WASHINGTON – Associate Justice Samuel Alito’s leaked draft of a potential ruling overturning the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision has rocked the nation’s capital and touched off a political uproar.
This is the first known incident where a draft Supreme Court decision has been leaked to the public. Chief Justice John Roberts confirmed the documents were authentic in a statement and said he has directed the court’s marshal to investigate the leak.
Roberts said the leak appears “intended to undermine the integrity of our operations, (and) it will not succeed. The work of the court will not be affected in any way.”
Democrats focused on the ramifications of Alito’s draft opinion, while Republicans appeared more upset about the consequences of the leak. Supporters of the Roe v. Wade ruling and opponents demonstrated for hours on the sidewalk in front of the Supreme Court – protests that certainly were loud enough for justices to hear in their offices.
President Joe Biden told reporters before a trip to Alabama that “if what is written is what remains, it goes far beyond the concern of whether or not there is the right to choose.”
“It goes to other basic rights: the right to marry, the right to determine a whole range of things. Because one of the issues that…a number of the members of the court have not acknowledged is that there is a right to privacy in our Constitution,” Biden said. “I strongly believe there is.”
The president earlier released a statement saying he would press to pass legislation codifying Roe v. Wade, “and it will fall on voters to elect pro-choice officials this November.”
Vice President Kamala Harris said in a statement that “the rights of all Americans are at risk.”
“If the right to privacy is weakened, every person could face a future in which the government can potentially interfere in the personal decisions you make about your life,” Harris said. “This is the time to fight for women and for our country with everything we have.”
But Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, told reporters that the story was the leak, which in Senate floor remarks he called “a shocking new breach.”
“Somebody, likely somebody inside the court, leaked a confidential internal draft to the press,” the senator charged. “Almost certainly in an effort to stir up an inappropriate pressure campaign to sway an outcome.”
“Liberals want to rip the blindfold off Lady Justice,” McConnell said. “They want to override impartiality with intimidation. They want to elevate mob rule over the rule of law.”
Roe v. Wade, which effectively legalized a woman’s right to abortion in the United States, has been challenged at multiple turns by anti-abortion activists. March For Life, an annual event conducted on the decision’s anniversary, has mobilized abortion opponents and capitalized on alliances with GOP politicians to enact state bans.
President Donald Trump’s appointment of three conservative justices – Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett – shifted the balance on the court, for the first time putting the nearly 50-year abortion ruling in jeopardy.
Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Maryland, spoke to demonstrators in front of the Supreme Court, calling Alito’s draft decision “a wakeup call across the country.”
“I think that now we are talking about a court decision that could take away a woman’s right to choose to take away our reproductive freedom and take away the right to a safe and legal abortion,” Van Hollen said in an interview with Capital News Service after his remarks. “I think you’re gonna see a huge grassroots response because, for years, this threat has been implicit, but now it’s very, very real.”
Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Maryland, warned in a statement that “if the draft opinion striking down Roe v. Wade stands, it will put the health, well-being and constitutional rights of women across this nation in great jeopardy.”
“Should the court continue on this path, people in more than half of the states would immediately lose access to safe, legal abortion,” he said. “Low-income families and those without the means to leave their homes for care in states like Maryland will be the most burdened.”
Protesters and counter-protesters crowded in front of the Supreme Court building Monday night and most of the day Tuesday.
“I’m hoping to see Justice Alito, his opinion, be not taken and to see all of this dissent that’s occurring out here and all of this protest that’s occurring, have it really make a difference and really sway the Supreme Court’s vote,” said Ellie Small, a student from Salem, New Hampshire, and an abortion-rights supporter.
Margaret Moerchen, of Washington also was prompted to join demonstrators.
“When I read the news last night, I was sad more than anything, and that gateway led to anger,” she said. “I don’t think this is a government decision. I think it’s a woman’s right to decide. And there’s a lot of talk about the health of the baby, but no talk about the health of the woman or the child that’s born afterward.”
“It’s really hard to process right now,” said Heather Priest, of Los Angeles. “I feel like I saw it coming in 2016, but I was born before Roe v. Wade. I never thought that the women behind me would have fewer rights.”
But Savanna Deretich, with the Students for Life of America, supported the apparent direction of the court.
