New columnist to focus on health and wellness issues

Thursday, October 10, 2019
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Editor’s note: I would like to take this opportunity to introduce our newest local columnist, Dr. Cheryl Birdhat-Polacek. She is among the healthiest and most educated people I know. Her enthusiasm for health and wellness is evident.

After she graduated from Hardin High School, Birdhat-Polacek earned her Ph.D. in Adult and Higher Education from Montana State University. While at MSU, she worked as the institution’s minority recruiter, the College of Nursing COOP program coordinator, seminar instructor, and as the student activities program coordinator.

Birdhat-Polacek is a ten-year Ultimate Warrior Challenge competitor, with five wins. She has a 6-0 amateur boxing record. She played NJCAA basketball for two years, rugby with MSU women’s club for three years. She runs marathons, half marathons, 10Ks and 5Ks. She will be contributing to the Big Horn County News Opinion page every other week.


I tried the Paleo diet with my wife once four years ago. She survived, and apparently I rose from the carbohydrate/sugar dead when my soul reawaked upon meeting a dark chocolate covered almond eight days later. I’ve shed both real and metaphorical tears when my favorite coconut oil potato chips are sold out at Lucky’s Market. I have a mini fridge next to my desk stuffed with organic bean and cheese burritos, beef sticks, peanut butter, chocolate squares and much more.

I can go zero miles in any direction without a cooler and snacks. Everyone says it, but I mean it to the endless pit of my stomachs… I love food.

Not in a simple I’ll eat this or that, or I don’t mind where we eat, whatever is on the menu sounds good way, but in a very passionate, delectable, intense, emotional, anxious kind of way. I rarely eat a common thing in a small amount, what kind of love affair is that?

I desire much more, with all the flavor of what is real and fills you to the tip of your soul. I also do not understand the concept of “full” very well and have never forgot to eat. Too busy at the moment? Yes. Will wait for better option? Yes. I’ve never forgot.

How do you forget something so beautiful and glorious? It is a bittersweet and salty love. I will even stash sea salt grinders in various locations just in case.

My point, my new friends, is that when you love something this much your choices could be your demise. You must balance – preferably one that you enjoy.

Fortunately, even with a questionable lower back and a solid case of planters fasciitis, I also love the feeling of a good sweat. I find victory in the beads that drip down my face and sting my eyes.

I am a runner. I wasn’t always one, as anyone who knew me before I was 25 years old could attest. My high school track coach told me I had to compete in the two-mile race to get us another point, assuming I would finish last for that single point.

Well, I showed him. I got us two points, as this javelin-throwing, triple-jumping girl crossed that finish line and didn’t stop until I got to the bathroom to lose my lunch. I hated it.

I didn’t run much again until a co-worker told me how exciting a marathon was. I believed her and haven’t stopped running. My body protests.

I still participate in competitive/recreational basketball, as well. I love food and I love exercise, it’s a great pairing.

I want to share some of those adventures with you here in this column about health and wellness; take them as tips, pointers, recipes or simply stories. Stay tuned for what happens when do you don’t make eye contact with carbs.

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