THE STRAIGHT UP
New Year, New Habits The Trick to Building Better Habits This Year
Fall is my favorite time of year. I love that first morning chill as the summer winds down. For me, back-to-school season is the real start of the new year, probably because I spent a big chunk of my life going to school. By the time I graduated fromdental school, I was in the 23rd grade. Even though I’mnot in school anymore, there’s something about fall and the back-to-school season that feels inspiring.The new school year is full of endless possibilities. With the right school supplies, you can launch yourself to themoon! The beginning of a new school year is a time when a lot of families try to start better habits. “This year isn’t going to be like last year,” I hear parents vow. “Bedtimes aren’t going to be a struggle, and we are going to get out the door on time everymorning.”There’s somuch optimism in these promises. However, after a fewweeks, I inevitably have parents inmy office with war stories about trying to get their kids ready for school. I fully believe the new school year really can be the start of a new chapter for families.The trick is to have the right approach. A lot of parents “I FULLY BELIEVE THE NEW SCHOOL YEAR REALLY CAN BE THE START OF A NEW CHAPTER FOR FAMILIES.”
get up on the first day of school ready to change things through sheer force of will.Their drive is admirable, but they burn out quickly because you can’t change your habits overnight through willpower alone. Instead of trying to change everything all at once, human beings respond better when we break up big goals into smaller steps. TheGreaterGoodScienceCenter at UC Berkeley has a great article about their “happiness habit tracker.” Dr. ChristineCarter writes about how families can establish better habits together by breaking their goals into small “turtle steps.” Each step is a positive change, and families should take each turtle step one week at a time.With each successful step, we become motivated tomake bigger and better changes in our lives.Visit Bit.ly/HappinessHabitTracker to read the full article for yourself. I highly recommend it. Dr. Carter has some great tips for building habits that I have usedmyself. A few years ago, I wanted to start a new morning routine. I wanted to get up earlier and exercise, but I couldn’t just set my alarm and expect to hit the gymevery day. Instead, I started small with turtle steps that were so easy, I couldn’t not follow through. I’ve seen people recommend starting with just one pushup or twominutes of exercise, something so simple it feels like it takes more effort not to do it.
Times featuredThe Scientific 7-MinuteWorkout, which anyone could do at home with just a chair. I thought, “Yeah, I do just sevenminutes in themorning!”Over time I slowly got used to exercising for sevenminutes and developedmy morning routine from there. Now I go to a boot camp workout three days a week.When I wake up feeling tired, it doesn’t even occur tome to skip boot camp, because it’s become a habit. By the time I’mat the gym, I’m ready to go. I would have gone a couple of times, but eventually, I would have fallen back into old habits. Starting out with small steps might feel like you’re not making progress, but it takes time to build strong, long-lasting habits.This is what makes the happiness habit tracker so useful. It emphasizes the importance of turtle steps. Whatever your goals for the new year may be, I encourage you to pursue them.The new school year is a time for a fresh start with new classes, new pencils, new teachers, and new habits. I don’t think this habit would have developed if I jumped right into going to the gym. Maybe
My first turtle step was to exercise for just seven minutes eachmorning. In 2013,The NewYork
–Dr. Leslie Pitner
Smile big. Smile often. • 803-781-5225
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP
A new school year is a prime
bus, they may be dreading their bully. If they’re rushing to the bathroom after school, it may indicate that they’re being bullied in the bathroom, which is a common tactic bullies use to avoid teachers. If their grades suddenly change, it may be the result of constant harassment. Anxious or depressed moods can be the result of bullying as well. If you spot one or more of these signs, it’s time to talk to your child about what’s happening to them at school. Listen When your child does open up, the best thing you can do is listen. It can be tempting to try to give them advice or question the way they handled the • • • really weird. She says it’s a program called ClinCheck, and she uses it to help her Invisalign patients. ClinCheck lets orthodontics plan out every step of the Invisalign process, so they know exactly how their patients’ teeth will move. This program takes out all the guesswork and lets my mom design beautiful smiles for our patients. It’s like a road map for a brand-new smile! A lot of patients really appreciate this program because orthodontics is a real waiting game.With traditional braces, you wait months to see a difference and hope everything works out, all while you have to avoid certain foods and try not to break the brackets or wires.With Invisalign and ClinCheck, patients get to see what their smile
situation, but doing this can give your child the impression that it’s their own fault they are
opportunity for kids to make new friends among
being bullied. Let them tell you the whole story, without judgment, and then help them come up with ideas on what to do next. Finding the Right Solution Once you’ve been informed that your child is being bullied, you should inform teachers as soon as possible. Apart from that, there are several ways you can help your child to deal with bullies, so talk to them about what approach they would be most comfortable with, such as de-escalation strategies or a buddy system with their friends. As with
their classmates. Unfortunately, kids also form
connections during the school year that aren’t always positive, and many children become the targets of school bullies. If you suspect your child is being bullied, there are a few things you can do to help. Know the Signs Kids usually don’t open up about being bullied right away. However, there are some common signs that your child is being harassed. Here are a few of them:
most conflicts, the sooner you handle the situation, the better.
If they’re refusing to go to school or ride the
FROM THE OFFICE OF BUSTER Why Do Orthodontists Have Homework? G’DAY, MATE!
will look like every step of the way! It’s reassuring to know that putting in the time will produce amazing results. Plus,
When I was a young puppy, before I came to live with my momDr. Pitner, I went to doggy school. This is where I learned all the rules on how to be a good citizen of the world. I’m proud to say I graduated with flying colors. Recently, I’ve realized that human school is really different than doggy school. For example, kids have to go back to school every year! That’s so much school. Human school also has something called homework.When I’m at the office, I sometimes hear our younger patients talking about howmuch they don’t like homework. This makes me wonder why my mom is always doing homework.
you’re still able to eat your favorite foods.
