Tag Archives: Healthy Lifestyle

Can You Stop Smoking?

Smoking Cigarettes
Image by Andra MIhali

Can YOU stop smoking? Everyone knows the dangers and all the negative effects of smoking, yet people continue to smoke!  WHY?

A few statistics from Centers of Disease Control and Prevention:

  • Overall mortality among both male and female smokers in the United States is about three times higher than that among similar people who never smoked.
  • The major causes of excess mortality among smokers are diseases that are related to smoking, including cancer and respiratory and vascular disease.
  • Cigarette smoking causes about one of every five deaths in the United States each year (including deaths from secondhand smoke).
  • Life expectancy for smokers is at least 10 years shorter than for nonsmokers.
  • Quitting smoking before the age of 40 reduces the risk of dying from smoking-related disease by about 90%. (Encouraging)

The potential health risks are enough to scare some people into quitting, but why not everyone?  It doesn’t seem logical that anyone would willingly put themselves at risk for lung cancer, heart problems, cancer of the larynx and even a severely increased risk of heart attack or stroke – and yet by continuing to smoke that is exactly what people are doing.

In spite of all the warnings, those who continue to smoke either believe they cannot stop, they think they are invincible (nothing bad will happen to them), or (as in the case of my son), they do not want to stop.

Unfortunately, by the time many smokers decide too quit, it is often too late. The damage has been done and the result is often a death sentence. The consequence of their addictive habit is they are forced to give up their lives, rather making the choice to give up their daily pack (or packs) of cigarettes.

I lost a brother, a sister and a father-in-law as a result of their choices to continue smoking. I know that none of them consciously chose to die, yet many people make that choice every day by clinging to their cigarettes.

If you decide to quit, be clear about “why” and make a full commitment to do so. If you decide to quit on a whim or a dare, it may be exciting for a short time, but your effort is not likely to be successful. In fact, in the end you may even be upset or a little sad that you did not actually stop.

Letting go of your addiction is never easy; so, why put yourself through it? There are many reasons to stop in addition to the physical impact on your body. In this series we will look at the most compelling reasons to stop smoking; but, today, there is one that I want to mention.

YOUR FAMILY – How do you want your family to remember you?  Do you want to leave the legacy of smoking to your children?  Of all the smokers I have known in my life not one of them has encouraged their children to smoke. In fact, they would be upset, or at least disappointed if their children became smokers.

Children love and idolize their parents and follow their lead. When you continuously smoke around them, you are sending a message that is far more profound than anything you can ever say about smoking – plus, you are endangering their health through secondhand smoke.

When parents smoke, there is a much greater chance that their children will smoke.  The best thing you can do to prevent that is to stop smoking immediately.

Making the decision to quit is personal – and must be something you WANT to do.  No one can force you to stop; but, at the same time ignoring the warnings and advice from your doctors puts you at risk for serious health problems.  The negative effects on your health can be devastating to you – and to you family – debilitating emphysema, lung cancer, and heart disease can be life-threatening and heartbreaking. Your loss is also their loss.

We are in an era when people are more focused on living healthier lifestyles. If you are among that number and searching for ways to improve your life, one huge step forward would be to stop smoking. That alone can make a significant improvement in your health. You will also be showing your family that you love them and want to be around for a long time.

Your family relies on you for guidance, support, and love.  Make sure you are there to provide all of that, and more.

The answer to the question – Can you stop smoking? – is YES if you choose to. Taking the time to look at the reasons you want to quit and making an absolute commitment to do so is critical to your success.

Photo Credit: Maddie13_pp via photopin (license)

How to Enjoy Your Food

This post is going to take a little different approach to healthy eating – I want to discuss the lost art of how to enjoy your food. With all the talk of moderation, elimination, good food choices for proper nutrition, and the dangers such as mercury in fish, etc., the enjoyment and pleasure that can come from eating gets lost in the shuffle.

My mantra is – love deeply, laugh often, and live well.

Image by Monkey_Business
Image by Monkey_Business

Knowing how to enjoy your food is a big part of living well, below are 6 tips that will help as you build your new, healthy lifestyle.

