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Your Super-Power is Your “WHY?”

It’s February, and just about the time of year when all those new year’s resolutions you were so convinced you could make a solid commitment to in December and the first couple weeks of January are being to fade… your tenacity to falter…

I will eat better, or less, or stop snacking… I will start an exercise routine, or exercise more often, or walk more every day… I will go on a diet, or lose weight, or get fit…

We often use the arrival of the new year to ring in a new attempt to improve our health, or our looks, or our size. But by now, most people have already run out of steam or have begun to scale back their commitments. Fitness centers that were packed to the gills on January 2nd have become re-accessible to the regulars, refrigerators that were packed with brightly colored fresh produce have begun to collect take-out containers, pizza boxes and convenience foods, and the scale has been shoved behind the door under the toilet paper.

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At the Heart of the Matter

February 14th, Valentine’s Day ensures that our hearts are on our minds that day and throughout that month. And why not? After all, where would we be if we were heartless? Woe to the person who doesn’t follow their heart, or who is hard-hearted, or who doesn’t have their heart in the right place.

In the medical community, however, it is heart disease that is front and center in February. Cardiovascular illnesses have been the most deadly group of diseases in America for about 100 years. We have been talking about how to eliminate them for at least the last 70.

In 1955, Dr. Paul Dudley White, former President, Dwight D. Eisenhower’s physician said, “A heart attack after age 80 is an act of God. A heart attack before age 80 is a failure of the medical system.”

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Lose Weight Without Resolutions or “Diets”

I stopped making new year’s resolutions a while ago. Like weight loss diets, which have a start date, an end date, and an energy of holding your breath until the torture is over, new years’ resolutions are rarely successful. Neither are most “diets”.

According to some estimates, diets fail 95% of the time. Not only is long term weight loss rarely achieved, diets can result in weight gain over the long run. Restrictive eating can lead to loss of lean muscle mass, the slowing of metabolism and eventual disordered eating patterns that may trigger gorging and binging down the road.

Back in my younger days when I carried 40 extra pounds and peanut M&M’s were my oxygen, I went on a lot of diets. They were often preceded by a feast of Big Mac’s, greasy pizza and lots of chocolate. I rarely got through the first week before bailing. My bon voyage feast most likely totaled more calories than the calories I lost in the days that I white knuckled through the “diet”. I was probably in the hole each time I attempted to lose weight.

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Family Cooking Class Debuts

PBNM Cooking Coach Maureen Hartwig is a shining example of how to raise children on a plant-based diet. Realizing that childhood obesity and diabetes are affecting kids at alarming rates and at ever younger ages, resulting in life-long health issues, Maureen has embarked on a mission to educate families about the health benefits of feeding children foods that avoid these problems. She recognizes that kids can be picky eaters, that their schedules are often crazy busy, and that kids face lots of social pressures to consume unhealthy foods. Maureen’s three sons, ages 6. 10 and 12, are thriving in their plant-based lifestyle, and she is ready to show other families the how-to’s involved in making this lifestyle a possibility for them as well. The trick, Maureen notes, is to “keep it simple.” Knowing what foods your kids love, it’s easy to modify recipes to make them plant-based.

On February 9th, from 2-4 pm, Maureen will host her first informational group for twelve parents. She will demo two easy dinner recipes (Asian and Mexican) that parents will be able to sample and will learn from the group how they would like future classes to be formatted. Her hope is that this group will meet on a regular basis and that they will include their children in future classes and social activities.

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Here’s to You!

I would like to dedicate the January article to my niece, Sylvia, who at 50 years old decided to do a lifestyle make over. She is pushing back against a lifetime and a family heritage full of SAD life choices. I support and encourage her glorious success.

We have our New Year’s resolutions, right? What are they this year? Read a book a month? Travel to a long imagined destination? Get more rest? Start a new hobby? How about get healthy, join a gym, and lose some weight?

According to a quick internet search, eating healthier and losing weight are among the top 3 most common New Year’s resolutions in the U.S. Sadly, that same search shows that even with the best of intentions, only an estimated 9% of people actually keep and succeed with their New Year’s Eve promises to do better. That means for 90% of us, the juicy and joyous plans we committed to in January are fizzled and forgotten by the end of February.

“But wait,” you say. “I really want to eat healthier, totally give up animal products, eliminate added oils, decrease my blood pressure, back down that A1c, and/or lose weight! What can I do to improve my odds of succeeding ?”

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When It’s Your Life, Choices Matter

Danny and his wife Debbie are good friends of mine. When I got the news that he had suffered a serious heart attack earlier this year, my heart broke for him. Danny is a great guy and an even better friend. He loves to golf, works hard at his new business and enjoys his family and many good friends. What I didn’t know about Danny was that he would be willing to make major changes to his lifestyle to prevent ever having another cardiac event again.

How did he do it? I planted the seeds in conversations with him about my near fatal heart attack and recovery, and, after much encouragement from me and his wife Debbie to attend the Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine’s 21 day Kickstart program at the end of the summer, they both showed up. They listened to Dr. Kim Williams speak about how a plant-based diet is the best insurance policy for preventing and reversing heart disease. Danny had just seen Dr. Williams in his office the previous week for a second opinion consultation after my urging him to do so. He came out of that appointment with a new awareness about how he could help himself. And that was it. Both he and Debbie embarked on a whole food plant-based diet immediately.

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Plant-based Substitutions That Keep Your Holidays Sweet

My childhood holidays are filled of sweet memories. My mother, Bunny, made sure we were indulged in every way.

Bunny was an only child of Irish descent who grew up in a Jewish neighborhood in Brooklyn. Born to parents of the Greatest Generation who never forgot the lessons of the Great Wall Street Crash. My mother’s father, who we called Poppy, worked on Wallstreet in 1929 and witnessed the devastation firsthand.

Because of this, my grandparents never invested their money in markets or in a home. My mother grew up in a one bedroom flat with very few frills or holidays trimmings. When she became a mom, she decided to celebrate in a very differnet way.

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Keeping Gratitude in Your Back Pocket

It is holiday season in America. For the majority of Americans, a different kind of joy, excitement, stress, and challenge will fill the coming weeks. I am going to guess that when the stressors and challenges show up, many of us will have a hard time welcoming them.

Last month I wrote about how we can make this time of year easier on ourselves as it relates to food and holiday gatherings. This month, let’s look at another way to ease our self-inflicted tensions. This month, let’s talk about gratitude.

Gratitude is defined a few different ways:

1) a feeling of thankfulness and appreciation (vocabulary.com)

2) a thankful appreciation for what an individual receives, whether tangible or intangible. With gratitude, people acknowledge the goodness in their lives … As a result, gratitude also helps people connect to something larger than themselves as individuals–whether to other people, nature, or a higher power” (Harvard Medical School)

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Why You Want to Trim the Fat This Holiday Season

Giving thanks in November is an American tradition that dates back to 1621 when, as the story goes, a harvest feast was shared between the English colonists (Pilgrims) of Plymouth and the Wampanoag people, the native people of North America, who were here in America long before any Europeans arrived.

Over the next 300 plus years, while there were many giving thanks declarations by Congress and presidents, it wasn’t until 1942 that President Theodore D. Roosevelt issued a formal proclamation designating the fourth Thursday in November as Thanksgiving Day.

As the country became more urban and family members began to live farther apart, Thanksgiving became a time to gather together and feast. In modern times, Thanksgiving Day observations include football games and stuffing ourselves with the traditional fare of turkey, butter-infused stuffing and mashed potatoes, cheesy macaroni and pie, pie, pie!

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