Living Well In The Panhandle

Milk…..What’s in it for you?

June is National Dairy Month. National Dairy month was first celebrated in 1937 to encourage Americans to drink more milk.

Milk and dairy products comprise a diverse group of foods from fluid milks, fermented milk products, and over 500 cheeses.

Generations of American children have grown up hearing the same parental advice, “Drink your milk…..milk builds strong bones and teeth.”

Milk has long been associated with good health, making it one of the heathiest beverages consumed in the United States. Current Dietary Guidelines recommend daily consumption of dairy for greatest impact. The body requires essential nutrients to maintain optimal health. Milk and dairy products are rich in many of these nutrients. Milk and dairy products contain calcium, vitamins A, D, B12, and high quality protein. The body absorbs calcium with the aid of vitamin D, both of which are found in fluid dairy products. Milk, whole, low fat, and skim, are homogenized and vitamin D fortified.

The amount of consumption from the dairy food group depends on age. Generally one cup of milk, yogurt, or one and a half ounces of cheese is considered a serving from the dairy group.

The cost of milk and dairy products varies. Careful selection can result in substantial savings. Milk generally is less expensive as a source of calcium than other dairy products.

Effective shopping skills depend on understanding and using information on the label including nutrition facts, product date, contents and ingredient statements. Usually larger containers, such as half gallon to a gallon cost less than single quarts. Compare the cost of the number of servings.

Milk and dairy products are highly perishable, so careful handling and storage to prevent spoilage, preserve flavor and retain nutritional uniformity is needed.

Florida regulations call for uniform standards for dating milk and requires all dairy processors to label milk and dairy product containers with the last date the product can be offered for sale. The date on the container does not mean that the milk will be spoiled on that date; it indicates that the milk should not be sold beyond that date. This is to insure a reasonable shelf life in your refrigerator after it is purchased. The quality and flavor are still dependent upon careful handling and storage. Remember, milk and dairy products are highly perishable and should be kept cold.

In recent years many kinds of alterative milk products have appeared in the market place. In choosing a dairy milk or dairy alternative you should be aware of the different alternative milk products available and what makes them different. With so many kinds of milk and milk alternatives on the market, reading the labels on containers to recognize differences in the contents is well worth while. Here is information on some of the more popular forms of milk alternatives now available and an explanation of some special terms you may find on labels and facts that may help in buying.


  • Variety of milks Picture by Wendy Meredith


    • Low-fat
    • 40 calories
    • 1 gram protein
    • Low in protein or calcium content. Nutty flavor.
  • Coconut
    • 420 calories per cup
    • 3 grams protein
    • 45 grams fat
    • High in fat content.
  • Hemp
    • Made from hemp seeds
    • Contains 10 essential amino acids
    • 80-140 calories per cup
    • 3 grams protein
    • Grassy flavor. Tends to separate when added to hot beverages.
  • Rice
    • 130 calories per cup
    • 1 gram protein
    • 2 grams fat
    • Low in fat and protein content. Higher in carbohydrates.
  • Soy
    • 110 -130 calories per cup
    • 7-11 grams protein
    • 4 grams fat
    • Higher in protein content. Thick texture often taste.

There are many ways to add milk into meals. Many people find milk refreshing and never tire of drinking it plain. However, cooked foods and other prepared foods offer many additional ways to add more milk into daily food, always with much added nutritive value and often extra dividends in flavor. Use milk instead of water when preparing cooking cereal, or add milk when preparing soups, mashed potatoes, custards sauces and other cooked foods. Beverages made with milk or milk products fit into meals and snacks and add extra nutritive values to daily fluid intake.

June is National Dairy Month, but milk is needed for good health every day of the year.




For further information, contact:

Dorothy C. Lee, C.F.C.S.

UF/IFAS Extension Escambia County

3740 Stefani Road

Cantonment, FL 32533-7792

(850) 475-5230


Author: Dorothy C. Lee –

Family & Consumer Sciences Extension Agent in Escambia County

Dorothy C. Lee

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Staying Healthy At Summer Camp

Staying Healthy At Summer Camp – 7 Keys to a Healthy Camp Counselor Experience

It’s getting hot outside and that means summer camps are heating up! Being a camp counselor is a fun summer job and it’s a great way to learn leadership skills. As a camp counselor, it is your job to take care of the children that are under your supervision, but your own health and well-being is as important as the campers.  If you’re not healthy, you won’t be able to properly care for the campers.

