Live Your Healthy Lifestyle

Healthy tips that fit your lifestyle in Pennsylvania, powered by Geisinger Choice
~ Wednesday, August 27 ~

When a heart attack hits the healthy: Linda’s story, Part 3 

Most of us think, “It won’t happen to me.”  I like to exercise, eat healthy foods. I don’t smoke. But I was no exception. I am Linda Poorman, a wellness associate/health coach/personal trainer. And I had a heart attack.


I was finally “fixed!” I had no thoughts that the surgery wouldn’t go well or that I may even die. I had complete faith in my surgeon and all of the other medical staff. I actually had a smile on my face from the time that I was readmitted until I went home. 

I could now move toward healing and getting back into my routine of working out, running my household, and getting back to work. There was no need for negativity, only gratitude for everything.

I recovered at my parents’ house and started walking immediately after being released from the hospital. Of course, once a mother, always a mother — and my mother worried about me constantly. I had to convince her that the doctors encouraged this activity.

However, the more I’d walk, the more discomfort I had in my chest.  I ran into a neighbor who asked me how I was feeling. I told him “great!” I was up to walking four miles about four to five times a week. I told him I was still experiencing pain, but I never had open heart surgery before — I thought it was normal. 

Early one morning, I woke up having to go to the bathroom. As I was sitting there (sorry for the visual!), the pain became severe and I started sweating. Every time I took a breath, I felt a stabbing sensation under my breast bone. The doctors later called it a “rub.”  That is when I called my son and asked him to take me to the ER. 

The doctors at our local hospital thought it best to send me directly to Geisinger. It turned out I had developed acute pericarditis — the membrane around my heart became inflamed.

After another three days in the hospital, I was released with medication and instructions to take it easy. Taking it easy is not something that I really know how to do! I rested and started walking slowly. I went to cardiac rehabilitation for about four weeks. This was advised more for “peace of mind” — I’d know how hard I could eventually push myself and not be fearful that something was going to happen to me.

I feel that faith, support from family and friends, positive attitude and the care from all of the nurses brought me through all of this with flying colors.


After just four short months, I participated in a 5K walk/run for the Janet Weis Children’s Hospital. I told myself that I would just walk, but I ended up jogging and came in second in my age group! My heart event had a happy ending.

On Sept. 28, I’ll be proudly walking (or maybe running!) in the Centre County Heart Walk in State College as one of the event’s Heart Heroes. For more information on how you can join the walk or make a contribution, look for my team, “Linda’s Heartthrobs,” at

If you’re not already living a healthy lifestyle, start today. Start eating healthy, get up off the couch and start moving to lose weight, lower your blood pressure, lower your cholesterol, and lower your blood sugar. Because it can happen to you.  

Tags: GHP Wellness We Are GHP Geisinger employee blog heart attack warning signs healthy
~ Tuesday, August 26 ~

Tasty Tuesday: Back to school breakfast


Going back to school can be a hectic time, especially when it comes to getting ready in the morning. As a result some kids may be missing out on their essential breakfast meal. To ensure kids are not skipping breakfast, be prepared with ready-to-go items such as low-fat yogurt, whole fruits such as bananas, apples, oranges or berries, granola bars, trail mix, and whole wheat toast with nut butter. You can even make these ham and cheese croissants the night before for an easy, on-the-go breakfast treat.


  • One 8-ounce package refrigerated crescent rolls
  • 4 slices lean ham
  • 4 slices low-fat Swiss cheese
  • Cooking spray


  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  • Gently separate the dough into 8 triangles. Using the crescent triangles as a pattern, cut the ham and cheese into similar triangular shapes. Place a piece of ham on the crescent dough and top with a slice of cheese. Roll each croissant starting from the widest edge to the tip of the triangle.
  • Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray or line with parchment paper. Place the triangles on the baking sheet.
  • Bake until golden brown, 15 minutes. Eat warm, cold, or at room temperature.