I have very mixed feelings about this homework. On the one paw, having her sit still and work
when I want to snooze on the couch is great! But on the other paw, when I want to go for a walk and she’s still working, I start to get why kids hate homework so much. –Buster
At home, I often see Dr. Pitner on her computer, moving virtual teeth around. It’s
Chronic Anger, Your Heart, and Your Health How This Emotion Is Doing You Harm
Anger is a common emotion. It’s natural, and it’s a part of how you respond to certain circumstances in your environment. It’s how you express extreme displeasure. However, new research suggests chronic anger can be detrimental to your health. Essentially, it comes down to this: If you are stressed, tense, easily irritable, angry, and “snippy” all the time, you may be doing serious harm to your well-being. Studies have already shown a link between anger and the heart. People who showed signs of feeling anger on a regular basis experienced higher rates of heart disease. The first studies on the impact of anger came out in the 1950s and have since been confirmed: Chronic anger physically harms the heart. Why?When you get angry or upset, your brain triggers the release of specific hormones, including cortisol and norepinephrine. These hormones are responsible for triggering the
“fight or flight” response.When these hormones enter the bloodstream, your heart rate increases and arteries constrict. This helps to more effectively pump blood to the arms and legs for a fight or a flight. The problem is that when a person is constantly angry or upset, these hormones course through the body more frequently, stressing the arteries and internal organs. As a person ages, this stress can become more damaging.
The study also looked at other emotions, including sadness, which has also been linked to heart disease and other inflammatory diseases. Through a number of tests involving 200 participants ages 59–93, the researchers concluded anger was far more detrimental to a person’s health than sadness.
Ultimately, if you regularly experience rage and frustration, properly dealing with your anger is one
of the best things you can do for your health. Every person’s situation is different, and it comes down to getting to the
One study that appeared in the Psychology andAging Journal looked into this phenomenon. Researchers found that there is a link between frequently experiencing anger and increased inflammation and chronic illness for people ages 80 and older. This equated to more instances of heart disease and dementia.
bottom of what makes you angry so you can work through it, whether you work through it alone or with a mental health professional. Take the steps to prioritize your mental and physical health, and your efforts will pay off tenfold in the long run.
CACIO E PEPE Italian for “cheese and pepper,” cacio e pepe is like a refined version of mac and cheese. It’s crowd-pleasing enough to satisfy the pickiest eaters and refined enough to sate the foodies.
6 oz pasta, ideally spaghetti or bucatini 3 tbsp unsalted butter, cubed and divided 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese, ideally Parmigiano-Reggiano 1/3 cup finely grated pecorino Kosher salt, for pasta water and to taste
1. In a large pot, bring 3 quarts of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook, stopping 2 minutes short of desired doneness. Drain pasta, reserving 1/2 cup of pasta water. 2. In a large pan over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Add pepper and cook until toasted and aromatic, about 1 minute. Add reserved pasta water and bring to a simmer.
3. Transfer pasta and remaining butter to pan and reduce heat to low. Add Parmesan cheese and cook until melted, tossing pasta throughout.
Remove pan from heat and add pecorino, continuing to toss until cheese is melted and sauce coats pasta.
4. Transfer to bowls and serve.
Inspired by Bon Appétit magazine
Smile big. Smile often. • 803-781-5225
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5953 Wescott Rd. Columbia, SC 29212 803-781-5225 Monday–Thursday 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. www.drpitner.com
Have You Heard About the Happiness Habit Tracker?
How to Respond to School Bullies
Road Map to the Perfect Smile
Anger May Be Harming Your Heart Cacio e Pepe
Summer May Be Over, But the Fun Never Ends!
DinosaursAround theWorld: Riverbanks Zoo &Gardens Where: ColumbiaMetropolitanConvention Center, Columbia, SC When: Now throughOct. 31. Admission: $5, plus zoo admission Website: Riverbanks.org Dinosaurs are loose at the zoo! Come visit all your favorite animals at the zoo, but stay on your toes because you never knowwhat’s lurking in the bushes. Realistic robots showcase dinosaurs fromall over the world, from themightyT. rex of NorthAmerica to the fierceCryolophosaurus fromAntarctica.There are only a fewweeks left for your family to travel back in time for a truly wild safari.
Midlands Family FoodTruck Festival Where: ColumbiaMetropolitanConvention Center, Columbia, SC When: Sunday, Sept. 15; 11 a.m.–5 p.m. Admission: Free Website: ColumbiaConventionCenter.com/ midlands-family-food-truck-festival For one day only, theMidlands’ best food trucks will all be parked in one place! Bring your family out to theMidlands Family FoodTruck Festival to try a variety of food options, shop in the marketplace, and enjoy some free entertainment. There will be stage shows, laser tag, a photo booth, face paintings, arts and crafts, andmore! It’s the recipe for an afternoon full of fun, so don’t miss out.
‘ANice FamilyGathering’ Where: FirehouseTheatre, Chapin, SC When: Sept. 27–Oct. 6
Phone: See website for tickets Website: ChapinTheatre.org
“ANice FamilyGathering” is a play about aman who loved his wife somuch, he almost told her. It’s the firstThanksgiving at the Lundeen house since the family patriarch died, and Dad’s ghost has returned to tell his wife he loved her — something he neglected to do during their 41 years of marriage. Unfortunately, only themiddle son can see Dad’s ghost, and that’s just the start of the trouble. Startling confessions, Mom’s surprise date, and plenty of family drama ensue in this delightful comedy that will warmyour heart and bring a tear to your eye.
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