The reasons why I run

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By Pam Doebbeling, Registered Nurse


As I sit here writing this, I’m trying to brainstorm the reasons why I exercise and keep active, so let me first fill you in a little bit about myself. I have worked at TCHC for 25 years. I started when my kids, Alison and Brett, were 5 and 10 years old. My husband worked out of town, so I was essentially a single mom most of the time. I worked full time.

I used to consistently exercise, walk and run in the early days, but with two kids, it became a little harder. Walking was OK with the kids but kind of slow. So I went back to running. I could get done quicker. Ha!

Pam and her friend Rachel pose for a photo after finishing a run together. I took classes like Jazzercise and loved the group classes. They kept me accountable. When we moved and there were no classes, I got certified and started teaching. No, I did not have leg warmers, but we did all wear leotards!

I taught for 20 years. So many things have changed and yet remained the same. When I go to classes now, I think, “We use to do that.”

Over the past 15 years, I have gone back to running as my main source of exercise. I know a lot of people think that they can’t run. I felt that way myself, having been a walker for many years.

I started out slowly, which is the key if you want to condition your body for running. I would walk a while, then would find a street sign and run to it. Eventually, I worked my way up to just running.

Running for me has been more than exercise. For instance, if I have a really bad day at work, I will go for a short run, and it is amazing how much just three miles lowers my stress. My kids always teased me that I would leave ready to kick the dog, but when I got home, I was in a much better mood.

I have also joined a running group. I love the people and the different levels of running represented. Our love of running keeps us a tight-knit group, and that makes the time go by so fast.

However, I also prefer to run alone. No music. Just me and the pavement.

Last summer, I experienced a setback with a torn meniscus. Not being able to exercise was devastating to me. I did do more biking after surgery, but it just wasn’t the same.

After my injury, I learned a lot. I now stretch before and after each run and have changed my running form. I choose specially fitted shoes and take it slower. I use a foam roller after long runs.

Now, I am totally back to running and am doing Grandmas Half Marathon this year.Pam Doebbeling poses by the Sunnybrook Stomp sign with co-workers.

Another reason why I prioritize exercising is that my dad died at age 61 of cardiac arrest. Three of his sisters had strokes. I didn’t want to have health issues later in life.

But the main reason I exercise is so that I can be there and be active with my grandkids. I took my granddaughter hiking the other day, and she called her mom and said, “Grandma has me hiking another mountain!” I want to be that kind of grandma, to enjoy life and share my love of fitness.


You can run (or walk) too!

Next Saturday, June 23, you have an opportunity to try some walking or running with the Sunnybrook Stomp hosted by Tri-County Health Care. It’s a 5K walk/run that starts out at Sunnybrook Park in Wadena. Registration opens at 7:30 a.m., and the race starts at 8:30 a.m. I ran my first Sunnybrook Stomp in 1988!

It’s a great opportunity to get outside, spend time with friends (and meet some new ones), and see the sights of Wadena.

For more information or to register, click here.


About the Author: Pam Doebbeling is a registered nurse at Tri-County Health Care. She has six grandchildren: Mya, Jack, Abby, Emily, Laynee and James. Besides running, she loves kayaking, paddle boarding, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing with her grandchildren. She also enjoys reading and took up knitting last winter.

Keep your kids active this summer

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By Sarah Maninga, TCHC Athletic Trainer


Mother and daughters hula hooping outdoorsSummer. The season we all patiently wait for in Minnesota is here! Now that it’s finally upon us, you may be asking yourself, “How can I keep my kids active and fit while they are out of school for the summer?”

If you enjoy community activities, check out your local Chamber of Commerce, city website or school district for possible ideas.

Tri-County also hosts area events. Our Bertha Area Wellness Center 5K Fun Run/Walk is July 7. It includes a 5K and a youth 1K. We’re also hosting our annual Block Party on July 18. There will be free food, music, kids’ games, a bike rodeo and more.

You can find more information about these events and more here.

If you think organized events may not be for you and your kiddos, or maybe you’re spending your summer at the lake, don’t worry. There are plenty of activities you can do yourself. Most of them don’t require any supplies either!