Photo credit: iStock/Thinkstock

Tags: back to school healthy breakfast GHP Wellness Tasty Tuesday

How to Give Your Kids a Healthy Start for Going Back to School

It’s that time of year again where parents and kids alike are scrambling to get ready for back-to-school. From the perfect backpack to the books they’ll need for class, you’re doing your best to make sure they are well-prepared to start off the school year right. And that includes jumpstarting healthy habits. Here are some tips you can use to give your kids a healthy start for back-to-school.

Photo Credit: Kris Yeager/Shutterstock

A healthy breakfast is a must

We’ve all heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day – and for good reason. Kids who eat breakfast regularly are more likely to pay attention in class, have improved memory and perform problem-solving tasks faster when compared to kids who do not eat breakfast.

What children eat for breakfast is also important as it can have an impact on their learning. It is recommended that kids eat a breakfast that is high in fiber and low in sugar to improve their cognitive skills. Ditch the sugary cereals and toaster pastries for healthy breakfast ideas like fruit smoothies, oatmeal, yogurt parfaits, veggie omelets, or homemade breakfast wraps. For more nutritious and delicious breakfast ideas, check out these kid-friendly recipes that include sweet potato flapjacks, breakfast burritos, and banana cinnamon waffles.

Pack more nutrients into lunch

In the past, cafeteria school lunches have not always offered the healthiest food options that growing bodies and minds need. Childhood obesity continues to be a major health concern in the U.S., which is why the USDA has been making great strides in setting nutrition standards for school lunch programs nationwide; however, some students aren’t too thrilled about these healthy lunch options. That’s where parents come in. By preparing a lunch tailored to your child’s tastes and preferences, you can ensure that they’ll eat their entire meal while getting the nutrients they need. When packing lunch, choose these nutrient-rich foods:

Whole grains: Choose whole grains, whole wheat bread, brown rice or quinoa for added fiber, iron and vitamin B.

Dairy: Kids between the ages of four and 13 need 2.5 to 3 cups of dairy a day. Incorporate low-fat milks, cheeses and yogurts into your child’s lunch to promote bone and dental health.

Protein: You don’t have to rely on meat products alone as a source of protein. While turkey, chicken and seafood are excellent sources of protein, try adding beans, hard-boiled eggs, unsalted nuts and seeds to your child’s lunch. These are great protein alternatives for parents who have children that are vegan or vegetarian.

Fruits: It’s very easy to incorporate fruit into a child’s lunch. Whether you choose whole fruits, canned, dried or 100% fruit juice, make sure they are getting at least one to two cups of fruit per day. This does not include any fruits that they may consume for breakfast.

Vegetables: Veggies are one of the most neglected parts of any child’s lunch, but it’s something every parent needs to encourage their child to eat. Growing children need 1.5 to 3 cups of veggies per day that consist of dark greens (kale, spinach, collard greens, etc.), starchy vegetables, red and orange vegetables (tomatoes, carrots, bell peppers, etc.), legumes (beans, peas, etc.), and other vegetables.

For more guidelines on how many nutrients your children should be getting in their meals, refer to

Keep them active after school

In addition to health eating, it’s crucial for kids of all ages to have some type of physical activity for at least an hour a day. Physically fit children have improved brain power and cognitive skills when compared to their inactive peers. Kids who are active will also have better control over body fat, stronger bones and muscles, decreased risk of health problems like type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol and blood pressure, and an added boost of confidence.

Encourage your children to play outside, join an after-school sport or sign up at a community recreation center where they can let loose and play with other children. You too can join in the fun by playing catch, shooting some hoops or running a few laps around the race track to help empower your child to improve their overall physical fitness.

A healthy start to the school year starts with you. Use these tips to keep your kids happy and healthy all year long.

A healthy lifestyle starts with making healthy choices, like choosing the right health insurance. Get with the plan and choose Geisinger Health Plan today.