Here are 7 keys to staying healthy throughout your summer at camp:

  1. DRINK PLENTY OF WATER : When working outside in the summertime, it is essential for you and your campers to stay hydrated and avoid developing heat-related illnesses. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends between 6 to 8 glasses of water daily for good hydration. However, the amount of water that your body needs should be based on your individual need. Some of the symptoms of dehydration are: Mouth Dryness, Fatigue, Headache, Lightheadedness, Dizziness and Thirst. If you or a child in camp shows signs of any or all of these symptoms, immediately seek medical attention
  2. GET SOME SLEEP: Everyone feels a lot better after a good night’s sleep. One of the most critical threats to wellness for camp staff members is sleep deprivation. It’s easy to burn the candle at both ends when you’re working at a summer camp.  Try to stick to your normal bedtime whenever possible. Routine is important for a good night’s sleep!
  3. EAT HEALTHY: During the hectic pace of summer camp, it is easy to forget to eat properly. What you eat can determine how well your body is fueled and how efficiently it functions. The MyPlate guidelines call for making half your plate fruits and vegetables as part of a balanced meal.  Eating a balanced diet is important for good health and increased energy, especially when working with campers.
  4. HANDWASHING & FOOD SAFETY: Bacteria and germs are hiding anywhere: in your kitchen, on your plate and even on your hands! It is important to wash your hands and hard surfaces often. Make sure to wash your hands with soap and warm water for 20 seconds before and after handling food. Foodborne bacteria can’t be seen, smelled or tasted, but they can make you sick! Therefore it is important to practice good food safety and food preparation practices. When in Doubt, Throw it out!
  5. SUN SAFETY:  While enjoying the sun and outdoors, protect yourself from overexposure to sunlight by wearing a hat and using sunscreens. Severe sun burns (also known as sun poisoning) can also lead to extreme dehydration for you and your campers. Applying a broad-spectrum sunscreen (UVA/UVB), and re-applying every 2 hours or after swimming will help prevent a sunburn. As a camp counselor, you should remind kids to play in shaded areas to reduce their exposure to UV rays, especially between the hours of 10 AM and 4 PM, when the sun’s UV rays are at their peak.
  6. BUGS AND TICK BITE PREVENTION:  Bugs and summer go together.  To avoid getting bug bites, you should apply insect repellant that contains DEET to exposed skin, and wear long sleeves, pants, and other light-colored clothing. Campers should also try to avoid areas where ticks can be found, such as high grass and wooded areas. Campers should check for ticks every day, and remove them right away. Tick bites can lead to Lyme disease, which is particularly dangerous in the summer.
  7. STRESS MANAGEMENT: Stress can occur when we feel overloaded or under pressure in a demanding situation. Stress is a common problem among camp counselors. Managing your stress level is just as important as maintaining your physical health. Even though stress can be uncomfortable, it’s not always a bad thing, some stress can be a good thing and can help us better handle difficult situations.


As a camp counselor it is vital that you learn to relax, eat right, stay hydrated, and make sleep a priority, wash your hands, protect yourself from the sun, and take care of yourself!

Extension is a great resource for tips to stay healthy during the summer. You can find fact sheets and more information in our Electronic Data Information Source (EDIS) publications:



Author: Laurie Osgood –

Laurie B. Osgood is the Family and Consumer Sciences Agent at the Gadsden County Extension office. You can contact her at: (850) 662-3287

Laurie Osgood

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Water: Myth or Fact?

Water:  Myth or Fact?

Carry water with you to sip throughout the day

Summer has arrived!  During the summer months, especially along the Gulf Coast, it is hot and humid.  Keeping the body hydrated is important to maintaining good health.

As the temperature rises in the summer and the body loses more water through evaporation and perspiration, it makes good sense to increase your intake of fluids.  Keep in mind that by the time you notice you are thirsty, you have already depleted your water stores dramatically.  A good rule of thumb is to drink a few ounces of water every fifteen to thirty minutes when you are working or playing hard in the heat.

  • Myth or Fact – You should drink at least eight glasses of water a day.

Myth – On average, the body requires a half gallon of water daily.  That’s the amount required to replace what has been lost through perspiration, evaporation, and body waste.  Milk, juice, and other fluids can be added to your daily total.  Beverages that contain caffeine, such as coffee, tea, and soft drinks, are not good substitutes for water.  Caffeine actually may cause the body to lose water.  The same is true for alcoholic beverages.  They contribute to water loss, not gain, because alcohol acts as a diuretic.

  • Myth or Fact – All water is the same.

