Guest Column: Be healthy in the New Year

As we enter 2010, finish taking down the lights, trees, other decorations, say bye to out of town guest, family, friends, and good cheer, let us not forget to get back to the exercise to crush those unwanted calories.

You do not want them sticking with you after the New Year do you? If so that’s cool too.

Let me be the first to say I am not an expert in Health and Wellness, have no PhD in Nutrition or Physical Fitness. However, I can and do read, listen to the health experts, see the doctor annually, take my own advice, and lead by example with reference to health and fitness being 6’4’, 195 pounds with 3 percent body fat.

While this may seem like a personal testimony, it is more designed to serve as encouragement for you as we approach start the New Year. Yes, we all have responsibilities, but our health is as important for without our heath and exercise we increase the risk of stress, disease, cancer, stroke, and heart attacks, which can lead to premature death. It is shocking to me that we have our retirement benefits, IRA’s, Mutual Funds, Stocks, Bonds, trust funds, and even fitness centers at work, but some do not invest in their own health. Health and wellness encompasses many attributes such as Faith, finances, fitness and food, and all can be achieved with time management, responsibility, planning, understanding family, and a personal commitment, personal responsibility, i.e. Health Care.

If you notice you have gained a pound or two do something about it before it becomes fifty extra unwanted pounds. Empty calories of breaded cheese sticks, cake, cookies, and alcohol over the holidays added up to unwanted pounds and it will take twice as long getting them off. Throughout my life I have always been athletic, lean, energetic, focused and driven, while maintaining a healthy lifestyle. My family attributes my leanness to our family’s strong Native American genes. Nevertheless, in my late thirties met my beautiful and loving wife. At that time we lived in South Georgia, and it was around the holidays.

During this time we were eating nightly wonderful German food and after dinner we would sit on the couch and have a drink of two. Soon those unwanted pounds began to appear and it was then that I knew that I had to do something to get the pounds off, and get back to my natural figure.

At the time my body looked and felt like a middle linebackers, did not like the extra baggage and the weight for it made me feel sluggish, lazy, and fat. Soon, had an epiphany and reflected back to remembering how my dad use to always ask me how much I weighted and when I would tell him he always insisted that I get on the scale. At the time I disliked that, but now understand my dad’s unorthodox methods. Sensing my dad’s spirit at the time I stepped on the scale and realized I gained forty pounds. I thought to myself, “Holy Christmas Batman, I wish that I weighed 230 lbs in High School.” I would have played football for the University of Maryland as a wide receiver of defensive end, but here it was some twenty five years later since college and those dreams, bad timing.

It was then eight years ago I realized that I need to take “personal responsibility,” for my health care and do something. So, immediately set goals for myself with a timeline and started on a strict regime. It was wonderfully painful to shed the weight, and now maintain a comfortable lean 195 frame by grazing all day, eating breakfast, lunch, dinner, plus fruit, nuts, berries, etc.

Additionally, make it a point to do extensive cardio, and then lift weights and all in a two hour span of my day without excuse. My gym time is my personal time, and time for me to unwind, and take care of me, which we all need regardless if we are mothers, fathers, teachers, professionals, or grandparents. It is foolish to think otherwise and some use everything as a excuse.

In 2010, let me suggest that you watch the weight, stop making excuses, forget about New Year’s resolutions and instead set goals for you! Resolutions are made to be broken, goals are made to be accomplished, and while it is semantics it works and is true. Also, I encourage you to write your goals down and review them often, cross them out as you accomplish one after the other. Also, stick to it, start small, unless you are a gym rat like some of us and have to push it to the limit daily. You also need to know yourself and what you are capable of while not letting your brain trick you. See, our brains are complex machines and have ways of giving us a warning that we are tired, and cannot do any more than we are doing! Ignore it and keep moving, do more.

Additionally, let me suggest that you join a gym or fitness center, and if need be hire a personal trainer, or get a partner. As you know, we have many places of positive influence in St. Augustine that all have wonderful attributes, and it depends on what you are looking for in a gym or fitness center. This testament can only help you as you try to stay in shape, get in shape, reduce weight, or tone-up. Yes, we are all built differently, but do not let that be another excuse. Interesting enough when you are in shape you will find that you have more energy, you are mentally sharp, and you will be able to accomplish more than others in the course of the day or even a lifetime and all the while leaving your colleagues, friends in the dust, and in turn ne more successful, happier, less stressful and joyous.

Use whatever it takes to get it done! Like you I want to look and feel great! Maintaining proper weight and exercise is one way to add to the above it assists us in prolonging our lives and provides stamina and strength. Granted, we all die, but we can always use some added help and staying in shape can and will indeed help maintain a fit mind, body, and soul, relieve tension, and allow for a better outlook in life.

Today, I consume at least 3,500 calories a day, but do not just sit on my rump, and expect my personal health care and mental capacity to improve for we should “live every day like it is our last, but plan to live a lifetime.”

Suggestions on Keeping the Pounds off

1. Eat Breakfast – This is the most important meal of the day. After not eating all night, your body is ready to get energized and need nutritional substance to assist you focus and concentrate on your agenda.
3. Get Active – Start taking Thai Chi, walking, cycling, jogging, swimming or anything that will increase your heart rate.

4. Pack you lunch – This take planning and preparation. It is amazing how this helps you stick to your healthy eating plan if you keep healthy food on hand and within reach.

5. Cut out the regular soda and fruit juice- Drink water, empty calories, refreshing tasteless and cleans the system without the pounds

6. Keep a food diary – If need be keep a food diary with calories. This will aid on checks and balance when it come to adhering to your goals

7. Keep finances in check-Dealing with money or lack of money causes stress, and stress can lead to cancer and heart attacks. Do not over spend, live within your means, and do not try to keep up with the “Jones.” Look at how you spend your money, make appropriate changes, and you will have more of it, and less stress.

8. Find a church-Faith and Spirituality is one of the most important aspects of fitness, but the least talked about. Having a strong spirit of faith adds in the balance of life

9. Stop making excuses, and do it.

10. Start living and not just existing for we can be called home at anytime.

Happy New Year

Derek Boyd Hankerson
St. Augustine, FL

Derek Boyd Hankerson is the Managing Partner of Freedom Road, LLC. Derek is former vice president of the St. Johns County Republican Executive Committee and was an alternate delegate to the Republican National Convention. Derek has been a leader in numerous community projects in support of Fort Mose, multicultural education and heritage tourism. Historic City News is pleased to be able to publish Derek’s periodic guest columns which are both informative and entertaining. Derek and his wife live in St. Augustine.