Tags: healthy eating back to school school school lunch childhood obesity
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~ Thursday, August 21 ~

What are GMOs? The Truth About Biotech Food

“Would you like some genetic engineering with that?” There has been a lot of news floating around about the potential health risks of consuming GMOs or genetically modified organisms. We have been eating these foods for years without even knowing it, which is why grassroots organizations are raising awareness about which foods contain GMOs, better labeling of foods that do contain GMOs, and if they are safe for human consumption. If you’re worried about what you’re feeding your family, here’s the truth about genetically modified foods.

Photo Credit: Carlos Amarillo/Shutterstock

What are genetically modified organisms?

GMOs have been in commercial use for over 15 years and it is estimated that 60–70% of processed foods contain genetically modified ingredients.

A genetically modified organism is an organism whose DNA has been altered using genetic engineering and biotechnology. These organisms include: micro-organisms such as bacteria and yeast, insects, plants, mammals and fish.

Genetically modified foods are produced from these organisms that have had specific changes introduced into their genetic makeup. This is meant to enhance desired traits, such as herbicide resistance or improved nutritional content. 

Where are GMOs used?

The commercial sale of genetically modified crops began in 1994 and have since become wildly popular with U.S. farmers since the Monsanto Company first introduced herbicide-tolerant “Roundup Ready” soybeans. Since then, other companies have introduced their own variety of soybeans, corn, cotton, canola and others crops that can withstand herbicides or are resistant to insects. Sugar beets, Hawaiian papaya, alfalfa, zucchini and yellow squash are also common genetically modified crops.

Check out this list of common ingredients found in everyday foods that may be derived from these GMO crops and see which foods in your home contain them. Some of these foods may include cookies, cereals, crackers, processed lunch meats and other snacks.

Potential health risks

There have been claims that GMOs may cause or increase the risk of developing certain diseases and illnesses. However, the American Association for the Advancement of Science stated that “Foods containing ingredients from genetically modified (GM) crops pose no greater risk than the same foods made from crops modified by conventional plant breeding techniques.”

Other concerns about the potential health risks of GM foods are:

  • New allergens and toxins added to food
  • Accidental contamination between GMO and non-GM foods
  • Antibiotic resistance
  • Changes to the nutrient content of crops

Scientists haven’t ruled out that there may be some risk involved, but that pertains to any food product. For now, researchers are confident that these foods are safe to eat, but long-term effects will need to be monitored.  

Labeling of foods

One main area of controversy related to GM food is whether they should be labeled so that consumers can know what they’re eating. While the labeling of GMO products is required in 64 countries, it is not required in the United States or Canada. Connecticut and Maine are the only two U.S. states to pass a bill requiring GMO labels, but similar legislations are being introduced in about 30 other states.

What should you do?

Because GMO labeling isn’t required in all states, it is difficult for consumers to know which foods contain GMOs and which don’t. If you are concerned about the potential health risks of “Frankenfoods” or want to know exactly what you’re putting into your body, your first line of defense is education. Do your research and read nutrition labels thoroughly. While the ruling is still out on the effects of consuming GM foods over a long period of time, try to eat organic foods and produce and stay away from unfamiliar ingredients. Until more studies and research debunk these dangerous claims, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

A healthy lifestyle starts with making healthy choices, like choosing the right health insurance. Get with the plan and choose Geisinger Health Plan today.

Tags: genetically modified organisms GMO
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~ Wednesday, August 20 ~

When a heart attack hits the healthy: Linda’s story- Part 2 

Most of us think, “It won’t happen to me.”  I like to exercise, eat healthy foods. I don’t smoke. But I was no exception. I am Linda Poorman, a wellness associate/health coach/personal trainer. And I had a heart attack.

It’s called Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection (SCAD).  My left descending artery spontaneously tore and spiraled. The odds of surviving this are extremely low. Doctors immediately began preparing me to be flown to Geisinger Medical Center in Danville.