Myth – The following guide will help you navigate the sea of choices available:

  • Distilled Water – is pure water with no added chemicals or minerals.
  • Mineral Water – is available in canned or bottled varieties. Many brands include a mix of minerals to improve the taste.  Natural or artificial flavors, such as lime or lemon, may be added to some.  Some varieties add sugar.  Check the label.
  • Soft Water– commercially softened water often is treated with salt and tends to be high in sodium.
  • Sparkling Water– some sparkling waters contain bubbles naturally; others are created with the addition of carbon dioxide.
  • Well Water – is more commonly known as tap water.


  • Myth or Fact – Increasing daily water and fluid intake is difficult.

Myth – Actually, there are a variety of ways to increase water and other fluid intake.  Purchase a insulated water bottle and refill it throughout the day.  Add flavor to water.  Infused water is becoming a popular food trend.  Infuse with strawberries, lemons, limes, or other flavorful fruits and vegetables.  Choose foods that contain high levels of water content – for example, watermelon, grapes, and kiwi.  Start the day with a glass of water at breakfast.

  • Myth or Fact – Water aids in bodily functions.

Fact – Water contributes about sixty percent of an adult’s body weight.  Staying hydrated may be a major benefit to increasing energy production.  Increased water consumption can aid in weight loss.  Water aids in the body’s temperature regulation, acts as a lubricant, and cushions around joints.  Water serves as a solvent for minerals, vitamins, amino acids, and glucose.   Because water is vital to bodily functions, the body directs many of its activities toward maintaining balance.

  • Myth or Fact – You can drink too much water.

Fact – Over-hydration can result in water intoxication.  Water intoxication occurs when you consume more water than the kidneys can excrete.  Consuming large amounts of water in a short period of time can result in intoxication.  Remember, you should drink at least eight glasses of water a day – it’s a fact.




Author: Dorothy C. Lee –

Family & Consumer Sciences Extension Agent in Escambia County

Dorothy C. Lee

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Essentials of Water Safety

Essentials of Water Safety

Summer is upon us and that means many of us will be enjoying pools, lakes, rivers, and the ocean. Florida provides many opportunities for outdoor water recreation that we should enjoy responsibly and safely. Are you prepared to handle a water emergency? Do you have water safety rules? Do you know CPR? These are all things to consider. Not everyone is ‘waterproof’ and taking precautions can really prevent a misfortune.

As the warm summer months draw many of us to the water for fun and fellowship, remember, sudden things are sudden and people drown quickly and quietly. Being honest about your swimming abilities is important. If you are not a strong swimmer, chances are you will not be able to help someone in trouble. This is also important if you are supervising others. Take the time to work on your swimming skills with others or take lessons. Knowing basic cardiopulmonary resuscitation, CPR, also can increase the chances of survival for a drowning victim.

There is safety in numbers; enlist another adult to help when supervising swimming children. If you are at a public beach, river, or lake, locate the lifeguard and position yourself close to the stand. If the beach is the locale for the day, look for the flag to alert you to the surf conditions and adhere to the recommendations of the flag and signage. If you are at a venue with no lifeguard on duty, you are now the lifeguard! Locate any emergency devices available to you and be certain you have cell phone reception in case you must call for help. Have those you are supervising demonstrate their swimming abilities. Knowledge of someone’s swimming abilities in advance can allow you to set safer boundaries. For example, if a child cannot swim the width of the pool without stopping and placing their feet on the bottom, you have determined, for their safety, they must remain in the shallow area of the pool where they can stand up. Another great option is to have the children utilize swimming vests. Never allow for rough play in the water. What seems to be harmless quickly can become life- threatening.

No matter the venue, ocean, river, lake, or pool, be steadfast in monitoring the swimmers and prepared to assist if you are needed. The American Red Cross and National Swimming Pool Foundation have an online course to educate pool owners. The American Heart Association provides the option of taking an online CPR course. Being prepared for a potential crisis is the first step to avoiding a crisis. Many wishes for a safe summer of water fun!