Here are just a handful of ideas:

  • Plan a scavenger hunt in the yard. Give the kids a time limit and have the kids look for caterpillars, ants, leaves, rocks.
  • Play hopscotch
  • Water balloon baseball
  • Hula hoop
  • Make activity dice
  • Play activities such as wiggle like a worm, crab walk and hop like a frog.

The above are great ideas for younger kids, but what about the older kids and teenagers? Mother and kids hiking through a forest.

One great summer activity is hiking. Itasca State Park is just a short drive away and provides miles of hiking trails, as well as biking trails.

Another great option is geocaching, which is a large scavenger hunt for adults and kids that utilizes a GPS. It’s as easy as downloading the app on your phone, and then you’re ready to start searching.

You can also have them check out the local parks that have Frisbee golf. The only thing you need is a Frisbee to enjoy a whole afternoon of fun.

Now that your kids are out and about and staying active, don’t forget about the sunscreen, bug spray and keeping them hydrated.

Have a great summer, and I hope you get a chance to try some of these ideas to keep everyone active this summer!


Sarah ManingaAbout the Author: Sarah Maninga has been an athletic trainer at TCHC since January 2015. She works with athletes at three area schools: Wadena Deer Creek, Sebeka and Menahga. During her time off, she enjoys spending her time with her husband on their small farm and doing anything that involves being outside, especially hunting and running.

I CAN Prevent Diabetes Participants Lost an Average of 16% of Their Body Weight!

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Last spring, I had the wonderful opportunity to facilitate a I CAN prevent diabetes class for Tri-County Health Care. This is a lifestyle change program focusing on losing about 7% of current body weight and increasing physical activity to 150 minutes. The program meets weekly for 16 weeks, then monthly thereafter until a full year is completed.

I am happy to announce these three wonderful ladies have successfully completed one year of the I CAN prevent diabetes program. They lost an average of 16% of their body weight! And increased their physical activity to 150 minutes or more each week!

So I asked these ladies during our last meeting together…What’s Your Story?

Left-Right: Berni, Linda and Jancie are recent graduates of the I CAN Prevent Diabetes Program.

What words of wisdom can you share with other who learn they are at risk for type 2 diabetes?

  • “Be honest and accountable”
  • “It takes both food and activity to be successful”
  • “Eat smaller portions”
  • “Eat more fruits and vegetables”

What did you find most helpful during those moments in the program when you felt discouraged?

  • “Keep going, stay motivated”
  • “Seeing your progress on paper”
  • “Coming to class and talking with other”

Write a message to your future self. What do you want to tell yourself about this experience and the importance of continuing the lifestyle changes you have made?

  • “It was worthwhile”
  • “Remember how much better you feel now”
  • “Don’t go backwards”

For questions about future classes or pre-diabetes contact Shelby Hunke at 218-632-7115 or

About the Author: Shelby Hunke is a Registered Dietitian working at Tri-County Health Care in the hospital and clinic. She has a degree in Exercise Science and Dietetics with a passion for helping patients live a healthy lifestyle. She lives in Wadena with her husband Paul and two kids, Madison and Jackson. In her spare time she enjoys family time, running with her dog Bela and cooking!

Shelby and her family.

Holiday Wellness Guide – 5 Tips for Surviving the Bulge

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By: Shelby Hunke, RD, LD

I know that a lot of people get concerned about holiday weight gain. Here are my 5 tips for managing your health during the busy holiday season:

  1. Don’t Drink Your Caloriesholidaydrinks
  • Alcoholic drinks really add up! It’s easy to drink 500-1000 calories.
  • Other caloric holiday drinks:
    • Hot chocolate
    • Eggnog
    • Punch
    • Cider

Work on limiting your intake of these items. Hot chocolate or specialty coffee drinks that are out this time of year can be really high in calories. They usually contain 2 percent or whole milk and whipped cream on top! Ask for skim milk, sugar free flavoring, and/or no whipped cream!