When I arrived at the hospital, I was in for a surprise. The head of the cardiology department and one of the best surgeons in the world both suggested that I may not need open heart surgery.  Instead, they said there was a chance that this dissection could possibly heal on its own with medication. After much thought and conversations with my family, we decided to give that option a try. I was a little uneasy, but respected their advice. Had just one of my numbers been out of a healthy range, there would have been no question as to what to do. After just three days, they released me from the hospital.

The next three weeks were the most nerve-racking and concerning weeks of my life.  I couldn’t wrap my head around how a spiral dissection was going to heal itself. I was haunted by what I had seen in the films during the catheterization. During these three weeks, I saw my local cardiologist and his physician assistant. They were perplexed that the doctors had sent me home.  They were positive that they would have done emergency surgery! They suggested that I go to a top-notch hospital like the Cleveland Clinic or Johns Hopkins. They tried feverishly to get me into Johns Hopkins (where they would accept my health insurance) to no avail.

Several of the nurses at my workplace could not believe what I had to tell them either. One of the nurses had worked in a trauma unit in Ohio, and she told me that the cases of dissections she’d seen did not have good outcomes. And there I was — up, walking around!

I actually ran into my primary care physician at one of our local grocery stores. He talked to me for quite a while. He too said that he had only seen maybe two dissections in his entire career, and they did not have good outcomes. They at least had open heart bypass surgery! The reason I most likely lived through mine was because I was healthy and in good shape, he said. But, he was still uneasy about the decision to forgo surgery.

After being off work for three weeks, I was headed back. I was very emotional that day, which was odd because up to this point I had shown no emotions at all. I also felt uncomfortable, with sporadic pain. So I called my cardiology physician assistant that evening. He advised me to contact the surgeon at Geisinger. The next day, I did just that.  He demanded, yes demanded, that I go to the ER right away! I complied.

I was sent back to Danville, this time by ambulance. The next day, I was on the table having open-heart bypass surgery.


Tags: We Are GHP heart health heart attack wellness GHP Wellness spontaneous coronary artery dissection
~ Tuesday, August 19 ~

Tasty Tuesday: Kale the superfood

Meet Kale, nature’s superfood. A member of the cabbage family, this leafy green is packed with antioxidants and is an excellent source of vitamin K, A and C.  Ready to rise to the occasion?
Try one of these 10 healthy recipes with kale!


Bean and Chicken Sausage Stew


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 12-ounce package fully cooked chicken sausage links, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 19-ounce can cannellini beans, rinsed
  • 1 14.5-ounce can low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 bunch kale leaves, torn into 2-inch pieces
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1 loaf country bread (optional)


  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the sausage and cook, stirring once, until browned, 2 to 3 minutes.
  2. Stir in the garlic and cook for 2 minutes more.
  3. Add the beans, broth, and tomatoes and their liquid and bring to a boil.
  4. Add the kale and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until wilted, 2 to 3 minutes. Serve with the bread, if using.

Source: Real Simple

Tags: super food kale kale recipes healthy recipes Tasty Tuesday
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Don’t Pass the Salt: How to Reduce Your Sodium Intake

Did you know that 9 out of 10 American adults consume too much sodium every day? That’s because a majority of the foods we eat contain large amounts of sodium, with prepackaged foods and restaurants meals as the main culprits.  In this post you’ll find out which foods you should avoid and other healthy tips to help reduce your sodium intake.

Photo Credit: Nenov Brothers Images/Shutterstock

Health risks of high sodium intake

It is recommended that Americans limit their sodium intake to 2,300 mg a day. For those who are over 50, have diabetes, hypertension or kidney disease, sodium intake should be reduced to 1,500 mg. Unfortunately, research has shown that Americans consume on average about 3,300 milligrams (mg) of sodium every day. This excessive sodium consumption can contribute to various health problems such as: high blood pressure, heart disease, kidney disease, and stroke.

Children and adolescents are also at risk for health problems like high blood pressure. For example, kids who have a high sodium diet double their risk of having high blood pressure, compared to those who have low-sodium diets.

Excessive salt intake can also increase water retention in the body, often leading to bloating, puffiness and weight gain.