“We believe all human beings deserve the right to life, no matter what stage your age and the Constitution, abortion is not written in an invisible link,” she said.
“We believe that we should protect human life at all stages. Whereas the pro-abortion side actually has no consistent argument,” Deretich said. “They all say that life begins at different stages. They never have one argument, but we all agree life begins at conception…the other side has, they don’t know when life begins.“
Up to 26 states are expected to outlaw abortion if Roe v. Wade is overturned, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a pro-abortion research organization.
Some Democratic lawmakers and strategists believe overturning Roe v Wade could change the dynamics of the upcoming November midterm elections, in which their party is expected to lose seats in the House and Senate.
“Republicans are spending all their focus on the leak because they don’t want to focus on Roe v. Wade, where they know they are on the wrong side of history and on the wrong side of the American people,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, said at a press conference on the United States Capitol steps, surrounded by a host of Democratic senators.
“The blame for this decision falls squarely on Senate Republicans, who spent years pushing extremist judges and justices while claiming this day would never come. But come it has,” Schumer said.
He said he would press for a Senate vote on legislation that would codify in law the right to an abortion.
By ROSS O’KEEFE, DEVIN RANK, ASHKAN MOTAMEDI, MARGARET ATTRIDGE, CHRIS BARYLICK, JULIA ROSIER, and TATYANA MONNAY
Capital News Service
Laurel Ridge Community College selected for FAA training program
Laurel Ridge Community College is excited to announce that its drone program has been accepted by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for the Unmanned Aircraft Systems-Collegiate Training Initiative program (UAS-CTI).
The college offers two career studies certificates (CSCs) related to drones, also referred to as small, unmanned aircraft systems, or sUAS. One CSC is for sUAS Flight Operator, designed to help students prepare for the FAA Remote Pilot Certification Exam, known as Part 107, in addition to training them in general maintenance and repair, data collection and processing of aerial images, videos and spatial data.
The second CSC is for sUAS Flight Technician, preparing students for flight mission planning, ground control operations, crew management, sensor selection, drone programming, geospatial analysis and more. Students can use both certifications towards the completion of an associate of applied science degree in technical studies.
“Our two certificates recently received approval from our regional accreditor and the program is now an FAA-approved Collegiate Training Initiative program, which when combined with our assortment of enterprise-level multirotor and fixed-wing drones, will provide our students with the knowledge, skill, and flight time to launch a career as a remote pilot,” said Dr. Craig Santicola, dean of Laurel Ridge’s School of Professional Programs. “We are excited to be a regional resource for uncrewed aircraft systems and look forward to serving our students and community in this capacity.
“Being a part of the FAA UAS Collegiate Training Initiative provides us access to a wealth of opportunities. Not only will we help lead the regional dialogue with local governments and industry to address labor force needs, our students will benefit from a variety of training tools, resources, and guidelines that will prepare them for careers. In working with the FAA and our regional partners, the goal is to prepare a pipeline of sUAS professionals while continuing to maintain the safety of the National Airspace System.”
Members of the UAS-CTI are invited to participate in annual meetings and other FAA events, and the FAA will serve as a facilitator for developing and sharing best practices.
“As a UAS-CTI member, Laurel Ridge will receive numerous benefits, including recruiting and marketing opportunities, access to FAA resources, having our name listed on the FAA’s website and technical support,” said Computer Science Professor Melissa Stange, who is a certified remote pilot. “More importantly, our students will receive help with job placements, internships and other opportunities. Not only are drones a career field, but part of a growing technology key to other programs the college offers, including Administration of Justice, Computer Science, Emergency Medical Services, Information Systems Technology and Cybersecurity.”
Dean Santicola noted that since the sUAS industry is still relatively new, many people might not have considered drone pilot as a viable career option.
“However, we are seeing an increase in use across many industries in Virginia and the region as a whole, and our career studies certificates are focused on training students to operate high-quality, enterprise-level drones for commercial applications,” said Dr. Santicola. “Sure, flying them can be fun, but ZipRecruiter has the average salary for commercial remote pilots in Virginia listed at $70,905 and the demand for highly-qualified flight operators and flight technicians is increasing quickly. “
To qualify for the FAA’s UAS-CTI initiative, schools must offer a bachelor’s or associate degree in UAS, or a degree with a minor, concentration, or certificate in UAS. Schools must provide curriculum covering various aspects of UAS training, including hands-on flight practice, maintenance, uses, applications, privacy concerns, safety, and federal policies concerning UAS.
