Friday, December 5, 2008

To Be Healthy, Or Not to Be Healthy…That is the Question.

I received a call from a good friend of mine this morning. Her dad, who is also a very dear friend, just found out that he has a tumor in his colon (I think it was his colon). Last week, we found out that my mom has to have back surgery. Another good friend of mine is sick with some infection and came close to having pneumonia. And another friend of mine had to fly out west because her son was in the hospital and is in intensive care.

Richards Simmons and me on a Richard Simmons cruise. He really does care about people's health and is one of the kindest, sweetest people you could ever know.

It seems like so many people are having really serious health issues around the holidays. I notice this every year. My theory is that the stress of the holidays, all the junk food we eat, and the weather getting cold plays havoc with our bodies. This year is especially rough because of the economy and other national/world issues that have people worrying.

The past couple of weeks, I have really been trying to work on my own health issues and it’s been rough. Getting that phone call about my friend just really, really got it into my brain that taking care of your health is serious business. But how many of us really do care for our own health? It’s said that we take better care of our vehicles than we do our own bodies.

There’s a saying… “Eat right, exercise, die anyway.” Some people will say that eating is too much of a pleasure for them, so why give up their favorite foods? We’re going to die anyway. Except I would invite you to think about something. Very few human beings do NOT die of old age. We die of age-related illnesses such as heart attacks, cancer, diabetes, and the like. Dying of a heart attack is not dying naturally. Dying naturally is your heart just stopping on it’s own because it was too old to carry on. Not because the arteries were so clogged that the blood couldn’t do get the flow to the heart. Or because the body was going through so much stress that it couldn’t take it any more. Deepok Chopra says that if we could live to a healthy old age, we would live on average to 120 years old. On top of that, we are taking way too many prescriptions. The number of people who die from prescribed medicine is an outrage! (I’ll make it clear… I am very thankful that we have the medicines and medical technology that we have, but it would be so much better if we could find an alternative way of health first. Very few doctors are knowledgeable about nutrition. It’s not even a required course in most medical colleges, and if it is, it’s very short. We should be focusing on prevention, and not giving meds just to treat symptoms.)

The question comes down to when we die, do we want to die peacefully and in good health? Or do we want to suffer for days, weeks, months, or maybe years with some debilitating illness or disease? Personally, that’s not the way I want to go, and if that means giving up my favorite foods such as chocolate, then so be it. I know some people will argue that chocolate is good for you, particularly dark chocolate. I would argue that it’s not the chocolate, but an ingredient in the chocolate, which you can just as easily get elsewhere. I don’t know about you, but I can’t have just one piece of chocolate. I’m like an alcoholic when it comes to sugar and chocolate. There’s no eating in moderation. (Also, when it comes to these kinds of studies, we really need to follow the money and see who sponsored the study. You would be surprised how studies can be manipulated.)

I never understood that moderation concept either. Not too many people can eat in moderation. I think it’s just an excuse so people can eat their favorite junk foods. Can an alcoholic drink in moderation? Can a drug user use in moderation? Can a smoker smoke in moderation? I think not. So why should people be expected to eat in moderation when it comes to food that isn’t healthy for them.

I read a LOT about health. I am a vegetarian and about 90% vegan. I rarely, if ever, eat canned foods, processed foods, animal products (with the exception of eggs in baked goods), and I watch the ingredients in what I do eat. I also try to eat products with the least amount of preservatives as possible. Once in a while, I do have to have a small, low cal pizza (like Lean Cuisine or South Beach) or a small ice cream, but not very often. And I’ll be honest. Right now, I still eat too much sugar and chocolate. I wish I didn’t and I’m trying to get it out of my system. Sugar is very addictive and is considered an actual poison by some in the health communities. Hearing about my friend has made me much more determined to succeed. And I need to exercise more. Okay, I just need to exercise; still working on that part. Part of the reason I haven’t been is because I am so fatigued from the sugar!

There are so many wonderful books to read on health. I really like the “Fit for Life” series by Harvey Diamond; “Quantum Wellness” by Kathy Freston; and any health books by Dean Ornish, Marilu Henner, Richard Simmons, Jack LaLanne, and Paul and Patrician Bragg. One book that really made an impression on me was “The China Study” by T. Colin Campbell. You would be shocked to hear the differences between the Chinese’s health and ours in America.

So, it really comes down to this: You either care about your health….or you don’t. If you care about your health, you will do whatever necessary (as long as it’s healthy) to get healthy. I’m not saying it will be easy and it may even be a life-long struggle for many, but at least you’re trying. That also doesn’t mean that because you are doing everything right to be healthy, that you will never get sick. There are also a lot of other factors out there. The water we drink, the air we breathe, the toxins we breathe or consume, stress, and genetics. Know, too, that just because you have someone in your family that has something, does NOT mean that you’re going to get it. You can still avoid it by living a healthy lifestyle.

I like to think of this way. Playing with our health is like playing Russian Roulette. Every single thing you put into (or on) your body is like putting a bullet into a gun. The trick is to having as few bullets in the gun as possible. So think of that the next time you go to consume something unhealthy.

The foods I find the healthiest and safest are foods from Mother Nature herself. Foods that are not messed with by man. Organic if possible, though organic can be expensive right now. Mother Earth knew what she was doing when she knew what our bodies needed.

One more thing… Stop taking diet pills and eating diet foods. I have wasted more money on this junk and hold them partly responsible for my body being so screwed up (even though it was my choice to take them). Look at the ingredients on the diet foods and you will be shocked. Some of the “health” bars are full of sugars and preservatives.

As the holiday season comes to a close in a few weeks, I would really like to invite you to seriously think about your health and how you take care of your body. (I’m including myself in this…believe me.) The saying that we should “eat to live, not live to eat” really is true.

I wish you the best of holiday seasons (regardless of your beliefs) and wish you the best, and healthiest, of new years!

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