Where is salt hiding?

65% of our sodium intake comes from supermarkets and convenience stores, and 25% comes from restaurants, according to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The CDC also identified the top 10 food sources containing sodium in the average American diet:

  1. Breads and rolls
  2. Lunch/deli meat
  3. Pizza
  4. Poultry, fresh and processed
  5. Soups
  6. Cheeseburgers and other sandwiches
  7. Cheese, natural and processed
  8. Pasta dishes
  9. Meat dishes, such as meat loaf with gravy
  10. Savory snack foods (potato chips, pretzels, popcorn, etc.)

When it comes to restaurants, Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Chili’s and Arby’s are home to the saltiest meals in America. Combined, these top 10 saltiest meals contain over 47,000 milligrams of sodium, totaling 20.2 teaspoons of salt. That doesn’t sound very appetizing, does it?

How to reduce your sodium intake

There are many ways you can reduce your sodium intake without sacrificing flavor from the foods you love:

  • Cook your meals from scratch as often as you can so you know exactly how much salt you’re putting in your food.
  • Substitute herbs, spices, and salt-free blends for salt.
  • Drain and rinse canned vegetables and beans to wash off some of the added salt.
  • Use fresh, not packaged, meats. The sodium content in fresh cuts of beef, chicken or pork is much less than the hidden sodium added to meat products like bacon.
  • If you do buy packaged foods, choose products that are low in sodium or sodium free.
  • Check food labels for sodium content and compare brands of the same food to see which has the least amount of sodium.
  • If you plan on dining at a restaurant, visit their website to see if they list the nutritional content of their dishes. Feel free to ask your server which foods are prepared without added salt, so you know which items to choose.
  • Eat fresh fruit and veggies which are extremely low in sodium. And if you fill up on those, you won’t be tempted to eat anything else!

It’s important for you to know how much salt is your food so that you can make healthier eating choices whether you’re cooking at home or eating at a restaurant. Knowing these tips can help decrease your chances of developing certain health issues and it may even help train your palette to eat less salty foods overtime.

A healthy lifestyle starts with making healthy choices, like choosing the right health insurance. Get with the plan and choose Geisinger Health Plan today.

Tags: sodium salt salty food kidney disease
~ Friday, August 15 ~

Fitness Friday: Beat the heat

While you may be luxuriating in a lawn chair catching some rays or savoring some outside play with the family, your body is actually hard at work to keep you hydrated, cool and healthy.

“The body works hard to keep cool, but it can only do so much on its own in prolonged exposure to excessive heat,” explains David Rolston, M.D., director of general internal medicine at Geisinger Medical Center. “Overheating, heat exhaustion or heat stroke is inevitable if individuals don’t do their part to help keep cool, too.”

The best defense against a heat-related illness is prevention. Dr. Rolston recommends practicing some of the precautions below.

Tags: fitness friday beat the heat geisinger health plan GHP GHP Wellness Summer
~ Thursday, August 14 ~

The Importance of Vaccines: National Immunization Awareness Month

August is National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM), sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. This month, the CDC is helping raise awareness about the importance of immunizations and the promotion of routine vaccinations for both children and adults. Learn how you can protect your health and the health of your family against infectious diseases.


Photo Credit: gorillaimages/Shutterstock

Vaccinations start young

The need for vaccinations starts at a young age because newborns and infants are the most vulnerable to life threatening diseases. Before a baby turns two years old, parents have the opportunity to protect their child from 14 serious diseases:

  1. Hepatitis B
  2. Rotavirus
  3. Diphtheria
  4. Tetanus
  5. Pertussis (whooping cough)
  6. Haemophilis influenzae type b
  7. Pneumococcal
  8. Polio
  9. Influenza
  10. Measles
  11. Mumps
  12. Rubella
  13. Chickenpox
  14. Hepatitis A

To provide the best protection for your children, you should follow the recommended immunization schedule. The good news is 88% of parents are vaccinating their children on schedule, according to a 2012 national poll by the CDC.

