Tag Archives: holidays

Bittersweet Holidays

This December marks the 24th anniversary of my father’s death. For those of us who have lost christmas-tree-ornaments-290loved ones around the holidays, this time of year brings a mix of emotions. Losing my father at a young age shaped my life in many ways, especially my vocational journey. His long battle with heart disease was intimately linked to his diet and lifestyle, though he seemed unmindful of the connection.

Heart disease is the foremost preventable cause of death in our country, with one out of every four deaths attributed to it. In addition to the physical and emotional suffering, it costs the U.S. well over 100 billion dollars every year. About half of all Americans have at least one risk factor that increases their chances of having heart disease: smoking, high LDL cholesterol, high blood pressure, overweight, poor diet, physical inactivity, diabetes, and excessive alcohol use. From teenagers on up, there is hardly a person in our country who does not already have the beginning stages of vascular disease. Our unhealthy diets damage our blood vessels and over the years the processes designed to heal the atherosclerosisinflammation can’t keep up with our destructive lifestyles. This is atherosclerosis.

Most of us know these things. We know that we would be healthier if we ate a better diet and exercised more. But it usually takes a drastic event to shake us out of our complacency. I know it did for me.

The holidays can often be a time when we are bombarded with unhealthy food choices, but it is a fallacy to believe that we cannot enjoy this season without them. The pleasure obtained from indulging unwisely is frivolous compared to the pleasure received from feeling vibrant and full of good health, combined with the joy of being with healthy loved ones. The best gift we could give to our loved ones and ourselves this Christmas is take action to improve our diets and lifestyles.

Watch my digital story: Lunch on Mondays

My Plate Super Tracker

turkeyDinner-300x204The holidays are almost upon us and with them comes much feasting! So it’s no wonder that New Year’s resolutions often reflect a desire to improve our diet and exercise habits. The older I get, the less confidence I have that my New Year’s plans will be effective or sustainable. We are living in a time when most Americans struggle to achieve or maintain a healthy weight. A plethora of unscrupulous merchants have added to our misery by selling us 60 billion dollars a year of weight loss products that don’t work. It’s easy to want to believe in the latest, quick and painless, guaranteed effective, pill, method, gadget, diet . . . because making consistent, gradual but lifelong, changes is very difficult.

Difficult, yes, but doable with the right tools. If we feel like we have “tried everything,” we may be wondering if there IS anything that really does work. The best research reassures us that there are proven strategies that are effective for most people. According to the National Weight Control Registry, which is the largest prospective study of long-term weight maintenance, individuals who have been successful in achieving and maintaining a healthy weight have five things in common:

  1. They eat breakfast daily.No-TV-
  2. They track their food intake.
  3. They monitor and record their weight weekly.
  4. They watch less than 10 hours of TV per week.
  5. They exercise an average of 60 minutes daily.

Regular self-monitoring of diet and weight is one of the most effective strategies, and the technologies at our fingertips are excuse busters. Gone are the days of having to hand-write tedious food logs and look up calories. Apps such as My Fitness Pal, Livestrong Calorie Tracker, and My Plate Super Tracker, are not only easy, but fun and free! Need help getting started? Watch this overview of the My Plate Super Tracker. Who knows? You may not want to even wait for January. 🙂