Hardin column: Take charge of your health | PostIndependent.com

Hardin column: Take charge of your health

Carolyn Hardin

Carolyn Hardin

Greetings from Mountain Family Health Centers. This new monthly column, brought to you by Mountain Family, is designed to provide health information and resources to ensure you have the tools to take charge of your health.

For many, the new year brings the opportunity to refocus on one's life and desired improvements to make. Losing weight and exercising more are among the top three common New Year's resolutions. There are many things you can do to take charge of your health in 2017.

More than 83,000 Coloradans participate in Weigh and WIN. Visit http://www.weighandwin.com to enroll and learn more, then weigh in at one of the kiosks in our area at Mountain Family Health in Glenwood Springs or Rifle. This becomes your baseline. You will then receive daily emails or texts from personal trainers with personalized information and motivational tips. To monitor progress, return to the kiosk for another weigh-in. Persons who are overweight (Body Mass Index (BMI) ≥ 25) can receive cash awards for losing weight. Best of all, this program is free. Weigh and WIN offers six suggestions for sticking with New Year's resolutions:

1. Start small with realistic goals and timelines

An important aspect of maintaining health is to be involved and engaged in your health care. You are the most important member of your health care team, along with your providers. Selecting a primary care provider (PCP) is a great first step in managing your health care.

2. Focus on one thing at a time rather than trying to change everything at once

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3. Seek support from a family member or friend or Weigh and WIN

4. Be easy on yourself if you miss a workout or have a rich meal — you can get back on track the next day

5. Track and evaluate: Keep track of your progress and recognize setbacks and what you need to change

6. Celebrate your successes: No matter how small, you are improving your health

Another important aspect of maintaining health is to be involved and engaged in your health care. You are the most important member of your health care team, along with your providers. Selecting a primary care provider (PCP) is a great first step in managing your health care. Your PCP is your medical "home" — the health care provider you visit for most medical needs, including wellness visits and routine screenings and non-emergency illnesses like sore throats, and to discuss your health questions and concerns. Your PCP gets to know you, your health issues and your needs and can help you orchestrate your health care, including referrals for nutrition or other consultations, specialty care, lab work and imaging.

There are many ways to find and decide on a PCP. These include public (Medicaid, Medicare and Colorado Child Health Plan Plus [CHP+]) and private insurance provider lists found on their websites, web-based provider directories and asking friends and family who they like. Things to consider when choosing a PCP include researching which provider has the expertise to meet your health needs, examining logistics such as the office location and transportation options and determining which providers are "in-network" meaning their services are covered by your insurance. Ask for referrals from people you trust, and visit the provider. If you do not feel comfortable with or trusting of the person, choose another provider. Mountain Family Health Centers is one option for a health care home. They provide high quality, affordable, integrated primary medical, behavioral and dental health care at five clinics in the West Mountain region to anyone who seeks care, regardless of insurance status or ability to pay. You can reach them by calling 970-945-2840 or visiting http://www.mountainfamily.org.

Regarding insurance, it is not too late to obtain insurance through the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). You can enroll until Jan. 31. Connect for Colorado is Colorado's health insurance marketplace, providing free in-person help to find the right insurance, and offering subsidies to pay for insurance costs for those who are financially eligible. Set up an enrollment visit at Mountain Family Health Centers or visit http://www.connectforhealthcolorado.com.

These are just a few of the many things you can do to take charge of your health. Best wishes to everyone for a healthy 2017.

Mountain Family Health Centers is a Federally-Qualified Health Center providing medical, behavioral and dental health care to residents of Garfield, Pitkin, Eagle and Rio Blanco Counties, with an emphasis on the underserved, regardless of ability to pay.

Carolyn Hardin is a development consultant for Mountain Family and other nonprofits, with 30 years of experience in public health and human services in the Roaring Fork Valley. She can be reached at chardin@mountainfamily.org.

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