Healthcare and YOU!!!!
The healthcare debate has been going on for some time now.  Since the late summer, many voices have emerged on the topic.  Both angry and subdued.  I don’t want to get into the debate details or whether a public option in necessary.  ETC!!!!
I want to share my thoughts on what YOU can do to improve your situation.  Your health is important not only to YOU but to those around you.  Your health and longevity should be important.  Don’t ignore YOU.  Evaluate yourself and be sure YOU are doing the right things. 
My Credentials…
Who am I?  Nobody really…  I have no credentials.  I am not a doctor.  I am not a trained dietician.  I am not a personal trainer.  I am what they call a “Civilian”.  I am a guy who has successfully lost weight and kept it off.  I am a guy who understands eating right (maybe I don’t follow it all the time).  I am a normal 39 year old male who has successfully examined my lifestyle and made changes for the better.   I am also a normal healthy person who has naturally high cholesterol and must be mindful of it.
I am guy who took a look in the mirror 13 years ago and didn’t see the slimmer 20 year self.  I was 25.  I realized that bending over to tie my shoes was arduous.  I made a decision to do something.  I did it and glad for it.
My goal…
I want to point out to those who will listen that healthcare begins with YOU.  YOU have to make the changes for a better  YOU.  Hopefully I can inspire or motivate by sharing my experience.  I hope to eliminate the negative barriers from YOU moving from unhealthy to healthy.  You are not a victim and have all the power to make changes.
YOU…
There is no magic pill to help you lose weight.  There is no magic diet.   Pills and diets used for “Getting Healthy” are a short term fix.  “Staying Healthy” is a long term fix.  To stay healthy you must consider  lifestyle changes.  Simply stated, eat right and get some exercise.  If you are overweight, your physician may have said you need to get more exercise.  I bet he/she didn’t prescribe a plan, maybe they did (good).  Shame on the medical community when they don’t dig into the details of diet and exercise.  (Quick Editorial: too many times prescribing medicine first seems to be the common practice.)
 Either way, YOU need to find the motivation to change your ways to a healthier lifestyle.   Where that motivation comes from?  Maybe you need to find a friend to set these goals with and execute the steps.  Do it together in the construct of a support group.  It works.   Maybe you need to hire a personal trainer or join a gym.  Everyone does it differently.  Find that motivation. 
How the Healthcare Legislation (Debate) affects YOU….
Like I said, I don’t intend on debating healthcare legislation.  The reality of the new healthcare legislation that is coming is that your health will be measured in some way.  Good or Bad.  You will be assessed and and assigned risk so that your healthcare dollars will be tied to the results.  Being a smoker, being obese, having high cholesterol, etc will be factors in how much you may spend to maintain a healthcare plan.   In some fashion, this is coming and in some cases already here.  Agree or disagree, your government and employers will impose this evaluation.
I encourage YOU to start now.  Evaluate your health and set a goal.  Do some research and figure out the best path.  Talk to your doctor and tell them your goals.
Two basic principles.  1. Eat right. (we have heard that for years right?).  2. Exercise.  Duh!  But how?
Eating right….
There are many diet plans out there.  I have followed “South Beach” and “The Zone”.  I have also followed a friend of mines diet and exercise plan called TNT.  There is a common denominator in all of them.  It limits complex carbohydrates.  Notice I said “limit”.  You don’t have to eliminate the good stuff.  Sugar, pasta, and refined flour (breads) can still be consumed but you need to limit them to be successful.   You have probably read or heard “cut out the white stuff” which simplifies the low carb diet into a simple phrase.
No matter which diet you choose, it will require discipline and a drastic change in how you approach eating.  The up side!  YOU WILL feel better.  YOU WILL be amazed.  YOU WILL be energized.  YOU WILL annoy your friends by your constant talking about and trying to encourage them.
In my experience, after being on a low carb diet for a period of time I discovered that the fatty foods I once ate did not seem appealing.  I could look at a plate of chili fries and not want them.  Don’t get me wrong, I have indulged but with moderation.
Educate yourself on these dieting tactics and understand how the body processes food.  Food is simply fuel, but our American culture has placed food in the middle of everything.  I blame the pilgrims with the first Thanksgiving, but I digress.
Exercise…..
Right now, the most prevalent commercial (info-mercial) seems to be the P90x program.  This is a fine program, but let’s break it down.  It has exercise and diet.  The workouts are full body and forces you to use muscles that you probably don’t use often.  But let’s be reasonable.  P90x delivers the fantasy that you will be “ripped” and displays photos of toned men and women.  Sure, you can achieve this, but I want to pump the breaks and be realistic.
Just do it.  Nike told us this in the 80’s.  It still holds true.   Get off the couch and move.  Walk, jog, run, lift weights, ride a bike.  Move.  It can be that simple.  Or step it up and subscribe to a P90x or a Turbulence Training program, or the TNT.
The simple reality is that you can do pushups and situps to achieve exercise goals.  When I followed the TNT, I kept a diary in the form of a blog.  In that diary, I documented what I did, and how I felt.  Read it and I hope you find encouragement in the content you read.
Summary….
Whether your healthcare plan or your doctor advise YOU need to make a change, YOU should start today.  If you are already doing these things, good.  Keep it up.  However we shape the debate on healthcare costs, there is an underlying cause into our medical costs and that is behavioral causes.  Obesity, heart disease, cancer can be attributed to not eating well, smoking, drinking, and lack of proper amount of exercise.  You can look around you and quickly identify those who need to make a change.   If this country really wants to reduce costs and have better health outcomes, it needs to start with YOU.

Quick and Simple warm Spinach salad.

(This is a great side to something Italian)

– Bunch of raw Spinach leaves (3 liberal handfuls)
– 1 cup chopped tomato
– olive oil (3 to 4 tbls)
– salt & pepper
– red pepper flakes (1 or dashes)
– 3 cloves copped garlic.
– balsamic vinegar
– Parmesan cheese (fresh shred is best).
– toasted nuts (optional)

In a pan, heat the olive oil. Add the garlic and let it get aromatic (about 1 to 2 minutes).

Add the tomatoes, salt and pepper, red pepper flakes. Sautee for 1 minutes.

Turn off the heat, add the Spinach and toss with a splash of balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle on the Parmesan cheese. Toss the toasted nuts to finish it off.

Note: if you want limpy/wilted Spinach, you can keep it on the heat until it cooks down. It works too.

This is an excellent healthy low carb alternative with tons of flavor.