Is Being Healthy a Choice?


Being healthy is a choice.  Yes, you can argue that a lot of things are out of our control, but I’m not talking about disease or conditions that still happen to healthy people.  I’m talking about making choices every day that lead me to a better quality of life.

One of the things that really drives me crazy are poor choices or as I like to call them, EXCUSES. It’s so easy to make excuses because most of the time, these poor choices are filling an immediate need. You get the french fries instead of the side of steamed broccoli because you had a bad day and need some comfort food.

You eat that second helping  instead of stopping when you were satisfied because you didn’t want to waste.

You stay in bed an extra hour instead of getting up to do your Insanity workout because you don’t function well in the morning. You watch yet another hour of television instead of reading a great book because you listened to the all the latest gossip about it.

Do you see the pattern?  When we fall victim to these immediate gratifications day after day, one day we inevitably will wake up and have no idea how we packed on 25 pounds, why we are failing in our relationships or  how we ended up in really poor health.

It’s not one HUGE choice that leads us to a place we don’t want to be, it’s our small daily excuses that lead to BIG changes.  We cannot be blindsided by these big changes when it was our small decisions that led us to these downward spirals.

This is why I choose to be healthy.  It’s about making those small choices that don’t always satisfy that immediate need.   When you choose to be healthy, it becomes a part of you.  You start to want to make the better decisions because you know how those choices make you feel.  When you feel healthy, you feel happier, you have more energy, you look better and you emanate a more positive energy unto others.

So skip the fries and ask for broccoli or kale chips (they are amazing).  Plan your workout tomorrow before you go to bed tonight.  Plan a delicious healthy meal tonight and save the leftovers for a healthy lunch tomorrow.  Small choices.  They might just change your life.

The nation took a big step on Friday toward better health, as first lady Michelle Obama unveiled the first updated Nutrition Facts labels for food packaging in more than two decades.

She deserves great credit in standing her ground against fierce opposition from food industry lobbyists against the improved labels, which will disclose how much sugar is added to products and list a healthy limit for daily consumption.

The Sugar Association isn’t sweet on the idea. It told that mandating labeling for added sugar sets “an alarming precedent for this and future product labeling regulations.”

The group argues that the government has no scientific justification for its requirement.

Really? How about this research published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention?

From 2013: “Increased consumption of added sugars, which are sweeteners added to processed and prepared foods, has been linked to a decrease in intake of essential micronutrients and an increase in body weight.” Translation: People fill up on empty sugar calories and get fat.

Or from 2015: “On any given day, half the U.S. population consumes a sugar-sweetened beverage (which) … is associated with weight gain, high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome — all of which are risk factors for cardiovascular disease.”

A typical 20-fluid-ounce serving of cola has 65 to 69 grams of sugar, depending on the brand. Under the new labeling, they’d be listed as exceeding the total daily recommend intake for sugars, about 50 grams.

Also new to the labels: Calories will be listed in larger and bolder type, so grocery shoppers don’t have to squint so much — and it will be harder to ignore fattening foods. Also, the labels require manufacturers to list more realistic serving sizes. A small bag of chips no longer is a single serving. And a pint of ice cream will be roughly three servings not four.

The regulation by the Food and Drug Administration has been in the works for a decade, but Mrs. Obama is being credited as being instrumental in pushing the process along as part of her Let’s Move! Campaign. The first lady has notched wins such as mandating healthier school lunches and using government financing to open groceries in poor communities to provide fresh produce.

The new labels could take two or three years to appear on grocery shelves. But when they do, they’ll offer consumers better information and encourage them to make better choices at the grocery, before the food ends up in the pantry or refrigerator — and their waistlines.

In other news on the health front, findings published online this week in the journal JAMA Oncology underscore just how much staying healthy is within our control. The analysis, based on two large, long-running studies by health professionals, found that the United States could prevent half of all cancer deaths if people did just four things: quit smoking, cut back on alcohol, maintain a healthy weight and exercise at least 150 minutes each week.

If men embraced this lifestyle, they’d see 67 percent fewer cancer deaths and 63 percent fewer new cancers each year. If women did the same, the percentages would be 59 and 41.

Good health, this study shows, isn’t simply a matter of luck.

The question with this study, as with the new food labels, is whether Americans will pay attention to the healthful information they’re receiving and take better care of themselves.

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