By Dr. Stuart Offer
Healthy living begins with healthy eating. That’s always been true, but in a nation plagued by preventable diseases such as heart disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes, diet is more important than ever.
The good news is it’s never too late to trade in old habits for healthier new ones and to lead a more active lifestyle. Make some minor changes and I guarantee you will start to feel better.
I know that to be true first-hand. Twenty years ago, I was 55 pounds overweight, inactive and suffering a steady decline in my level of fitness and overall health. Worse, I come from a family with a history of heart disease—my father had his first open-heart surgery at the young age of 56.
Then I got a wake-up call–literally. My cousin Steve called me from his hospital bed, where he was waiting to be wheeled into an operating room for open-heart surgery. He was the same age as I was. The very next day, I started turning my life around. I made a commitment to myself to lose weight, become more active and to eat a healthier diet. Today, I am 55 pounds lighter, and I am more fit than when I was 20 years old!
Wellness has made such a difference in my life that I’ve made it my passion. Today I am a nutritionist, an educator and a certified weight and stress management counselor — I am happy to share what I’ve learned.
I’m very excited to offer “Fit to Eat,” a new regular column in Vermont Maturity. In it I will cover topics devoted to food, nutrition and healthy eating. I will share information, recipes and resources to help you prevent disease, optimize your health and improve your lifestyle. I will cut through the bologna and dish out easy-to-understand healthy eating strategies.
I’m not a health “nut,” and I don’t expect you to be, either. I eat ice cream, just not every night. I eat pasta and other carbs, just not the over-processed flavorless ones. I am a judge for the Kansas City Barbeque Society, so you know I haven’t given up meat.
My point is that living healthily isn’t about suffering or denying yourself. It’s about freeing yourself from bad food and bad habits, and living more fully. It doesn’t have to happen all at once, just a little at a time… starting now! Look for tips and recipes to help you get there in upcoming issues of Vermont Maturity. Here’s to your health!
Dr. Stuart Offer is the Wellness Director for Greater Burlington YMCA.