  1. Forgive Yourself— No one is perfect. You will have good days and bad days. Do your best each and every day; and, forgive yourself when you are less than perfect in your efforts to eat well.
  2. Plan in Advance — Usually, if you plan in advance for a parties or any situation in which your healthy eating habits may be challenged, you will be able to avoid nutritional temptations and pitfalls.
  3. Share with Others — Believe it or not, people are fascinated by people who eat healthy foods. In fact, they may be a little jealous and would actually enjoy what you are eating. So, bring enough to share whenever possible. You may be bored with your hummus and carrots, or your fresh fruit bowl; but, start sharing and watch what happens.
  4. Educate Yourself — The more you read about nutrition and healthy eating, the more you will understand how and what to eat to ensure the best health possible.
  5. Enjoy the People around You – Eating is part of the social fabric of life, and is deeply ingrained in your psyche. Yet, because many people live alone, or are always in a hurry, this fact is often ignored rather than experienced. Whenever possible, eat with others and enjoy their company. Let the food be secondary.
  6. Try New Things – Eating healthy does not mean your diet has to be bland and uninteresting – nor must you force yourself to eat foods you hate. There are so many wonderful varieties of food, if you don’t like something – don’t eat it. But….it is important to try new foods (and give them a good chance). The more variety of healthy foods you can get into your diet, the higher your nutrition levels will be, and your enjoyment of food will increase exponentially.

The fact is, when you first change your diet to focus on healthy eating and nutrition levels over pleasure, you may feel let down and depressed. But, I promise, if you stay with it and follow the tips listed above, it will all change. You will have more energy; your health will improve; your taste buds will come alive and food will begin to taste better; if you are overweight, the pounds will slowly drop off and your weight will normalize. You will gradually begin to realize that you actually prefer healthier, lower fat options. Veggies you could not stand two months ago will taste deliciously wonderful today.

This is a journey worth taking. However, it is not a weekend frolic. It takes time and commitment to stay the course. The result, however, will be one of the most rewarding you will ever experience. A healthy lifestyle is a gift you can give yourself and everyone you love.

Daily Exercise Is Critical to Good Health – Or, Is It?

 Daily Exercise Is Critical – Or, Is It?

Daily exercise is critical; but, its place in the hierarchy of a healthy lifestyle has been distorted. In fact, it’s been blown completely out of proportion; and unfortunately, when people think of exercise, the imagination often presents some pretty awful images.

In fact, if you have ever watched the TV show, “The Biggest Loser,” you have seen how they put their contestants through the ringer physically, but food is barely mentioned. Food should never be treated as an afterthought when it comes to health. Nutritious food provides the fuel that builds and sustains your body. Eating good, nutritious food is the most important thing you can do for yourself in terms of being healthy, maintaining a normal weight, and avoiding disease.

You have probably read some of the articles about the dangers of a sedentary lifestyle. Research indicates that people who sit for more than four hours on average per day – often have a higher incidence of cardiovascular disease. The information that seems to be left out of such articles is that many people who sit more than four hours a day are often obese or at least severely overweight because of their diets.

With that in mind, the question must be asked, “What about people who eat healthy, whole-food diets, who are committed to feeding their bodies well; but, also sit a lot – usually as a result of their jobs? The answer is simple – they are not as susceptible to cardiovascular disease, and are much more likely to live longer, healthier lives than the overweight sedentary individuals mentioned earlier. It is the combination (lack of exercise and being overweight as a result of a poor diet) that is the killer.

YES! YES! YES! Moving your body regularly (exercise) is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, but it does not have to be an extreme fitness regimen. It is easy to think of exercise as very hard work that only the young and dedicated can actually accomplish – NOT TRUE!