Learn more about Laurel Ridge’s drones courses at laurelridge.edu/drones.
The Port of Virginia completes deal for 5 ship-to-shore cranes to support preparedness, modernization plan
The Port of Virginia® recently finalized the terms of purchase for five new ship-to shore cranes that are part of an equipment renewal plan that ensures the port’s container terminals and cargo handling equipment are modern and prepared for the future.
“In order to maintain our efficiency and competitive edge, it’s important to be continually upgrading with modern equipment,” said Stephen A. Edwards, CEO and executive director of the Virginia Port Authority. “These cranes will ensure our lift capacity, berth productivity and the ability to handle multiple ultra-large container vessels (ULCVs) simultaneously at our primary container terminals, Virginia International Gateway (VIG) and Norfolk International Terminals (NIT).”
These cranes will be able to accommodate the ULCVs, that are making regular stops in Virginia and even higher-volume ships of the future. Each crane has the capacity reach across a vessel that is 26 containers wide, which is three-to-four containers beyond the reach of most cranes.
Delivery is set for December 2024 with two of the units going to VIG and three to the South Berth at NIT; the port will retire an equivalent number of existing cranes at those facilities. Once in place, the port will have 30 ship-to-shore cranes at work in the Norfolk Harbor and the ability to service the biggest container ships at sea.
“We are in an expansion phase and we must be able to further improve our productivity and capabilities,” Edwards said. “We are showing our customers and port users that they can continue to count on The Port of Virginia as they grow their vessel sizes and cargo volumes.”
The port is engaged in a significant rail capacity expansion program at NIT and nearing the start of the civil engineering needed to begin a complete renovation and modernization of NIT’s North Berth.
- Builder: Shanghai-based Zhenhua Heavy Industries Co., Ltd, (called ZPMC),
- Crane height = 170’ above the dock
- Boom-out length = 226’ from the rail closest to the water
- Per unit weight = 1,827 tons
- Combined total cost (5 units) = $61.6 million, delivery included
(The Virginia Port Authority (VPA) is a political subdivision of the Commonwealth of Virginia. The VPA owns and through its private operating subsidiary, Virginia International Terminals, LLC (VIT), operates four general cargo facilities Norfolk International Terminals, Portsmouth Marine Terminal, Newport News Marine Terminal and the Virginia Inland Port in Warren County. The VPA leases Virginia International Gateway and Richmond Marine Terminal. A recent economic impact study from The College of William and Mary shows that The Port of Virginia helps to create more than 437,000 jobs and generated $1 billion in total economic impact throughout the Commonwealth on an annual basis.)
Dr. Robert Kidd named dean of Shenandoah University’s Bernard J. Dunn School of Pharmacy
Robert Kidd, Pharm.D., Ph.D., a stalwart of Shenandoah University’s pharmacy program, is the new dean of SU’s Bernard J. Dunn School of Pharmacy.
Dr. Kidd, who has served as interim dean of SU’s pharmacy school since the departure of Rob DiCenzo, Pharm.D., in October 2021, moves into the role full time effective immediately. Kidd has been a faculty member in Shenandoah’s School of Pharmacy since 1998, when the school’s first graduating class was beginning its third year in the program.
A highly competitive national search was conducted for the position, and Kidd’s appointment was strongly supported by both the Shenandoah’s search committee and the campus community.
“I am honored to be selected as the dean of Shenandoah University’s Bernard J. Dunn School of Pharmacy,” Kidd said, “and I am excited to work with everyone in the school and university to continue to advance the school, the university, and the pharmacy profession.”
Kidd holds a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry and Cellular Biology, a Master of Science in Pharmaceutical Sciences and a Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) from the University of Tennessee, as well as a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Pharmaceutical Sciences from The Ohio State University.