Author: Marie Arick –

Originally from Starkville, Mississippi, Arick obtained both her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Mississippi State University. With her bachelor’s degree in Fitness Management/Exercise Science, Arick spent 18 years in the medical field primarily in Cardiology before obtaining her Master’s degree in Health Promotion. “I witnessed first-hand the impact on one’s health and overall wellness produced by a serious ailment and the need for more educational programs to aid in improving the overall quality of life for people. This is not just isolated to health education and wellness, but also financial literacy and job skill programs as well. I feel addressing issues with a holistic approach can help people maximize their abilities and that small changes over time can provide a very positive and beneficial impact on people’s lives”

Marie Arick

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Food Safety Tips for the Perfect Summer Picnic

Food Safety Tips for the Perfect Summer Picnic

There are few things more iconic during summer than a picnic.  There’s just something fresh and fun about sharing a meal in the park or at the beach with family and friends.  But just because you’re enjoying the warm, gentle breeze doesn’t mean you should throw caution to the wind.  By following a few simple food safety tips, you can ensure that your perfectly planned picnic doesn’t make you sick.

Planning it out.  Not all foods are picnic-appropriate.  Anything that requires a lot of perishable ingredients and/or a lot of preparation should be avoided.  Stick with foods that require little or no cooking and that contain just a few ingredients.  Foods such as fruits and vegetables (especially whole ones), hard cheeses, peanut butter and jelly, cereal, bread, and crackers are ideal picnic items.  Anything made with commercially processed custard or mayonnaise will stay safe as long as they are kept cold.

Packing it up. Use a cooler, if possible, and store cold foods together so they can help each other stay colder longer.  Use ice or frozen gel packs to help keep foods cold.  Pack foods directly from the refrigerator into the cooler; don’t leave them sitting out before packing.  Store ready-to-eat foods separately from raw meats.  If packing up hot foods, be sure to keep them in a thermos or other insulated dish.  DO NOT store them in the same container as the cold foods.  Paper towels, disposable utensils, and a food thermometer are ideal picnic accessories.  Remember, keep cold foods below 41 degrees F and hot foods above 135 degrees F.  Do your best to keep the cooler away from direct sunlight by storing it in the shade and be sure to replenish the ice and/or frozen gel packs when they melt.  Consider packing drinks in a separate cooler, as they are consumed more frequently; this will reduce the exposure of food items to warm air until you’re ready to eat.

Preparing the feast.  All food items should be kept at the proper temperature at all times.  When cooking raw meats, use separate plates for the raw and cooked products and clean and sanitize utensils between uses.  Cook meat to the proper recommended internal temperature to ensure doneness and safety.  Click here for a list of recommended internal cooking temperatures.

Presenting the bounty.  Discard any perishable foods that have been left out for longer than two hours.  In really hot weather (generally above 90 degrees F), foods should not be left out longer than one hour.  Keep food protected in storage containers such as coolers and lidded dishes to minimize contamination from flies and other pests.  Serve small portions of food at a time and keep the rest in the cooler.

Picnics are an important part of summer and with just a little bit of planning and a few useful tips and tools, they can be safe and delicious for everyone!

Source: Beaugh, Kristina. “Checklist for the Perfect Summer Picnic,” blog, June 16, 2015.  URL:



Author: Samantha Kennedy, M.S. –

Samantha is the Family & Consumer Sciences agent in Wakulla County. She has worked for UF/IFAS Extension since 2004. She has a B.S. in both Microbiology & Cell Science and Nutritional Sciences and an M.S. in Agricultural Education, both from UF. Her areas of expertise are nutrition, health & wellness, chronic disease prevention, food safety, disaster preparedness, and financial literacy. You can reach her via email at or by calling (850) 926-3931.

Samantha Kennedy, M.S.

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Famous Last Words: Cell Phones and Driving

Famous Last Words:  Cell Phones and Driving

Driving to work this morning, I had to swerve to miss a driver who had crossed the center line. Thankfully, I was paying attention and he got back in his lane fairly quickly, so no one was hurt. I suspect the other driver never realized that he almost had a close encounter of the dangerous kind.

We’ve all heard the warning:  driving while texting can be a deadly distraction. The problem is that most of us live fairly hectic lives. We may not intend to talk or text while we drive but the temptation to multi-task can be overwhelming – especially when we’re under a deadline. And honestly? Most of us think our driving skills are a shade above average and we can cope with a little distraction.

The hard truth is that cell phone use, especially texting, is “associated with the highest levels of driving performance degradation.” Even the most experienced texting driver takes twice as long to react, making texting a seriously dangerous activity. Around 69% of drivers, ages 18-64, report having used their phones while driving over the past 30 days. With over 9 people killed and 1,060 injured every day due to distracted driving, that’s a major problem.

