10 seconds and multiply by 6 to find your beats per minute. You want to stay between 50 to 85 percent of your maximum heart rate. This range is your target heart rate. Your maximum heart rate is 220 minus your age. If you are taking blood pressure medications, your target heart rate may be different, and you should consult your doctor before beginning a new exercise program.

Another way to control high cholesterol is with medications. Statins are a commonly prescribed medication with great value. They have proven to reduce risk of heart attacks and strokes. These medications are essential for people with cholesterol resistant to TLC and/or people with moderate to high levels of cholesterol.

An alternative therapy for people with mild high cholesterol is Red Yeast Rice. Red yeast rice (RYR) is the product of yeast (Monascuspurpureus) grown on rice. It is a dietary staple in some Asian countries. It contains the same compound found in statins, (HMG-CoA) reductase inhibitor. Studies have shown this product to be effective for treatment of hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol). More specifically, decreases in total cholesterol (TC), LDL cholesterol (LDL-C), and triglycerides (TG) have been noted. Consult with your primary care provider to see if this therapy may be beneficial to you.

Hopefully this gives you a better understanding of cholestrol in general and how you can work to keep your cholesterol levels within normal ranges.

Don’t forget that TVHC’s discounted lab draws run now through Saturday, September 13. Remember to fast for 8-10 hours prior to your draw if you plan to get the blood chemistry profile (which includes lipids). You can have your results read at our annual Harvest Health Fair Saturday, September 27 at Driggs Elementary. I’ll be there and I hope to see you at this important community event!

Anna Gunderson, PA-C is a nationally certified Physician Assistant. She works at the Driggs and Victor Health Clinics and is currently accepting new patients. Call (208) 354-2302 to make an appointment or visit tvhcare.org for more information on the services offered at Teton Valley Health Care.

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