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Live Long & Prosper

Live Long & Prosper

April 22, 2002
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" Worrying about how much table salt I used, my cholesterol level, or the proper handling of the solvents I used to clean the parts on my race car was not something that I considered to be necessary. "

I've had a few discussions lately with other Webmasters; but not on the usual topics of traffic building or conversion ratios. These talks centered around our health, or more specifically, our lack of health. Success means nothing if you don't live long enough to enjoy it, so here's some tips to make sure you do!

Endless hours of work without the balance of 'play,' excessive caffeine consumption, a sedentary lifestyle that does not encourage vigorous exercise, and dietary atrocities that leave us fat and bloated; couple this with a statistically high likelihood of smoking, alcohol and drug abuse, and you end up with a snapshot of an unhealthy lifestyle that many of us can relate to. If not you, then someone you know, in this industry or not, will likely come to mind:

No one thought I'd live to see 30 — including me. As an ongoing study in pharmacological excess with an unhealthy penchant for unbridled horsepower and wilderness adventures, I seemed to be statistically destined to become a grease-spot under my Harley or crumpled at the base of a cliff in some remote forest. Worrying about how much table salt I used, my cholesterol level, or the proper handling of the solvents I used to clean the parts on my race car was not something that I considered to be necessary.

Today, however, is a very different story. I'll soon turn '39' and I may even see "the big 4-O" and perhaps quite a few years beyond that — if I'm careful. Because right now, the only "big 4-O" that I'm seeing is the 40 pounds over my 'fighting weight' that my "lying" bathroom scale taunts me with. 40lbs. of ice cream, pizza, and cheese that puts me at a higher risk of adult-onset diabetes and a host of other maladies. If that isn't bad enough, I've started watching "The Osbournes," MTV's new 'real life' TV show featuring Ozzy and family. Those who think that "it can't happen to me" should watch a few episodes: Yeah, Ozzy can still kick ass, but only if you stand around waiting for him to hobble on over. The "Iron Man" has rusted, and there are lessons in it for all:

Eat Your Fruits & Veggies
So with all of this on my mind, it was little surprise that the other day I noticed a Washington Post article on "Your Risk for Cancer." The article described a new, interactive, online cancer screening process from the Harvard Medical School. This Web site is not only very well done, but it might even save your life, and the following information is the result of some notes I took while visiting there:

Red meat is not your friend. Red meat includes beef, pork, veal and lamb. One serving is equal to 4 ounces, which is about the size of a deck of cards. Even though red meat contains important nutrients like protein and iron, you can get these nutrients from other foods like chicken, fish, nuts, and beans. If you must have red meat, eat it as a side dish instead of a main course, and stick with a lean cut without a lot of fat in it.

Eating less salt has many health benefits. While salt is naturally found in some foods, it's often added in large amounts to others, like soups, snacks, and sauces. Even though our bodies need salt to stay healthy, a lot of people get far too much. Some ideas for eating less salt include choosing fresh foods instead of processed or canned foods. Fresh foods, especially fruits and vegetables, are low in salt. Check food labels. If sodium is one of the first few ingredients listed, the food is probably high in salt. Use herbs and spices instead of salt for flavoring. Try lemon, pepper, or garlic powder instead, and limit condiments; ketchup, mustard, relish, soy sauce, and salad dressings are usually high in salt. Eating less salt lowers your risk of stomach cancer and high blood pressure, and is the smart thing to do.

Other suggestions included eating less fatty dairy foods, like whole milk, ice cream, and cheese, and reading food labels to limit foods with several grams of saturated fat. Another suggestion was to drink less than one serving of alcohol a day, defined as a can of beer, a glass of wine, or a shot of hard liquor. Since many family and social gatherings involve alcohol, it is easy to drink more than is good for you. At meals and parties, try to choose non alcoholic beverages, like your favorite soda or juice.

Many of the recommendations involved eating more fruits and vegetables, which is something that lots of people find hard to do in the required quantities. Here's a few tips to make it easier:

• Grab a piece of fruit as you head out the door.
• Add lettuce and tomato to your sandwich.
• Store fruits and vegetables on the top shelf of the refrigerator where you can see them.
• Keep a fruit bowl on the kitchen counter, table, or at the office.
• Drink 100% fruit or vegetable juice.
• Top your cereal with berries, bananas, or peaches.
• Add fruit to your yogurt, pancakes, or waffles.
• Top your pasta with extra spaghetti sauce.
• Add chopped tomatoes or salsa to spaghetti sauce, soups, and casseroles.
• Eat a fresh tomato like an apple.
• Toss chopped tomatoes into a stir-fry during the last minute of cooking.

More Tips for a Healthy Lifestyle
Try to achieve and maintain a healthy weight. It's one of the best things you can do for your health. The best way to lose weight is to be physically active. A lot of things count as physical activity, like walking, jogging, or dancing; whatever you enjoy! Try to get at least 30 minutes a day, as a fun part of your daily routine.

Take a multivitamin with 100% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of folate and other nutrients. Folate (also called folic acid) is a B vitamin naturally found in fruits and vegetables, beans, and grains. While a multivitamin is a great source of folate and other important vitamins, it should never take the place of real food or a healthy diet. You also need to get vitamins from fruits, vegetables and grains because they contain nutrients you can't get from a tablet, but a multivitamin can give you added protection. You may also wish to take a single aspirin (325 mg tablet) 4 to 6 times a week, but not before checking with your doctor to be sure it's safe for you. Remember, kids need extra protection from the sun because their skin is more likely to burn.

Protect your skin from the sun. It's the best way to prevent melanoma and other types of skin cancer, and it's never too late to lower your risk by protecting your skin: you don't have to stay inside all the time, you can still be safe and enjoy the outdoors if you follow these tips when you're in the sun:

• Use sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher.
• Wear protective clothing like broad-brimmed hats and long-sleeve shirts.
• Try to limit the time you spend in the sun, especially between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm.
• Find shade! Bring an umbrella to the beach. Sit under a shady tree.
• Use skin products with sunscreen, like lotion, moisturizers and lip balm with SPF 15 or higher.

Get in the habit of using sunscreen every day, no matter what the season. Put it on every morning and again during the day, and don't use sun lamps or tanning booths. Remember, kids need extra protection from the sun because their skin is more likely to burn.

While I am not a doctor, and cannot independently confirm the voracity or efficacy of these suggestions, I for one will be adhering to them as best I can — even if I will still enjoy a bit of "Godiva White Chocolate with Raspberry Swirl" ice cream on occasion. After all, I want to be around to enjoy the creamy goodness for years to come: ~ Stephen


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