Dr. Kelly Jerstad is a board certified dermatologist in South Dakota. You may also know her as The Social Dermatoligist, on the website The Social Derm. Be Well South Dakota is honored to have her as our featured guest blogger this week!

Hello fellow South Dakotans!  Did you know that skin cancer is the most common form of cancer worldwide?  The three most common types of skin cancer include basal cell carcinoma (the most common), squamous cell carcinoma (the second most common) and melanoma.  Today, I would like to discuss melanoma prevention.  Melanoma is the most deadly form of skin cancer and is the fastest growing cancer in the US and worldwide.  The lifetime risk of developing melanoma in the US is 1 in 50.  Luckily, the majority (but not all) of skin cancers including melanoma, are visible!  This means you can partake in the prevention of this type of cancer unlike any other cancer…because you can usually see it…but you have to be looking!

The biggest risk factor for melanoma is having a large number of moles.  Other risk factors include a history of blistering sunburns especially as a child, red hair, fair skin and light eyes, a history of tanning bed use or extensive sun exposure and a family history of melanoma.  I recommend yearly skin checks by a dermatologist if you have any of these risk factors.   Your dermatologist will help you on several levels.  First, they will help you access your risk level and identify any suspicious moles.  But, it is important for your dermatologist to know if you have noticed any changing or new moles.  Not all changing or new moles are bad, but they do have to be evaluated with a “higher level of suspicion”, meaning extra attention during evaluation has to be given to these moles.  This is one of the biggest reasons monthly self skin examinations are important and I recommend examining your skin on a monthly basis whether you have risk factors or not.

A melanoma can develop from a mole or on normal skin out of nowhere.  Melanomas tend to stand out (“the ugly duckling rule”) from other moles because they typically are darker than other moles and may be irregularly bordered, asymmetric or have multiple colors.  Melanomas usually do not start out as being raised; and a raised mole, unless it has changed, is not necessarily suspicious for a melanoma.  Melanomas are most common on areas of the skin that usually don’t get much sun exposure such as on the backs of men and the legs of women in comparison to the head and neck which get year round sun exposure.  The exception to this is lentigo maligna melanoma which is a type of melanoma that starts from a sun spot but gradually changes and is most common in the elderly and is often on the head and neck.

Any changing lesion or pimple-like lesion that doesn’t heal, bleeds or feels irritated should be evaluated.  The best preventative measures against melanoma are respecting the sun and wearing sunscreen religiously, monthly self exams and being seen by a dermatologist if you have risk factors.

So, how did everyone do with the health challenge of drinking 64 ounces of water for November? Are you ready for December’s health challenge? If so, keep reading…

Ask anyone and they will say that the holiday season often brings an unwelcomed guest—additional stress to our already busy lives. Between parties, shopping, baking, cleaning and entertaining, many of us are left with little energy come January 1. Please join me as I begin December with a new goal—being intentional in creating a stress free holiday season.

First things first–the holidays don’t have to be perfect or just like last year. Every year presents the opportunity for new traditions and experiences. Now, that we have the misconception of perfection out of the way, I will share with you some of my tips for creating intentional and magical holiday memories.

Start with a plan.

I think about previous holiday memories/traditions/events and decide which ones worked and which ones didn’t work. After that, I review my family, work and other social obligations for the month of December.  Next, I pencil in my calendar the various activities, along with remembering to write (in pen) my physical activity plan.  (Granted, everyone is different, but I have found that having a few “magical” holiday moments, instead of lots of “so-so” moments creates less stress.)

Reexamine your holiday traditions.

As families change and grow, traditions and rituals often change as well. Choose a few to hold on to, and be open to creating new ones.

Reconsider traveling long distance during the holiday season.

At first, not having every one home for the holiday was a tough one for me to accept. My oldest daughter, her husband and their 3 year old son live in Montana. Due to their school and work obligations, they haven’t been able to be home for Christmas for the last few years.  So, instead of fretting about what can’t be…we have been trying different ways to connect on the holidays.  So, far, I love this year’s solution best.  Since seeing them at Christmas isn’t an option, I flew to Montana on Thanksgiving Day.  This week my grandson and I have decorated the Christmas tree; made cookies, sang Christmas songs and tonight we are building a ginger bread house.  Oh, and one other special thing we have been doing…I purchased a few inexpensive gifts and he opens up a new one every evening after dinner. This week has been a week of simple “magical moments.”

Reassess your Holiday Dinner menu.

More years than I can count, I set myself up for failure on Christmas Day.  I wanted the Christmas dinner you see in photos: everyone happy, loving each other, sitting around the table enjoying the delicious food.  Unfortunately, in real life…most of us have to plan the menu, buy the food, cook the food, set the table, dish out the food, sit down and eat the food while praying someone doesn’t spill so you have to get back up, and 10 minutes later when everyone has finished eating, you still have the thousand and one dishes to clean up.  No wonder holiday meals can be exhausting.  Last Thanksgiving, I simplified my menu and had the best day ever. I made turkey tenderloin which I stuffed with Stove Top stuffing and wrapped in bacon, frozen mashed potatoes, gravy out of a jar, and frozen veggies.

Total prep and cooking time=1 hour and 15 minutes

Clean up time=minimal (since I didn’t have any pots and pans)

Seeing my dad’s face while he watched me prepare dinner—priceless

Bonus—I had energy left over for an afternoon walk.

Reconsider sending holiday cards.