Adults need vaccines, too

Vaccinations don’t stop after the age of two. In fact, children, preteens and young adults also need to adhere to a regular vaccination schedule as diseases can change overtime and those who aren’t vaccinated increase their risk of spreading diseases to others.

As an adult, while you may have received all of your shots as a child or teenager, you should still get certain vaccines to protect yourself. This is especially true for older adults (60+), and those with asthma, COPD, diabetes, heart disease, or weakened immune systems.

It is recommended that adults get the flu vaccine every year to protect themselves against the seasonal flu. Adults should also get the Td vaccine (pertussis) if they did not receive it as an adolescent and the Tdap vaccine (diphtheria and tetanus) every 10  years.

Unfortunately, some adults are not receiving the recommended vaccines which puts them at risk for hospitalization, spreading diseases to others, and even death. According to the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), in 2012 only 14% of adults age 19 and older received their Tdap vaccination.

Are vaccines safe?

There is a lot of debate surrounding the safety of vaccines. The CDC’s Immunization Safety Office monitors and researches the risks and benefits of vaccines for public safety. Vaccines are required to go through rigorous testing before they are licensed, and are then carefully monitored to ensure they are safe to administer to the entire population.

Remember, vaccines are one of the safest and most economical ways to prevent disease. Not only do they help protect vaccinated individuals, but they also protect entire communities by preventing and reducing the spread of infectious diseases.

Talk to your doctor to find out which vaccines are right for you and be sure to stay up-to-date on your vaccinations to protect yourself and your loved ones from serious illness.

A healthy lifestyle starts with making healthy choices, like choosing the right health insurance. Get with the plan and choose Geisinger Health Plan today.

Tags: national immunization awareness month immunization vaccines booster shot
~ Wednesday, August 13 ~

When a heart attack hits the healthy: Linda’s story

Most of us think, “It won’t happen to me.”  I like to exercise, eat healthy foods. I don’t smoke. But I was no exception. I am Linda Poorman, a wellness associate/health coach/personal trainer. And I had a heart attack.


I was working the morning of May 24, 2013, and my right bicep throbbed and cramped. I felt like I needed to roll it out or something. After lunch, my coworkers and I were discussing our calendars, and I told them I might be experiencing heartburn, even though I’d never had it before. They offered me some Tums. That didn’t help.

I got down on the floor, thinking I could “stretch” out whatever I was feeling. My coworker told me that if it was heartburn, lying down would make it worse.  I told her, “Help me up then!” As I got up, my face went completely white. I began sweating and appeared “out of it.” They ran to get one of our nurses, who took my blood pressure and said I appeared diaphoretic. My coworkers called 911. 

I didn’t understand what was happening to me. I couldn’t believe they were calling 911. When the EMTs came, I told them this must be a mistake — they could just check me over and send me back to work. They asked to run some quick tests. I agreed. Shortly, one of the EMTs touched my arm and told me to not be alarmed, but it appeared that I was having a heart attack. What? Me?! I could not believe my ears! He gave me an aspirin to chew and a nitroglycerin pill to put under my tongue. He started an IV drip, and off to the hospital we went.


In the meantime, they called in a “full heart alert” to the hospital. When we arrived, doctors, nurses, and specialists all came running. I remained calm; this all seemed like an out-of-body experience. The medical team was stumped at what they were seeing and hearing, as I explained that I exercise regularly, pretty healthy, never smoked, and my parents were in their 80’s with no heart disease. In addition, they were finding out for themselves that my numbers were all fantastic. The only clue they had was that an EKG taken a couple of years ago for shoulder surgery was a little different than the EKGs that they were doing now. After blood work came back, my troponin (heart enzyme) was elevated, which can indicate a heart attack. I was admitted that Friday, and on Monday morning, I had a heart catheterization.

The results shocked me.

Tags: WeAreGHP Geisinger EmployeeBlog WeAreGHP heart attack healthy heart wellness GHP Wellness
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