As you can imagine, I spend a fair amount of time doing research on the Internet-searching for ideas, innovators and resources that promote fitness, well-being and health. In doing so, I join the 8 million Americans who also search online for health information on a typical day.
In their study, Pew researchers reported that most Americans (80 percent) or 113 million adults have researched health issues on the Internet. The problem is that 85 percent do not check the source of the health information. Consequently, the information may or may not be valid. Even more worrisome, some information may be detrimental to our health.
Besides the issues of the accuracy of the information, the sheer number of resources to explore is also a problem. I could spend my days at the computer finding out what I should eat and how to exercise-and in the process forget to exercise or cook a healthy dinner.
The problem is made worse because when I go to a site and start exploring, I typically find links to other sites that send me off in even more directions. Before long, I've lost both time and direction on the superhighway of Internet health information. As I click from site to site, only my fingers are getting any exercise.
I shared some of the best free resources I've found in my book, From Fat to Fit-Turn Yourself into a Weapon of Mass Reduction.
When I look for information specific to my age group (over 50), one of my favorites is the "Health" section of the AARP Web site.
If this information wasn't adequate to keep me informed, there's more. Today I revisited an updated set of health resources available through Prevention magazine. At www.Prevention.com, you can learn how to eliminate a bad habit, find a fitness buddy, track your food intake, read about the latest nutrition trends, find 2,000 lightened-up recipes or get help designing your own 20-minute fitness routine.
Besides information on these and dozens of other topics, you can be inspired by B.J. Reed, a 60ish woman named Prevention's 2007 Picture of Health Winner. Through her own example of exercising each day, she inspires others to join her in adopting a healthier lifestyle.
I'll never be able to inventory all of the resources on the Internet for myself or you. Already impossibly numerous, more sites are added each day. Whatever your age or interests, though, the ones I've mentioned above can get you started.
Wherever you go traveling on the Internet, remember that Web surfing does not count as exercise. You must remove your hands from the keyboard and resist the impulse to go to one more site. In fact, as soon as you finish reading this, you need to turn off your computer, stand up and get your body moving! As for me, I'm off to play tennis.
Results of a new study done by researchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Control and Prevention and Britain's University of Liverpool show the incidence of heart disease in women 45 years and under is increasing.
For further information check out the study published November 26, 2007 by Dr. Earl Ford in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. What's most alarming is that heart experts like Dr. Wayne Rosamond, think the increase in obesity might be a factor.
I met a remarkable physician, Dr. Marisa C. Weiss, at the 2007 Curves' franchisee convention in Orlando, Florida. During the convention, I was honored to serve on a panel discussion with her.
Dr. Weiss is the director of Breast Radiation Oncology and of the Breast Health Outreach at Lankenau Hospital in Philadelphia. She is coauthor with her mother of Living Beyond Breast Cancer and is the president and founder of www.breastcancer.org
Here's what I concluded from Dr. Weiss' inspiring message:
My body is my greatest gift. It is my responsibility to protect and cherish it and to keep it in the best condition possible. Gone are the days when I could eat whatever I wanted and make excuses for my bad habits. Nor can I shift responsibility to others for the care of my body.
I can and must take an active role in order to achieve the best possible health.
With life expectancy increasing each year, I must be prepared to keep my body in good shape so that I can enjoy the experience of being alive whatever my age.
But I do not have to carry the responsibility for the care of my body alone. I can assemble a team of "helpers"-from professionals, such as my physician, to friends and family who will encourage me to adopt health promoting habits.
Having assembled a team, I must assume my rightful role as leader. As CEO of the task force, I must take charge of my body's care.
Vision and planning are necessary. I need to identify and write down my best health habits and then monitor myself for compliance. Each year I need to conduct an annual audit, like a performance review. At that time, I can commend myself for my achievements and progress while simultaneously assessing where I can make improvements.
When tempted to abuse my body either through overwork, overeating or excessive stress, I must remember that I only receive one body. Some of the parts may be replaced but not all the parts all of the time.
My body, therefore, deserves respect and care. Even a little attention given to leading a healthier life can produce a greater sense of well-being. Moreover, taking care of my body will enable me to lead a more comfortable, enjoyable, exciting and meaningful life. In addition, it will enable me to contribute my best to my family and my community.
That's the philosophy that I found embedded in Dr. Weiss' wonderful talk and book. When I shared a draft of my writing with her, here's what Dr. Weiss wrote:
"It is a pleasure and privilege to meet you and learn from your From Fat to Fit approach to everyday good living. There's no doubt, that being the CEO of your own life and health is a big job- since you feel like you're in charge and responsible for everything.