When I run short on time, I put this at the bottom of my holiday to do list.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I love to send family updates and feel they are important. But, I feel a card, picture, or letter in January is just as well received as it would be at Christmas. Here’s an idea from my co-worker that I just love:  She sends out St.Patrick day greetings with a cute picture of her children.

Simplify the Christmas gift list.

I work on a team with three other gals.  We all love gifts and love to give gifts.  This year, however, we decided instead of exchanging gifts, we are indulging in lunch at a nice restaurant.  We will be a creating a magical memory, celebrating each other and our friendships.

Do you have any tips that you can share with me on how you are intentional about decreasing stress during the holidays?

PS. I hope you join me in December’s challenge of having an intentional holiday season and leaving stress off of our party invitation list.



Hello and Happy Wellness Wednesday!  I hope that you all had a fabulous Thanksgiving and have been able to get back on track!  Being with all of my family over the holiday really reiterated to me how thankful I am to have them in our lives.  We got our Christmas lights up outside, Christmas tree and house decorated inside and now we have spent the last few days trying to keep our busy 1 year old from getting into everything!  I am sure all of you parents can create a visual and understand what I am talking about!  After getting all of this done, it brought me to the realization that I now needed to tackle my holiday shopping.  I am not one to take part in Black Friday shopping, however now that the Thanksgiving weekend has come and gone….it is time to shift my thoughts… Christmas is only 27 days away!  One area that I think we often overlook when we think of wellness is taking care of our financial health.  If you think about how our finances can stress us out and really affect our overall lifestyle, it is just as equally important for us to take care of our financial wellness!  Today I am going to share with you tips on what I am incorporating for our holiday shopping and what will help you these next few weeks:

List whom you want to shop for.  Save and print out a copy of the Holiday Gift Spending Worksheet that I have included at the bottom of the post and use it to list everyone whom you plan to shop for (friends, relatives, teachers, pets, etc.).  By sticking to this worksheet, you will be able to work within your budget and plan accordingly.

Determine how much you can afford to spend.  Review your finances to determine how much you can afford to spend on gifts. Set this figure as your overall holiday gift budget.  If you are not able to afford much this holiday season, think about what you can do for others….offer your time to babysit or run errands for them.  Make fun, personalized coupons to reflect your gift!  And let’s not forget about Pinterest…..for all your perfect, crafty gift ideas! 

Divide your gift budget among the people on your gift list.  Look over your gift list, and decide how much you would like to spend on each person. Then, total up the expected spending for all gifts, and make sure it does not exceed the gift budget that you have established.

 Track your spending throughout the season.  Whether you are an early shopper or late shopper, remember that as you purchase gifts, note their cost in the “Actual Spending” column of the worksheet. Then, calculate how much over or under budget you are with each one.

 Tweak your budget to cover any overspending.  Don’t panic if you overspend on a gift; just scale back your spending on another gift to make up for it.

I know I already have my worksheet filled out and it makes going into this holiday season of shopping much more stress-free!  I can honestly say that I am excited to start my shopping….at least until I get to the Target parking lot over my lunch hour and see the mounds of people who are trying to accomplish the same thing!  Hmm….one of these years I will get an earlier start to avoid the crowds…..Nah, who am I kidding, I haven’t been able to accomplish that in my 30 + years yet, so I probably won’t!  Instead, I will play my Christmas music at work, remind myself the true meaning of Christmas, and get some amazing gifts all while staying within my holiday budget!  Happy shopping South Dakota!





Try it Tuesday: 8 Can Taco Soup

November 27th, 2012 | Posted by admin in Recipes - (0 Comments)

I am always looking for a good recipe that is quick, healthy, and easy! Soup is one of those things that always seem to have a lot of ingredients I don’t have on hand or needs to sit all day. The only thing that doesn’t fall in that category is chili and sometimes I just want something else! So here it is, 8 can taco soup! I promise it is delicious and around 140 calories and for you weight watchers point counters, this totals in at 3 points per heaping cup.

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 can diced tomatoes, drained
1 can sweet corn, drained
1 (12.5 oz.) can white chicken breast, drained
1 can fat free cream of chicken soup
1 can green enchilada sauce
1 can fat free chicken broth
1 packet taco seasoning


TADA! There it is! That’s it! Mix. Heat. Enjoy.

Top with dab of fat free cheese and fat free sour cream for an extra 80 calories.

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite Holidays and not just for all the great food! It’s a wonderful time to reflect on the family and friends in your life and the many blessings that we have in which to be thankful.

However, this holiday season is no friend to weight loss. At work we have a program called “Maintain/No Gain” for the months of November and December. With all of the goodies this Holiday season brings, portion control is at the top of my mind. I know that there is absolutely no way that I am not going to eat what is being served, I don’t even want to think of that, but choosing not to go up for seconds has become my strategy. I know what you are thinking and no, I am not just going to get a bigger plate… I did think about it though… And, I am only thinking ahead one week at a time. Once I complete a week, I will check it off and focus on the next week.

Anyway, I will enjoy the treats served in moderation. Also, I plan to make time to exercise. This could mean getting outdoors with family, going for a walk, or finding a circuit class at the gym. It is important to stay active, especially if we are giving in to the temptation of all the treats surrounding us.

This is my strategy, I hope to report in January that I was successful in maintaining or losing, not gaining!

We want to know if you have any strategies or suggestions for others that may have worked for you!

In the meantime, Be Well South Dakota!