Image by Photography33
Image by Photography33

All it takes is finding simple, easy ways to move your body for 15 to 20 minutes a day. For example: dance around your living room to three or four of your favorites songs each day, take a 15 minute walk after breakfast, lunch, or dinner (or all three), walk up and down the stairs to your office rather than taking the elevator, walk to the neighborhood grocery store for those few items you forgot – and finally for all of you who sit in front of a computer all day (as I do) – stand up every couple of hours to stretch your legs, arms, neck, and shoulders.  Even better – try a combination of these easy exercises.

These types of simple exercises are easy to do, can be done anywhere, and will help you live a healthier life; but, NEVER FORGET – the most important factor in good health is what you choose to eat on a daily basis. Eat “close to nature” and stay away from fast foods, all processed foods, and foods high in fat, sugar, and salt. 

Do not despair if exercise is difficult for you and you are forced to live a sedentary life (although we do encourage you to get the exercise if you possibly can). If your diet is made up of nutritious, healthy foods (fruits, veggies, whole grains, and an adequate amount of protein), you are doing what is most important for health – even without the exercise. Remember: meat is a condiment and the amount eaten should be limited. This is especially true if you are sedentary.

Moving your body on a daily basis is a wise choice and I encourage you to find some way to make that happen – even if it is simply stretching several times a day.

The bottom line is that instead of thinking of exercise as the cure all and the most critical component of good health, think of it as an important supplement to the benefits of a healthy diet.

KISS for a Healthy Lifestyle

A Healthy Lifestyle

K.I.S.S.
Image by alexmillos

The acronym K.I.S.S. has been around for a long time – meaning: Keep It Simple, Stupid (or Sweetie, if you prefer). I hope you will apply that motto to getting the proper levels of nutrition for yourself and your family.

It can be confusing because there are so many diet options and so much information available regarding good nutrition that it may feel extremely complicated. It is not!

Yes, I know, you hear everything from:  Eat 30 bananas a day – to avoid all wheat products – to restrict your diet to 1200 calories per day, and so on. The lists of do’s and don’ts are endless. In fact, trying to develop healthy eating habits can be completely frustrating.

I am going to KISS you with the truth. Getting enough nutrition so that your body can function exactly as it is supposed and ensure that you are healthier than you have ever been is simple.

There Are Nine Basic Rules (Really only Four)

  1. Eat as close to nature as possible
  2. Do not eat sugar and sugar products
  3. Do not eat white flour and white flour products
  4. Do not eat processed food (anything with additives and preservatives)
  5. Avoid GMO products (“Genetically Modified Organisms” – plants or animals created through the gene splicing techniques of biotechnology (also called genetic engineering, or GE). Most common GMO foods are canola, corn, papaya, soy, zucchini and yellow summer squash.)
  6. Avoid added hormones (found in meat and dairy)
  7. Drink plenty of filtered tap water every day
  8. Move around every day (exercise)
  9. Get plenty of rest

In truth if you are always eating as close to nature as possible, rules 2-6 are already handled. Then, all you have to do is stay hydrated, move your body every day, and rest. Very straight forward and simple! As I said, there are really only four basic rules. How easy can it get?

The bottom line is that nothing is easier than eating highly nutritious food, once you make up your mind to do so. And . . . nothing is easier for your body than digesting those healthy foods and absorbing the nutrients from them. Your miraculous body is designed to do exactly that. There is nothing complicated about it.

Another fact you should know is that you do not even have to be perfect to reap the rewards of a nutritious lifestyle. If you do the right thing 80% of the time, you’ll pretty much get close to reaping 100% of the rewards. That means that 20% of the time you can indulge in those occasional indulgences of off limit foods and still be fine (Although I would caution you about “going off track” unless you are 100% committed to a healthier lifestyle and have the self-discipline to get back “on track” easily and eat well at least 80% of the time.)

Establishing a strong, healthy lifestyle requires on a mind-set change with a clear focus on abundance, which means focusing on continually adding delicious new healthy foods to your diet, rather than focusing on subtracting foods, deprivation and feeling sorry for yourself about what you cannot eat.

You do not have to be a five-star chef to put nutritious healthy meals on the table each night and to offer an abundance of healthy snacks. You also do not have to be rich.

Remember “Keep It Simple S________.” KISS yourself into good health.