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Steve Hansen: Discipline, consistency keys to a healthy lifestyle

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Posted: Tuesday, June 6, 2017 11:35 am

It's been a "round" me for quite some time.

Of course, I'm referring to the extra weight I've been carrying for the last 40 years or so.

For a long time I didn't think much about it. The Center for Disease Control states that the average middle-aged person gains one to two pounds per year. That's normal, so I figured things must be OK using this guideline.

There's no history of predisposed heart disease in my family. Therefore, why worry?

But indications warned that the situation was not all that shipshape. High cholesterol, blood pressure and triglycerides were all signs of impending problems. However, denial is a powerful defense, and it certainly worked well for me.

Yet there's nothing like a near-miss heart attack to sober one's thinking. My cardiologist did a great job of putting me back together. But since I was not in the two-airplane-seat weight category, he pretty much left my future preventive care to "moderation."

After all, cholesterol can be controlled with statins and BP with diuretics, so no sweat - right?

Every day on TV, there's someone hawking this or that diet plan. But they don't appear to be too concerned about heart disease or other health issues - just vanity. I suppose that's a sexier sell.

"Buy our food and you'll look 18 again," is the promoted fantasy - mostly directed at us middle-aged and older folks. I suppose it would be nice to look the age again when we knew everything.

However, I figured with a little common sense, I could cut out the middleman, put my own plan together and use the savings to pay my share of California's new gas tax and car registration fees.

I hate exercising, so I wasn't going to add anything to my daily walking routine. Besides, one of my physician friends told me off the record that exercise doesn't help that much when it comes to moderate weight loss. You're really not burning that many calories.

This probably is another reason why so many exercise machines rest in yard sales with signs that say "Make offer."

But getting back to the plan, first rule of course (as my cardiologist opines) is moderation - small but adequate portions for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

My meal routines now are primarily laced with fish and salads. Breakfast includes a small burrito bowl. Desserts are usually fresh fruit.

Occasional cheating does happen but only on the contents - not the portion amounts.

So, do I miss those triple-decker bacon cheese burgers, onion rings, fries, thick juicy steaks, deep-fried chicken, loaded mash potatoes, mac and cheese, creamy pastas, pepperoni pizzas, potato chips, breakfast meats, ice cream, blue cheese dressings and eggs benedict?

Well, maybe at first. But after awhile, these food choices just become distant memories. A little self-discipline helps get through the worst part.

But once you get the hang of it, there's almost an air of smugness, as you assertively but politely refuse to join your friends in their gluttonous behavior. It's sort of like becoming an electric vehicle owner. Your range is limited, your associates are snickering, but at least you feel you're doing the right thing.

Now cutting to the chase, what are the results of my "do your own thing" diet?

In the last six months, I've lost 15 pounds. I have a new waist size (requiring a multiple blue jean purchase at Costco), my cholesterol is normal and my blood pressure has not been this low in many moons. There is no need for a diuretic. My bathroom scale has not displayed this low number in years.

The point of revealing my personal story here is to demonstrate that a little common sense, discipline and consistency can reduce the chances of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and perhaps even cancer.

When all is said and done, simply paying attention to eating habits each and every day can make a healthy difference in just about everyone's life.

Steve Hansen is a Lodi writer.

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