But the fact is the most powerful CEOs have many key team members: your immediate support network, doctors and nurses and more. And remember, CEOs get the biggest paycheck and benefits. In this case, it can mean the best health, the most independence, and maybe even the most fun (especially when you can hang out with someone like you!)"
What's your philosophy? And how can we spread the word?
Walking into the living room, I caught a few brief minutes of Dr. Wayne W. Dyer on the public television channel. He was lecturing from his book, Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life, in which he expounds the views of Lao-tzu expressed in the Great Way.
I would have watched more but my husband had the television remote control and he switched the channel to his football game.
All I caught in those few seconds was Dr. Dyer's explanation of the idea of "living contentment." The notion stuck in my head. What if I lived every moment in a state of contentedness, no matter what my circumstances?
I would have to detach my feelings from the outcome in any particular scenario. Going beyond that, I would need to actively express thanks, or a sense of gratitude, for the experiences available in each moment and with each breath I took.
When I tried to practice this philosophy, I discovered I am not that enlightened. I am, however, able to find moments when I experience living contentment. And what better time to practice this skill than Thanksgiving Day?
Here are my resolutions for increasing the amount of contentment I experience each day:
1. Write a personal "thank-you"list. For me, writing something always makes it more real, more concrete. In the past, I've mentally noted items I am grateful for. Going forward, I need to begin listing them on paper once or twice a week.
First on my list will be a thank-you to my body for being responsive to good nutrition and regular exercise. Having abused it for many years, I am deeply appreciative of the good health I enjoy today.
2. Look for the silver lining. When rain interrupts my plans for tennis, I struggle to get through my cloud of disappointment. Finding a benefit isn't easy. But if I am willing to engage the question, something positive emerges. Usually I can find an equally good use of my time.
This is a skill that I've worked hard to acquire. When, for example, I've let a few extra pounds slip on, I am grateful for the gentle whisper telling me to get back on track. Without that internal mechanism, I might keep gaining.
3. Give thanks regularly and repeatedly to the people around me. My husband faithfully takes out the garbage once a week. Watching him carry out the garbage this morning, I realized that I've never thanked him for his conscientiousness in performing this unglamorous but necessary task. I need to be more expressive for all of the big and little things that are done for me throughout each day, and take nothing for granted.
It is easy to fall into the trap of being self-critical when you are a self-improvement junkie as I am. (I'm a sucker for anything involving steps and tips, such as three steps to fixing your marriage or seven tips on managing your clutter). In this reality, I can never measure up.
Dr. Dyer encourages us to take the opposite point of view, and become generous and appreciative of the wonderful goodness in our own lives and the gifts that others give us daily. When I nourish myself in this way, I have less need to nourish my body by stuffing it with food. And I can't imagine a better, more satisfying strategy for getting through the holidays!
I hope you'll join me in making this holiday one filled with many thanksgivings.
Through her research, Kellee said that the average American adds 5 pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year's. We both knew we didn't want to pack on any pounds and we were confident that our family and friends felt the same way.
So how do we make the holidays the best of times with wonderful family occasions? How do we keep from waking up the following day to a heavily weighted bathroom scale feeling as if it is the worst of times?
Here are some of the ideas I use:
1. Tweak your recipes: Take mashed potatoes, for example. Replace a third of the potatoes with cauliflower. Add a quarter teaspoon of garlic powder. This recipe cuts out a third of the calories and gives the potatoes a real jump-start on your taste buds.
What about chocolate brownies? Instead of using oil, I use yogurt or applesauce. I can still serve a rich chocolate dessert but with fewer calories. An extra plus: the brownie tastes richer and stays moist longer.
What I've found is that almost every dish can be modified to reduce calories and fats without sacrificing flavor and the flavor is frequently enhanced.
2. Incorporate at least two healthy side dishes: None of your guests want to leave the table feeling underfed and unsatisfied. To permit your guests to indulge without adding calories, I suggest adding tasty, healthy sides such as a cucumber and tomato salad or a big pan of green beans steamed with onions and chicken broth. That way, we can eat heartily without packing on calories that turn into a higher scale reading next week.
3. Focus on your loved ones: Food is not the only way to find pleasure. Make a point to tend to other people and nourish your spirit. That way, you won't need to stuff yourself with food.
If you are just starting a nutrition and fitness regimen, I want to reassure you that "now" never seems like a good time. This is especially true during the holidays.
But the naked truth is that "now" is all we have. Both yesterday and tomorrow are forever out of reach. Now is what we have to work with. That's why the holidays aren't the worst of times to begin. They are the best of times.