His research interests are pharmacokinetics and pharmacogenomics, and he frequently involves students in his research projects. Kidd has authored over 90 peer-reviewed publications, book chapters, abstracts, and national presentations. He is a two-time recipient of the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) SU teacher of the year award and is a fellow of the American Foundation for Pharmaceutical Education (AFPE).
In 2020, Kidd led the development and implementation of Shenandoah University’s SARS-CoV-2 pooled saliva surveillance testing program, which played a central role in maintaining the health and safety of the university and the surrounding community throughout the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Dr. Kidd is an essential part of the Bernard J. Dunn School of Pharmacy and is held in high regard by his colleagues and students. He supports the individual development of all in SU’s pharmacy program, and his rational, transparent and collaborative approach to decision-making stands out to all who interact with him,” said Shenandoah Provost Cameron McCoy, Ph.D. “Dr. Kidd has displayed tremendous leadership during his time as interim dean, and I’m excited to see that continue. His long-term commitment to Shenandoah University and the level of trust he has built with faculty, staff and students make him an excellent fit as the leader of the School of Pharmacy.”
Shenandoah University’s Bernard J. Dunn School of Pharmacy has 41 faculty members and over 450 students enrolled in its traditional and non-traditional Doctor of Pharmacy programs, as well as dual degree programs: Pharm.D./Master of Science in Pharmacogenomics & Personalized Medicine; Pharm.D./MBA; and Pharm.D./Master of Public Health. These programs are offered at Shenandoah’s Health Professions Building in Winchester and at its Inova Center for Personalized Health in Fairfax, and online.
The school’s Doctor of Pharmacy program is fully accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE).
For more information about Shenandoah University’s Bernard J. Dunn School of Pharmacy, visit su.edu/pharmacy.
Maryland’s legal cannabis market to be shaped by many hands
With lawmakers facing a July 1 deadline to provide a framework for the legal use, possession, and sale of cannabis after voters approved full legalization in November, it’s clear, just a week into the General Assembly session, that the task won’t be straightforward.
While the public is generally enthusiastic about legalization, which passed with 67% support and received more votes than new governor Wes Moore, legislators have a lot of work to do to build a legal market that fulfills their commitments on issues like equity, public safety, taxation, and revenue.
“The people of this state have spoken, and they have spoken loudly,” said Moore at a press conference Thursday. “We cannot, and we will not repeat the mistakes that the state has made when medical cannabis was legalized…we have to get this right from day one.”
While lawmakers are committed to meeting the July 1 deadline, the state of the legal cannabis market nationwide remains an unwelcome specter hanging over the process. An oversupply crisis has depressed cannabis prices, decreasing margins for producers and making it far more difficult for small producers to compete with well-established companies that can produce and distribute at scale. The national spot price of legal cannabis reached an all-time low of $950 per pound in December 2022, according to Cannabis Benchmarks.
Without what they feel is a viable model to look to, lawmakers are instead trying to avoid other states’ mistakes.
“We’re starting from the ground floor,” said Del. C.T. Wilson, D-Charles, chairman of the House Economic Matters Committee. “All we know is what they didn’t do right.”
Wilson and his committee colleagues will have an important role to play in the legalization process: regulating the supply of legal cannabis through licensing and taxation.
The number of licenses distributed and the process of obtaining a license to produce and sell cannabis products in Maryland will largely dictate who can enter the legal market. Moreover, supply will play a large role in determining the price Marylanders pay for cannabis products, a crucial factor in convincing consumers to abandon the illicit market, according to the Marijuana Policy Project.
Given the less-than-successful history of the United States’ war on drugs and its disproportionate impact on Black Americans, legislators seem committed to fostering equitable access to the legal market.
“I’m very worried about this issue…this is always how we’ve done things, where we allow rich people to capitalize and profit, and then we put some minor appeasement in there to placate people that have been harmed (by marijuana) and don’t have the equity, the money upfront, to get involved,” said Sen. Jill Carter, D-Baltimore City.
“I think equity has to be across-the-board considered for everything we do,” said Del. Lily Qi, D-Montgomery, who, along with Wilson, is a member of both the Economic Matters Committee and the Cannabis Legalization Working group, which held hearings on several aspects of the legalization process while the General Assembly was out of session.