So, what makes texting and driving so dangerous? You may have heard that the average texting driver takes his or her eyes off the road for an average of 5 seconds. At 55 mph, that’s like traveling the length of a football field blindfolded. What you may not know is that there are three distinct forms of driving distraction:

  • Visual (requires driver to look away from the road)
  • Manual (requires driver to take a hand or hands off the wheel to manipulate an object)
  • Cognitive (thinking about something other than driving)3

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, texting is among the worst of driver distractions because it involves all three forms at the same time. With over 320 million cell phone subscriptions in the US today, it’s a problem that continues to grow.

Only you can make the decision to be an alert driver. Choosing to focus on your driving makes you better – and safer – while sharing the road.


  1. Vegega, M., Jones, B., & Monk, C. (2013, December). Understanding the effects of distracted driving and developing strategies to reduce resulting deaths and injuries: A report to Congress (Report No. DOT HS 812 053). Washington, DC: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
  2. Cooper, J., Yager, C., Chrysler, S., (2011, August). An Investigation of the Effects of Reading and Writing Text-based Messages While Driving. Southwest Region University Transportation Center: Texas Transportation Institute.
  3. What Is Distracted Driving?, 2017, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.



Author: Ginny Hinton –

Santa Rosa County Extension Agent with UF/IFAS. Focus areas include nutrition, food safety, injury prevention, and healthy families. Bachelor’s degree in Social Work from University of West Florida. Master’s degree in Public Health/Health Education from University of South Florida.

Ginny Hinton

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Clean It Up with Homemade Cleaners

Clean It Up with Homemade Cleaners

laundry-666487_1920Spring has sprung and this is the perfect time to clean and freshen your house.  But you don’t have to spend a lot of money on cleaning products when you can whip up your own with a few simple, inexpensive ingredients.

The basic ingredient list includes:

  • White Vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Ammonia
  • Mild dish detergent
  • Washing soda (can be found in the laundry products aisle)
  • Borax (also in the laundry section)

Use clean jars or bottles for mixing and storage.  Do not use food containers – children can think the contents are something to eat.  Also, don’t mix your products in empty cleaning product bottles; residue from the original product may interact with your product, causing a dangerous reaction. Label each product and store out of reach of children.  NEVER mix chlorine bleach with ammonia or vinegar – it will create dangerous, toxic fumes!

Here are a few recipes to get you started:


Mix in a 16 oz. or larger spray bottle:

  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1 cup water

Use on sinks, countertops, lightly soiled range surfaces, floors, toilets, and showers.


  • 3 tablespoons ammonia
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar

Put in a spray bottle and fill the rest with water.


  • 1 bar Ivory® or 1/3 bar Fels Naptha® soap
  • 1/2 cup washing soda
  • 1/2 cup borax powder

Grate the bar soap into a cooking pot.  Add 6 cups of water and heat until the soap melts.  Add the washing soda and borax and stir until dissolved.  Remove from heat.  Pour 4 cups hot water into a clean bucket.  Add the soap mixture from the pot and stir.  Add 1 gallon plus 6 cups of water and stir.  Let the soap sit for about 24 hours and it will gel slightly.  Optional:  Add 1 ounce essential oil or fragrance oil of your choice.

Use 1/2 cup per load.  This is a low-sudsing soap which removes dirt and odor and can be used in high-efficiency machines.

For more product recipes, check out Homemade Household Cleaners and Green Cleaning:  Recipes for a Healthy Home.

Sources:  Homemade Household Cleaners

Clean It Green!, C. Rogers, UF/IFAS Extension Suwannee County.



Author: Judy Corbus –

Judy Corbus is the Family and Consumer Sciences Agent in Washington and Holmes Counties.;

Judy Corbus

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Breaking Bread: Feeding Family and Friends

“Breaking bread”, or eating a meal with others, is a deeply personal way to foster a sense of belonging. Food is a social glue; it brings us together for conversation, a time to catch up, a chance to connect with loved ones, and it fills our bellies as well.

If you wish to “break bread” (with actual bread), here are some nice, tasty bites of information.bread 2

  • The hypnotic, heavenly, warm, welcoming aroma of freshly baked bread makes many of us feel that all is right with the world and provides a sense of comfort.
  • Researchers have found that the smell of baking bread triggers a positive mood that leads to a higher degree of benevolence, kindness, and concern for the welfare of others.

“Bread – like real love – took time, cultivation, strong loving hands, and patience. It lived, rising and growing to fruition only under the most perfect circumstances”. – Melissa Hill, Something from Tiffany’s

  • A fascinating thing about bread is that though it is often viewed as a “poverty fuel”, it can feel like a luxury to even the most monetarily wealthy of individuals.