Christmas Table Arrangement

  1. Moderation is Key
  • The holidays only happen once per year and that mean some foods you only get one time a year!
  • So go ahead and have it – but be mindful of how much you have.
  • Everyone has that one item that they look forward to every holiday. Start out small though, you will be still be satisfied without stuffing yourself. My item is my Grandma’s fudge.
  1. How to Avoid Overeating
  • Don’t go to a holiday party or family gathering starving.
  • Don’t make it your only meal of the day.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Fill up on fiber.

If your family gathering or parties are like mine – there is always too much food! To avoid overeating – I just dish up a little bit (couple bites) of everything I want to try.  This way I can have it all without overdoing it. The items that I don’t limit my intake on are the vegetable tray, salads, and fresh fruit. These items help fill me up and keep my meal well balanced. I also try to avoid the bread or buns. If I don’t put it on my plate I usually forget about it and don’t even miss it!

Fruit Christmas tree with different berries, fruits and mint.

Fruit Christmas tree with different berries, fruits and mint.

I don’t add extra butter or gravy to my meal items. Remember that moderation is key and while I ALWAYS have vegetables on my plate, I also never skip dessert – because it’s my favorite part!

  1. Beat the Bloat
  • Drink plenty of water!
  • Exercise
  • Watch your sodium intake
  • Mixed nuts
  • Stay away from the relish tray (olives, pickles, dips, etc.).
  • Ham
  • Sugary Drinks
  • Snack mixes

It’s important to still drink water on the holidays. Often times when we’re out of our normal routines, we drink less water. This along with a food hangover can leave you feeling pretty awful the next day. So, remember to sip on water all day long!

Family Ice-Skating on Pond


  1. Exercise
  • It will burn calories and help with bloating.
  • Boost your mood (endorphins).
  • Think outside the box:
  • Build a snowman
  • Shoveling
    • 125 lb person, ½ hour – 180 calories
    • 155 lb person, ½ hour – 223 calories
  • Skiing
  • Snowshoeing
    • 130 lb person, 1 hour – 472 calories
    • 180 lb person, 1 hour – 650 calories
  • Sledding
  • Ice Skating
    • 130 lb person, 1 hour – 325 calories
    • 180 lb person, 1 hour – 450 calories
  • Cross Country Skiing
    • 130 lb person, 1 hour – 413-472 calories
    • 180 lb person, 1 hour – 572-654 calories

I know that a lot of people get concerned about holiday weight gain. Although the average person only gains about a pound during the holidays, this accumulates over the years. If you don’t change your lifestyle the weight will just keep going up. Make a commitment to your health, and decide to make small steps towards your best self, prior to the New Year!

Shelby and her family.

Shelby and her family.

About the Author: Shelby Hunke is a Registered Dietitian working at Tri-County Health Care in the hospital and clinic. She has a degree in Exercise Science and Dietetics with a passion for helping patients live a healthy lifestyle. She lives in Wadena with her husband Paul and two kids, Madison and Jackson. In her spare time she enjoys family time, running with her dog Bela and cooking!


Try out this great recipe to bring to any holiday party!

Sunnybrook Stomp – how I went from being a spectator to winning a 5k!

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By Kris Anderson – Quality & Privacy Manager

Growing up I was a member of my track team, but only competed in short-to- medium distance races. After I finished school, I got married and had three children. I went from competing in sports to now sitting in the bleachers cheering for my children at their sporting events. When I saw an e-mail about a program that our wellness committee, Healthy by Choice, was beginning, it peaked my interest because I had been thinking about getting back into running. It was a  running program called, “Couch to 5K”. At the end of the nine-week training program we could all race in the Sunnybrook Stomp 5K. I thought it would be a great opportunity to challenge my current exercise routine (which includes “Blaine’s Boot Camp” at the Bertha Area Wellness Center) and myself! A 5K is something I never thought I would do. Though I consider myself an active person, I had never challenged myself like this before.

The group started in mid-April and was led by Rachel Amiot, the wellness coordinator at the Bertha Area Wellness

Kris receiving her award for winning her age group at the Sunnybrook Stomp 5K.

Kris receiving her award for winning her age group at the Sunnybrook Stomp 5K.

Center. She taught us some great tips about long-distance running. What was also nice about the weekly group is that I got to meet employees from all different departments.

