Life Notes: Ways To Have a Healthy, Happy New Year
by Robert “Bob” Flournoy, Ph.D

At the beginning of a new year, we say to other people “Happy New Year”. Maybe we should say “Healthy New Year”. If one is healthy, one would be happy. If one is happy, one may not be healthy.

As we begin a new year, many people make new years resolutions. I will lose weight, I will quit smoking, I will reduce shopping, and so on. How does one have a Healthy New Year? From personal experience and education, I offer these two common sense suggestions for better health.

(1) Diet. When I learned my cholesterol level was high, there were two alternatives to take up before taking a drug like Lipitor or Zocor. One was dietary changes in which you give up fried foods, cheeses, fatty red meat, sour cream, cream soups, ice cream, whole milk and butter. Most of these foods have a great deal of saturated fat, which leads to plaque formation in the coronary arteries and heart problems. As a youngster I ate Vienna sausage, bacon, Spam and other unhealthy foods because we did not know better.

Medical knowledge was lacking about the health effects of these fatty products. Probably some of you reading this article ate these same products when you were younger and if you continue eating these fatty products, your health could be in jeopardy. After having learned of the health consequences of eating fatty foods and having heart bypass surgery, my diet has changed drastically. I eat more fish, chicken and lean pork tenderloin. If I eat a steak, it is a filet because it is much leaner.

Skim milk is not bad when you get used to it and so are the many low fat products and nonfat products on the market today. As you shop for food read the labels and go with low saturated fat, no trans fat and low sodium. Just knowing you are eliminating some foods that are known to be unhealthy will relieve some stress from your daily routine. I remember hearing when I was a youngster that we are what we eat. How true that is.

(2) Exercise. Thirty minutes on a treadmill for 3 to 6 days a week or a fast walk for the same length of time will help keep your whole body in better shape. We have too many Americans that are couch potatoes. Look at the obesity problem with many Americans today. That includes children, teenagers, young adults and seniors. I get on a treadmill at home several days a week and use dumbbells to complete a workout.

With regular exercise and a low fat diet you will feel better. If you have high cholesterol, see your doctor. He may want to try one of the drugs mentioned earlier. These medications produce results to the majority of adults with minimal side effects.

For the last few years, my cholesterol has been lowered considerably because I am careful what I eat and exercise. My medications partner with my life style and also help me keep low cholesterol.

If you are healthy and feel good you can’t help but feel happy. Best wishes for a Healthy New Year!

The Life Notes articles are written by staff of Louisiana Methodist Children’s Home and are published in The Ruston Daily Leader.

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