While neither Wilson nor Qi explicitly answered what percentage of licenses should go to members of marginalized groups, Wilson hinted at a few policies his committee was considering to ensure an equitable system.
Foremost among them is keeping the license application fee reasonably low. In some states, this cost can reach six figures, according to the Marijuana Policy Project, and serve as a significant barrier to entry for small business owners without a lot of startup capital.
“(The application fee) cannot be high, and it must be refundable,” said Wilson, who added that six-figure application fees were “not the goal.”
Also of concern is keeping taxes low, which lawmakers said they hope will have the dual effect of allowing more producers to enter the market and keeping legal cannabis prices reasonable, an important factor in allowing new market entrants to chip away at the illicit market.
For some advocacy groups, guarantees on equity in employment and working conditions in the industry are just as important as equity in ownership or licensing.
“As a union, we bring a lot of concern around employment practices and how employees are treated, how well they’re compensated, and are they able to share in the success of their industry,” said Jonathan Williams, spokesperson for UFCW Local 400, which represents cannabis workers in Maryland.
Economic Matters will be just one of several committees to work on a chunk of the cannabis framework. The House Judiciary Committee, and perhaps others, will look at undoing another one of the lasting legacies of the war on drugs: thousands of convictions for cannabis-related offenses, which can often serve as barriers to the job market for those convicted.
Judiciary Committee member Christopher Bouchat, R-Carroll, who was convicted of a crime and charged as an adult at age 16, recalled firsthand the impact of such a criminal conviction.
“For the rest of my life, I have that assault conviction on my record. And I think that having felt that, I understand the impact that cannabis convictions have on adults trying to get employment.”
For the new governor, expungement is a crucial part of the legalization process, and righting the wrongs of the last 40 years has been central to his message on this issue.
“As we have said, we cannot talk about the benefits of legalization if we’re also not willing to wrestle with the consequences of criminalization,” said Moore at the press conference.
While Moore supports expunging records of all those convicted solely of marijuana possession, other lawmakers worry that his plan does not go far enough to protect those convicted on other charges or of a cannabis-related felony.
“We know that felony convictions are what harm people from getting jobs, housing, and other opportunities. The stigma of felonies is the problem. Misdemeanor possession is hurting very few people,” said Carter, a Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee member. She added that institutions, including many police departments around the state, now allow officers with prior misdemeanor possession convictions on the force. Carter has introduced legislation to give judges more flexibility in expunging records.
Lawmakers are also tasked with figuring out a plan for the tax revenue cannabis legalization will generate. In a meeting with the House Cannabis Referendum and Legalization Workgroup during the interim, consultants from the Marijuana Policy Project suggested that cannabis legalization could generate over $1 billion in revenue for the state.
Responsibility for that tax plan will fall to the House Ways and Means Committee, whose membership includes Prince George’s County Delegate and Cannabis Working Group member Darryl Barnes.
“This is an exciting time in the history of the state of Maryland,” said Barnes, adding, “we have an opportunity to put forward legislation that impacts a billion-dollar-plus industry that’s coming, but, more importantly, to frame the conversation around equity and inclusion. And that is the most important thing to me, as well as looking at how we will tax this where it’s fair and equitable for those participating.”
By GREG MORTON
Capital News Service
Maryland makes history with Moore’s inauguration
ANNAPOLIS, Maryland – In a star-studded inauguration ceremony Wednesday, newly sworn-in Maryland Gov. Wes Moore captivated the crowd with the same energy and vision that launched his political ascension last year. Emphasizing themes of unity and forward progress, Moore promised to lift people out of poverty, become a leader in clean energy technology and create a path of service for the state’s youth.
“No, yes, Aruna’s and my portraits are going to look a little different from the ones we’ve always seen in the capitol. But that’s not the point. This journey has never been about ‘making history.’ It is about marching forward,” Moore said. “Today is not an indictment of the past; it’s a celebration of our future. And today is our opportunity to begin a future so bright it is blinding. But only if we are intentional, inclusive, and disciplined in confronting challenges, making hard choices, and seizing the opportunity in front of us.”
In a ceremony emceed by Anne Arundel Executive Steuart Pittman, Moore became the 63rd governor of Maryland and the first Black governor in state history. He is the fifth Black governor in U.S. history and only the third elected Black governor.