I knew if I signed up for something then I would be committed and would want to finish the program. There are days where I found myself dragging. I’m like so many people who work at a desk all day. Mentally, I’m tired at the end the day. Those are the moments that you never want to exercise. But the truth is, you always feel better after you exercise! You could tell as the weeks went on it became easier. It’s surprising how far you can really progress and how you can feel physically stronger in just nine weeks.

Kris racing to the finish line!

Kris racing to the finish line!

My goal was to run the entire 5K race. This last Friday I accomplished my goal of running the whole way and I won my age group! I was surprised and shocked! Running 3.1 miles is a long way, but I did it.

I’ve also put September 26 on my calendar and am planning to do the Princess Warrior 5K Run, Walk, Roll, Stroll or Crawl, with proceeds going to childhood cancer. It’s a great way to keep myself motivated and run for a great cause. If I don’t sign myself up for it…I know that I would talk myself right out of it or find something else to fill my schedule. When I had running club on Mondays I committed to running and it was reserved on my calendar.

Want to join Kris at other 5K races this summer? Here is a list of some local 5K’s coming up…

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About the Author: Kris Anderson is a longtime resident of Hewitt, MN and has worked for Tri-County Health Care for more than 30 years. In her current position, she is the Quality & Privacy Manager and works to ensure the hospital is ready for surveys, that patient’s records are kept confidential and manages Medical Staff credentialing and privileging. She has three children, five grandchildren and enjoys going to the lake and spending time with her family.

What’s your WHY? Why Exercise became critical in my life

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By: Rachel Amiot, Wellness Coordinator at Bertha Area Wellness Center & Certified Personal Trainer

We’ve all heard that exercising has benefits such as increasing our energy, strength, mood and helping our hearts function more efficiently. Most of us feel we should probably get to the gym a few more times a year…all right maybe a few more times a week! I don’t know about you, but I have a lot of stuff to do on a daily basis. I have a house to clean, laundry to do, a 40+ hour a week job, dinner to prepare…shoot that reminds me I have to run to the grocery store! You see, I really do want to exercise more I just don’t have time; my life is just too busy.

young rachel

Young Rachel (far right) with her two younger sisters

So you may be wondering why I recently decided to go back to become a certified personal trainer? I learned at a very young age that life is fragile. When I was five years old I attended my first funeral for my 56-year-old grandmother who passed away from a heart condition. Ten years later I found myself back in the same church for my grandfather’s funeral. Shortly thereafter my 43-year-old uncle passed away from a heart attack while moving furniture. At an early age, I saw firsthand how everyday lifestyle choices played a factor into my dear family member’s early passings. I was scared this same pattern would be passed on to me.

Rachel & her family

Rachel & her family

You can’t outsmart hereditary and I knew exercising needed to become a priority even if that meant I’d have an extra load of laundry to do on the weekend. I realized that we are all given the same 24 hours in a day; the only difference is how we decide to use those hours. Time management was something I was going to have to get better at because fitting exercise in my day to me meant another day. I found that exercising became a relief for me from worry, anxiety and sadness. Exercise made me feel good, happy and strong! In turn that made me feel beautiful no matter how many breakouts I had on my face or my pant size. My hope is that people would realize that exercise not only benefits your heart, increases your blood circulation, boosts your mood, helps you focus, gives you energy, makes you stronger and reduces your risk of chronic health conditions, but it also can be a time of self-reflection and meditation.

We owe it to ourselves to look after our physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing. I made exercise a priority in my life because I want to live a long, full life. I owe that to myself and the memory of my late family members.

So what I want to leave you with is this…what’s your why?

Ironman finisher

Rachel completed an Ironman in 2014!

About the Author: Rachel Amiot is the Wellness Coordinator and Certified Personal Trainer for the Bertha Area Wellness Center in Bertha, MN. Her passion is to lead by example and teach people how to lead a healthier lifestyle. She is a member of the Wellness Committee at Tri-County Health Care and leads the Couch to 5k running group for the Sunnybrook Stomp on June 19th. In her free time she bikes with her dad, runs with her dog and trains for triathlons.