“”There are people in the world so hungry, that God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread”. – Mahatma Gandhi

  • If you’re going to break bread with bread, go for healthy whole grain varieties for plenty of good-for-you minerals, vitamins, and fiber.

Break bread for a healthy life.


Author: Angela Hinkle –

Angela Hinkle is the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) Agent in Escambia County.

Angela Hinkle

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Celebrate Earth Day, Then Make Earth Day Every Day!

Earth Day

Earth Day is honored around the world on April 22, with many festivals, activities and events being held in in the weeks prior. April 22 marks Earth Day. Help build a better future and preserve Mother Earth by committing to protect our environment year-round.

The origin of Earth Day is linked to the 1969 Santa Barbara, California oil spill. Wisconsin Senator, Gaylord Nelson, envisioned protecting the nation’s environment after the massive oil spill in California. This led to a movement to increase awareness of environmental pollution. Nelson, partnered with Congressman Pete McCloskey and Denis Hayes of Harvard University to put the Earth Day plan in motion. Earth Day, April 22, 1970 was the catalyst to increase environmental awareness and led to the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Hayes further expanded the Earth Day movement in 1990 into a global event.

Why do we need an Earth Day? Because it works! Earth Day broadens the base of support for environmental programs, rekindles public commitment and builds community activism around the world through a broad range of events and activities.

What can I do for Earth Day? The possibilities for getting involved are endless! Volunteer. Change a habit. Plant a garden. Do something nice for the Earth. April 22 marks Earth Day. Mark your calendar to attend an event or do something positive to preserve your little piece of Mother Earth.

A few Earth Day Events

Earth Day Bay County, April 9, 2016 10 am to 4 pm at McKenzie Park. The University of Florida’s Museum of Natural History will host an Earth Day Exploration on Saturday, April 16, 2016 from 10 am to 3 pm. Earth Day Pensacola, April 23, 2016 10 am to 4 pm. .


Author: Marie Arick –

Originally from Starkville, Mississippi, Arick obtained both her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Mississippi State University. With her bachelor’s degree in Fitness Management/Exercise Science, Arick spent 18 years in the medical field primarily in Cardiology before obtaining her Master’s degree in Health Promotion. “I witnessed first-hand the impact on one’s health and overall wellness produced by a serious ailment and the need for more educational programs to aid in improving the overall quality of life for people. This is not just isolated to health education and wellness, but also financial literacy and job skill programs as well. I feel addressing issues with a holistic approach can help people maximize their abilities and that small changes over time can provide a very positive and beneficial impact on people’s lives”

Marie Arick

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Small Steps Are the Key to Healthy Change

drinking waterOliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. once said, “The greatest thing in the world is not so much where we are, but in which direction we are moving.” That saying holds true when it comes to our health and our finances.

Health and personal financial issues affect millions of Americans. We struggle with epidemic obesity rates, over 79 million Americans have “pre-diabetes”, debt and bankruptcy filings remain high and millions of Americans live on the “financial edge” with less than the recommended three months’ emergency fund set aside for the future. Problems that develop gradually soon become overwhelming.

Many of us, when faced with the need to change, see our problems as unbeatable and “freeze” instead of moving forward. It is true that there is no easy way to lose weight, gain wealth or become debt-free. Even drastic fixes like weight loss surgery or bankruptcy come with huge risks. So, what is the secret?

According to Former HHS Secretary Tommy G.Thompson, small steps are the key! Mr. Thompson stated, “Consumers don’t need to go to extremes – such as joining a gym or taking part in the latest diet plan – to make improvements to their health. But they do need to get active and eat healthier.” No step is too small to get started and you can never be too early or too late. Examples might include walking during your lunch break, cutting out 100 calories a day, saving the change you accumulate each day or tracking your spending for a month. Anything you do daily over a period of time will soon become a habit, or an “automated” behavior. When your healthy behaviors become automated – no matter how small – you’ve just taken a step toward physical and/or financial wellness.

In the end, your health is in your hands. Set realistic goals, take small steps to reach them, learn from the obstacles and believe that you can achieve. And remember, “In the end, the only people who fail are those who do not try.” – David Viscott


Adapted from Small Steps to Health and Wealth, B. O’Neill and K. Ensle, 2013.


Author: Ginny Hinton –

Santa Rosa County Extension Agent with UF/IFAS. Focus areas include nutrition, food safety, injury prevention, and healthy families. Bachelor’s degree in Social Work from University of West Florida. Master’s degree in Public Health/Health Education from University of South Florida.

Ginny Hinton

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