His ascension in politics has brought him national renown and attracted celebrity guests to the inaugural, including media mogul Oprah Winfrey; former Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele, the first Black man elected statewide; President Bill Clinton’s daughter, Chelsea Clinton, and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, among others.
“I always walk away from a conversation with Wes Moore with a new perspective, with new ideas, with a new way of seeing things. A new burst of positive energy. That’s what you do for people,” said Winfrey, who introduced him to the audience arrayed in front of the portico steps of the Maryland State House. “This might be his first day as an elected official, but Wes Moore has been a public service servant his entire adult life. There’s so much more to come. He’s just getting started.”
Moore took the oath of office at noon on a Bible that once belonged to author and orator Frederick Douglass, who was born enslaved in Maryland and later became known for his fight for the abolition of slavery.
Moore acknowledged Maryland’s history of enslaving people and its great civil rights leaders.
“As I stand here today, looking out over Lawyers’ Mall, at the memorial to Justice Thurgood Marshall, it’s impossible not to think about our past and our path. We are blocks away from the Annapolis docks, where so many enslaved people arrived in this country against their will. And we are standing in front of a capitol building built by their hands,” Moore said. He said those people’s history was lost or stolen, but progress has been made, and he promised to continue it.
“And it is a shared history – our history – made by people who, over the last two centuries, regardless of their origin story to Maryland, fought to build a state, and a country, that works for everybody,” Moore said.
In the Democratic primary, Moore received 33.8% of the vote, enough to beat out competitors Tom Perez (28.3%) and Peter Franchot (21.5%). Moore then went on to defeat Republican Dan Cox overwhelmingly in the General Election, capturing 64.5% of the vote.
Aruna Miller, also sworn in Wednesday as Maryland’s 10th lieutenant governor, is another historic first, becoming the first woman of color to be Maryland lieutenant governor and the first South Asian lieutenant governor in U.S. history.
Miller was born in Hyderabad, India, and moved with her family to the U.S. at age 7. She is a civil engineer who worked with the Montgomery County Department of Transportation for 25 years and served in the General Assembly from 2010 until she was tapped to be Moore’s running mate.
“We will address the inequities of the past and build a Maryland where everyone will thrive. Our fortunes are tied together in ensuring that we create a state where we grow equitably. It will take all of us together to achieve this vision,” Miller said. “Together, with you, we will write the next chapter of Maryland’s history, a chapter that will be filled with real-time heroes like you.”
During his inaugural address, Moore also reflected on his life’s journey to Annapolis. Specifically, he highlighted how his time in the military shaped his leadership style and will inform his legislation.
“My years of service transformed me. My character was strengthened, my vistas were widened, and my leadership was tested. I want every young Marylander, of every background, in every community, to have the opportunity to serve our state,” Moore said. “That is why we will offer a service year option for all high school graduates. A year of service will prepare young people for their careers — and provide our state with future leaders: public servants we desperately need.”
Moore, who graduated from Valley Forge Military College, served as a captain and paratrooper with the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne, including leading troops into combat in Afghanistan. Two members of his Cabinet, Secretary of Housing & Community Development Jake Day and Secretary of Veterans Affairs Anthony Woods, also are combat veterans. Moore said service could be a catalyst for young people in Maryland, as it was for him.
The governor challenged the state to reject the norms that have failed many and enter this period of change with optimism and unity.
“Maryland is home to spectacular natural beauty, dynamic industries, and people as talented as they are determined. But…the truth is: Maryland is asset-rich and strategy-poor and for too long, we have left too many people behind,” Moore said. “We’ve been asked to accept that some of us must be left behind. That in order for some to win, others must lose. And not only that: We have come to expect that the people who have always lost… will keep losing. Well, we must refuse to accept that.”
While Moore has made it clear that tomorrow is a working day, today allows Marylanders to envision a brighter future.
By MICHAEL CHARLES
Capital News Service
New Year, New You: Tips for a healthy start to 2023
The beginning of a new year symbolizes a fresh start and, for many of us, it provides a renewed focus on our overall health and wellbeing. That’s why so many of us set New Year’s resolutions intended to improve our wellness. Turning the page on the calendar gives us a chance to turn the page on old unhealthy habits, commit to being better, healthier versions of ourselves and look to the future with hope for what’s to come. Living a healthier life can reduce your risk of illnesses like heart disease, diabetes and cancer; and it can help to boost your energy, sharpen your memories and stabilize your mood, leading to a noticeable improvement in your overall health.
If you have intentions of leading a healthier life this year, you are not alone. We asked our Primary and Specialty Care professionals what their top three recommendations are to stay healthier, longer.
Kearn Ghuman, DO
Fauquier Health Primary & Specialty Care at Lake Manassas
- Pack a gym bag the night before. Packing a gym bag and taking it to work with you is a simple way to encourage yourself to go to the gym before or right after work. Let’s be real – work and life can get hectic and busy, especially around the holiday season. After a long day, depending on your schedule, you may not have the energy to work out. That’s why early morning workouts can be just what you need. They are a great way to get the blood flowing to your brain and will help you stay focused at work. Remember 30 minutes of moderate exercise at least 5 days a week is the goal!
- Put down your phone. This may sound simple, but it is becoming increasingly difficult. Disconnecting is a great way to mentally refresh. We need to remind ourselves to take a break in a world where we are always connected. That includes turning off the TV. Instead, grab a book, take a bath or shower, and take it easy for an hour before bedtime. Only use your bed for sleeping, that means no watching TV or reading in bed. Optimizing your sleep hygiene will help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep during the night.
- Meal planning. Meal planning for the week during the weekend is a great way to stay on track for a healthy diet. You can find easy recipes online, for example Mayo Clinic Diet online offers some sample menus and meal plans. Don’t forget, balance in your diet is important!
Hasina Hamid, MD
Fauquier Health Primary & Specialty Care at Lake Manassas
Piedmont Internal Medicine, Warrenton
- Drink more water. Drink at least 64 ounces of water each day. If you engage in regular physical exercise, you may need more water to stay hydrated. Sports drinks can be helpful to replace salts and provide some sugar if you are especially active. Sodas, energy drinks, fruit juices and alcoholic beverages are a big source of extra sugar. Cut them out. Find alcohol-free drinks, mocktails, that you can make. By cutting out alcohol, you’ll cut out a lot of empty calories. You can also choose water, tea, coffee, or other unsweetened beverages.
- Prioritize your sleep hygiene. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a third of U.S. adults say they typically get less than the recommended amount of sleep. Poor sleeping habits can raise your risk for high blood pressure, increased stress, weight gain, depression, loss of motor skills and poor heart health. If you are having difficulty maintaining good sleep hygiene or are experiencing any of the symptoms of a sleep disorder, it’s important to contact your healthcare provider to determine the best treatment for you.
- Schedule an annual check-up with your provider. There’s no better time than the start of a new year to schedule your annual check-up or any other health screenings you may need. Annual wellness exams and recommended health screenings give you and your provider the opportunity to catch health issues before they become serious and avoid any potential complications that arise from delaying care. Scheduling your annual check-up or screening is also a great way to stay on top of things like recommended immunizations and any other needed procedures.
Jenna Wong, DO
Fauquier Health Primary & Specialty Care at Lake Manassas
- Be realistic. As we kick off the New Year, you may reflect and decide to make some changes. Make sure you are making realistic lifestyle changes. Keep in mind, crash diets will make you more likely to yo-yo in weight and overall health.
- Be specific. Set specific, concrete goals for yourself. For example, “I will lift weights for X minutes, X times per week and jog for X minutes, X times per week.” Another great example to help mentally prepare you for each day would include, “I will meditate every morning when I wake up for X minutes, X times per week.”
- Food pyramid 101. As children we learned about the food pyramid and how many servings of which food to strive for daily. Then as adults, we tend to lose sight of that. I recommend you strive to eat five servings of fruits and vegetables every day. Change your mindset to focus on incorporating nutrients, rather than focusing on the avoidance of unhealthy, “yummy” foods.
If you need a primary care provider, Fauquier Health can help. Call 540.316.DOCS or visit the Find a Provider tab at FauquierHealth.org to get connected with quality care today.